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Chapter 21: Old Wounds; Fresh Blood

Late afternoon. Morning, for those of us who work Midwatch. Time to get out of bed. Ow! Ow! Oh, crap! I ache! I ache! I think the last few nights are catching up to me! I think maybe I’ve been overdoing it! I feel like I really overdid it in the gym or something. Please! I didn’t even go to the gym! No, it’s work. I’ve definitely been overdoing it. Too much work and a lack of sleep are a bad mix. My dad always said that. Being a contractor, he was always afraid that he might doze off on a job site and fall off of a roof. Yeah, that would’ve sucked. No wonder he was always so determined to get plenty of sleep. How he put up with my early-riser mom is beyond me. If she wasn’t up and about when the first slivers of sunlight came through the kitchen window, she’d kick herself for being lazy. I’m definitely not like her. Definitely not today, at any rate.

I watched the morning news before I went to sleep, but they didn’t say anything about our little dustup on skid row. That’s kind of weird. You’d think something like that would be all over the press. Given how much people seem to hate us these days, the idea of police in riot gear pushing a crowd of homeless people down the street would be grist for the mill. Maybe there’s something in it by now? I’m not sure I want to know. I’m really sick of people bashing us for every problem under the sun. I know it’s nothing new, but given my history, I’ve developed a pretty thin skin for that sort of thing. I need to get over it. I can’t let it get to me like it did for so long. It doesn’t do me any good.

I wonder what’s going on in the division right now? Besides the ungodly heat, that is. I had to turn the air conditioner off because it kept coming back on five minutes after it automatically shut off. That’s what happens when you’ve got a heatwave and you live in an apartment where the landlord is too cheap to put insulation in the walls. Hey, I’m the daughter of a contractor. I notice shit like that. I notice the hell out of it when I get my electric bill. I think you’re going to hear a lot of screaming next month when everybody gets theirs. And rest assured, I’ll be joining them. It’s nice to not have to freak out over the bills for a change. When you’re relieved of duty for what seems like forever and they shut off your paycheck, you gain a real appreciation for how much things cost. Since I was cleared in the end, they had to give me all of my back pay. That big, fat check was a Godsend. Still, I really chafed at the fact that there were people who said I shouldn’t have got it. Some of them were on the City Council. They were so pissed off by the fact that I wasn’t fired that they asked if there was any way they could stop me from getting my back pay. Can you believe that shit? You’d think an elected official would have better things to do.

I wonder what Harper’s doing right now? Probably out jogging. He’s one of the few people I know who are crazy enough to go out running in this heat. He told me he tries to go for a run every afternoon. What a fucking lunatic! How does he not keel over from heatstroke? I either wait until late afternoon or I try to go in the early morning. Still, with this heat, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Maybe I should try to get one in before it gets any later? For that matter, maybe I should call him and see if he wants to go shooting at the academy? I’m sure we could both use the practice. It’s been a few days.

Jesus Christ! Would you listen to me? I’m trying to come up with excuses to spend time with him! I sit next to him in a car for eight or ten hours a night! What the hell is going on with me? Oh, this is not good! I really hope I’m not starting to get hung up on him. That would be the absolute worst. I’ve had boots who developed a thing for me, and it never went well. I even had to ask the Watch Commander to give me a different boot because of it on a few occasions. So is the shoe on the other foot this time? I can’t believe that. Not me. That doesn’t happen to me. I haven’t been seriously hung up on a guy for a very long time. I haven’t had a steady guy in my life for an even longer time. I didn’t want one. Most guys don’t take kindly to the fact that I’m a cop. I think it fucks with their manhood. And I haven’t met a lot of cops who I thought were a great catch, if you know what I mean. But I keep thinking about him. Why? I mean, he’s a great guy and all. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s a great cop, and I have to admit: he’s pretty damned good-looking. But he’s a fucking boot! I can’t get involved with a boot! Especially not one of my own boots! It’s wrong, and it’s massively against the rules. Besides, I always looked down the nose at training officers who slept with their boots. A lot of that had to do with me being a woman. My apologies to the sisterhood, but it’s an established fact that more than a few female probationers glide through their probation by sleeping with their training officers. I hate that shit! Don’t they know how it makes the rest of us look? It just convinces a lot of men that women have no business being cops. It’s like, “Oh, she slept her way through probation. She doesn’t know shit about the job. It’s the only way she could’ve made it.” There are plenty of first-rate women on the job, but it’s the ones who sleep their way to success that everybody seems to remember. They make it ten times harder for the rest of us. I fucking hate it. You have no idea how many people have accused me of fucking my way through the job. I could probably handle it better if so many people didn’t automatically believe it.

And don’t think that it’s all one-sided, either. While they’re a very small minority, the truth is that we’ve got some female training officers who’ve banged practically every male boot they’ve been assigned. I know some of them. They’re every bit as crude and lecherous as their male counterparts. Maybe even more so. But even then, there’s a double-standard. When a male officer nails every female boot he’s got, he gets a reputation as someone to admire. Hey, he’s got a different fuck buddy every couple of DPs! All he has to do is give them a passing rating and he gets all the pussy he wants! What a guy! But when a woman does it, she’s nothing but a slut. Don’t get me wrong; some of them really are sluts. I could name names. But the double-standard really burns the shit out of me. The fallout burns me, too. By that, I mean that I’ve been accused of sleeping with several of my boots. Never officially, but I’ve heard the stories. Shit like that always gets back to you, eventually. They’re all bullshit, but they really hurt. I can’t stand the idea of anyone thinking that I didn’t earn everything I’ve got. I can’t stand the idea that people can look at everything I’ve done and everything I can do and still insist that I’m not a great cop. But they do, and it makes me want to go up to the roof of the station and scream my head off. I’ve actually done it once or twice. Don’t’ tell anyone, OK?

So how the hell did I get myself into this situation? I can’t stop thinking about my partner. That’s never happened to me before. I swore it would never happen as long as I live. What’s changed? Is it because I’ve been alone for so long? That could be it. Part of it, anyway. Is it because of all of the bullshit I’ve had to deal with for over a year? I lost most of my friends. People don’t want to be your friend when everyone and his brother is calling you a murderer and a monster. They don’t want to hang out with you when reporters are running up to you and shoving a microphone in your face while a hundred others are trying to take your picture. They don’t want to go to dinner with you when people recognize you and whisper shit like “That’s her! The one from the shooting! That’s that dirty cop!” I never held it against the people who deserted me. I understood. I just wanted to find a cave somewhere and hide out until it was over, so how could I blame them for not wanting to be a willing part of it? It still hurt, though. And now I’ve got someone who knows what happened and doesn’t give a shit. I’ve got someone to talk to. Someone who isn’t threatened by the fact that I’m a cop and I’m really good at it. Is that it? Is that what’s happening to me? I don’t know. And I don’t know what to do about it. Oh, this sucks beyond belief!

All right, time to pull myself together! Enough of this shit! Harper’s my boot and my partner and my friend; nothing more. Period. End of story. Stop thinking about him. Think about something else. Go for a run. Get some exercise. Then all I’ll think about is the God-awful heat and how I feel like I’m going to keel over. Good idea. That’ll definitely take my mind off of him!

Well, I’m back from my run. Good idea, my ass! I nearly died out there! Three miles! I think I sweated off ten pounds! I can’t even walk! I think I’m going to have to crawl to the refrigerator! Something cold! Please! Cold drink! I’m dying!

“Zephyr! I know you’re laughing at me! Stop it! It’s not funny! I get enough of that shit at work!”

Look at him! I stink so bad, he won’t come near me! Fuzzy little traitor! After all I’ve done for him!

“You’d still be at the pound if it weren’t for me! A little gratitude, maybe?”

OK, it’s official: I’m flipping out. At this rate, I’m going to be one of those crazy old women with a hundred cats! I’ll spend the rest of my life talking to them like they’re people, and they’ll look at me like I’m a skid row psycho. Yeah, that’s a pretty thought!

“Did I miss anything? Did you bomb the carpet while I was out?”

I don’t see anything. Maybe I got lucky? Maybe he actually hit the litter box for a change? I’d better check my phone. I didn’t take it with me when I went for my run. I was afraid I’d sweat all over it and ruin it. Let’s see…hey, this is interesting. I got a text message from Carol. Does she want to get together for lunch? Good idea! I could rip her a new asshole for ratting me out to my mom! Wait a minute…oh, hell! She’s not asking to have lunch with me. No, this isn’t good!

“Listen to this, Zephyr: ‘Dani: I came across this earlier and thought you should see it before anyone blindsides you with it. Don’t get upset. Call me if you need to talk. Carol.’ Whatever it is, it can’t be good. There’s a link. I’m almost afraid to open it. What do you think it is?”

There’s one way to find out. Here goes! What the fuck is this? Some news blog? Oh, shit!

“Bad news, kitty cat. Mom’s in the news again, and it ain’t good.”

That’s putting it mildly. It’s a story about me. More like another hit piece. “Officer from Reid shooting involved in violent protest downtown.” Protest? Are they shitting me? Yeah, it’s not good. Basically, it says that murdering, lying, brutal bitch who should’ve been fired and jailed is now working downtown and beating the shit out of a bunch of innocent homeless people who were just minding their own business. Oh, sure! No mention of the rocks and bottles, or how one of those “innocent homeless people” tried to bash in two cops’ heads! What else? “Despite having been cleared by an internal investigation, there remained a strong public outcry to have Officer Lynott removed from her position with the department for her involvement in the unjustified shooting and subsequent attempt to cover it up.” Oh, what a load of bullshit! When are they going to print the fact that I didn’t try to cover up anything? Probably never. That doesn’t make for good press. It also says that I wasn’t charged because the DA couldn’t make a case against me. Bullshit! There was no case! The DA even said so! And of course, it mentions the fact that of the officers who were present at the shooting, I’m the only one left on the job. Well, that’s true. Whaley’s in prison, his partner got fired for lying about it, and the other guys who didn’t do a goddamned thing wrong all got fed up and either quit or retired. I’m all that’s left. Yeah, I can read between the lines. It’s one of those “How can she still be on the police department?” pieces. They’re probably hoping to drum up enough public outrage to get the chief to fire me. Not that he can, but that’s clearly what they’re aiming for. It’s also an alert to the munchkins of the Emerald City that I’m working downtown and that I’m up to my bad old ways. Watch out, people! That lying, evil bitch is on the loose! Grab your pitchforks and run her right out of town! Jesus Christ! I know this kind of thing shouldn’t get to me, but now I’m going to be stewing about it all night! Damn you, Carol! I know you meant well, but this was the last think I needed to see right now!

“What do you think, Zephyr? Is this going to be the last word on my life? I think my tombstone’s going to read ’Here lies Officer Dani Lynott. Yes, that Officer Lynott.’ I really think it will. Some epitaph, huh?”

I should count my blessings that he doesn’t understand a word I’m saying. If he did, he might go looking for a new mom. Could you blame him? He saw what it did to me. He doesn’t want to go through that craziness again. Who would? Well, I guess I should thank Carol. She definitely found a way to get me to stop thinking about Harper. That’s something, isn’t it?

Central Station. Roll call. I halfway expected there to be a news van parked in front of the station with a smarmy reporter asking why I’m working in the division. No, that’s just me being ridiculous. The story’s a year old. It’s not newsworthy anymore. Besides, that story was in some news blog that I’ve never heard of. One of a billion on the internet. I doubt that more than twenty people in the city even saw it. Thank heaven for the little things, huh?

I expect tonight’s roll call to be a pretty upbeat affair. After Midwatch’s absolutely stellar performance during what’s now being called the “5th Street Mini-Riot,” the sergeants must be thrilled. Not to blow my own horn – and Harpers’ – but we really did pull off a textbook skirmish line and dispersed a pretty rowdy mob, all with no more than half of the officers that the book calls for. And we didn’t crack any heads. No one got hurt on either side, no property was damaged except for one police car, and the media isn’t camped out in front of the station, doing reports on our “horribly excessive force against unarmed, peaceful protesters.” In short, it couldn’t have gone better for the ever-fighting men and one woman of Central Midwatch. Too bad the same can’t be said for some of our unfortunate brothers and sisters who found themselves obeying Sergeant Morton’s idiotic orders. It wasn’t like they had a choice, but you still end up getting tarnished after a fuck-up like that. Hey, I speak from ultimate experience, remember? I feel genuinely sorry for them. They probably hate the guy as much as we do after that.

Well, Sergeant Gellar looks like he’s in a good mood. That’s always a big plus.

“All right, Midwatch! Settle down! The Watch Commander is Lieutenant Hagan. He’s the guy whose boot prints can be found on a number of people’s asses right about now. I’m Forty Central. Sergeant Alfaro is Sixty Central. Ruiz and Rosen, Eight Central. Lynott and Harper, Sixteen Central. Kursteff and Vinell, Twenty-Two Central. Signolo and Goren, Forty-Four Central. The lieutenant and the captain ask me to express their thanks for a job very well done last night! Midwatch took care of business without a single hiccup! Give yourselves a round of applause! You people finally did something that made me look good!”

And of course, we overdo the applause. But hey, we’re very fond of ourselves. It helps to be a bit of an egomaniac if you’re going to work a hard-charging, hook-and-book watch like Midwatch. Hey, I admit it: I’m a bit of an egomaniac when it comes to the job. Are you saying you haven’t noticed?

“The captain is preparing a letter of commendation for all of you. Special recognition is being given to Lynott and Harper for stepping up and taking charge, and for keeping the rest of you from killing anyone! Congratulations, Lynott and Harper! Damned fine job! Keep it up!”

“Take a bow, guys!”

Goren’s right: we should take a bow! Why not? We earned it!

“Thank you! Thank you all! You may tell your families and friends that you know us! We’ll be signing autographs in the parking lot after roll call.”

“Knock it off, Lynott! Goren just said that so he could stare at your ass when you bent over!”

“Too bad, Sarge. My uniform doesn’t do it justice.”

Hey, it’s true. My ass looks much better in a short skirt. And it’s not like I don’t know a lot of guys in this division stare at my ass. Or my chest. Come on! These guys are cops! If it’s female and breathing, they imagine themselves fucking it. They’re not exactly known for their standards. Or for their subtlety.

“Moving right along, people! And while he won’t get a commendation for it, Harper wins the unofficial Designated Hitter award for knocking some dope dealing asshole’s jaw into the middle of next week! Nice shot, Harper!”

I guess the Sarge forgot about the broken kneecap that went with it? I’ll bet Diego hasn’t forgotten it. I’ll bet he never forgets it. His doctors certainly won’t.

“Last night was definitely one for the books, as far as Midwatch was concerned. Everyone performed exceptionally well, you were all there when the shit hit the fan, lots of radio calls handled, and lots of good arrests. I’ll have you know that no one got killed during our shift last night. Considering that this fucking heatwave shows no signs of breaking, that’s nothing short of a miracle. We probably won’t get so lucky two nights in a row, so nobody rests on their laurels from last night. Stay sharp! Everyone!”

And it looks like Harper’s chiming in.

“Sergeant Gellar? Is there any confirmation that the city’s going to start rolling blackouts in our division because of the heatwave?”

“Good question. It’s nice to know at least one of you watches the news. Of course, it has to be the only boot we’ve got on the watch! The answer is yes: we received confirmation this morning that the city is going to institute rolling blackouts, probably starting tomorrow. That means power outages when you least expect them. There’s no such thing as peak hours anymore, so we’re talking about round-the-clock blackouts. They say they’re going to try to avoid any during nighttime hours, but with everyone running their air conditioners full blast twenty-four/seven, they can’t make any promises. So be ready for that! Blackouts in this division mean major headaches for us! We’ll have streetlights out, traffic lights out, alarms that don’t work, no power at the missions, and every fucking zombie on skid row is going to take advantage of it! So watch yourselves, and be prepared! Charge your fucking flashlights when you go home! You don’t want to be anywhere in this division without a charged flashlight when the lights go out!”

Good call, Harper! I forgot about that. The Sarge is right: this place will go to shit in an instant if they lose the power. We really do need to be ready for that.

“All right, Midwatch! It’s another scorcher, the natives are restless, they’ve all got knives, we still have what looks like a dope dealer war going on, and this is skid fucking row! Watch yourselves! Be ready to back each other up! Don’t take any unnecessary chances! And keep doing what you’re doing. You’re making me look good to the captain, and as we all know, that is your sole reason for living! Does anybody have anything? No? Good! I don’t get paid to listen to you! Go to work!”

Don’t laugh. Most sergeants really believe that making them look good is our sole reason for living. They’re not shy about reminding you, either. And God help you if you fuck up and make them look bad!

Waiting for our gear in the kit room line. I can’t wait to get going tonight! Now that Ricky’s out one psychopathic bodyguard, I want to see how he’s taking it. Hell, maybe some junkie got emboldened enough to stick a knife in his back? Probably not, but I can dream.

“Harper, did you get us a car?”

“Yeah, but they want to see us in the captain’s office right away.”

He doesn’t sound happy about that. I’m guessing this isn’t to give us our commendation.

“Did they say what for?”

“No, but there’s a commander in there. It’s not the bureau commander, I know that much.”

A commander? There’s only one person it could be. I knew I wasn’t going to like this. Fuck! I do not want to see that fucking idiot! I prayed I’d never have to see him again!

“Dani? Are you OK?”

“Yeah. I’ll bet I know who it is. Just stick close and follow my lead, OK?”

“Do you know what this is about?”

“Yeah. It’s about me.”

I know it’s fucking Commander Hillel. He probably heard about what happened last night, and when he heard I was involved, he hit the roof. This is not going to be good!

“Dani, are we in trouble?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether our superiors are as good as their word.”

I guess now is when I find out if they really do have my back. It takes a shitload of nerve to stand up to a commander; especially if that commander is a weasel like Hillel. His reputation on the department for backstabbing is nothing short of legendary. It’s also well-deserved.

“Listen, Harper. I’m pretty sure that the commander is Commander Hillel. You should know that he hates me with a passion. He was the one who pushed hardest to get rid of me after the Reid shooting. He wasn’t happy when he failed, either. For some reason, he took it personally. Don’t ask me why, but he did. So this is going to be about me, not you.”

“For God’s sake, when are they going to stop fucking with you? You didn’t do anything wrong then, and we didn’t do anything wrong last night!”

“I know. And if he thinks I’m going to roll over for him, he’s fucking crazy. But I wanted to warn you before we go in there. Hillel’s a snake. He’s a backstabbing piece of shit. I’m betting he’s going to throw a hissy fit when we get in there. It’s kind of his specialty.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard he’s a major asshole.”

“He is. He’s a fucking weasel, and I doubt he’s got a friend on the department. He’s fucked too many people over to have any friends. Look, he’s undoubtedly going to bring up the whole Reid thing again. I’m hoping the captain lives up to his word and has my back. Actually, I’m praying that he does. But if he doesn’t, then as soon as Hillel brings up the shooting again, I’m going to tell him that I want my rep and my lawyer and I’m going to refuse to say another fucking word. If that happens, just don’t freak out, OK?”

“I won’t.”

“Remember: this is going to be all about me, so don’t worry. You’re just there because you’re my partner and he gets off on fucking with cops. You should probably consider it a badge of honor. The only ones he doesn’t fuck with are the worthless ones.”

“I’ll remember that. And I’m right there with you.”

“Good. I’m sorry you got dragged into this.”

“How many times do I have to say it? We’re partners. We’re in it together, no matter what.”

“I know. Hey, if I come across like a total bitch in there, don’t hold it against me. I’m really a pretty nice girl.”

“You’re a great girl, Dani. Don’t think I don’t already know that. Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

All right, let’s see who’s in here. And of course, I was right: it’s Commander Hillel with the captain. But I’m surprised to see Lieutenant Hagan in here, too.

“You wanted to see us, captain?”

Notice how I didn’t immediately recognize the ranking officer in the room? That was on purpose. It was meant to be an insult. I’m hoping Commander Hillel noticed it. It was directed at him. He should be used to my little insults by now.

“Yeah, come on in. Officer Lynott, Officer Harper, this is Commander Hillel. Office of Operations.”

“Yes, sir. He and I have met. What’s up?”

Flippantly informal, there. Just letting Commander Hillel know that I’m not taking this anywhere near as seriously as he thinks I should. And that I’m not afraid of him. My days of being afraid of this asshole are long over.

“The Commander has expressed some concerns. I thought you should hear them for yourselves.”

Yeah, right! I’ve heard them for a year, already. I don’t need to hear them again.

“What concerns, sir?”

And here goes Commander Asshole! Boy, is he pissed!

“Cut the crap, Officer Lynott. You know why I’m here.”

“No, Commander, I don’t. But I want to thank the captain for his kind words on how we handled that disturbance last night. I appreciate it, sir. Both me and Officer Harper.”

That’s right, you fucking weasel! I’m pretending like you’re not even here! And it’s already got him massively riled up!

“Captain, why is she even in the field? She shouldn’t be working patrol. Frankly, she shouldn’t be in a position to have any contact with the public. That’s why she was sent here.”

“Commander, she’s working the field because there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be. And I can’t have one of my most experienced training officers wasting away somewhere instead of doing her job. Officer Lynott is a fine police officer. I have nothing but praise for her work since she got here.”

Jesus, just saying that took a hell of a lot of guts! The captain’s as good as his word. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m also massively relieved. I won’t doubt him again.

“Captain, I’m sure you’re familiar with what happened in Metro-South Woodlawn? Is that your idea of fine police work?”

“Commander, I’m quite sure the whole country is aware of what happened. It was in all the papers. But I don’t see your point. What happened in Woodlawn had nothing to do with Officer Lynott, or any of the other officers present. I know. I saw the video. So did you. She was investigated and cleared. As far as I’m concerned, that matter is closed.”

“Are you telling me you think it’s over and done with? Just like that?”

“As far as Officer Lynott is concerned, yes, sir. That case is closed.”

“Captain, I don’t think you understand the seriousness of this.”

“Of what, sir?”

Fucking Hillel looks like he’s about to blow a gasket! He hates it when everybody doesn’t just follow his lead!

“Have you forgotten what this department went through because of that incident? Of what we’re still going through?”

“No, sir. I haven’t. We went through it, too. But we didn’t go through it because of Officer Lynott. She just happened to be there.”

“I don’t believe this! Captain, she’s a public relations disaster! It’s bad enough she’s still in uniform. And now I hear that last night, she went headlong into a disturbance with a completely unnecessary use of force against unarmed civilians!”

You fucking piece of shit! How can you wear the same uniform as me?

“No, sir! She did not! Officer Lynott and Officer Harper dispersed a violent mob without any use of force. No one got hurt. Everything was by the book. I’ve reviewed the incident. I support and commend their actions, and the actions of every officer present. They did a first-rate job, and I’m proud of them all.”

“It was her doing, captain! She sent officers into a demonstration without orders, without sufficient numbers, without a supervisor, without…”

Harper, what are you…

“That’s because she had to, sir! We didn’t have any choice!”

Oh, shit! Harper’s coming to my rescue! The Marine in him is overriding his brain! I can’t let him do that!

“Harper, not now.”

“Hang on, Dani! We called for additional units, sir. Several times. None came. You can check the communications logs. Our supervisor was a block away at a command post that never bothered to respond to the scene. He left us out there. The only one who bothered to show up was the air unit, sir.”

“That’s not how I heard it, Officer Harper! And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you! Yeah, I got the report on that suspect you put in the hospital last night! You tore his goddamned jaw right off! That man’s going to be disfigured for life! How do you think that looks? You’re lucky you’re not up on charges!”

“I was defending myself and Officer Lynott, sir! The guy attacked one person and tried to bash my head in! He’d already broken one guy’s arm with a steel rebar!”

“You call that defending yourself, Officer? I call it excessive force!”

“And exactly what would you have done, sir?”

“Where the hell do you get off talking to me like that, officer? You’re still on probation! Would you like to get fired? Because I can arrange that for you!”

Oh, this is turning into a fucking disaster! And now Lieutenant Hagan’s looking pretty pissed off! I think he’s going to bite Hillel’s head right off!

“Just a minute, Commander! I want to weigh in on this, too!”

“Lieutenant, when I want your…”

“That use of force was completely justified, sir! I can only conclude that you didn’t read the report!”

Translation: you’re a stupid motherfucker who can’t read, Commander! God, I’d like to kiss Lieutenant Hagan right now!

“Lieutenant, when I want your input, I’ll ask for it.”

“It’s not an opinion, sir. It’s fact. That little piece of shit had a record of violent assault going back to when he was fifteen! Officers Harper and Lynott saw him beating a guy with a steel bar! He broke the victim’s arm! They told him to drop it, and he didn’t! So Officer Harper struck him on the leg. He didn’t go down. Instead, he came after Harper with the bar! Harper was aiming for his chest when the suspect ducked into the swing. But even if the suspect hadn’t ducked, Officer Harper was completely justified in cracking that little shit across the face! It was a lethal force incident by a dangerous suspect against an unarmed victim! The son of a bitch is lucky they didn’t shoot him! God knows I would have!”

“Is that what you think, Lieutenant?”

“That’s what I know! Do you have a problem with this, Commander? Is there an agenda here that we don’t know about? Maybe you’d like to fill us in?”

“Lieutenant! You’re out of line!”

I’d better put an end to this before Commander Hillel fires Harper and suspends Lieutenant Hagan! Because then Harper and Lieutenant Hagan are going to beat the living shit out of him right here! I mean it! I can see it in their faces! Two former Marines, pissed off and ready to kill? Yeah, this meeting is about to have a body count! Not that I wouldn’t like to see that, mind you!

“Excuse me, Commander. Is this about a dope dealer named Ricky?”

Bullseye! By the look on his face, I’d say he didn’t see that one coming. Good! I’ve got the advantage! Now I’m going to press it! See how you like it this time, motherfucker!

“As a matter of fact, Officer Lynott, I do want to talk about Ricky! You stay the hell away from him! Both of you! And captain, that goes for all of your people! I don’t want your patrol officers focusing on drug arrests! And I don’t want them anywhere near the Big Lot! You make that clear to them!”

Oh, here we go! Detective Godfrey was right on the money with this one! Now I can really stick it to him!

“Sir? Are you saying you want us to give Ricky a free pass? You want us to let him sell his dope and beat the crap out of people whenever he feels like it? Because that’s what he’s doing, sir. That’s what he’s been doing for a while, now.”

“Are you lecturing me, Officer Lynott?”

“No, sir. I just want to know if you’re really telling us to look the other way and let Ricky and his dealers do whatever they want. Is that it? Because in case you didn’t know, he’s a prime suspect in a recent homicide at the Big Lot.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, Officer Lynott, but I’m overseeing a special task force to deal with Ricky and a lot of other drug dealers in this division. I’ve got a multi-agency operation in the works. I don’t want Central patrol interfering with it.”

Perfect! He stepped right in it!

“Do you mean the DEA, sir?”

He looks almost shocked! I guess he doesn’t understand how I know that.

“As a matter of fact, yes. I’ve been working with them on this issue for some time, now, Officer.”

“Really? Because I spoke with the DEA liaison agents at Narcotics Division, and they never heard of it. They never heard of you, either. In fact, they told me they love what we’ve been doing. They want us to keep it up.”

OK, so it was John and Angelo who talked to the DEA. But I don’t see any reason to drag them into this.

“Are you questioning me? You little bitch! Do you think you can…”

Got you, motherfucker! You just fucked up big time!

“Excuse me? Did you just call me a bitch, sir? Because department policy says that’s sexual harassment! I’m sure you know that I’m required to report that immediately.”

“Are you…you are so…”

And that smile on Lieutenant Hagan’s face could light up Las Vegas! He knows we’ve got this son of a bitch!

“As the Watch Commander on duty, I’ll be happy to take that report, Officer Lynott. And you’re absolutely right: this department does not tolerate sexual harassment in any way, shape, or form. Isn’t that right, Commander?”

And Hillel looks like he’s going to have a fucking stroke! I can’t believe he fucked up like that! I knew he was a stupid motherfucker, but I didn’t think he was that stupid! I’m going to run with this!

“I appreciate your offer, Lieutenant. I’ll talk to you about it after the meeting, sir.”

“Not at all, Officer Lynott. You know where to find me.”

God, the look on that asshole’s face is beyond priceless! How I wish I had a camera right now! But I’d better dial it down now. Don’t get carried away. I got my licks in. I got him good! He’s scared! Even a commander isn’t immune to a sexual harassment beef. Not in this day and age. Now, I’d better back off before I lose it. But I just couldn’t resist throwing that in his face. Yeah, it’s chickenshit to play the gender card, but hey, when it’s useful – especially against this motherfucker – why the hell not? Oh, Hillel looks like he wants to smack me right across the face! Go ahead, motherfucker! I’ll have you face-down on the ground in an arm lock and cuffed before you know what’s happening!

“Are you threatening me, Officer Lynott?”

Oh, you think I’m kidding, you piece of shit? Just watch me!

“No, sir. But you just violated the hell out of departmental rules and federal law, and you offended me, too. And you did it in front of three witnesses. So I think that if this conversation is going to continue, I want my PBA representative and my lawyer here. The rules say I’m entitled to that, sir. I’d also like the names and serial numbers of everyone present in the room as witnesses. That’s the proper procedure, isn’t it, sir? I did attend the department’s training course on sexual harassment. So did you, right? It’s required by law, you know.”

Jesus! Lieutenant Hagan is fighting tooth and nail to keep from grinning ear to ear! He enjoyed that almost as much as I did! I guess he thought I didn’t have it in me. The captain looks pretty damned pleased, too. Hey, if this asshole isn’t going to fight fair, then I’m not going to fight fair! But I’d better shut this thing down right now, because one more minute with this piece of shit and I’m going to fucking lose it! And I think Harper’s actually fingered the grip of his gun at least once, already! Best to hand it back to the captain, now. It’s his decision, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s the highest-ranking real cop in this room.

“Captain? Sir?”

“We can take this matter up later, Lynott. I think we’re done here. Officer Lynott, you and Officer Harper are excused. Dismissed.”

It’s like he can read my mind! He and I are on exactly the same page! Notice how he didn’t ask Commander Asshole if we were excused? That’s right, motherfucker! You’re not in charge, anymore! In fact, you might just have become a defendant in a fucking personnel complaint! Maybe even a federal lawsuit!

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Officer Harper, won’t you join me? We’ve got work to do.”

“Absolutely, Officer Lynott. Gentlemen, will you excuse us?”

If I die in the next five minutes, at least I lived long enough to stick it to that stupid motherfucker just once! And it couldn’t have gone better than that! Yes! That’s it, God: you can take me now. I got what I wanted. I got my revenge! Finally!

Jesus, I am so fucking angry right now! That useless, backstabbing, piece of shit motherfucker! I hate him! I hate him worse than I hate fucking Ricky! Compared to him, Ricky’s a fucking honorable guy! At least Ricky doesn’t pretend to be anything but a piece of shit, lowlife dope dealer! Hillel’s a fucking disgrace! The thought of him wearing the same uniform as me makes me want to puke!

“Let’s get out of here, Harper! I don’t want to stay in the station one more minute!”

“Are you OK, Dani?”

“No! Not by a long shot! Fuck! I hate that motherfucker!”

“Don’t worry. The captain and the lieutenant backed you up. And you really stuck it to him good!”

“Yeah, I did. Hooray for me. Let’s just get out of here, OK?”

“You got it. We’re out of here.”

“God damn it! That son of a bitch!”

“Ease down, partner. Ease down.”

“Just get me the hell out of here!”

“You got it! Come on, our car’s right over here. I got your stuff loaded.”

“Fine! Let’s go!”

Fuck! I can’t believe it! I am so fucking angry! No, it’s not just that. I’m not just angry. Angry, I can handle. This is worse! I feel like I’m fucking losing it! Seeing that asshole and listening to him say that shit all over again…God damn it! I feel like I’m going to explode! I can’t take it! Not again! I am not going through that shit again! Fuck Commander Hillel! I’ll fucking shoot him and then blow my own goddamned brains out before I go through this shit again! Jesus Christ, would you look at me? I’m a total fucking wreck! I’m actually shaking! Why do I let this happen? Why do I let him get to me like that? It’s like it’s all coming back at once! I feel like I’m going to start crying! No! No fucking way! Oh, fuck this shit! I am not going to let him get to me! Fuck, no! Not again! Not this time!

“Where are we going, Dani?”

“I don’t know. Anywhere. Just…let’s just go somewhere where there’s nobody around. I need a few minutes.”

“You got it. As long as it takes.”

God only knows how long that’s going to be! I feel like I’m going to fall to pieces any minute, now! Fuck! I don’t want anyone to see me like this! Oh, Jesus! The one person I really don’t want to see me like this right now is Harper, and he’s sitting right next to me! Please, Harper! Don’t look at me! I don’t want you to see me like this!

“Dani, what’s wrong? Fuck that guy! It’s over! We’re in the clear. Don’t let him get to you.”

“It’s nothing. Forget it. I just need a minute.”

“I think you need more than a minute.”

“Then give me a few minutes, OK?”

“I’ll give you as much time as you need. But would you please just talk to me?”

“I don’t want to talk right now.”

“I think you need to. Right now.”

“No, I really don’t.”

“Yeah, you really do. You look like you’re about to explode. Hey, I’m your partner, remember? I just want to help.”

I know he does, but I don’t see how he can. I hate being a royal bitch toward him, but there’s not a damned thing he can do. There’s nothing anybody can do. Like I said, it’s all coming back to me like a fucking tidal wave. I couldn’t handle it then, and I’m not doing so good with it right now.

“Harper, I know you want to help, and I appreciate it. But this is something I have to deal with by myself.”

“No, you don’t. That’s why you’ve got a partner, remember? You don’t have to do anything alone.”

“I told you before: you don’t want to get mixed up in this! Believe me!”

“So this is about that shooting and not the little riot? Dani, that’s over! Hell, the captain said so!”

“No! It’s not over! It’s never going to be over! Not as long as that motherfucker is still around!”

“How many times do I have to say it? You were cleared! You didn’t do anything wrong! It’s over!”

“Big fucking deal! I was cleared! I didn’t go to jail! I didn’t get fired! So what? So fucking what? So it doesn’t matter? Jesus Christ, Harper! Didn’t you hear him back there? He’ll never let go of it! It’ll never be over! Not for me! Not ever! Fuck!”

Oh, nice going, Dani! Bite the head off of the best partner you ever had! The guy who’s trying to help you! The boot who stuck his neck out for you and took on a piece of shit commander! Way to go, you fucking idiot!

“All right, Dani. So tell me about it.”

“Tell you about what?”

“Tell me what happened in Woodlawn. Tell me about it. All of it. I want to hear it.”

“Harper, you know what happened. The whole damned city knows what happened. Christ, the whole damned country knows what happened!”

“No, they all know what they were told. They all know what they think they saw. But they weren’t there. I wasn’t there. You were. I want to hear it from you.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I told you that.”

“You never want to talk about it, and I know I said I wouldn’t push you about it.”

“Good! So don’t, OK?”

“Sorry, Dani. That shit doesn’t work anymore. This thing’s got you wound up so tight, you can’t even think straight. It’s tearing you apart. I can see it. I’m your partner. I can’t let you go through this. I can’t just sit here and let this happen to you. And I won’t. You need to talk about it. You need to finally get it out. Not to some lawyer or PBA rep. You need to talk to your partner about it. So let’s talk about it. Right now.”


“Yes! Come on! I want to hear it! Out with it!”

He is really starting to piss me off!

“Harper, drop it! Right now! That’s an order!”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to disobey that one. Come on, give it up.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“I don’t leave my partner hanging when she needs help. And I sure as hell don’t leave my friends hanging. In case you hadn’t noticed, you’re both. I’m not going to sit here while you’re going through hell and not try to do something about it. You can hate me for the rest of your life for making you talk about this, but I can’t let you tear yourself apart. I won’t. And I sure as hell won’t sit here and watch you do it. So spit it out, Dani. We’re going to talk about this.”

You see, this is what really sucks! Half of me wants to hit him, and the other half knows that’s exactly what I’d say to him if the roles were reversed. You freeze out your partner and pretty soon you don’t have a partner. Then all you’ve got is somebody sitting in the car next to you that you don’t trust and pretty soon, you don’t like him very much, anymore. I’ve been through that. Now I’ve finally got a real partner who’d take a bullet for me without thinking twice, and that’s exactly what he’s doing right now: he’s trying to take a bullet for me. No one ever did when this shit happened, but here’s Harper saying he won’t let go. Jesus, am I really going to screw that up? But I can’t drag him into this shit! And besides, I don’t know what he’ll think of me if I tell him. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t exactly come off as the greatest thing to hit law enforcement since the two-way radio. No…no, I can’t talk about it. At least, not now.

“Just drive!”

“We’re not going anywhere. Not until you talk to me.”

“I said drive!”

“Negative, partner. We’re not moving until you talk to me.”

“How about I kill you instead?”

“You can do that. But we’re still not going anywhere.”

He won’t give up! Harper, you pigheaded, jarhead, infuriating little…Fuck! I’m going to fucking kill him!

“We are not talking about this! You saw Hillel in there! You saw how much he hates me! That was just a taste! Do you want to get dragged in front of IAD if he ever manages to get this thing opened up again? I am not dragging you into this! No fucking way!”

“Dani, I’m already in it. I have been since the day we were assigned to work together.”

“Didn’t you hear that asshole in there? He said you’re lucky they didn’t bring you up on charges for defending yourself against a son of a bitch who tried to bash your goddamned head in! Do you honestly think he’s going to let it go at that?”

“Fuck him! I’m not worried.”

“Maybe you should be!”

“Why? I didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did you. And if he tries to make something out of it, I get a union rep and a lawyer and I shove it right up his ass! Just like you did back there!”

“Oh, you think it’s that easy? Do you have any idea what they can do to you? How they can fuck with you? How they can pick at you so much that you want to put your fucking gun in your mouth and blow your goddamned brains out? Because that’s happened! I already know a few names, Harper! I don’t want to add yours to the list! I couldn’t live with that!”

“I’m not going to blow my brains out, Dani. I’ve got too much to live for, and I’d never give an asshole like that the satisfaction. So if it’s a choice between getting fucked with and abandoning you, then the choice is clear: I go with you. I don’t give a shit about that one-star cluster fuck! You mean something to me. He doesn’t. So fuck him!”

I swear to God, I don’t know whether to kill him or kiss him. He’s as stubborn as I am! Fucking Marine! And like I said, if I were in his position, I’d do the exact same thing. Maybe I should tell him about it? Maybe talking about it would do me some good? The only people I ever talked to about it were lawyers and union reps, and those weren’t what you’d call therapeutic conversations. I never even told the whole story to my mom. I couldn’t. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I was afraid to. I knew she wouldn’t understand, but Harper will. Maybe I should do it? I sure as hell can’t keep it all bottled up like this. If I do, I’m probably going to start crying right in front of him, and that’s something I’ll never live down. But something tells me he won’t care. He won’t think any less of me. Jesus! Where has this guy been all my life? Maybe he’s right? Maybe I need to get it off my chest, once and for all? Maybe I should just trust him? He’s definitely thinking a lot more clearly than I am.

“There’s a big dumpster alcove behind that building down the block on the north side of the street.”

“Yeah, I know it. I showed it to you, remember? What about it?”

“Drive over there and back the car in.”

“What for?”

“You want me to talk about it? OK, let’s talk about it! Drive!”

“You got it.”

God, I really hope I don’t come to regret this. But trying to deal with it on my own hasn’t worked so far. I’ve been stewing over this ever since the night it happened. It’s driven me crazy, it’s driven me to tears, it’s even driven me to drink. Maybe it’s time to listen to someone I trust? And right now, there’s no one I trust more than Harper. Just don’t let this be a mistake, Lord. I’ve made enough of those in the last year to last me a lifetime. I don’t know if I could handle another one right now.

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