Authors: Mike Barry
OTHER TITLES BY MIKE BARRY
Lone Wolf #1:
Lone Wolf #2:
Lone Wolf #3:
Lone Wolf #4:
Lone Wolf #5:
Lone Wolf #6:
Lone Wolf #7:
Lone Wolf #8:
Los Angeles Holocaust
Lone Wolf #9:
Lone Wolf #10:
Lone Wolf #11:
Lone Wolf #12:
Lone Wolf #13:
The Killing Run
Lone Wolf #14:
a division of F+W Media, Inc.
Fix the pusher … by dialing the drug hotline at any time, night or day, in complete confidence, by giving any information you may have on the pusher: name, habits, whereabouts … you can, in safety, help the government to help you. Let’s fix the pusher … let’s put him in jail.
—Newspaper display ad
So some clown is going to call up the hotline, give the name of the guy who he thinks is running around with his girl or who he owes a hundred bucks to; some clown is going to call the hotline and get the feds on his neighbor because he doesn’t like his looks. How long is that going to last? Either the feds are going to put everyone into jail or they’re going to give up. A little bit of both, knowing their track record.
There’s only one way to fix the pusher and make it stick. It’s an old message and where it lands, comes out blood.
Methadone stinks, David Williams thought.
Methadone stinks; it was supposed to be the promised land for drug control but it’s just turned out to be another kind of hustle. Methadone was supposed to block the need for heroin in the system, remove the obsessive grinding search for a fix that was the core of the addict’s existence, but actually it did nothing of the sort. It did not take the user off drugs and turn him into a non-addict but only pushed him in another direction. Methadone produced a high of its own, not the free-floating condition of heroin but a lower, steadier buzz and he had heard professionals say that in its own way methadone did not have to take a back seat to the big H at all; that you could do very nicely with methadone, it would get you off in a different way for about the same period of time. And with methadone you had a license, illegality being the big H’s only drawback.
You traded in one form of addiction for another; the same principles were in effect, Williams thought. Also the same people and methods. If you could peddle heroin then you could sell methadone; if you could build up a profit-and-barter system on smack than methadone which was more freely available, distributed by the government itself, was even easier to push into the flow. Who was kidding who? Methadone was getting pushed into the street just as H was; the margin wasn’t as high but the work was steadier and less dangerous. And, he thought, the methadone high was nothing to look down on. It wasn’t an H high but on the other hand it was considerably better than no high at all.
It was the same corruption and stupidity that had always been, Williams thought as he brought the car to a stop a block away from the methadone center in East Harlem, yanked up the emergency brake and then, leaving the doors unlocked—shit, it was New York City PD property, this unmarked 1971 Plymouth; the junkies could only do them a
by taking it—got out of the car and worked his way east. Plainclothes duty; check out the traffic around the methadone center. Maybe try to locate a known dealer or two by face and bring them in. Meth, heroin, it was all the same. It was a hustle; the same actors, the same format with a new deck of cards switched in. A stacked deck, of course. Williams supposed that he didn’t mind.
Hell, why should he mind? He was going to draw his fourteen grand per plus pension, plus health benefits, plus this and that for the full twenty, no matter what he did. If they wanted to send him up to Harlem to check out methadone that was okay; if they wanted him to sit on his ass in property and shuffle papers around he would do that too. Putting in the time, making the time: he had eighteen years and two months to go and if it wasn’t bad time it was good time … the Army philosophy.
He moved quickly on 137th toward Lenox, checking without seeing, absorbing without thinking. Street technique. You picked it if nothing else up fast. Everythinglooked as it always had; junkies littering the stoops, a couple of kids playing hookey scooting through alleys kicking garbage cans, sanitation workers in the middle of the block holding beer cans and bitching while the truck stood idling, doors open. They were working out their twenty, too. Everybody was on the twenty.
Shit, Williams thought, it doesn’t matter to me. If they want me to check out meth I’ll check it out, if they want me to deal for a little smack just show me the way; I’m just working here. I didn’t make this situation, I hold no responsibility for it and it’s going to be the same after I leave. Except worse. Short of dealing myself or ripping off graft I’ll do anything necessary to take me through the twenty.
don’t really believe that
, he thought.
Talk of hustling, he was hustling himself. It all hurt too much, that was the point; it hurt too much for an honest, feeling man to take, doubly so if he were a black man, and if you didn’t build up that armor you were wiped out. It was something that either came with your first month out on the street or sent you right off the force. Williams allowed himself to look at the intersection of 137th and Lenox for just one moment with eyes that were not shrouded by attitude and the impact of the scene. The litter, the waste, the small, nervous pool of activity radiating from a filthy storefront made him sick. He had to draw down the shroud of detachment quickly, otherwise he might have stumbled on the pavement, collided with something. It was that bad. All right then, it was that bad.
You had to seal off. Unless you were Wulff. Unless you were that crazy bastard Wulff, and Williams thought abstractedly of the man for an instant—his ex-partner, ex-cop, ex-narc, ex-combat veteran, ex-career man, ex-everything in the whole godamned world who was going to clean up the international drug-trade singlehandedly because he thought they had done something nasty to him once. Wulff was crazy, he believed in this holy war shit, he really thought that you could make a difference. And Williams could have laughed, but then he thought of what Wulff had been able to accomplish in just a couple of months of single-handed action and he was not so sure. He was not so sure at all. Moving out on his own he certainly had done more damage than a hundred agencies had in twenty years. “Watch where the fuck you going man,” someone said.
Williams looked up. The man in front of him was a little younger, make him in his twenties, a cigarette coming out of one corner of his mouth, down to the butt end. The man must have been in an alleyway; he certainly had not been there just a few seconds before. Williams had that much faith in his reconnaissance even though all of it was subconscious. “Who you think you are, anyway?” the man said.
Williams stopped and looked at him. If the man was setting him up for an attack of some kind he was far gone because Williams had to outweigh him by thirty pounds or so—to say nothing of the gun that he carried inconspicuously. He looked at the man’s eyes which were rolling slightly, then levelled out as they stared at Williams. Probably a junkie. You couldn’t be sure, though. Half of New York had that rolling, spaced out look. If you went by the stare, there would be two million people in Nelson’s fancy lockup.
“Excuse me,” he said and extended an arm to brush by the man. Damn NYPD procedure anyway. Men in plainclothes were required to maintain a certain standard of dress and decency at all times unless they were on an infiltration squad. He would have attracted a hell of a lot less notice if they had let him go out on the street in the clothing that the rest of them wore, but no. No, the NYPD procedures panel was having none of it. Plainclothes but he had to wear a white shirt and suit jacket. Lucky they had not thought of a tie or that would have been included, too. He reached the arm out in a blocking gesture to bring the man to his side, uncovering the pavement so he could walk through. Elementary crowd technique. But the man did not come up into his arm and instead ducked under it. Now he was to Williams’ side.
“Just hold it up there, dude,” he said, “I want to talk with you a bit.”
Williams stopped. The situation was getting trickier. On the corner a clump of them—dealers and customers, narcs and informers, for all he knew—were looking at him fixedly. Motion itself seemed to have stopped on the street. An incident, then, anything to break the monotony. Some outsider getting himself ripped off. He was probably the only man on the street who was not immediately identifiable. Thank the NYPD for that too … sending out an observer cold without infiltrating the neighborhood, making him dress in white shirt and jacket. Bright, that was very bright. “What the fuck you doing around here?” the man said. He reached into his pocket and took out a small knife, pointed it at Williams. “You a tourist at the freak show or a fucking narco?”
Crazy. It was getting crazy. Williams had the vague feeling of unreality of the dreamer. This could not possibly be happening to him; it was the kind of routine mugging that might occur to the outsider he was pretending to be but not to him. Not to David Williams. Particularly not to David Williams who understood the situation as no one else did and who played carefully and with the system. No one was going to take him off. Impossible. He reached inside for his gun.
“Look here,” he said, “I’m an—” And would have gone on to point out that he was a New York police officer who was going to take this man in for assault, lay it out to him simple and clear, see the widening fear in the assailant’s eyes as he realized who he had had the profound ill luck to take off. He had it all plotted out in mind, in fact, knew what his moves would be leading up to using the gun to get clear to a callbox and summoning a patrol car … but the assailant short-circuited him. Williams felt something like a pinprick in the area of his ribs, a small, neat incision of pain, then the pain began to spread, opening up like a flower and he felt the petals of hurt beginning to work through him.
“Son of a bitch,” the assailant said, “son of a bitch narco.” So he
know after all but this was doing Williams no good. The man in fact had moved into fury. “You dirty bastard,” he said, “doing this to your own people,” and Williams was still trying to get his gun out—should be simple, one motion and out, but it had hooked inside on a coil of thread in his jacket, either that or something had happened to him to make him weak. He felt a strange disinclination to struggle further for the gun; leave it stay where it was, it was hopeless anyway. Never get it out. He felt the pain moving upward now, toward his neck. Funny: funny thing about that, water seeks its level going downward but pain moves
“Son of a bitch,” the man with the knife said, “dirty, fucking cocksucker,” angry, he was really angry and Williams reached out a hand to tell him to cut it out, it was ridiculous, this was no way to solve the problem and in any event he was an armed police officer who in just a few seconds was going to take out his gun and kill the man. Just a few seconds. In just a few seconds he would go for the gun; now he was still meditating the best way to do it. The sidewalk hit him on the left side of the jaw and dreamily he punched back at the concrete. Unwarranted attack. Assaulted by a sidewalk. This was quite funny; he felt himself beginning to giggle. “Son of a bitch,” someone said to him again as if from a far distance but he did not care this time to find out who was saying it. They were all the same, all of them far away at 137th Street and Lenox whereas he, David Williams, was comfortably settled in St. Albans, Queens, in his mortgaged house where the system was taking care of him. He had a sensation not of falling but of rising. Funny. Strange how it worked out that way. Well, maybe death was upward-mobile too.