“Where’s the Yankee killer?”
“He’s got a private cell. You know… away from the riffraff. Lemme see.” The lock-up keeper put his glasses on and ran his finger down a list of prisoners. “Cell 14. You wanna see him?”
Sullivan hesitated. “Why not? Won’t cost me anything.”
Billy Dee Jackson, a large Black man in his sixties took out his set of keys from his desk. “You know, I’ve been down here a long time. Seen everything from punks and gangbangers to politicians and people rolling in dough. Noth’n surprises me. No sir. I’ll tell you one thing, I treat everyone the same. I talk softly so they have to listen. I don’t come at them. They don’t expect it. I tell’m, it aint my fault you’re here. I’ve got no beef with you and shouldn’t have one with me. I’m goin to keep you safe while you in my jail. But if I get lip I give it back. You cool I treat you good.” He turned to Officer Sullivan, “Capish?”
He nodded. “Makes sense to me.”
Billy Dee suffered from a slight limp. He had been on the force for 40 years. Back then, Black cops were rare and his assignments reflected it. He had to give it to old Mayor Daley. At least he opened the door. He smiled at the places he had been. He directed traffic in the alley behind police headquarters at 11th and State. He froze his balls off but didn’t quit. After a year he was transferred to the 2nd District night shift on the South side, before urban renewal. He had to climb those vertical death traps called the Robert Taylor Homes.
Now he hummed as he moved toward the metal door. “Whatcha want to see him for?” he asked Sullivan.
“It’s not everyday there’s a celebrity in the hooskow. Besides, a new season is coming. Maybe he could give me some pointers.”
Billy Dee laughed. “You’re in for a surprise.” He stuck a big metal key into the lock and turned it. “He’s down the corridor and to the left.”
“Thanks,” Sullivan started down the hallway not knowing what to expect.