Gina arrived at Times Square minutes later. She swished through the Aalto 57 high-rise building and stopped in front of Alex’s door. Should she knock? Maybe she can vibrate through the door? Hmm… worth a shot. Just for fun. Taking a few steps back, she pumped her legs and rubbed her hands together. She concentrated on becoming transparent, envisioning moving through the steel door like a specter. Ready. Set. GO!
She couldn’t move passed the splitting headache once her head slammed against the door. Tumbling to the ground, Gina massaged her forehead and said, “Guess I’m not ready for that one neither.”
The door swung open and Alex charged out to the hallway angrier than a hornet. Shocked to see her sister slouched against the wall, she helped her to her feet. “Are you alright?” she asked.
“Yeah,” said Gina. “Just humbled.”
“Oh...kay. Now, why the hell did you bang on my door like you’re the damn police?!”
“Technically speaking: I am the police.”
Alex ushered Gina inside her Industrial-style condominium, fully furnished and equipped with the finest technology: high-speed Internet, voice-recognizing doorbell, surveillance cameras, and soundproof walls. Her entire complex
contained a living room, dining room, walk-in closet, kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry room. Her lavished terrace displayed a glorious view of Times Square, iconified as “The Center of the Universe.”
Amazed at her sister’s astonishing residence, Gina stepped inside a technically-sound remote office, formally known as the spare bedroom. Three large computer screens mounted on the wall, displaying history records, map grids, and police reports. Alex’s team gathered as much information available about the church robbery. “So how did it go with Pastor Goode?” she mentioned.
“It was a real eye-opener,” Gina sighed, “but I’ll explain that later. Show me what you got.”
“On a hunch, I took the initiative and investigated the origin of last night’s robbery. Something stinks to high heaven in the state of Denmark.” Alex moved the cursor to the first screen and clicked open the 66th precinct incoming call history from the NYPD database. A call came in about strange men lingering around the back of the church, which was then dispatched to their officers as ‘a robbery in progress.’ The precinct is only a fifteen-minute walk to the church, meaning the trip’s even shorter by car. However, the cops never arrived.”
“Why would they blatantly ignore a disturbance call in their district?” Gina wondered.
“If you think that’s strange, then check this out. Another report was dispatched about a murder at the same location. EMT’s arrived and reported that a man was found beheaded.”
“Going by the multiple wounds on his hands and chest, detectives on the scene suggested that the man attempted to foil the robbery and took a lot of punishment before being killed.”
“Did the man have a name?”
“According to DNA samples and fingerprint scans, he was identified as
Officer Don Crass.” “Who’s Don Crass?”
“Brief history lesson: Don Crass was the rogue officer who escaped the infamous 14th precinct raid just days ago. News anchors referred to him as the last of the ravages. Detective John Hart went public as to say –”
“John Hart? Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Maybe someone you used to work with?” Gina fanned her hand. “Anyway, Captain Randall and his officers were hit with a laundry list of charges, which would put them in jail for life. One of those charges included the assassination
of Crispin Pagnucci.”
“Pagnucci was killed by cops? Impossible. He owned cops like baseball cards, especially out in Long Island. No one would dare have the guts to cross him, not even the greediest of officers.”
“I see you remember him.”
“How can I forget? Besides, I read about his death in the paper and it stated that every last bit of his fortune was stolen.”
“True. And every last dollar of that fortune miraculously wound up in the
14th precinct’s basement.”
“Has any come forward stating they were framed?”
“Randall claimed to have proof implicating Detective Hart as the chief architect of Pagnucci’s murder, among several other heinous crimes. Then later that night, every one of those cops was found butchered in their cells. Surveillance footage showed nothing but a rolling flashlight. Prison guards still have no idea how they infiltrated security. The audio, however, was too sickening to bear. Someone went to great lengths in making sure these cops never spoke to anyone. Got a whiff of that stench yet?”
“What about the thieves we encountered?”
Alex moved up to the third screen and played the surveillance video at the intersection. “I waited for the cops to show up after you left. I gave them my full report on what took place and the thieves were then carted away. But as you can see, they were never taken to the station.”
She double-clicked on another window and played new camera footage.
Gina watched the squad cars abruptly turn away from the precinct. Where were they being taken to? This is getting stranger by the minute. Alex was right. More layers unraveled from this onion showed how much this debacle stinks.
“What about Sylvan?
“EMT’s dispatched Bronx Lebanon Hospital to alert the coroner for fresh DOA’s.” Alex clicked open the hospital’s case records on the second screen. “What do you see there?” Gina discovered that Sylvan’s name was not on the list.
“Before you say anything, I cross-referenced Sylvan’s name through the police database since I didn’t know his last name. He was still an active officer for the 66th precinct! That explains why the cops never showed up to the robbery. They were the ones committing it.”
Weakening in the knees, Gina sat on the edge of the table and ran her fingers through her hair. Did she hear that right? Her longtime friend had turned to a criminal? “Why would Sylvan resort to stealing?” she wondered.
“Credit that to Mayor Goldberg. Over the years, he decided to cut the budgets of several civil service departments, hoping to close the gap of the city’s huge financial deficit. He thought by concentrating more on city attractions,
more tourists would come to visit, thus grossing more money. He thought wrong. The crime rate had grown tremendously while Goldberg’s approval rating crashed like the stock market.”
“What an arrogant piece of...” Gina shook off that last insult. “Do you know where the bodies went?”
“Oh, how the plot thickens, big sister. I checked the newswire online and listened to Tricia White’s exclusive report about Don Crass. Thanks to a hidden source, she revealed that Crass’ body was taken to Brookhaven Memorial in Long Island. ‘Most dead cops go there’ she quoted her source in saying.”
“Why take the bodies so far out?”
“I have no idea. Why don’t we find out?”
“Great idea! But…got any food?” Gina had a sudden urge to eat an entire buffet.
“In the fridge. Help yourself.”
Gina went to the kitchen and was disappointed to find only bottled water, a pack of Ramen noodles and a spoiled orange sitting in her refrigerator. “This is it?!” she hollered. “This is all you got?! You need to get your butt to the grocery store, girl!”
“Well, as you can guess from my current lifestyle, the time for me to get groceries is slim to none,” Alex lectured while walking to the living room. “Therefore, I hardly have time in between catching terrorists to make out a shopping list.”
“How about buying - hmm, let’s see...anything? That’s a good place to start don’t you think?! Sheesh! You don’t even have protein shakes stocked in this fortress.”
“I’m a federal agent Gina! I take on cases that most government officials won’t even touch! I chase international criminals regularly! So I ask you: do you think I have time to sit up here and be Rachael-freaking-Ray to you?!”
Gina realized she went overboard. “You’re right, Allie. I’m so sorry. It’s just that I have such a huge appetite all of a sudden, like grouchy hungry, you know? I need to get some food. What can I get around here that’s quick? Pizza! That’s
it! I’ll run out and get a small pie. Do you want anything?” “Didn’t you just say you were getting a small pie?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m getting, but do you want something?” “What’s with you, Gi?”
“Never mind, I know what you like. I’ll be right back, but leave the door unlocked this time.”
Alex went back to her office and impatiently spun in her office chair. A minute later, Gina appeared by the doorway holding a pizza box and a gallon of water. Placing the items on the desk, she peeled off two slices and stacked them on top of each other. “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today,” Gina mumbled with a mouthful of cheese. Alex was floored.