Midwatch

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Chapter 26: Breaking Point

Roll call. Last night was a first for me. I’ve seen a number of SWAT call-outs, but I’ve never been responsible for initiating one. I doubt many officers have. I’m not telling my mom about it, though. I mean, Harper and I got two major killers put out of action, but I can’t tell her without including the fact that both of them got cut to ribbons with machinegun fire. I don’t think she’d handle that part too well. She’s still coming to grips with the fact that I carry a gun every day.

Thank God we didn’t have to sit for the SWAT debriefing. Lieutenant Hagan told me that they were here until almost ten o’clock in the morning! That’s not a debriefing; that’s an inquisition! I don’t know how they do it, but that’s SWAT for you. They pick everything apart in microscopic detail and then go back and do it again two or three times. They’re not just meticulous about detail; they’re obsessed with it. I guess when your job occasionally entails shooting people with machineguns, you have to be like that. I mean, the public frequently goes ape shit when we shoot some asshole one or two times with a pistol. Sawing somebody in half with a machinegun must really upset them. They’ve got to make sure all of the bases are covered.

I’m sure Sergeant Gellar is going to have something to say about it. Hell, everyone in the watch was involved. He seemed very pleased with all of us last night. We’re about to find out.

“All right, Midwatch! Roll call! First, I want to thank you all for your performance last night. Great job, everyone. Two major assholes are now in the morgue, which is where they belong. SWAT pulled off a textbook entry, gave the bad guys a chance to surrender, and when they decided to start shooting instead, SWAT took care of business! It was a first-rate operation from start to finish! You all deserve a round of applause!”

And here’s the usual Midwatch self-congratulatory hooting and hollering! Hey, we definitely earned it this time!

“As you know, the information that led to last night’s takedown came from Lynott and Harper. It almost makes up for their absolutely boneheaded decision to run into a goddamned burning building! I hope you two are wearing clean uniforms, because you smelled worse than when my wife burns my fucking dinner!”

That’s the first time he’s ever mentioned his wife. How does she put up with him?

“You’re married, Sarge?”

“Yes, Lynott. I have a wife. Unlike some people I could name, I found someone to spend the rest of my goddamned life with.”

“How’d you get her to marry you, Sarge? Was it drugs or blackmail?”

“Feel free to kiss my ass right on the fucking crevice, Lynott!”

“I’ll pass on that one, Sarge. That’s what your wife’s for.”

“Too bad! You don’t know what you’re missing! Now, with these two hit men out of the picture, Ricky is probably getting pretty desperate. He already threatened to have Lynott and Harper killed. And as much as I’d like to see that happen, he might decide to extend that threat to the rest of us. Everyone watch your backs! Just because these shooters are dead doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down around those dope spots!”

He’s got a point. Ricky may be wounded right now, but he’s still pretty dangerous. And we don’t know what kind of resources he’s got on reserve.

“By now, every asshole on skid row knows there was a police shooting last night. And while they’re probably just as happy to see these guys go as we are, some of them might be pretty freaked out. Maybe they got the wrong story? Maybe they think we’ve gone trigger happy? It’s happened before, so be ready for some blowback. There were news crews in front of the station for most of the morning. A SWAT shooting is big news for those parasites. They’re not there now, but they undoubtedly have the story that it was a Midwatch caper, so don’t be surprised if they turn up during the shift. And if they do, and if they stick a TV camera in your face and ask you any questions, you say what, Ruiz?”

“Not a goddamned thing, Sarge.”

“Outstanding! Did everyone hear that? You do not talk to those assholes! The department’s got spokespeople for that, and they’re all a hell of a lot better looking than any of you! Well, maybe not better looking than Lynott, but they’re a hell of a lot more suited to appearing on TV than the rest of you!”

I see Signolo’s not about to stand for that.

“Even me, Sarge?”

“Especially you, Signolo! You know why God made you such a fast runner? So you could run like hell the minute anyone tries to take your picture!”

“That really hurt, Sarge!”

“Yeah? Well, suck it up! I mean it, people! Do not talk to the goddamned media! You’re not cleared for it, and you don’t want to say anything that could be taken out of context! Because you can bet your sorry ass that it will be taken out of context! Do I make myself clear on this?”

And there’s the usual grumbling and groaning that signifies that Midwatch gets it.

“Now, the captain has asked me to address once again the flagrant accumulation of overtime in this division. Some of you people are way over the limit, and you all know who you are! I’m not going to mention any names, Lynott, Ruiz, Kursteff, and Harper! But we’re getting a lot of heat from the bureau about the overtime situation. The captain knows we can’t afford to drop even one car on Midwatch, but we’re getting to the point where the bureau’s going to force us to bring your hours down. That means you could find yourself transferred to Daywatch, where you will undoubtedly waste away with the rest of the walking wounded! So over the next couple of days, I’m going to try to see where we can get you overtime queens to burn some of your hours. So if any of you have a problem with that, you’d better let me know. Otherwise, you might not be happy with whatever solution I manage to work out. That’s all I’ve got. Anybody else? No? Good! Go to work!”

I’m not going to Daywatch! No fucking way! If the boredom didn’t kill me, this heatwave would!


Gearing up in the parking lot. We definitely have to go by the Big Lot tonight. I want to see the look on Ricky’s face. I wonder if he’ll be there? Now that I think of it, he might be in hiding. I mean, he did kind of get two Mexican Mafia gunners killed. They might not be too happy with him. Hell, they might even send a pair of gunners to kill him. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful turn of events? He might actually come crawling to us for help. I’d be happy to give it to him – in exchange for him pleading guilty to enough charges to get him locked up for the rest of his miserable life. Do you think he’d go for that?

“Hey, Harper! Come over here for a minute.”

“What’s up?”

“There’s something I want to do before we leave. And before the sun goes down.”

“What’s that?”

“I want to get a picture of the two of us together.”

“Seriously?”

“Sure. I do this with all of my boots.”

“Oh, OK. Sure.”

All right, I’m lying. I never had a picture taken of me with any of my boots. I’ve never taken a picture of one of my boots before the other night. But I don’t think I’m going to tell Harper that. I’ve decided that having a picture of Harper isn’t enough. I want one of the two of us together. Yeah, I know. I’m not supposed to think that way about him. But he’s going to be gone soon, so I don’t care. I’m not going to miss my chance. And if I wait on it, I might change my mind. And I don’t want to change my mind.

“Hey, Signolo! Do us a favor. I want you to take a picture of me and Harper.”

“What for?”

“I do it with all of my boots.”

“Uh-huh. Sure you do.”

“Just take the fucking picture, will you?”

“Yeah, sure. Give me the camera.”

“You do know how to use that, right?”

“Uh, you point at the two of you, focus the lens, and push the button?”

“Exactly.”

“All right. Where do you want it?”

“Over here, by the car.”

It’s actually a beautiful evening. The sky in the background should make for a great picture, assuming Signolo doesn’t fuck it up.

“OK, stand together. Closer together. Harper, put your arm around her shoulder. That’s it. Now smile.”

I’m glad he told Harper to put his arm around me. I’m not sure I could bring myself to tell him that. It also gives me an excuse to put my arm around him. This should be a good picture.

“Let me get a couple more, in case the first one doesn’t come out good.”

“Good idea. Go for it.”

Hey, it’s always nice to have a few to choose from.

“All right. I got a few. Congratulations, Harper. You’re now officially part of Dani’s scrapbook.”

“I didn’t know she had one.”

“Apparently, she does. Hey, Dani? If you ever want a picture of me…”

“Don’t even say it!”

“You don’t even know what I was going to say!”

“I’m sure it was pornographic in nature.”

“OK, you do know what I was going to say.”

“Gee, what a surprise!”

“Speaking of pornographic pictures, if you’ve got any of you that you’d be willing to share…”

“I’ll be sure to slit my throat first.”

“As long as you leave them to me in your will.”

“Be gone, Signolo!”

“You’re a lucky man, Harper.”

“Yeah, I know it. Ready, Dani?”

“Let’s get out of here before I have to kill him.”

“You got it. Where are we headed?”

“First stop: the Big Lot. I want to see the look on Ricky’s face.”

“Do you think he knows it was us who found out about his shooters?”

“If he doesn’t, then we’ll be sure to tell him.”

“Can I be the one to tell him?”

“Of course. If it weren’t for you, we never would’ve gotten the information in the first place.”

“We’re a team, Dani. We share the credit for everything. Except when you stuck your hands in that crazy woman’s…”

Oh, he did not bring that up! Look into my eyes, Harper! This is the Dani Lynott death gaze! Aimed right at you!

“Don’t…even…say it!”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Get in the car!”

“Yes, ma’am. Hey, make sure I get a copy of those pictures.”

“Will do.”

As if he’d have to remind me. But I don’t want him to know that. They do look good. It’s funny: I rarely ever take a good posed photo, but these look great. Harper having his arm around me probably had something to do with that. OK, enough! How many times do I have to remind myself? Just focus on job. That should do the trick.


Heading for the Big Lot. I wonder what I’d do right now if I were Ricky? Let’s see: I’ve been losing people who are important to my organization, the Mexican Mafia is hopping mad at me, another dope dealer is trying to horn in on my territory, and the police are putting the screws to me at every turn. Not to mention that even the lowlife junkies I used to terrorize are openly defying me. Basically, I’m going out of my fucking mind right now. So what’s my next move? If I don’t hit back hard and fast, I’m pretty much fucked. So I have to do something, and it has to be something big. Something that everyone will know about. But what? Is he going to go after this Shiloh guy directly? Maybe even take him out? For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. Maybe I’m trying too hard? I’ll worry about it later. Right now, I want to look Ricky straight in the face and gloat. How often does anybody get to do that?

“Hey, Dani! Check it out! There he is!”

“Well, at least he had the guts to show up.”

“It doesn’t look like he’s got a new bodyguard yet.”

“Maybe no one will take the job?”

“I see he hasn’t painted over the graffiti yet, either.”

“Now that surprises me! How many people would spend all night standing in front of a giant sign that’s telling them to go fuck themselves?”

“Evidently, at least one. Come on, let’s go say hello.”

He definitely doesn’t look happy. That comes as no surprise. Seeing us is really going to ruin his evening. And the night’s still young.

“Hey, Ricky! How’s tricks?”

“Oh, fuck me!”

“Not if you were the last guy on earth. I see someone’s redecorated your wall. I like it.”

“Did you write that shit, bitch?”

“Certainly not. That’s vandalism. We’re not allowed to do that. But we do agree with the sentiment.”

Ricky’s really glaring at Harper. He looks like he wants to hit him!

“What the fuck are you smiling at, Harper? You fucked up my boy!”

“He came at me with a rebar. What did he expect?”

“It was a cheap shot, motherfucker!”

“Which one? The knee or the jaw?”

Jesus, Ricky’s absolutely seething!

“You think you’re funny, Harper? You think fucking up my boy is funny?”

“No, I take psychopaths who beat the shit out of people very seriously. He finally came after someone who fought back. Look what it got him.”

“You’d better worry about what it’s going to get you, motherfucker!”

Oh, I’m not about to let that one slide!

“Ricky, are you threatening Officer Harper?”

“I’m just telling him how it is! And you!”

“Your gunners are gone, Ricky. Or didn’t you hear about that?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, bitch!”

“I think you do. Officer Harper and I got a line on them and, well, the SWAT team did the rest. You might have seen it on the news.”

Jesus, he looks like he’s about to explode! I guess he didn’t know it was us!

“Are you saying you snitched them off?”

“We didn’t snitch. We informed the proper units, that’s all.”

“You two don’t know who you’re fucking with, do you? You’re fucking with the wrong people!”

“Meaning you?”

“Meaning you don’t know what the fuck you’re dealing with, bitch! You two are way out of your league!”

“Maybe so, but the way we see it, you’re running out of friends fast. Look at you. You’re out here alone. Don’t you have another bodyguard?”

“I don’t need a bodyguard! Especially not from you! You ain’t going to do shit to me!”

“You’re right about that. We’re not going to shoot you from a passing car or sneak up and stick a knife in your back. But we are going to try to put you in jail. That hasn’t changed.”

“And you ain’t no closer to doing that than you were when first showed up, are you, bitch?”

He’s got a point. I’m not afraid to admit that. Maybe it will cheer him up?

“The truth? I don’t know. I’d like to think so, but you could be right, Ricky. I admit that. Still, things definitely aren’t going too well for you, right now. Your gunners got killed, and that’s got to piss off whoever sent them here. Someone else is trying to invade your territory, and now they owe you a few dead bodies. You took a couple of hits on your dope supply, and that’s got to set you back some serious cash. Your buddy Diego won’t be walking straight or eating solid food for the rest of his life, and he’s going to jail for a long time. And with your gunners out of action and your competition looking for revenge, no one in their right mind is going to want to get anywhere near one of your dealers, so there goes your income. I mean, look around you. This place is pretty empty tonight. I don’t think it’s because of the heatwave.”

I think I struck a nerve. I learned how to do that to dope dealers a long time ago: don’t lay it on too thick, stick to the facts, and focus on the things that really hurt the asshole’s business. Do it that way, and they can’t argue that it’s all a bunch of macho cop bullshit talk. It works.

“You’re really pushing it, bitch!”

See what I mean?

“Ricky, why don’t you just go away? Just fold up what’s left of your business and leave. Go somewhere else. Someplace really far from here. You’ve had a pretty good run, as far as dope dealers go. But your days out here are over. Look around you. The walls are tumbling. People around you are getting hurt. Two of them just got killed. But you’re still in one piece. Why not quit while you’re ahead? You’re a dope dealer. You could set up shop anywhere. Just get out of here. Get out of this city. Chalk it up to a bad experience and the price of doing business. That sounds like a plan, don’t you think?”

“I ain’t going nowhere! You’re going to pay for this shit, bitch! Both of you! I promise you that! You fucked with the wrong person! You think I’m kidding? You remember I said that!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll remember it. I remember everything you say, Ricky. But you remember what I said, too. You’re finished. Done. Truth be told, you’re not even important anymore. One look at that wall behind you is all the proof I need. Come on, Harper. We’re wasting our time here. We need to go fuck with someone who matters.”

“Good idea. Later, Ricky.”

“Hey, fuck you, motherfucker!”

If he had a gun within arm’s reach, I’d give fifty-fifty odds that he’d take a shot at us right now. He’s absolutely boiling mad!


Back on patrol. We’ll let Ricky stew for a while, then check back to see what he’s up to. I could tell he was really stinging from everything that’s gone wrong for him in the last couple of weeks. In fact, I think he’s been drinking. That’s a first. I’ve never seen him with so much as a beer out here. It must really be getting to him. Good. That was the idea.

“Damn, Dani! You really went easy on him! You were almost nice to him!”

“I know. That was on purpose. If I’d come on too strong, he’d have just blown it off. But by keeping it low-key and sticking to the facts, it was like rubbing salt in the wound. Sometimes the low-pressure approach works a lot better.”

“Yeah, I noticed that. I didn’t know if he was going to start crying or try to kill us.”

“I was wondering the same thing.”

“Do you really think whoever sent those shooters is going to take it out of his ass?”

“Wouldn’t you? Guys like that don’t come cheap, and they’re out-of-state assholes, which means the feds are involved, now.”

“Hence those DEA agents at the hotel last night?”

“Exactly. Narcotics must have had something set up with them in advance. I guess nobody told Commander Hillel about it.”

“Yeah, what happened to his multi-jurisdictional task force?”

“I think it exists only in his mind. Actually, I think a lot of things exist only in his mind.”

“What do you think he’s going to do when he hears about it?”

“I’m guessing he already heard about it. News of a SWAT shooting makes the rounds at headquarters at warp speed. Trust me, he knows.”

“How do you think he took it?”

“Put it this way: he probably spent the afternoon shopping for new underwear.”

“You think he shit himself?”

“If the wind changed direction, we could probably smell it from here.”

“Are we going to be hearing from him about it?”

“Damn, Harper! You’re really reading my mind tonight! I was thinking the exact same thing! The truth? I don’t know. I mean, what we accomplished with a phone call to Detective Godfrey in the middle of the night was basically what he said he’d been working on for some time. Think about it: we had Central patrol, Narcotics detectives, the SWAT team, and a couple of DEA agents all working together at the drop of a hat. He says he’s been doing whatever the fuck he’s been doing for who knows how long, and what’s he got to show for it?”

“Zip!”

“If he found out we set the whole thing in motion, he’s going to want to kill us. But I don’t know if anyone told him about our role in it.”

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

“Maybe not? When I got up the next morning after our little meeting, I was thinking: maybe he’s afraid of me now?”

“How come?”

“Because I accused him of sexual harassment. Remember: he called me a bitch in front of witnesses. You were one of them.”

“Do you really think he’s worried about that?”

“Oh, hell yes! I’m sure you slept through the sexual harassment training at the academy, but that’s actually some serious shit. When I told him he’d violated departmental policy and federal law, I wasn’t making that up. The department takes that shit very seriously. I mean, in most cases where somebody alleges misconduct and doesn’t follow through with it, that’s the end of it. But if you read the department’s policy on sexual harassment, if I allege it and any supervisor becomes aware of the allegation, they have to follow through on it even if I refuse to file a formal complaint. And a sexual harassment beef is one of the few things that a command rank asshole can’t just hope to dodge. They can get away with murder, but they can’t get away with that. They’ll burn anyone for that, and it’s not some chickenshit two-day suspension.”

“Then you should file the complaint! I’ll back you up! Hell, I was there! I heard him say it!”

“I’ve been thinking about it. I’m going to sit on it for a few days and see what happens. I’ve got time. He said it in front of the captain and the lieutenant. A captain and a lieutenant? Those are some nasty ranks to have on the witness list against you. I don’t doubt he’s worried, at least.”

“You should file a lawsuit. After what he put you through…”

“Oh, don’t think I haven’t considered that! If I win, it’s a very big payday.”

“What would you do with the money?”

“I don’t know. Buy a house? Get a dog? One that likes cats, of course.”

“You wouldn’t take a vacation?”

“Probably. I haven’t had one in almost three years.”

“Are you serious? You haven’t taken a vacation in three years?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call what happened to me last year a vacation. And before that, every time they tried to schedule me a vacation, I had half a dozen court cases, so I couldn’t go anywhere.”

“I thought they rescheduled you if you were on vacation?”

“They’re supposed to, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m a training officer. If I’m not there to testify, that leaves my boot. A lot of prosecutors don’t like having to rely on a boot’s testimony. Especially if he’s fresh out of the academy.”

“Yeah, I learned that, already.”

That actually surprises me. I’ll bet Harper comes across great on the stand. He’s sharp, he’s articulate, and he’s got tons of command presence. Prosecutors love that shit. It impresses the hell out of juries.

“You’ll get your chance. Our arrests should be going to court in another few weeks. You watch: we’re going to get bombarded with subpoenas.”

“Looking forward to it.”

“Then you need your head examined. Going to court in the morning after you’ve worked a Midwatch shift is pure hell. Just wait. You’ll see.”

“Hard to stay awake, huh?”

“The last time I worked Midwatch, I lost count of the number of times I fell asleep in court. Believe me, judges don’t like it when they see you fall over and sleep in the gallery.”

“Don’t worry. You can put your head on my shoulder. He’ll never know.”

Don’t tempt me, Harper. Please!

“I’m going to hold you to that.”

“Just don’t dribble on my shoulder, OK?”

“No promises. Bring a towel.”

“Will do.”

Wait a minute! That hotel over there! Wasn’t that in the Narcotics file on Ricky?

“Hey, Harper? Is that the Baker over there?”

“Sure is. The only skid row hotel with a courtyard – if you can call it that.”

“That place was in the file on Ricky that we got from Narcotics. That’s supposed to be one of the places where he’s selling crack.”

“Ricky’s little sideline business. One of many.”

“We’ve been focusing on his heroin business since that last crack dealer we got. Let’s take a look at that place. Maybe we’ve been overlooking something?”

“You want to hit all of his businesses at once?”

“You’re the Marine. You tell me: what’s the better strategy: hit the enemy head-on where he’s strongest, or hit him on all sides at once?”

“You’ve been keeping up with your Halo games.”

“Oh, I’ll kick your ass at it!”

“You’re on!”

“It’s a date. But let’s focus on this for now.”

“Hang on! Did you say it’s a date?”

Yeah, I did! And I can’ believe I just said that to him! I should cut my fucking tongue out before I really get into trouble!

“It’s a figure of speech.”

“OK. But be warned: I won’t go easy on you. I play to win!”

“Park the car at the end of the block. We’ll come in on foot from the north.”

“Roger that. Let’s go see what we can see.”

You really have to wonder who the hell thought it would be a good idea to put all these little hotels in this one area. It makes you wonder what the city was like back in the day. I guess things really were different. They couldn’t have intended for them all to become shithole for crackheads, junkies, and God knows what else.

“Shit! The door’s locked. They’ll have to buzz us in. How do we get the desk guy’s attention?”

“I’ve found knocking usually works.”

Jesus! If he pounds any harder on that door, he’s going to shatter the glass!

“See? We got his attention.”

“Yeah, earthquakes tend to do that!”

There’s the door buzzer. At least we’re in.

“Harper, what do you know about this place?”

“It’s a dope hotel. They deal out of the rooms, and in the courtyard out back.”

“They’ve really got a courtyard?”

“If you call three benches and a tree a courtyard, yeah. And it’s not much of a tree, either.”

“It’s probably too late for anyone to be back there. How do the crackheads get in?”

“I doubt that guy buzzes them in. There’s a keypad here. The dealers probably give them the code.”

How nice of them. It’s actually a good system. We can’t see them, and we can’t chase after them. We need to find out which rooms they’re dealing out of.

“We’ve got to find where the dealers are staying.”

“I don’t think the desk guy is going to tell us.”

Fuck! He’s brilliant! That’s exactly how we’ll find out!

“Sure he will. We just have to bluff him into telling us.”

“How do we do that?”

“By making him think we know a hell of a lot more than we do. Just follow my lead.”

“You’re the boss. Show me how it’s done.”

I’m guessing this guy’s had plenty of contact with the police over the years. The last thing he’s going to want is any trouble, so if he thinks he’s not telling us anything we don’t already know, he’ll probably give up at least one of the dealers. At least, I hope he will.

“Hey, you! We want to talk to you!”

“What for? Who called you?”

“Does anyone have to call us to come to this place?”

Good. He’s already buying it. He looks annoyed and a little worried.

“I’m Officer Lynott. This is Officer Harper.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him before. I ain’t seen you before, though.”

“What did they tell you about letting people deal dope out of this place? Not the first hundred times. Just the last five or six times.”

“Look, I don’t let nobody deal out of here. See that sign? No dope, no prostitution, no gambling. We cleaned this place up. We’re in compliance.”

Perfect! Like I thought: they’ve threatened him before. They probably said they’d abate the place. We just need to play on that.

“If you were in compliance, do you really think we’d be here talking to you right now?”

“Hey, I got nothing to do with any of that shit.”

“And what shit would that be?”

“Isn’t that why you’re here?”

“I was being facetious.”

“What’s that mean?”

Uh-huh. Another quiz kid. Good. He’ll be even more off-balance.

“It means you know damned well why we’re here. People are dealing crack out of this place.”

“I wouldn’t know about that.”

“Yeah, you would. Let’s play a little game, just to see if you’re lying to us. You’re going to give us a room number, and if you give us the wrong number, your ass is going to jail. I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Ready?”

“Come on, give me a break, will you?”

“One…two…”

“All right! All right! 106! Happy now?”

“You got the first one right. Now for the second.”

“Oh, come on!”

“The name! Come on, give it up! Same rules as before: if you lie to us…”

“Fine! Marquez! Is that enough? Just take him and go!”

“Not bad. What’s your name?”

“Nick.”

“Congratulations, Nick. You won’t be going to jail tonight.”

“Yeah, lucky me. Now will you just take him and go?”

“Why the rush?”

“I don’t…I don’t want anyone seeing me talking to you!”

“Fair enough. Give me the key.”

“Oh, you can’t be serious!”

“What did they tell you the last time?”

“All right! Here! And watch yourselves! The guy’s a real piece of work. He won’t be happy to see you.”

“They never are. Thanks for your cooperation.”

“Yeah, sure. Anytime.”

That didn’t sound very sincere. But hey, at least he gave us everything we need.

“Let’s go say hello to Mr. Marquez.”

“Dani, we don’t have a warrant.”

“Details! Details! We’ll figure something out later.”

“Sounds good. You want to go straight in, or should we knock?”

“Let’s knock. We’ll use the key if we have to.”

“You think this guy’s armed?”

“With all that’s been going on in this division lately, I’d bet on it. Guns out, Harper.”

“Way ahead of you.”

All right, let’s see what we’ve got. Even-numbered doors on the right side. 106 should be three doors down. I wish I knew what these rooms look like. Judging by the spaces between the doors, they’re pretty tiny. Jesus, my mom’s closet was bigger than these rooms! As long as our friend doesn’t try to go through the window, we should be able to grab him without much trouble. Shit! We don’t even know what this guy looks like!

“What are you going to say, Dani?”

“I have no idea. Try anything, I guess.”

Here we go. I hope he doesn’t shoot through the door when I knock.

“Stand on either side of the door. Just in case.”

“Ready.”

Here we go! Knock, knock, Marquez!

“Who’s that?”

At least he answered. I’m hoping he’s the only one in there.

“Front desk. We didn’t get your rent payment. We need it now.”

“Are you fucking shitting me? You got it two weeks ago!”

“No, we didn’t. Come see for yourself.”

He’s opening the door! Almost….

“I gave you the fucking rent two weeks ago! This is bullshit!”

“Now!”

No gun! Good!

“Police! Hands where we can see them!”

“What the fuck?”

“I said put your hands where we can see them! Now!”

“Hey!”

I guess Harper’s not willing to wait. Yanking him out the door works just as well. He’s got him.

“Give me your hand! Other one behind your head! Do it!”

“Cuff him, Harper. I’m going to take a look in that room.”

This place is smaller than I thought. Look at this shoebox! They call this a room? I think my closet was bigger than this place! How does anybody stay in here? Harper wouldn’t even fit on the bed!

“He’s clean, Dani. No weapons.”

Which means if he’s got one, then it’s in here somewhere. The good thing is, there aren’t many places to hide anything. Pretty much under the bed, and by the window. We can scratch the window off of the list. It’s painted shut. It looks like it’s been that way since before my grandmother was born. That leaves under the bed.

“Anything under there, Dani?”

“Does a bag of dope count?”

Well, it’s not as much as we found the last time, but’s it’s still a pretty good haul. Probably about a quarter ounce. Maybe more.

“I take it this is yours, Mr. Marquez?”

“I ain’t never seen that before! You planted that!”

“Yeah, that’ll get you far. Come on, you’re going to jail.”

“For what?”

“You did see the bag of dope, right?”

“This is fucking bullshit!

“No, this is fucking possession for sale. And you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it.”

“No gun in there, Dani?”

“Nope. I guess our friend likes to live dangerously.”

“No, he’s one of Ricky’s boys. They weren’t the ones getting killed.”

“Good point. Hey, Marquez? We saw Ricky earlier. He didn’t look good. He’s been having a rough time of it, lately.”

“Don’t you talk about Ricky, bitch!”

Well, he’s loyal. That’s a bit unexpected.

“I just said he didn’t look good. Where’s the harm in that?”

“You two are the ones that have been fucking with him, right?”

“Well, we’re not the only ones. Buy yeah, that’s us.”

“Fuck you! Fuck you both!”

“I guess that means he’s bisexual, Harper. Sorry, we’re not interested.”

“What did you say? You don’t talk about me like that! I’m going to kill you, you fucking bitch!”

Not with those handcuffs on, you’re not. Now I need to think of something that will let this arrest fly. I really hope they’ve got an abatement or a consent to search on file at the station. That would certainly make things easier for us.

“Do you have any ID on you?”

Now he’s giving me the silent treatment. That figures.

“Well, that’s all right. Your fingerprints should tell us what we need to know.”

“You’re fucking dead, bitch! You hear me? You’re fucking dead!

So much for the silent treatment. This guy is really pissed! The guy at the desk was right: he’s a real piece of work. How much do you want to bet he’s got some pretty serious warrants out for him? He doesn’t seem to care at all about the dope, so I’m guessing he’s sitting on something a lot more serious. His fingerprints should tell us what that is.

“Let’s go. Your cell awaits. Bring him along, Harper.”

This guy looks like he’d kill us both if we gave him so much as half a chance. We’d better keep an eye on him.


Central Station. Well, it didn’t take long to discover that this guy is using a bullshit name. I guess the folks at the Baker hotel don’t bother to check IDs on their guests. A fancy place like that? Go figure.

“Anything, Dani?”

“Nothing checks out. His name’s bullshit, and I’m guessing so is his birthdate and everything else he told us.”

“What a surprise. Do we run his fingerprints?”
“Of course. Get him ready to go. I’ll show us out to Records.”

“Roger that. The Watch Commander’s looking for you.”

He’s probably wondering what we’ve got. I don’t mind telling him that, but I still have to figure out what to tell him about how we got it. I haven’t had time to check to see if we’ve got a consent form on file for that place. I suppose my best bet now is to wing it. It probably won’t fool the lieutenant, but right now, it’s all I’ve got.

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Yeah. Harper said you’ve got another dope arrest. How much did you get?”

“We haven’t had a chance to weigh it yet, but I’d say about a quarter of an ounce.”

“You guys are really bringing them in this DP. Heroin?”

“Crack. He’s supposed to be one of Ricky’s dealers.”

“You two are going to put him out of business at the rate you’re going.”

“I hope so. We saw him earlier. He looks kind of sad.”

“I’m not surprised. You didn’t get a quarter ounce of crack off some guy on the street. Where was he?”

“The Baker Hotel, sir.”

“They’re still dealing out of there, huh? How’d you find out about it? And how’d you find out about this guy in particular?”

“Well, we, uh…we knew it was one of Ricky’s dope spots, and…”

“Uh-huh. Let me make this easy for you, Lynott. Did this arrest have anything to do with the consent agreement we have to search the Baker? You know, the one we keep on file with the rest of them in that book over there? The one you and Harper read thoroughly before you went in there without a warrant so you didn’t have to use some bullshit ruse and jimmy open the door to the guy’s room?”

See what I mean?

“Exactly, sir. That one. That’s just how it went down. By the book, sir.”

“Yeah, I thought so. Make sure you attach a copy of the consent form to the arrest report. We wouldn’t want to lose the filing because a couple of stupid-assed cowboys went in there without a warrant or probable cause, would we?”

“No, sir. That would be a terrible shame.”

“Yes it would. It’s a good thing you two read through that book to see which hotels we have agreements with. You know, like everyone in this division is supposed to do?”

“Yes, sir. It’s a very good thing.”

“Because it would be a fucking shame to find out that two of my best cops didn’t have the brains to do their homework.”

“Yes, sir. It would. Uh, is there going to be a quiz on this later?”

“Let’s just say you might want to read through that book before roll call tomorrow. That would be a very good idea, don’t you think?”

“Yes, it would. Consider it done, sir.”

Now that’s a great lieutenant! The best ones have the ability to tell you that you’re a fucking idiot without making you feel bad. It’s a rare gift. You learn to appreciate it quickly on this job.

“Harper! Let’s go!”

“Are we in the doghouse?”

“No, the lieutenant bailed us out. There’s a consent to search on file. Oh, and we need to read through that list of them before roll call tomorrow.”

“What’s the hurry?”

“We might have a pop quiz tomorrow. We’ll worry about it later. Let’s find out who this guy is and get him booked.”

“He’s really pissed. He’s got the nastiest look on his face. I honestly thought he was going to jump up and try to bite me or something.”

“That’s why we left the handcuffs on him. And it probably means he’s hiding something big. We’ll find out soon enough.”

Losing another dealer is going to piss Ricky off to no end. It might even throw a monkey wrench into his supply. Most dealers – even mid-level dealers – don’t pay for their dope up front. Their supplier fronts it to them. But if Ricky gets a reputation for losing his dope to the police, then his suppliers won’t be in any hurry to front him. They might even decide to take their losses out of his ass.


Oh, hell! Can you believe it? Police fucking headquarters, and the elevators aren’t working! What? Don’t they realize that not all cops work Daywatch?

“It says they’re down for night maintenance. I guess we walk.”

“No problem. It’s only three floors. Our friend here won’t mind, will you?”

“I ain’t walking up no stairs!”

“Then I can drag you ass. How about it?”

“He’s not kidding, Marquez. He’s the one who totaled Diego. I’m sure you heard about it. You don’t want to end up like him, do you?”

I’m guessing that’s a ‘no.’ Hey, the exercise will do him good.

“Up you go. This way. That’s it.”

We’ve spent more time here in the last couple of weeks than I think I’ve ever spent in a DP. It seems like almost everyone we’ve arrested has given us a bullshit name. Either that, or we’ve had to bring someone else’s arrestees here to find out who they are. You really have to wonder why they do it? I mean, if they’re in the system, then they know their fingerprints are going to come up with a hit. But they keep playing it off like they’re telling the truth and we won’t suspect that they’re lying. Go figure.

“Here we are. Marquez – or whatever your name is – come over here. We’re going to uncuff one hand at a time. The other one stays cuffed to this ring on the table. We’re going to scan your fingerprints. Give us any shit, and my partner’s going to take out your kneecaps. Do what we say, and we’ll be done quick and easy. Do you understand?”

“Yeah, I understand! Do you get off on this shit, bitch?”

“On taking your fingerprints? No. It’s just part of the job.”

Just watch him close while we switch the cuff to the ring. Good. Let’s see what we can see.

“Very good. Now, put your hand right there on the screen. Good. Now we do the fingers, one at a time.”

He’s acting like he’s resigned to his fate, but I’m not sure. This guy is burning mad at us, and I mean burning! I’m not entirely sure why. Yeah, it sucks getting caught, but that’s the risk he takes. All dope dealers understand it. This guy’s hate seems personal, somehow.

“Now the other hand. Just like the first one.”

I’m really surprised he got so angry when we mentioned Ricky. Like I said, Ricky doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who inspires loyalty. People aren’t usually loyal to a sadistic boss, but this guy seems to be. Maybe when we find out who he is and what his record looks like, we’ll have our answer.

“We’re done. Put your free hand behind your back.”

“Cuffs again?”

“Always.”

“Dani, you go in there and get the information. I’ll stay out here with him.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. We’re good out here.”

I think Harper’s got the same weird feeling about this guy that I have. He doesn’t want to leave me alone with him even if he’s cuffed. If it were anyone else, I’d probably be somewhat offended. But Harper’s just looking out for his partner. That, and he probably thinks that if this guy goes off, he’ll rip his fucking head off. He doesn’t want to miss out on a chance to do that. I don’t blame him. This guy is beginning to seriously piss me off, too. I can’t wait to find out who he really is.


Jackpot! I was right on the money about figuring out why this guy is so loyal to Ricky! This keeps getting better and better!

“Hey, Harper! You’re not going to believe this!”

“You got something?”

“We got more than something! We got everything!

“He’s got a record?”

“Hell, yes! Multiple drug arrests, two outstanding felony dope warrants, and that’s not even the best part!”

“What’s the best part?”

“You’d better hang onto yourself, partner! Meet Luis Reynaldo Alarcon. And guess what? He’s Ricky’s cousin!”

“You’re shitting me!”

“Nope! It’s all right here! See for yourself!”

Unbelievable! It never occurred to me that this asshole might be related to Ricky. They don’t look anything alike. They must be shirttail relatives. Still, family is family. Shit, I never knew Ricky had any family! I guess I thought he was raised by wolves.

“Oh, this is just too much! So you’re Ricky’s cousin? I guess it runs in the family.”

“Hey, fuck you, man! Fuck you both!”

“We’re doing this again? Save it, Luis. Both of your warrants are ‘no bail,’ so you’re not going anywhere. Anywhere but jail, that is.”

“Hey, fuck you! You’re fucking dead, bitch! Both of you! Fucking dead!

“Harper, didn’t Ricky say the same thing to us?”

“A couple of times. And we’re still here.”

“You don’t talk about my fucking cousin, cop!”

“Yeah, we do. We talk about him all the time. Can we take him downstairs now, Dani?”

“Sure. We’re done here. Next stop: jail. We’ll book him here. He’s going to end up here anyway. It’ll save them from having to transport him later on.”

“Sounds good. Come on, Luis. Downstairs. Your cell awaits.”

“Fuck you!”

Oh, this is going to be a picnic! I just hope he doesn’t have any medical problems. I don’t want to have to take him into the infirmary. Imagine how he’ll treat the doctor and the nurse?

“Come on, Luis. Down the stairs. Same way we came up.”

“Fuck you, bitch! I know the way!”

“Harper, drag him if you have to!”

“Don’t worry. I will. Let’s move, pal! Now!”

“I ain’t going nowhere with you, motherfucker!”

“I said move!”

What the hell is his problem? He’s fucking caught! He’s going to jail! He’s three floors away from jail! Even he can’t be stupid enough to believe that isn’t going to happen!

“You’re coming with us, Luis! Start walking!”

“Dani, watch out!”

“Fuck you, bitch!”

What the…he kicked me! Oh, shit! There’s no handrail to grab hold of!

“Dani, grab hold!”

Oh, fuck! I can’t stop! I’m going down the stairs!

“Dani! Dani!”

Shit! My head! What the hell…I fell! He kicked me right down the stairs! Oh, fuck! My head! It’s…it’s bad! I’m hurt! I’m hurt bad! Fuck! My shoulder! Oh, Jesus! I’m in trouble! This is bad!

“Harper! I can’t…”

“You son of a fucking bitch!

That’s Harper! What’s happening? Where is he? Oh, God! I can’t see straight! I cracked my head good! Everything’s spinning! Where’s Harper? Is he…what? My hand! My hand’s got…it’s got blood! Blood on it! I’m bleeding! Fuck! I’m bleeding! He got me good! This is serious! Oh, Jesus! I can’t move my arm! I can’t get to my feet! I’m trying…I can’t! I can’t stand up! Nothing to grab onto. I have to get up! I have to help Harper! I have to…shit! I can’t see straight! Dizzy. I think I’m…I feel like I’m falling! No! I’m not. I’m…oh, shit! My head! Oh, shit! I think I’m going to puke! I’m going to puke! Oh, God! There it goes! What the hell? Harper! Where’s Harper? Where’s the suspect? Where’s Harper? Is he OK? I can’t see him! Is Harper OK?

“Harper! Harper, where are you?”

I heard something. I’m not sure. A crash? A thud? I think it was me! Fuck! My head’s spinning! And my shoulder! It hurts to move it! I can’t move it! I think…I think it’s broken! Fuck! I need to get up! I need to get in the fight! Harper! Where’s Harper?

“Dani! Dani, can you hear me?”

“Harper?”

“I’m right here! I’ve got you! Don’t move! You’re hurt! You’re hurt bad!”

He’s got me. Harper’s got me. That’s better. Much better. Fuck! That asshole really fucked me up!

“He kicked me.”

“He kicked you right down the stairs! Don’t move! You went down hard! Dani, you hit your head! You hit bad! You’re bleeding! Your head’s bleeding! Don’t move!”

“My shoulder! I think…it’s broken. I think he broke it! It hurts! It hurts to move…my arm. I can’t move it…”

“Dani, don’t move! Please! I got you! You’re going to be all right!”

“Where’s…where’s the suspect?”

“Fuck him! I took care of him! Just don’t move! I’ve got you! I’m not going anywhere!”

“Go get help. Records. People in there.”

“Dani, I’m not leaving you!”

“I’m all right.”

“Like hell you are! You’re hurt bad! I’m staying right here! I’m not leaving you!”

“Secure the suspect. Cuff him to the bench. Then get help. Shit! Harper, I can’t stand up! I can’t see straight! My eyes…”

“I think you’ve got a concussion. You hurt your neck, too. Don’t try to move! I’ve got you!”

“Go find someone to help. Secure the suspect. I’ll be OK. Go! Do it!”

“Dani…”

“You have to! Go! I’ll be all right. Go!”

“All right. Don’t move! You hear me! Don’t move! I’ll be right back! I swear!”

Oh, shit! There it goes! I knew I was going to puke again! Head injury? Vomiting? It’s a concussion. Maybe a skull fracture? Harper said my neck? Did I break my neck? Oh, God! Is it my neck? Fuck! I’m a mess! God damn it! Fucking stupid! How could I let that asshole kick me down the stairs? I’m a fucking idiot! Oh, hell! I’m going to puke again!

“Dani! Dani, I got help!”

“Down here, guys! Down here! Watch the stairs! I puked! I think I…”

“Dani, don’t try to talk. Just lie still. Somebody get a fucking ambulance! Now!”

“Harper, where’s the suspect?”

“Out cold.”

“You hit him?”

“Yeah, a couple of times. Don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere. Just lean back. I’ve got you. Somebody get a towel! Her head’s bleeding!”

“Just stay there, officer! Help’s coming! We called an ambulance!”

I don’t believe this! This is embarrassing! Fuck! I am so goddamned stupid! I knew that asshole was trouble, but I walked right in front of him on those stairs! Fucking stupid!

“Just ease back, Dani.”

“I don’t want to puke on you. I already puked a couple of…”

“Would you forget that shit? You just hang on! I’ve got you! I’ve got you, partner! Where the fuck is that ambulance? God damn it, she’s hurt bad! Move!”

“My eyes are all messed up. Everything’s blurry.”

“You took a bad crack on the head. Your forehead’s bleeding.”

“Bad?”

“I won’t lie to you, it’s pretty bad. There’s a lot of blood. How’s your shoulder?”

“It hurts like hell. I can’t move it. I think it’s broken.”

“Don’t try to move it! Just lie still!”

We’ve got more people in the stairwell. Probably everyone in the building!

“Officer Harper! The ambulance is out front!”

“You hear that, Dani? The ambulance is here.”

“Yeah. Fast response.”

“You really did hit your head, didn’t you? They’re right across the street. Remember? Are you hurt anywhere else?”

“I don’t know. I hurt all over. It hurts to move.”

“Then don’t move. These stairs are concrete and steel. You took a long, hard fall. I’d hurt, too.”

“Everyone’s going to make fun of me, you know that.”

“No, they won’t. This isn’t funny. You just lie still. Help’s coming.”

“It’s Midwatch. I got my ass kicked. It’s funny. They’ll make jokes. It’s what they do.”

“I won’t let them.”

“They’ll make fun of you, too. You’ve got puke on your arm.”

“That’s OK. That’s what boots are for: so their training officers can puke on them.”

“Are you trying to make me laugh?”

“I’m just telling it like it is, partner.”

“Thanks for taking care of me.”

“Hey, look at me! There’s nothing I’d rather do. You just lie still. I’ve got you. You’re going to be fine.”

Oh, I really feel messed up! I didn’t think you could hurt yourself this bad falling down a flight of stairs. I guess falling face-first had something to do with it. I don’t know how bad I’m hurt, but I’m starting to worry. The pain’s getting worse, and my head feels like it’s going to explode!

“Paramedics! Coming through! Where’s the victim?”

“Down here! She’s down here!”

“Holy shit! What happened to this guy?”

Harper must’ve totaled his ass. Good!

“Fuck him! Get down here! My partner’s hurt bad!”

“So is this guy!”

“Get the fuck down here now!

I think Harper’s losing it. He’s going to have to pull it together. I won’t be able to help him with this one. I’m pretty fucking useless right now. It hurts no matter how I move. This might be some serious shit. God, I am such a fucking idiot!

“Harper, listen to me. You need to radio the Watch Commander. Tell him what happened. And for God’s sake, don’t say ‘Officer Down!’ or anything like it! Just tell him what happened. Tell him we need a sergeant and an additional unit to take custody of our suspect. Got it?”

“Yeah, I got it. Dani, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”

“It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have gotten in front of him. Shit happens. That’s all.”

I see the paramedics are pushing him out of the way. He won’t like that.

“OK, we need to get in there, officer. We need to start treating her. You’re Officer Harper? What’s your partner’s name?”

“It’s Lynott. Dani Lynott. Where are you taking her?”

“We’ll take her to the jail infirmary. It’s just downstairs. If we have to, we’ll take her to the hospital.”

They are not putting me on a gurney!

“It’s OK. I can walk, guys.”

“The hell you can, officer! You could have a skull fracture! At the very least, you’ve got a concussion! That head wound’s bleeding a lot. I’m worried you may have injured your neck. Plus, I don’t like the way you’re holding your leg. You’re not walking anywhere, lady!”

My leg? Oh, God! He’s right! It hurts like hell! Don’t tell me that asshole broke my leg, too! Damn, it hurts! They’re right: I can’t walk. I don’t think I could stand up right now if my life depended on it. Jesus, I didn’t even realize I was holding my leg! Now that I do, it hurts like a motherfucker!

“Just lay there, Officer Lynott. Guys, let’s get her on the gurney. Watch her head! We may have a skull fracture on our hands. There could also be neck trauma. We need to immobilize her neck right now.”

Oh, not the fucking neck collar! Please don’t let that asshole Luis see me like this! I don’t want to give him the satisfaction! Just get me out of here fast!

“OK, everyone: her eyes look pretty glassy. That’s not good. I think we’ve got a definite concussion, here. Officer Harper, you need to let go of her.”

“No fucking way!”

“Officer, she’s in bad shape. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not liking the looks of this. The sooner we immobilize her head, the better off she’s going to be. All right, Officer Lynott? We’re going to put the neck collar on you first, and then we’re going to pick you up and put you on the gurney. This may hurt a bit.”

“It already hurts.”

Jesus! Strangle me with that collar, why don’t you?

“All right, the collar’s on. We’re going to lift you onto the gurney. Ready? On three: one…two…three!”

“Oh, shit! God! Fuck!”

“It’s over! It’s over! You’re good! All right, guys: strap her down. We don’t want her falling off.”

“I don’t usually let guys tie me up. I’m not into it.”

“That’s very funny, officer.”

“I want everyone to think I was being cool through the pain.”

“You are, and we’ll tell them.”

“See that you do.”

Oh, shit! They’re lifting the gurney! Oh, hell! I think I’m going to puke again!

“Guys! Put me down! Put me down! I’m going to puke!”

“Put her down! Put her down! Turn her! Don’t let her choke on it! Officer Lynott? We’re just clearing your airway. I have to put my fingers in your mouth. Don’t bite down! I have to clear your airway. We’re going to have to remove the neck collar. We can’t have you vomiting with you on your back and your neck immobilized. OK?”

“Fine. I hate that thing.”

“All right, we’re going to take it off. Try not to move your head. You’ve taken a really bad knock. You might have a skull fracture. You might have a neck injury. It’s important that you don’t move your head.”

I’ll try, but I can’t promise him anything. God, my head really does feel like it’s going to explode! And I think I’ve got blood in my eye.! Just fucking great!

“There’s something in my eye. I think it’s blood.”

“It is. We’ll clear that out. Just hold still. You’re head’s still bleeding. There! Can you see better?”

“It’s still really blurry.”

“That’s because you’ve got a head injury. Don’t worry about that now. That should clear up soon. All right, we’re going to try to move the gurney again. Just try to hold still.”

I see Harper’s back. I’m glad I’m not wearing that stupid collar.

“Dani, the Watch Commander’s on his way. So is Sergeant Gellar. We’ve got Twenty-Two coming to take custody of the prisoner.”

Why does the paramedic look freaked out?

“Excuse me, officer? Did you say somebody’s coming to take custody of that guy over there?”

“That’s right.”

“Uh, it had better be us, unless you want a dead body on your hands.”

“When you’re done with my partner, then you can worry about him!”

“Fine. But the only place that guy’s going is to the emergency room. She might have a skull fracture. He’s definitely got one!”

“I don’t really give a shit right now! You just concentrate on my partner! You read me?”

“Harper, it’s OK. I’m…”

“No, it isn’t OK! Fuck him! You take care of her, and you let that piece of shit lay there and bleed! You read me?”

He’s scary when he’s mad!

“We read you. All right, you need to back away now, officer.”

“Not a chance! I stay with her!”

“I understand. We’re not asking you to leave. But you need to back away so we can move the gurney. Just let us do our job, OK? Now, let’s get your partner to the infirmary. Everybody? Easy does it. Lift her up together. One…two…three!”

Oh, Jesus! Oh, fuck! Fuck! That hurt!

“It’s all right, officer. The hard part’s over. We’re going to carry you down the stairs, now. No more sudden moves like that, I promise.”

Oh, God! That hurt! That really hurt! I just wish I could walk on my own. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could walk, but that’s not happening. Even I know that son of a bitch got me good! I don’t know which hurts the worst: my head, my shoulder, my leg, or my pride. How could I let this happen? Harper must think I’m a total fucking idiot! And he should! Fuck! I am so stupid!

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