Wards Island is a forgotten attraction amongst the plethora of iconic landmarks in New York City. Only a bridge crossing from Manhattan, this island of a park is the perfect place for family gatherings and outdoor activities such as baseball fields, running tracks, occasional concert venues and miles vibrant green grass for barbeques and bike riding. What’s also perfect is its secluded location. The sole reason why the New York State Police Department has made this area their base of operations.
Pulling into the parking lot was Detective John Hart, yawning and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Moving stolen money all night would knock the wind out of the toughest crooks. However, John and his posse kept their eyes on the grand prize, which is why they continue to play this sadistic game of cat and mouse.
Though in his late-thirties, John’s energetic attitude and properly groomed appearance made him look younger, especially with his pushed back Elvis hairstyle. Over the years, John had gone through a major transformation. Back at the police academy, he was never the sharpest knife in the drawer. However, his charisma had bailed him out of several jams. Although his efforts with the City Hall protest crashed and burned - as Gina predicted - certain individuals took notice of his enthusiasm and determination. John was promised unlimited power in exchange for his services, to take down all threats to their organization known as the Clucifix. Naturally, John accepted.
Remarkably thereafter, John breezed through the law enforcement ranks,
going from patrol officer to detective within a few years. His new powers also blossomed over time. Speed and strength were one thing, but mind control was his strongest attribute. Unattractive to the females in his department, but his manipulation makes them gawk at him as if he was Brad Pitt.
Zeke Tricolo became his right-hand man after the protest. While on duty, they would harass drug dealers to either pocket their profits or arrest them to fill their monthly quota. He also planned tactical operations to cripple large crime syndicates such as heists and full-scale assaults. It took about five years, but all forces that posed a threat to them had been eliminated. Crispin Pagnucci was
the last man standing. And now with the police force locked down under his watchful eye, John Hart will be unstoppable.
Gossip circulated throughout as John entered the department lobby. Eyes were glued to every television as Channel 4 News anchorwoman, Tricia White reported live from the fiery scene in Long Island. In the background, Pagnucci’s mansion looked like a suburban wasteland. Firefighters tamed the last of the flames while the withered lawn was cluttered with coroner vans. Residents lined up outside the gates to take pictures and throw questions at anyone who would listen.
John was pleased with his latest handiwork. Of all the mafias that crumbled under his fist, this one was his greatest victory to date. It was his reward for the years of patience he endured while posing as Crispin’s lackey. He would’ve loved to have used his powers to make Crispin bark like a dog in front of his crew before blowing his brains out, but John had been warned many times to conserve his powers for stronger adversaries.
Fellow detective, Anthony LaPark passed John in the lobby and patted him on the shoulder. “Davis is looking for you and he’s not too happy,” said LaPark.
“Did he say why?” asked John.
“Nah, but I do know he got dragged into an emergency meeting with the mayor over this Pagnucci crap. Don’t know why everyone is up in arms about this nonsense. One less scumbag to deal with, if you ask me.”
“And I agree. This is what drives me crazy about that stupid mayor. Someone out there did the dirty work for us and he’s pissed off about it? Why? Hadn’t it occurred to him that rival organizations wanted Pagnucci gone as much as we did? These political tightwads are all the same: nothing works for them
unless they benefit from it.”
“I hear ya, man. Hopefully, whatever crew did this will pay a visit to City Hall.” Anthony leaned closer to John’s ear. “You didn’t hear that from me, right?”
“Of course not,” John winked.
John left the lobby and walked down the hall to Davis’ office. He needed time to think. Realizing propaganda around this incident is spreading like wildfire, he needed to find a cork big enough to plug up this hole, and fast. He mentioned in the vault that someone else will take the fall, but he was so focused on the money that he never planned that far ahead.
John arrived at the office and saw the door was closed. Could Davis be
on a phone call? He tapped on the glass but got no answer. Slowly, he opened the door. Empty. Perfect. He can now sit down and ponder on how to bring this episode to a close. Who can he pin this tragedy on? A drug cartel would
be too obvious. Besides, any random department could run their investigation. He needed a decoy, someone willing to take the blame. No criminal in their right mind would want this pinned on their resume. Who’s left? It had to be unsuspected. Undetected. And unexpected.
Saxon Davis stormed into the office and plopped his stressed body onto the chair. After Gina’s departure, his love for the business had diminished. It was now just a job, a means to get paid. Sorrow and guilt dragged him down further after the sudden death of his wife Beverly three years ago. His 67-year-old body was wearing thin. Motivating him now was counting the days to retirement.
Commissioner Wood made good on his promise as Saxon was now the Deputy Superintendent for the state police. Months after taking the job, Saxon recruited John Hart and six other rookies to start an experimental undercover detective’s unit. Noticing John’s remarkable arrest record - magically appearing overnight - Saxon offered to take him under his wing, hoping to mold him into a great officer as he did for Gina.
Their bond grew into a father-son type relationship, at least in the veteran’s eyes. John, however, manipulated that entire situation, playing on Saxon’s broken emotions and the need for companionship. In doing so, John had gotten the freedom to further the advancement of his diabolical plan.
Seeing his boss silent in his chair for several minutes, John put on a false face of concern. Saxon just had an emergency meeting with Commissioner Wood, Superintendent Robert Teasley, and Mayor Miles Goldberg via speakerphone. Despite concern for public safety, Goldberg’s top priority was to prevent wealthy residents from relocating to California in fear that their lavished homes may be next. Saxon hoped to never converse with Goldberg again. However, this violent onslaught is close to being called a State of Emergency, so the mayor wanted all of the city’s top officials involved.
“Where the hell have you been?” a stressed Saxon asked John. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”
“I got here at 9,” explained John. “Excuse my appearance, sir. If you want me to change I can –”
“It’s only 9 a.m.? ...My apologies, son. I’m getting too old for this job. Things are getting me, ya know” Saxon rubbed his temples as if he felt stabbing needles. “City Hall is freaking out over this Pagnucci assassination. Goldberg’s coming down on us after receiving word about our undercover operation, thinking we should’ve prepared for this somehow. Prepared? Can that dumb jackass tell me how the hell can we prepare for the invasion of one crew while investigating another crew?!”
“You can’t, sir. Goldberg must’ve left his brains in the toilet again. I still don’t see how the city got hoodwinked in voting for that jackass again.”
“Come to think of it, Johnny...where the hell was you? Being under with the Pagnucci family all these years, I thought you’d be the first person I’d hear from. You didn’t give us the heads-up once the gunfire started! Not even a text! We could’ve sent backup and salvaged what was left of this operation!”
“Sir. I was just as shocked as you were. Never in a million years did I think Crispin Pagnucci would get ambushed on his turf. Have any reports come in as to how this unimaginable act transpired?”
“Wait a minute! Am I hearing you right? You were the only cop on the premises and when something like this goes down, you’re nowhere to be found? What the f-f... what’s the matter with you, John?! I can’t believe I’m hearing this!! In an event of this magnitude, I expect my best officer to be first on the scene, especially when he was put there to report all kinds of catastrophes! LIKE THIS!! We’ve been building this case for months and now we got nothing. Did
you at least get a whiff of the shooter’s cologne?”
John smirked as he sat up to gather his thoughts. “Okay, sir. I want to listen to me very carefully.” And just like that, Saxon mindlessly stared into space as the detective spoke in a slow, mesmerizing tone.
“I was the one who set up the assassination,” John coldly admitted. “I shot that greedy whale in the heart and robbed him for every penny he had. And not one cop in this city – including you, the great Saxon Davis – will ever figure
that out. However, this is the story you’re going to remember: Pagnucci told me to drive his girlfriends to Kennedy Airport and the traffic was horrendous. The mansion was swarmed with cops and firemen by the time I got back. Therefore, I hightailed it out of there to avoid backlash against the State Police for their involvement or lack thereof.”
Saxon’s hypnotized gaze softened. “I see,” he said, burying his face in his palms. “But this puts us back to square one. The mansion was totaled, and we have no leads to follow.”
“Did you think I would’ve suffered in that house for such a long time without gathering any Intel on Pagnucci’s rivals? I just need some time to investigate without Teasley and Goldberg breathing down my neck. Let me pick my team and I assure you I’ll find the culprits as soon as possible.”
With no other strategies planned, Saxon leaned forward and tapped his thumbs together. “Okay, Hart,” he said. “I’ll let Teasley know that we’re looking at a few leads and will have answers by the end of the week. You’ve been on a hot streak up to this point, Johnny. Don’t screw this up.”
“Relax. I’ll have those guys behind bars before you know it.”
After his meeting, John walked out to the parking lot and climbed into his car, not wanting his business to be overheard. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed his real superior, the one who recruited and graced him with supernatural abilities. “Hi, Grandpa,” said John. The man wasn’t John’s grandfather, but
for unknown reasons that was the name he gave. Not even John knows his real identity.
“John-boy!” said Grandpa. “Did they go for it?”
“Hook. Line. And sinker.”
Grandpa mischievously guffawed. “I swear! The stupidity of man doesn’t surprise me anymore! Those losers at City Hall are so desperate to have everything handed to them that they can’t see their empire crumbling from beneath their feet! I can’t wait to see these bums fall - then have them lick the dirt off my shoes as an act for me to spare their lives once we own this stinkin’ city.”
“I’m glad you’re pleased with the news, sir.”
“Did it take a long time? Remember, exercising your powers are necessary, but you shouldn’t use them for petty things like this. Davis is an emotional wreck. He’d believe the sky was falling if you told him. You need to start using your gifts to reel in the big fish.”
“I know sir, but it didn’t take much. I used just enough to have him believe that my plan’s legit.”
“Your people know what they have to do, right?” “Not yet, but I’ll brief them today. They’ll be ready.”
“They sure as hell better be! Because if any of them should screw up, make sure you take those dogs behind the barn and put them to sleep. Understand?”
“Yes, I do.” “Good.”