Cruising through the late-night Manhattan streets was a stretched limousine driving up to City Hall, parking out front of the massive marble staircase. Bodyguards rushed outside and stood around the vehicle, observing to see if the area was secure. The driver then valeted a drowsy Mayor Goldberg out of the vehicle. He was still wiping the sleep from his eyes. Flannel pajamas stuck out from under his sloppy gray suit and oversized trench coat.
“Are you okay, sir?” asked the driver.
“Being dragged out of my bed at this time of night because of another dimwitted police emergency? I’m pretty damn far from being friggin’ okay!” the mayor snapped back. “Can’t wait to pitch my task force idea to Congress and get all these imbeciles fired! They failed my city way too many times. Heh...at least the public is still buying what I’m selling.”
A black Cadillac parked across the street at the same time. Behind the wheel was Police Commissioner Cornelius Wood. He checked the clock radio and compared it to the event reminder flashing on his cellphone. Seeing the mayor already arrived, Wood got out of the car and buttoned his charcoal gray trench coat.
Goldberg annoyingly threw his hands in the air as he saw Wood from across the street. “This crosses the line with government protocol, so this better be good,” Goldberg complained as Wood walked towards him. “My day starts in
a matter of hours and I still have to rehearse my speech to the city delegates.
Also, I gotta dig some lousy hole in some godforsaken park, waste my afternoon signing documents, and deal with public agencies before the Yankee game tonight! I have a very tough life!!”
“I see,” Wood sarcastically responded. “Mr. Mayor, I’m just as anxious to get back to sleep as you are, so let’s just get this over with. Now, what is it you need from me? If this is about the Times Square fiasco, my office is currently running a full investigation. I hope to have some answers for you by the end of the day tomorrow.”
“What I need from you? You’re the one who asked me to come out here!”
“Sir. I came here because you sent me a message.”
“Yo u sent me a message!”
“Sent you? I don’t even text to my wife to say hello.”
Goldberg looked appalled. “Well, I’m getting the hell out of here!” He fanned his hand while heading back to his limo.
“Hold it, hold it!” Wood stopped him. “We seem to have a misunderstanding here. Instead of us going our separate ways and keep this looming over our
heads all night, let’s hash this thing out and get to the bottom of this mix-up. Might as well, since we’re both standing out here past midnight in our pj’s.”
“There’s nothing to figure out! It’s obvious your people screwed up, as usual!”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions, sir. There has to be a logical explanation for on why we would schedule a meeting at this time of night.” Wood thought of a few scenarios, but still not remembering who originated the idea. “Does your secretary have access to your office when you’re away?”
“Of course.” Goldberg cleared his throat. “She’s always in my office to,
umm…handle my personal stuff.”
“Does she use sticky notes or are your appointments made electronically?” “We hardly write anything, Commissioner. Even the signatures on my
employee’s paychecks are computerized.”
“Well, there you go! Maybe she listed our appointment for tomorrow afternoon, but accidentally entered the incorrect time. And since your office is right upstairs, why don’t we go up and investigate this snafu ourselves.”
“I never go anywhere unless my bodyguards say it’s okay.”
“Do you really think there’s a chance of a security threat? Now? Sir. Unless your janitors were hired from Staten Island or Afghanistan, I think we’ll be okay. Now let’s go.” Goldberg nervously told his bodyguards to wait outside as Wood led the way up the stairs and into the building.
Bland decor poisoned the ivory hallways along with grand-sized pictures of the mayor hanging from every wall. Darkness blanketed both ends, looking more like caves. After turning numerous corners like cars around cones in a driving exam, the two of them finally made it to Goldberg’s office.
“Here’s what’s not making sense?” the mayor wondered. “If my secretary made a mistake in booking this appointment, then how could you have gotten the same error?”
“Not sure,” Wood answered. “Perhaps we both agreed to this appointment months ago and forgot about it. Remember, it was your idea to hold these secret meetings in the first place, wanting to resolve the growing problem of cops protesting your budget cuts, isn’t that right?” Goldberg fanned his hands, wishing he never made that decision. “Why so many cuts, sir?”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to wait like everybody else. That being said, I never scheduled any of our meetings this late. Why would I do such a thing?”
“As I said sir, it could be just a case of faulty information. If you got a better answer, then I’d love to hear it.”
The reception area was wiped down and cleaned to perfection by the cleaning crew. Goldberg’s office was on the far-left side. For him, in this darkness, it felt like walking through an endless forest. “Did you hear that?” the mayor asked timidly. “Sounds like footsteps.”
“You open the office while I check it out,” Wood ordered as he walked back out to the hallway. Goldberg rushed to his office and accidentally banged his nose against the locked door. After three failed attempts, fumbling his keys like
a pair of dice, he got the doors opened and quickly ran inside.