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Chapter 23: The Last of the Old Old-Timers

Out on patrol. God, I feel a lot better. It’s like I finally got to say what I wanted to say, and to someone who isn’t a lawyer. Someone who wasn’t constantly telling me “Don’t say it like that. Say it like this.” Someone who wasn’t only interested in strategy. I know it probably doesn’t seem like much, but believe me, it is. It’s a very big deal to me.

“Dani, I want to ask you something and I want the truth. No bullshit. Officer Loomis said they fucked with you worse than any of the other officers who were there. Is that true?”

“That depends. Do you mean besides Cisneros?”

“Yeah, he doesn’t count. He lied and he got caught. No, I mean the bystanders. Officer Loomis said they went after you big time.”

“He’s right. They did.”


“Because I was the only one that they could really fuck with.”

“How come?”

“Didn’t you read the papers?”

“Actually, I tried not to. We heard enough from our instructors at the academy. It was depressing, so I tried to avoid it.”

Tried, but failed, I’ll bet. Hey, I don’t blame him. I tried not to read the papers or watch the news for the whole time that shit was happening. But I ended up reading all of it. And I watched it on the news every fucking night. It just made everything worse, but I kept doing it. Honestly, I don’t know why. I guess I’m a bit of a masochist.

“Well, the reason they could fuck with me and not the others is because everyone else had a fallback, and I didn’t.”

“What do you mean by a fallback?”

“Something else to fall back on. They didn’t need the job. I did.”

“How so?”

“Well, Ron Franklin was a major old-timer. He had thirty-seven years on the job, so he’d almost maxed out on his pension. They knew if they gave him a hard time, he’d just tell them to go fuck themselves and pull the pin, which is exactly what he did. He retired and moved back to Mississippi. They can’t fuck with you when you’re retired, and they couldn’t stop him from retiring before they ever tried to fire him, so his pension was safe. He had it locked. Bruce Gaines? Jesus, we used to wonder what he was doing on the department in the first place! His family’s stinking rich! They own a huge construction firm: Gaines Construction. You’ve probably seen their billboards around town. They’re everywhere.”

“He’s that Gaines? Damn! I don’t think there’s anything in the city they’re not building!”

“That’s him, and he was obviously tight with his family. Gaines drove a Mercedes that probably cost more than I make in a year. He didn’t need this job. He could just go to work for his family. They could probably buy him his own police department. He traded this job for one that paid him twenty times as much.”


“And Rich Bassett was working Graveyard because he was in his third year of law school. He wasn’t planning to stick around much longer. Everyone knew it. Plus, his wife’s a lawyer. Some kind of corporate shit. She makes good money. I know. She used to pick his suits, and I saw him in court on plenty of occasions. Very expensive suits! People used to see him and think he was some high-priced defense attorney.”

“So he was in the clear as far as money was concerned, huh?”

“No doubt. His wife can carry him until he finishes law school and passes the bar. I think they were planning to open a law firm together anyway. If they tried to squeeze him, he’d just say ‘fuck you!’ and resign; which is exactly what he did. Then when he passes the bar, he’ll come back and sue the shit out of the city, just to fuck with them. So he had a lock, too. But I didn’t have a fallback. I didn’t want to be anything but a cop. So I was the one they could fuck with, so they fucked with me.”

“That sucks.”

“Tell me about it. Hell, I couldn’t even play the gender card.”

“The gender card?”

“You know: ‘They’re picking on me because I’m a woman and they hate women cops!’ That’s the gender card.”

“I never heard it called that before.”

“Yeah, they usually use more colorful language.”

“Very colorful.”

“Believe me, I know. A lot of people say the department won’t fuck with a woman because they’re afraid of the bad press. Well, guess what? They fucked with me good! Nobody was coming forward to defend me. Your women’s rights groups? Your feminist groups? They didn’t even send me a sympathy card. I guess a woman accused of being involved in heinous police brutality sort of ruins the cherished stereotype. So much for the sisterhood, I guess.”

“Would you have played the gender card if you could?”

“Good question. I did it back in the captain’s office just to stick it to that fucking asshole Hillel. He’s such a piece of shit that I felt he deserved it. And I wasn’t going to pass up the chance when he put his foot into it. But no, I wouldn’t have done it. That was something I decided right away: I wasn’t going to play that bullshit. I worked hard to be a good cop. I wasn’t going to undercut everything I’d accomplished by being a little bitch and claiming they just didn’t want a woman on the job, and so they were picking on poor little me. Besides, I knew it had nothing to do with that. They weren’t picking on me because I’m a woman. They were picking on me because I was there and it was a major scandal and I was the one they could fuck with. And hey, I didn’t lie in the first place, so why would I want to start lying now, right?”

“You’ve got real class, Dani. I hope you know that.”

“You really think so?”

“I know so. No doubt about it.”

“Thanks, Harper. But I doubt it would’ve helped anyway.”

“I heard at one point that they were going to indict all of you. Is that true?”

“That’s what they told us. At one point, they said we’d be indicted in federal court. There was a lot of talk about a civil rights prosecution. They took it to a Grand Jury. Not federal; just local. I wanted to testify, but my lawyer wouldn’t let me. He said there was no point in giving them a dry run. And for a couple of months, we were just standing by, waiting for it to happen. I was expecting a couple of sheriffs to show up at my front door with an arrest warrant and handcuffs. For a while there, if anyone knocked on the door, I thought, ‘This is it.’ But even the DA had to admit that none of us had done anything wrong. And the feds decided there wasn’t going to be a civil rights prosecution. I guess Whaley going to prison was enough for them. And believe me, a lot of people were really pissed about that. They wanted us all behind bars.”


“Exactly. So the DA said it was over, as far as he was concerned. The feds dragged their feet for a while, but eventually they said the same thing. And IAD took their sweet time about it, but in the end, they announced that they’d cleared us. All of us. Everyone except Whaley and Cisneros. But the department kept fucking with me until they finally gave up and transferred me here. Let me tell you: that was one hell of a year.”

“I’ll bet.”

“That’s why I didn’t want to talk about it. Even now, you could still get dragged into it. For some people inside and outside of the department, this whole fucking mess never really ended. I think they don’t want it to end.”

“Well, don’t worry. In this division, you’re among friends.”

“I hope so.”

“Don’t hope. I’m telling you. It’s true. People respect you here. I sure as hell do.”

After today, I know that’s true. I saw the captain and the lieutenant take on a commander just because they had my back. They didn’t have to, but they did. Maybe I have seen the last of this shit? God, I hope so.

Heading toward the Big Lot. Well, we burned up a big chunk of time baring my soul, so I want to get back in the shit right away. Judging from the calls on the screen, we already missed a couple of fights near Grand Alley, so we need to head over there. That’s our sector. But first, we need to drive by the Big Lot and see how Ricky’s doing without his little friend.

There it is. Damn! It looks almost deserted! Where is everybody?

“Holy shit! Dani, check it out!”

“What have you got?”

“On the north wall! Where Ricky hides his dope!”

“You mean where he used to hide his dope. You do remember the sledgehammer, don’t you?”

“Dani, take a look!”

Oh, shit! I don’t believe it! It seems a graffiti artist left a little message for Ricky!

“Am I really seeing this? Those letters must be three feet high!”

“More like four or five feet high!”

It’s in Spanish. I’m no Spanish speaker, but I damn well know what that says! It says “Fuck you Ricky!” I don’t believe it! The entire time I’ve been here, that wall hasn’t had so much as a speck of graffiti on it! The Senior Lead Officer for this area told me everyone’s afraid to mark it because they’re scared shitless of Ricky, but look at that! Not only did someone mark the shit out of it, it’s an insult directed straight at him! From what I’ve heard, he’s killed people for disrespecting him! But somebody had the balls to do that? Holy shit! I guess the word went out that his asshole bodyguard got totaled and locked up! These assholes are finally beginning to stand up to him!

“What do you think, Dani? Do you think that’s because of Diego?”

Oh my God! There’s more!

“Uh, I’m sure of it, now! Take a look at the wall in the alley!”

“Holy shit! Does that say what I think it says?”

“I know enough Spanish to know it says! It says ‘Thanks Officer Harper!’ I think you’re the new junkie hero!”

“No way!”

“Are you kidding? Think of how many junkies that little shit beat the crap out of? You saw what he was doing to Isaac! You fucking devastated his ass! I’m sure the word has spread by now. What you did is their dream come true. You’re a skid row junkie hero, Harper!”

“We have got to take a picture of this!”

“Yeah, you can send it to your mom.”

“Screw that! I’m putting it on my wall!”

“Wait a minute! Are you saying you’re still a boot and you’ve already got an ‘ILM’ wall?”

“Hell, yes! And that’s going right in the middle of it! I’m going to have it framed!”

For those who don’t speak cop – particularly egomaniacal cop – the letters “ILM” stand for “I Love Me!” It’s the wall in your house where you put up all the awards and shit that makes you look larger than life. It’s an ego thing. That one definitely rates a place of honor on Harper’s “ILM” wall. Hell, I’m going to put it on mine! Yeah, I’ve got one, too. What? Are you surprised? Hey, I’m as shameless as the next cop. Sue me.

“OK, Harper. Time for your moment of glory. Go stand in front of it. I’ll take your picture.”

“Make sure you get a good one. And use that good camera of yours. No cellphone cameras.”

Would you listen to him? He’s practically giddy!

“You’re going to be fucking insufferable for the rest of the night, aren’t you?”

“Hey, you wanted to see me being cocky? This is me being cocky!”

“Uh-huh. Just stand your fucking ass in front of the thing!”

I almost wish I could tell him it’s too dark for a good picture, but that part of the alley is all lit up with floodlights. And even if it weren’t, he’d insist we come back as soon as the sun was up. Oh, well. He earned it. And how often does something like this happen? Never! At least, I’ve never seen it happen before.

“Is that the good camera?”

“Does this thing look like a cellphone? All right, let’s see your best Captain America pose.”

Oh, God! He’s hamming it up for all it’s worth! On the other hand, that’s a pretty good Captain America pose. Harper must’ve read a lot of comic books when he was a kid.

“Smile! Perfect!”

“Let me see it!”

Ah, yes! The beauty of digital cameras: instant gratification! Not bad, if I do say so myself. Mom always said I had a talent for photography. She was right.

“OK, now I want one of you, Dani.”

“But it says ‘Thank you Officer Harper.’ That’s for you.”

“I don’t care! Stand in front of the other one! I want a picture of you!”

“How come?”

“Because I don’t have any! Now, get your ass over there!”

OK, this is definitely different. I never had a partner ask for a picture of me. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve had a few hit on me, and the kind of picture they wanted was…well, use your imagination. I think it’s safe to say they used theirs quite a bit. And no, I didn’t give them the picture.

“Right there, Dani! I want to get the ‘Fuck you Ricky!’ in there as well!”

“All right. Go ahead, take the picture.”

“Come on, smile! I want to get your smile! That’s it! Got it! One more!”

“Oh, come on!”

“No, this time I want one of just you. Screw the background. Give me a good pose.”

“I can’t do Captain America. I’m too short.”

“I don’t want Captain America. I want Dani Lynott. Just give me a good one, and make sure you smile.”

Hey, why the hell not? I guess I can try my best glamour model pose. Maybe he’ll like it?

“How’s this?”

“Yes! That’s perfect! One more! Yes!”

“All right, let me see it.”

Hey, not bad! In fact, it’s probably the best picture of me in uniform I’ve ever seen.

“You take a great picture, Dani.”

“Yeah, it’s all right.”

“All right? Are you kidding? You are way beyond all right! You look fantastic!”

“I’m OK.”

“Are you crazy? You’re a hell of a lot better than OK. If you don’t believe me, look in a mirror sometime.”

“Are you trying to boost your rating, Officer Harper?”

“I’m just telling you what you should already know. You make sure I get that picture! I mean it! If you don’t, I’m coming to get it!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get it to you.”

Yeah, I’ll give him the picture. But I’m keeping a copy of his for myself. I won’t tell him, of course. But suddenly, I really want that picture of him. And speaking of sending things, I think I should get on the computer and notify the watch. They’ll want to see this graffiti.

“Dani, where are you going?”

“I’m going to send a message to the whole watch to come down here and see this before Ricky paints over it.”

“Make sure you send it to the lieutenant, too.”

You better believe I’m sending it to him! After that performance in the captain’s office, Lieutenant Hagan is on my Christmas list for life. I think the captain is, too.

“What should I tell them about it?”

“Start by telling them we didn’t paint it!”

“Good idea!”

Harper’s right: they’d probably think we painted it. Not that I haven’t considered spray painting Ricky a little message from time to time. But this is more than just a good joke at Ricky’s expense. This is some serious shit. This is the junkies openly defying him, probably for the first time. I’ll bet he never thought he’d see that happen. And given the fact that he’s not here now, maybe that little shithead is afraid to be here? He lost his bodyguard. Maybe he doesn’t have a replacement? That would be justice: the guy who ran a reign of terror is now terrified himself. Fuck Commander Hillel and his public relations bullshit! There’s no doubt about it: we are definitely doing the right thing out here, and we’re making a real difference. That wall is the proof. And I want everyone in the world to see it.

Out on patrol, over near Grand Alley. With Ricky making himself scarce, there’s no point in hanging around at the Big Lot. We’ll check back later to see if he decided to come out of hiding, but the fact that he’s not there is like a holiday for Harper and me. We should enjoy it while it lasts. So in the meantime, we’re checking around to see if we can find any of Shiloh’s point men lurking about our division. The skid row grapevine is very efficient. Shiloh probably knows that Ricky’s not out and about, so he might figure that it’s safe to send his people out to scout out some prime dope spots. I would, if I were him.

“Dani, I know you’re sick of me asking about the whole Reid thing, but do you think Chief Staunton’s going to resign?”

Chief Staunton was under at least as much fire from the activists as we were. They decided to make the Reid shooting as much about him as it was about Whaley. It was bullshit, but a lot of people in this city really hate the chief. They’ve hated him for a long time. He’s not what you’d call a people person, and he’s said some things over the years that really pissed a lot of people off. They want him out.

“Yeah, probably. He’ll hang in there a little longer, just to make it look like the assholes didn’t run him out of office, but he’ll pack it in. He’s beyond maxed out on his pension, so he’s working for free. And once he’s out, he can get a job with some major company that’ll pay him seven figures, easy. He’ll leave. It’s just a question of when.”

“So who do you think will take over? You don’t really think it’ll be Commander Hillel, do you?”

“I hate to say it, but he’s got a pretty good shot. He’s been sucking up to all of the right people and special-interest groups. About the only one they love more than Hillel is Deputy Chief Ellison. God, imagine if that asshole became chief! He’d wreck the department in a year!”

Frankly, I’d rather not think about that. Hillel would be the worst choice for me, personally. He’s got it in for me. But Ellison would be the worst choice for the department. He’s a megalomaniac and a weasel. Pretty much everybody below the rank of captain hates his guts. There really aren’t a lot of good candidates for the job, unless they look outside of the usual gang of idiots on the command staff. I don’t know. Commander Wong would be a good chief. Maybe a great chief? He’s really sharp. He doesn’t go for the political bullshit. I don’t think they’d pick him, though. He’s too young and too close to the rank-and-file. Maybe Commander Portillo? No way. He was a real hard-charger when he was a street cop, so he’s got more than a few reprimands and suspension days in his jacket. He kicked some serious ass back in the day, so the asshole contingent would never let him be chief. Why is it that the really good ones rarely seem to advance beyond the rank of lieutenant? The system’s got to be rigged. How else can you explain it?

“Stay sharp, Dani! Grand Alley, just ahead!”

“Don’t drive in there. We’ll walk. It’s dark, so we might not attract as much attention.”

“Yeah, until the first junkie or psycho sees us.”

And he’ll sound the alarm for everyone else. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that.

“Park the car here. Let’s go take a walk.”

There’s a weird vibe on the street tonight. I wonder if it has to do with Ricky not being out? I doubt it. Ricky’s reach doesn’t extend this far north. He’s got dealers working around here, but his circle of fear doesn’t extend much beyond 7th Street. Not unless you cross him, that is. Then he’ll find you wherever you are.

There are plenty of people in the alley. That’s typical. God, how can they stand this fucking heat? It feels like it’s ten degrees hotter in the alley than on the street! It’s like an oven in here! God, please don’t let us find some poor guy who died of heatstroke! I don’t want to get stuck in here for a few hours, standing over a dead body!

“Dani, check it out! See that guy by the floodlight? The one talking to those four guys?”

“I see him.”

He’s definitely got their attention. He looks like he’s laying out something for him. Those four guys are junkies. I recognize two of them. We’ve talked to them a couple of times. Three white guys and a black guy, all listening to a black guy who definitely doesn’t look homeless. He’s too squared-away. Is he a dealer? Is he one of Shiloh’s guys? Letting the local junkies know they’ve got a new dealer in town? Telling them to stay the hell away from Ricky and his dealers?

“What do you think, Harper? One of Shiloh’s guys?”

“He sure as hell doesn’t live in this alley. Look at his shoes. Those are Nike LeBron 15s. One hundred eighty-five bucks a pop! They don’t give those away at the missions.”

“You just happened to know that?”

“I thought about getting a pair. Come on, let’s go see what he’s up to.”

Maybe this is Shiloh’s strategy? You know, spread the word that there’s a new guy in town and they can get a better deal? Something like that. Lay the groundwork so that when your dealers move in, everybody’s ready to start buying. This Shiloh guy is a lot smarter than most dealers. Smarter than Ricky, I’ll bet. Are we about to trade one major asshole for another?

“What do you think, Harper? How do you want to handle this?”

“If he’s working for a Mid-City dealer, then it stands to reason he doesn’t know these alleys. He doesn’t know about the escape routes. If he runs, he’ll go straight for the end of the alley and probably take off down 4th Street. We need to box him in.”

Good thinking. That means we need more people.

“Sixteen Central, can we have a unit stand by at the edge of Grand Alley and 4th Street?”

“Sixteen Central, stand by.”

There are at least a thousand places where he could lose us in Grand Alley, but Harper’s right: unless he’s spent some time in here, then he won’t know them. And that guy looks like he’s never spent five minutes in an alley.

“Sixteen Central, Forty-Four Central is en route. ETA is less than one minute.”

“Sixteen Central, roger. When they get here, have them meet us on tac three.”

“All right, Harper. It’s your call. You know this alley a hell of a lot better than I do.”

“I’m not worried about the alley. I’m worried about that guy. If Ricky’s people have been picking these guys off, I’m guessing he wouldn’t be out here without a weapon. I’m actually surprised he’s out here by himself. I’d have sent these guys out in pairs, at least.”

Very good! I was thinking exactly the same thing. That guy may be a dope dealer and dope dealers don’t usually go armed, but with the way they’re being targeted, he probably told Shiloh that he wouldn’t go anywhere near this place without a gun. And as for working in pairs, he could have a partner in here, somewhere. Maybe a guy hidden in the shadows who’s covering this guy with a gun?

“Forty-Four Central to Sixteen Central on tac four, Harper? Lynott? Where are you guys?”

That’s Goren. I guess they’re up there already. Let’s get this show on the road.

“Sixteen Central to Forty-Four, Goren? We’re at the entrance to the alley, just north of 5th Street. We’ve got a guy in here, talking to a bunch of junkies. We think he might work for that rival dope dealer who’s been mixing it up with Ricky. Male black, about five-eight, what looks like a maroon shirt and dark pants. We want to talk to him, but we think that the minute he sees us, he’s going to take off for the north end of the alley.”

“Roger that, Lynott. Are you talking about the guy by the floodlight?”

Damn! They can see him from way up there? That’s some pretty good eyesight!

“That’s him. We want you guys to keep him from getting out that way.”

“You got it. We’ll set up just inside the mouth of the alley. If he comes this way, he won’t get past us. Let us know when you’re ready to move.”

“We’re moving in right now. Stay sharp, guys. We think this guy might be armed.”

“Roger that. Don’t get shot, guys.”

Sound advice. All right, let’s go see who this is. If this turns out to be some idiot who came down here to buy dope because he heard it was cheaper on skid row, I’m going to hang my foot right up his ass!

“Let’s go, Harper. You move to the left. I’ll go straight in. If he sees me and starts running, we chase him. If he tries to get through me, move in and take him straight down to the ground. Let’s go!”

He’s still with those guys. How long does it take to give the word to four junkies? Maybe they’re too brain-dead to understand what he’s saying? So far, so good. Harper’s almost up to where our suspect is. A little further…oh, hell! He sees me! And there he goes! God damn! He’s fucking fast! He’s going for the north end!

“Forty-Four, he’s headed straight for you!”

I’m going to fucking kill this guy! Making us run in this heat! Fuck! I feel like my lungs are scorching! He’s almost to the end of the alley! God damned track star! There’s Forty-Four! He sees them! Yeah, you’re trapped, motherfucker! There’s nowhere to go! Give it up!

“Stop! Police!”

Does anybody ever stop when I say that shit?

“Don’t move!”

Oh, shit! He’s headed straight for me! Get ready! Oh, fuck! He’s reaching for something! Draw down! He’s got a…son of a bitch! What the fuck? He sprayed me! He sprayed me with something! I can’t see! My eyes! It burns! That motherfucker! He sprayed me with fucking pepper gas!

“Harper, he gassed me! He’s got pepper gas!”

Fuck! He got past me! I can barely open my eyes! It burns like shit! What the…what was that? Jesus, that’s Signolo! He got all the way down here that fast? Jesus, look at him go! He’s got him! Oh, fuck! Every time I open my eyes, it burns like a motherfucker! I hate this shit!

OK, that “thud” tells me he’s down! They got him! Shit! I need to find something to wash this out of my eyes! We’ve got water in the car. Fuck! I’m fucking useless like this!

“Harper! I can’t see shit!”

I’ve got you, Dani!”

“Go to the car and get one of those water bottles! Hurry!”

Shit! I didn’t even think of something like that! Pepper gas? What the fuck kind of a dope dealer carries pepper gas? A smart one, that’s who! Son of a bitch! I want to beat the living shit out of that asshole!

“Here you go, Dani! Wash it out!”

That’s one good thing about pepper gas: just flush your eyes with water and it’s out. Fuck! He really nailed me! Right in the fucking face! That’s better! I can see again! Where is that little piece of shit?

“Harper, where is that motherfucker?”

“Goren and Signolo have him. Don’t worry. He went down hard. He got it worse than you did.”

“I’m going to kill his ass!”

“No, you’re not. I know you want to, but you can’t. You know that.”

He’s right. The guy’s caught. We can’t just tune him up after he’s caught. It’s over. Here’s hoping Signolo broke his fucking nose when he took him down!

“Goren! Where is he?”

“Right here, Lynott. My partner’s searching him. Jesus, Dani! He really got you good! You might have a burn on your face. You’d better get that looked at.”

“It’s probably because I’m sweating like a pig. Pepper gas works better like that. I’ll be fine. Did he have any other weapons on him?”

“Nothing. Just the gas canister. This guy was ready. Since when do dope dealers carry that shit?”

My thoughts exactly. Who the fuck is this guy? Maybe he doesn’t work for Shiloh? Maybe he’s not a dope dealer? There’s one way to find out: ask him.

Well, Harper was right: this guy got it worse than me. His nose is bleeding and his faced is pretty scraped up. Damn! He must’ve landed face-first on the pavement! This alley’s full of gravel. That must’ve hurt like hell. Good! Serves his ass right!

“Hey! Asshole! You’re in a lot of trouble! Assaulting an officer? Your ass is fucked!”

“I didn’t know you were a cop! I thought you were a mugger!”

“Bullshit! You looked right at me and took off running! You saw the uniform!”

“So? It ain’t a crime to run from the police! I didn’t do nothing!”

“And it’s not against the law for us to chase you, either. We told you to stop and you charged me and sprayed me in the face with that shit! Your ass is going to jail!”

“For what?”

Is he really that stupid?

“For spraying a cop in the face with pepper gas! Assaulting an officer!”

He’s pretty pissed. He’s caught; that’s for sure. We’ve got him for assault. But we still don’t know who he is. Let’s see if he’ll give it away.

“Assaulting an officer? That’s what? About a fifty thousand dollar bail?”

Actually, I don’t know how much his bail is. I’m just trying to bait him. And it looks like he took it!

“Fifty grand? For what? A little pepper gas? That ain’t shit!”

“Maybe Shiloh can post your bail?”

Got him! That look on his face when I mentioned Shiloh’s name says he knows who he is. We were right: he works for Shiloh.

“Harper, get us a sergeant. We’re going to need one before we take him out of here.”

“Signolo’s already got one en route. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“It’s just pepper gas. No permanent damage. You’ve been sprayed, haven’t you? You know what it’s like.”

We all get sprayed in the academy. It’s part of your chemical weapons training. It’s not fun, but at least you know what to expect if it ever happens to you.

“You should still sit down for a minute.”

“In Grand Alley? I’ll probably catch some fatal disease. No, thank you! Did that guy have any dope on him? Anything?”

“Not that we found. And I didn’t see him toss anything.”

“Neither did I. We’ll sort it out back at the station. I want to know who this asshole is. It takes some serious balls to spray a cop with pepper gas.”

“He’s lucky he didn’t get himself shot!”

“He almost did. If I’d had another second to get my gun up…”

“Dani, what if all of Shiloh’s guy are like him? What if they’re not afraid to go toe-to-toe with us? We think Ricky’s bad? This guy could end up being a lot worse.”

Jesus, there’s a frightening thought! Oh, and here comes another one! Our sergeant’s here. And it’s Sergeant Alfaro!

“Heads up, Harper. Sergeant Alfaro.”

This is the first call we’ve had where he showed up. I’ve been wondering what he does all night. I think I’ve seen him driving around maybe five times since I got to Midwatch. Where does he go for the rest of the shift? Does this guy even work for a living?

“Thanks for coming, Sarge.”

“What’ve you got? Who’s that guy in Forty-Four’s car?”

“That’s our arrestee. We got him for assaulting an officer. He sprayed me in the face with pepper gas.”

He looks downright shocked! What? He never responded to a call where a suspect attacked an officer before?

“Why did he do that?”

Oh, this guy’s a real piece of work! I just told him that one of his officers got assaulted, and his first question is “Why did he do that?” Not “Are you all right?” Yeah, I’m not too crazy about him being here.

“He took off running and we chased him. Signolo and Goren were at the north end of the alley to block his way, so he turned and…”

“Why were you chasing him?”

“We saw him talking to a bunch of junkies. He clearly isn’t homeless, so we thought he might be a dope dealer. We thought he might work for that guy in Mid-City. The dealer called Shiloh? So when he saw us walking up the alley, he took off running. We’d already called…”

“Why did you think he might be a dope dealer?”

Is he fucking kidding me? He does know we’re standing in Grand Alley, right?

“This is a major dope location, Sarge. The guy clearly doesn’t belong in an alley on skid row. He took one look at a uniformed officer and started running like hell.”

“Maybe he’s had a bad experience with the police? Maybe he was afraid? That doesn’t make him a dope dealer, Lynott.”

Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me! He can’t be that fucking stupid!

“Sarge, we’re standing in a major dope location. Grand Alley? You’re familiar with it, right? The guy took off running at the sight of a police officer. When he couldn’t get past Signolo and Goren, he turned and attacked me! And when I mentioned Shiloh’s name, it was obvious he knew him! In fact, he seemed pretty surprised that I knew about him. Do the math, Sarge. The guy’s dirty.”

“That may be, but it doesn’t sound like you had any reason to chase him, Lynott. And why is his face all bloody? Did you do that to him?”

“No, he hit his face when Signolo tackled him.”

“Why did Signolo tackle him?”

Am I in the fucking Twilight Zone? He did hear me say the guy gassed my ass and ran, right?

“Because the guy just assaulted a cop and was running away, sir.”

“Lynott, I don’t like what I’m hearing. It sounds to me like you had no right to chase that man. What were you doing in here anyway? I checked your status. You didn’t get any calls in this alley. What were you doing in here?”

I don’t fucking believe this! He’s out of his mind! Did he ever work the field? Does he even know the first thing about being a police officer?

“Grand Alley is part of our sector, Sergeant. We patrol it every night. It’s a high-crime area. We’re supposed to be here.”

“No, you’re not. I know about your meeting with Commander Hillel this evening. He told you not to engage in narcotics enforcement. You disobeyed an order. You’re not supposed to be initiating activities. You’re supposed to be responding to radio calls. That’s all. I’m afraid I’m going to have to write this up.”

Is he telling me he’s initiating a personnel complaint against me for doing my fucking job? I don’t believe this shit! And I’m not going to sit here and let him get away with it! Fuck him! Fuck this little weasel! Where’s my radio?

“Sixteen Central, have Ten Central respond to our location, code two high.”

Ten Central is the Watch Commander. Lieutenant Hagan. I need him to put this little shit in his place!

“Sixteen Central, confirm you are requesting Ten Central to respond to your location?”

“That’s affirmative, dispatch. Have him respond code two-high. Priority.”

“Sixteen Central, Roger.”

And that look on Sergeant Alfaro’s face tells me he doesn’t know what to do! What a piece of shit! I knew this guy was practically worthless, but I had no idea he was this bad!

“What are you doing, Lynott?”

“I’m not going to sit here and let you hit me with a complaint for doing my job, sir. I want the Watch Commander to know about this.”

“We can talk to him at the station.”

“We can talk to him here, sir. I want him out here. I’m sure he’s on his way. The station’s only about three blocks from here.”

“We don’t need the lieutenant out here!”

And there he goes for his radio! He’s probably going to tell him not to come.

“Sixty Central, cancel Ten Central’s response to our location.”

“Sixty Central, confirm you are canceling Ten Central’s response?”

“That’s affirmative. We don’t need him out here.”

“Ten Central to dispatch, I’m almost there. I’m responding. Show me code six at Sixteen Central’s location.”

And that’s that! Sergeant Alfaro looks like he’s a little nervous. He should be. I don’t think Lieutenant Hagan’s going to see things his way.

“Officer Lynott, you’re in a lot of trouble. Don’t make it any worse.”

“I think I just made it better, sir.”

I know enough about Lieutenant Hagan to know he hates little weasels like Alfaro! And he’s not going to have a problem with anything we did out here. Far from it, in fact. Oh, look! Here he is, now! Jesus, he look seven taller in the field than he does in the station! And that’s saying something!

“Lynott! What the hell is going on here that you needed me to come out?”

Oh, and his baritone roar is enough to strike fear into anyone! Cops and weasel sergeants included!

“Thanks for coming, sir. We have a little problem and I thought you should know about it right away. Sergeant Alfaro doesn’t seem to think we should be enforcing the law in Grand Alley. He says I’m disobeying Commander Hillel’s direct orders, sir. He wants to write a complaint on me.”

And now he gives Sergeant Alfaro the death look! God, Lieutenant Hagan could be a movie villain straight out of central casting! He could scare anyone to death!

“Are you fucking kidding me, Lynott?”

“No, sir. Ask the Sarge.”

“Chris? What the fuck is she talking about?”

Poor Sergeant Alfaro looks like he’s going to shit himself! Hey, I don’t blame him!

"Lieutenant, Officers Lynott and Harper chased a man for no apparent reason. Officer Signolo tackled him, and he appears to have some serious injuries to his face. I don’t know if he got them when he was tackled, or if we’ve got an unreported and unauthorized use of force.”

“Lynott, did any of you tune this guy up?”

“No, sir. He took off running when he saw me. We had Forty-Four block the alley at the north end. When he saw he couldn’t get away, he turned and charged me. He sprayed me in the face with pepper gas, sir. Fortunately, he couldn’t outrun Signolo. He tackled him and that was it, sir.”

“This piece of shit sprayed you with pepper gas?”

“Yes, sir. I almost shot him. I thought he was pulling a gun.”

“You should’ve shot his ass! Chris, what the fuck are you talking about? This sounds like a perfectly good arrest!”

“Sir, they had no cause to chase the suspect. All he did was run from them.”

“In Grand Alley? Just being in this shithole is probable cause! How long have you been in this division?”

“Sir, given the circumstances…”

“What circumstances?”

“Police officers chasing an African-American man for no reason, sir.”

“He’s in a goddamned dope alley at night! He sees a police uniform and takes off running! That’s called ‘reason,’ Sergeant! Or didn’t they teach you that in Sergeant’s school?”

Evidently not! Fucking Alfaro looks like he’s going to start crying!

“Lieutenant, given Commander Hillel’s direct orders…”

“Hillel doesn’t give the orders in my fucking division, Sergeant! Captain Mayones does! And he told Lynott and Harper to keep doing what they’re doing! You do know we’ve got a serious dope problem in this division, don’t you? You do know these fucking dealers are shooting each other, right? You do know that our job is to put fucking lowlife dope dealers in jail, right?”

“Sir, given Officer Lynott’s history, I don’t think that she should be…”

“What the fuck do you know about her history? Is there something going on here that I don’t know about? Chris, you get your ass back to the station and wait for me in my office!”

“Sir I really think you…”

“Enough! I gave you a fucking order, Sergeant! You shall get your ass back to the station code two-high! You shall park your ass in my office and wait for me! I want you to imagine a circle on the floor, in front of my desk! That circle is exactly one foot in diameter! You shall stand in that circle and not move one fucking inch until I get there! Do you read me, Sergeant?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re going to have to sound off a lot better than that, Sergeant! I said, do you read me?”

“Yes, sir!

That’s more like it, asshole! Sergeant Alfaro probably hasn’t sounded off like that since he was a recruit in the academy! This is actually fun!

“Get moving!”

And there he goes, code two-high! He might actually get into a crash on the way back to the station! Oh, he is fucking scared shitless!

“Lynott, run it down for me. What drew your attention to this guy?”

“He was talking to four junkies, sir. He clearly wasn’t homeless. His shoes cost a hundred and eighty-five dollars.”

“And just how the fuck do you know that?”

“I didn’t, sir. Harper’s the shoe expert. Anyway, he’s black and the heroin dealers in Grand Alley all work for Ricky. They’re all Hispanics. We figured he might be working for Shiloh; you know, acting as one of his point-men.”

“And he was out here alone? Does this guy have a death wish?”

“That’s what Harper thought, sir. Anyway, after he was caught, I mentioned Shiloh’s name and it was clear he knew who I was talking about. Oh, and Ricky’s MIA tonight. We went by the Big Lot and he wasn’t there. But there is a bunch of new graffiti on the walls. It says ‘Fuck You Ricky’ in big, giant letters. And no, we didn’t put it there, sir.”

“Who did?”

“Harper and I think it was some junkies, sir. Ricky’s looking weak for the first time since he took over. We think they’re sick of the reign of terror. Maybe they’re finally standing up to him?”

“I’m going to go take a look at it.”

“Uh, what about Sergeant Alfaro, sir? He’s waiting for you at the station.”

“Let him wait. Maybe it’ll build some character? He’s in serious need of some.”

No argument, there. He’s a fucking weasel. I think it’s terminal.

“Roger that, sir. We’ll get our arrestee checked out at the infirmary.”

“Have them look at you while they’re at it. I know pepper gas isn’t a big deal, but I want you to get looked at, just in case.”

“Will do, sir. Thanks for coming out. I know calling you out here was a little out of the ordinary.”

“Don’t apologize. You did the right thing. And don’t worry about Sergeant Alfaro. I’ll straighten him out. I can’t have a sergeant out here who doesn’t know what our fucking job is. If you have any more problems, you let me know. Understood?”

“Roger that, sir.”

And that, boys and girls, is why Lieutenant Hagan is a legend on this department! They don’t make them like him anymore. He’s the last of the old, old-time cops. And on the day he retires, every good cop on this department is going to be in mourning. And I’ll be one of them.

Central Station. Booking our arrestee. The doctor at the infirmary said he didn’t have any serious injuries. Just a bloody nose and a few scrapes on his face. And I don’t have any chemical burns on my face. Hooray for me. Our asshole has a very nice cellphone, but it’s locked and Rosen says it’s some pretty serious encryption. I learned that Rosen is Midwatch’s high-tech expert. That’s kind of unexpected. I heard he grew up on a farm in the Midwest, somewhere. I guess he had a lot of time to play with computers. At any rate, that sort of high-tech is becoming more common among dope dealers. It’s making our job a hell of a lot harder. These guys have virtually unlimited funds at their disposal, so they’ve got all of the latest toys. We’re constantly playing catch-up.

On the positive side, we were able to identify him. He had his ID on him, which was pretty dumb. I think we covered that one already. Anyway, he’s on parole. He did a couple of years for robbery, and he’s got a few dope arrests with no convictions. We booked him on the open charge and slapped a parole hold on him, so he’s got no bail until he sees his parole officer. I don’t think the guy’s going to be too happy with him. Our asshole might end up doing a year on a parole violation in addition to whatever he gets on the assault charge. I’m looking forward to seeing him in court. I hope they really slam his ass.

He hasn’t told us jack shit. I guess Shiloh’s people are a lot more tight-lipped than Ricky’s. That’s not good. We still don’t know anything about Shiloh. I can’t even find a picture of him. I don’t even know his real name. I hope John and Angelo have a file on him. Mid-City’s in Central Bureau, so that’s their jurisdiction. If anyone’s got anything on him, it’s Central Bureau Narcotics. Shiloh the high-tech dope dealer. Encrypted cellphones and dealers armed with pepper gas canisters. And Ricky’s in the Big Lot night after night, doing hand-to-hand sales to lowlife junkies. Talk about a contrast!

When we got here, the door to the Watch commander’s office was closed, but we could hear it! Lieutenant Hagan was tearing Sergeant Alfaro a new asshole but good! I’ve been wondering how he knew about Commander Hillel’s orders. He wasn’t in the room with us. Who would’ve told him? Maybe he was hanging around outside of the captain’s office and eavesdropping? Then again, maybe Hillel went looking for a weasel to be his eyes and ears in this division? If so, he found a perfect one in Sergeant Alfaro. Then again, he’s not going to be Hillel’s weasel anymore. A few minutes with an enraged Lieutenant Hagan is enough to make the devil switch sides.

“Are we done, Harper?”

“Roger that. We don’t even have to take a picture of you to include with the report. You’ve got no visible injuries.”

“Yeah, I got lucky. Hey, thanks for pulling me back when I wanted to kick that guy’s ass. I probably wouldn’t have done it, but you were right anyway.”

“It was all I could do to keep from shoving a nightstick up his ass, but I knew we had to back off. Besides, I saw him go down. He hit pretty hard.”

“Yeah, his nose didn’t stop bleeding until the doctor treated him. I wonder how pissed off Shiloh’s going to be when he hears we caught one of his boys?”

“He’ll probably be happy Ricky’s boys didn’t kill him. We need to find out who’s doing these shootings. I don’t think they’re dope dealers. I know I don’t have a lot of time on the job, but I’ve never come across a dealer who had the balls to do that sort of thing. Besides Ricky, I mean.”

“You’re right. I think he brought in somebody for the job. It might have something to do with why nobody seems to know anything about them.”

Not one junkie or street person we’ve talked to knows anything about them. We’ve even talked to guys who’ve been buying from Ricky for years and they don’t know anybody who works for him who would turn into a hit man for him. Besides Diego, that is. And he’s going to be out of commission for a long, long time.

“That’ll be our first question for Detectives Godfrey and Cardozo when we see them.”

Oh, shit! That sound! That’s the station’s panic alarm! What the fuck is going on?

“Dani, what the hell is that?”

“The panic alarm! Something’s wrong!”

“All personnel, emergency at the east entrance! First level!”

“Let’s go!”

Jesus, you almost never hear that thing! It means somebody’s in big trouble, or the station’s under attack! Hurry! The east door! Where we go out to the parking lot! Oh, shit! It’s Kursteff and Vinell! They’ve got a psycho going nuts on them!


“I see it! Come on!”

There’s two of them and that guy is beating the living shit out of them! He’s got one cuff on! What the fuck happened? No time to ask! The fight’s on! We need to get this guy under control!

“Grab him, Harper! Take his ass down!”

Harper’s got him, but he can’t drop him! This guy’s as strong as hell! Oh, Jesus! He’s got to be a duster!

“Vinell! Is he dusted?”

“Damn right! Watch his left hand! He’s swinging that cuff!”

Yeah, and he already hit you with it! I can see the blood coming out of your head! Shit! Take out this asshole’s legs! Fuck! My nightstick’s in the car! All I’ve got is this fucking collapsible one! Hit him! Right on the kneecap! Got him! Son of a bitch! It’s like he doesn’t feel a thing!

“Knock his legs out! Take him down! Get him on the ground!”

Fuck! He just punched Harper! Oh, he hit him good! Right in the face! Damn it! This motherfucker could probably lift us all with one hand! Hit him again! Again! Nothing! He’s not going down!

“Kursteff! Choke his ass out! Do it! Slap a chokehold on him!”

He’s got him! He’s got him in a chokehold! Fuck! It’s not working! This guy’s too pumped up! We need more people!

“Somebody help us out! Get in here! Now!”

Harper’s got his left arm trapped! But the guy’s still got his right arm free! And he’s kicking at us! Watch his face! Don’t let him bite anyone! Get him around the legs! That’s it! I’ve got to pull his legs out from under him! We’ve got to get his ass on the ground!

“Vinell! Kick his legs out! Hurry!”

“You’re in the way!”

“Fuck it! Do it! Kick his legs out!”

Oh, fuck! He got me and the suspect! He knocked the wind out of me! Don’t let go! Keep fighting! Stay in it! At least the guy’s on his knees! He’s still fighting! We need a goddamned Taser!

“Does anyone have a Taser? Somebody Zap this motherfucker!”

Kursteff’s got one! Good! Zap his ass!

“Kursteff! Light this motherfucker up!”

“Pull him back, Lynott! Get me a clear shot!”

Yeah, right! It’s like trying to bend a fucking oak tree back! Pull! Pull harder! Harder! God damn it! This guy’s fucking Superman! Pull!

“Harper, kick him back! Back towards me! Hurry!”

Oh, fuck! Nice kick, Harper! I felt that one! It hurt! This guys’ still fighting! Zap him, Kursteff! Do it now!

“Kursteff! Fire! Light him up!”


Yes! Got him! Right in the chest! Good hit! He felt that shit! But he’s not stopping! We’ve got help! Lieutenant Hagan! And does he ever look pissed!

“Lynott! Move your head to the side!”

What’s he going to…oh, shit! He punched him right in the jaw! That was a fucking piledriver! God, his head snapped back like a whip! That did it! He’s down for the count!

“Guys! Cuff him! Two sets of cuffs! I’ll tie his legs!”

“Dani! Are you all right?”

“I just got the wind knocked out of me. I’m OK. What about you? He hit you good.”

“Yeah, it hurt, but I’m fine. So that’s a duster?”

“You’ve never seen one before?”

“Never. I’ve heard about them. Jesus, they’re worse than they told us in the academy!”

“A lot worse. Nice shot, Lieutenant.”

“No problem. Nice work, people. Lynott, you got hit pretty hard. Are you sure you’re in one piece?”

“I am, sir. I don’t know about this guy.”

“Fuck him! Goddamned duster! I thought we got rid of that shit back in the eighties! Don’t tell me it’s making a comeback!”

“You’d have to ask Kursteff and Vinell, sir. He’s their arrest. Guys, where did you find this psycho?”

Vinell’s too winded to talk. I saw him get kicked a few times. Those were some hard kicks, too.


“It was a 415 man call. He was punching out windows on Meridian Avenue. Total psycho! He didn’t go crazy on us until we got him in the door. Jesus, he ripped his hand out of one of the handcuffs! He’s got to have a hundred broken bones from that!”

And he didn’t feel a goddamned thing! Yeah, that’s PCP for you! Why in God’s name would anybody take that shit? Is that their idea of getting high? Fucking idiots!

Oh, and here comes Sergeant Alfaro! After the fight’s over and we’re all black and blue! Nice timing, asshole! And look! He’s holding a Taser at the ready! Is he going to shoot one of us? Jesus Christ! He’s got his fucking finger on the trigger!

“Uh, Lieutenant? Do you see that?”

“Jesus Christ! Put that goddamned thing away, Chris! What the fuck are you doing? The fight’s over! Where the fuck were you? Didn’t you hear the goddamned station panic alarm? Are you deaf and stupid?”

I think Sergeant Alfaro’s about to be standing in that little circle again. And this time, it’s going to be even worse! A station panic alarm is an officer needs help call. Failing to respond to a help call? That’s the unforgivable sin! And you’d better believe Lieutenant Hagan isn’t going to forgive it! There were only six uniformed officers in the station, including him and Sergeant Alfaro. The Sarge was the only one who didn’t respond. We might never see him again – at least until we find his body.

“Some night, Harper. We can put this in your probationer’s book. Your first duster.”

“I’m hoping he’s my last. I didn’t think anyone could be that strong. Thank God we’re off tomorrow. I think I’m going to need a rest.”

Yeah, I know. He’s playing it off like it’s nothing, but I saw him get hit. That must’ve felt like he got hit by a truck! It’s a miracle he was able to stay in the fight. A punch like that would’ve knocked me out for a week. He’s tough. Very tough. And he didn’t hesitate to jump in the fight. He’s a damned good cop. So are Kursteff and Vinell. I think it’s official: Central Midwatch is the finest watch on the department. And I’m a part of it. As much as I ache right now, I couldn’t be more proud.

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