Authors: Robert Thornhill
I stopped by the super market and picked up another box of Wheaties. When I returned home, I would have to tell Maggie where I’d been and I didn’t want to tell her I had just consorted with a gal wearing a skin tight skirt, fishnet stockings and high heels.
“So how’s he doing?” Maggie asked.
“About what you’d expect,” Judy replied. “The two of them were inseparable for five years. He mopes around the apartment a lot. He misses his little buddy. How about your guy?”
“About the same. Every time we see a cop car drive by he gets all teary eyed, but he never says a word. I just hope we’ve done the right thing.”
“You absolutely did. He’s seventy, and he’s had more close calls than some of the guys who have been on the force twenty years. It was time.”
“We just have to make sure that the four of us spend more time together so they can get their ‘buddy fix.’”
“Have they assigned you a new full-time partner?” I asked, curious, but jealous.
Ox rolled his eyes. “Boy did they ever. Mandy Parrish, twenty-two years old and fresh out of the academy, and that’s not the worst of it.”
“Why, is she a bitch?”
“Oh no, nothing like that. She’s a real sweetheart. The problem is that she is the niece of Abe Parrish, the Police Commissioner, so all of a sudden I’ve got everyone from the P.C. to the captain looking over my shoulder. It’s like I’m under a microscope all day every day.”
“Wow that is tough. So you went from having the oldest guy on the force to the newest and greenest woman on the force as your partner. Who did you piss off at City Hall?”
“Very funny. The hardest part is that she’s a girl. I can’t even fart when I want to.”
That was a tough one. Ox could be pretty gassy.
“So what’s happening at the station? Any exciting cases? Drug busts? Murders for hire?”
“No, nothing like that. The big thing is these drive-by shootings. The word on the street is that every cop in the city has a target on his back because of Tyrell Jackson and the Tweedy brothers. Somebody out there has a hard-on because of their deaths. It seems like we’re looking over our shoulders every minute we’re out on the street.”
“I really hate it that my parting legacy involved those incidents. I hope you’re not getting any grief from the other guys because you were a part of it too.”
“Not at all. Everybody knows those were good shoots. They know it could have been any one of them. Oh, yeah, there is one more thing, the Russian mob.”
“I thought those creeps were out of the picture. What’s changed?”
“It seems they’re trying to make a comeback in the Northeast District. Ever since we shut them down a few years ago, Councilman Franco has done a hell of a job strengthening and unifying the community. He’s helped put together beautification programs, business alliances and youth organizations, but now he’s up for re-election and his opponent is John Spivak. The political guys are telling us that Spivak is in the mob’s pocket. Apparently some of their goons have been paying residents in the district a visit and letting them know that if Spivak isn’t elected, there will be hell to pay. It’s intimidation pure and simple. The last thing we need is for the Russians to get re-established in the area. We’ve been trying to find evidence that ties Spivak to the mob, but so far we’ve come up empty.”
“Wow! It never lets up. The bad guys just keep coming.”
“I guess that’s what you call job security.”
At that moment, Maggie called us to dinner.
Later that night, I couldn’t get to sleep. I kept replaying my conversation with Ox over and over. My best friend and the other officers in the squad were in real danger and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help.
Then I thought about how hard we had worked to get the Russian mob out of Northeast and now they were strong-arming their way back into the community.
I wanted to do something, but there was nothing I could do. I felt totally helpless and useless and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.
Maggie had an appointment at the real estate office and I was by myself trying, without much success, to get involved in a book when there was a knock on the door.
It was Kevin.
I hadn’t spoken to him since I stormed out of his apartment. I had thought long and hard about the Bonnaducci incident and his rationalization of how it had ended. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my head around the notion that justice had been served.
I stepped aside and waived him in.
“So how are you doing?” he asked, trying to break the ice.
I just shrugged.
“Yeah, I thought so. Listen, I’m sorry about how things ended the other day. I know you’re used to operating under a different set of rules and in retrospect, I probably came on a bit strong.”
“Too strong! You think? We were accomplices in a murder and you had the gall to call it justice. As far as I’m concerned, your Lady Justice is more of a whore than a heroine!”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth I regretted what I had said.
When Kevin’s transplant fell through, he figured his days were numbered and wanted to play hide-the-salami a few more times before he cashed in his chips, and he came to me looking for a referral. While I had arrested a few hookers, I wasn’t on a first name basis with any of them, but my old friend Willie still had a lot of connections from his days on the street.
Willie hooked him up with a voluptuous blonde named Veronica. For some reason, way beyond my scope of understanding, the two of them clicked, and after Kevin’s transplant, they continued to be an item.
While none of us could quite comprehend someone having a relationship with a woman in that line of work, we elected to be non-judgmental which turned out to be the right call because Veronica was an integral part of Kevin’s wacky scheme that cleared us in the King Tut murders.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ---.”
“No apology necessary. Anyway, Veronica has chosen a different career path.”
“Really? I hadn’t heard.”
“Yeah, she’s a cocktail waitress at the Brass Balls Lounge. She still gets to wear the glitzy clothes she loves, but now with the clientele, it’s looky but no touchy.”
Step in the right direction
, I thought. “Glad to hear it. I’m guessing you didn’t just come here to apologize. What’s on your mind?”
“Actually, I could use your help again.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I guess you didn’t get the message. I’m not interested in your brand of justice.”
“I got the message loud and clear and I understand, but this is different.”
“Different? How so?”
“Do you really want to know? If not, I’ll just leave.”
Curiosity got the best of me. Maybe I was just bored. “Let’s hear it. If I don’t like the sound of it, I can always throw you out.”
“Fair enough. Ever heard of John Spivak?”
That got my attention right away. “Maybe. What about him?”
“Spivak is running against Councilman Franco for the city council seat in the Northeast District. The word on the street is that he’s backed by the Russian mob, and if he’s elected everything is going to hell in a hand basket. The mob has brought a lot of muscle into town to persuade the electorate to vote for Spivak.”
“So how are you involved?”
“The cops have been trying to find evidence to link Spivak to the mob, but they’ve struck out so far, and the election is just around the corner. Someone reached out to me hoping I might be able to come up with something from a different angle.”
“Let’s just say it’s someone well connected and leave it at that. Given your notion of justice, you really don’t want to know.”
“So what’s your plan?”
Kevin pulled a photo out of his pocket. It showed a smiling John Spivak surrounded by his wife and two daughters.
“On the surface, the guy looks clean, but if he’s tied to the mob, he’s certainly no Boy Scout. He has to have some skeletons in his closet. We just have to find them, and the only way is to shadow the guy twenty-four hours a day until he slips up. We need to be there when he does.”
“So how would I fit in?”
“Right now I’ve only got myself, and I can’t be with the guy 24/7. I need you to shadow the guy while I get some shut-eye. We could take eight-hour shifts.”
“Exactly what are we looking for?”
“Anything shady that could tie him to the Russians or impugn his character.”
“And if we find something, is Spivak going to wind up at the bottom of Cliff Drive like Frankie or at the bottom of the Missouri River?”
“Absolutely not. Like I said, this is different.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Simple,” he said, handing me a sheet of paper. “Here’s his schedule. Just tail him where ever he goes and be ready with your camera when he slips up.”
I had promised myself I wouldn’t be sucked into any more of Kevin’s schemes, but this one seemed more legit. Everything he said was an exact fit with what Ox had shared with me.
Maybe I could actually do something that would help. Maybe I was just bored. Either way, Kevin, my silver-tongued brother-in-law, had hooked me again.
According to the schedule Kevin had given me, Spivak was to hold a press conference on the front steps of City Hall at eleven. He had just concluded when I arrived.
After a lot of glad-handing and back-slapping, he got in his car and headed south on Main. I tailed him to the parking garage just around the corner from Houston’s Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza.
I watched through the window of the restaurant and saw him shake hands with a couple of guys in business suits. A receptionist led them to a secluded table.
I didn’t recognize his lunch partners, but I figured since they were out in the open at a popular eatery on the Plaza, they probably weren’t concocting some nefarious scheme.
It suddenly occurred to me that I was hungry. Kevin hadn’t mentioned, and I didn’t think to ask how I was to be compensated for my time. I made a mental note to ask about an expense account, and asked for a table where I could keep an eye on my quarry.
I figured, ‘when in Rome,’ so I ordered a plate of their ribs. An excellent choice.