Authors: Robert - Elvis Cole 08 Crais
"For Christ's sake, Harvey, I'm right here. I can shoot him if I have to."
I said, "I had a cup of coffee." Like it was a federal case.
Krantz calmed down and turned back to me. "Okay, here's the deal. We're still not sure about the autopsy, but I'll let you know this afternoon."
"I had to wait here an hour for that?"
"You don't have to be here at all. Bishop says you can have the reports, so when they come in tomorrow we'll copy you on them. That's it."
Stan Watts appeared in the hall, the Buzz Cut with him, but not the other two guys. Stan said, "Harve. We're ready." The Buzz Cut was still staring at me like I owed him money and he was trying to figure a way to get it.
Krantz nodded at them. "Okay, Cole, that's it for today. You're out of here."
"If I can have the reports, can I take copies of Dersh's and Ward's interviews?"
Krantz looked around for Dolan. "Run off the copies for him."
"You want me to suck his dick, too?"
Krantz turned red. Embarrassed.
"She's something, Krantz."
"Get him the goddamned copies, then get him out of here." Krantz started away, then stopped and came back to me. "By the way, Cole. I'm not surprised you're here by yourself. I knew Pike didn't have the balls to come down here."
"You didn't look so tough up at the lake when he stood in your face."
Krantz stepped closer. "You guys are in on a pass. Remember that. This is still my shop, and I'm still the man. Remember that, too."
"Why'd Pike call you Pants?"
When I said it, Krantz flushed hard, then stalked away. I glanced over at Dolan. She was smiling, but when she saw that I was looking at her, the smile fell away. She said, "Hang on and I'll make those copies."
"I can make'm. Just show me where."
"You have to enter a code. They don't want us running off union flyers or screenplays."
A few minutes later Dolan gave me copies of the two interviews.
"Thanks, Dolan. I guess that's it."
"I've got to walk you out."
She brought me out to the elevators, pushed the button, and stared at the doors while we waited.
I said, "I gotcha, didn't I?"
She looked at me.
"There at the end, with Krantz. I made you smile."
The elevator doors opened. I got in.
"See you tomorrow, Dolan."
She answered as the doors closed.
"Not if I see you first."
In the Matter of Officer Joe Pike
Detective-Three Mike McConnell of the Internal Affairs Group was certain that he'd gotten a bad clam. He d had lunch at the Police Academy's cafe some two hours ago where the special of the day was New England clam chowder, and ever since he could feel it rumbling through his intestines like the LAPD's battering ram. He'd been terrified that the Unmentionable would occur crossing the always crowded lobby here in Parker Center, where the Internal Affairs Group had their offices, or, worse still, riding up that damned elevator which had been jammed with the entire LAPD top command, not to mention most of the goddamned mayor's staff.
But so far so good, and Mike McConnell, at fifty-four years of age and two years away from a thirty-year retirement, had made it to his office for the case file, and now to the interview room, where, as senior administrative LAG officer, he could hurry that officious prick Harvey Krantz through the interview before he crapped his Jockeys.
When he walked in, Detective-Two Louise Barshop was already seated at the table, and inwardly McConnell frowned. The lead investigator on this case was that putz Harvey Krantz, whom McConnell hated, but he'd forgotten that the third IAG was a woman. He liked Louise fine, and she was a top officer, but he was having the Lord's Own rotten gas with the clam. He didn't feel comfortable farting in front of a woman. "Hi, Louise. How's the family?"
"Fine, Mike. Yours?"
"Oh, just fine. Fine." He tried to decide whether or not to warn her of his flatulence or just take things a step at a time and see what passed, so to speak. If he had a problem, maybe he could act like Krantz was responsible.
McConnell took his seat and had decided on the latter strategy when Krantz entered, carrying a thick stack of case files. Krantz was tall and bony, with close-set eyes and a long nose that made him look like a parrot. He had joined IAG less than a year ago after a pretty good run in West Valley burglary, and would be the junior detective present. Because it was his case, he would also handle the bulk of the questioning. Krantz made no secret that he was here to use LAG as a stepping-stone to LAPD's upper command. He had left the uniform as fast as he could (McConnell suspected the street scared him), and had sniveled his way into every stepping-stone job he could, invariably seeking out the right ass to kiss so that he could get ahead. The sniveling little prick never passed up an opportunity to let you know that he d graduated from USC with honors, and was working on his master's. McConnell, whose personal experience with college was pulling riot duty during the late sixties, had joined the Marines right out of high school, and took great pride in how far he had risen without the benefit of a college diploma. McConnell hated Harvey Krantz, not only for his supercilious and superior manner but also because he'd found out that the little cocksucker had gone over his head two months ago and told McConnell's boss, the LAG captain-supervisor, that McConnell was mishandling three cases on which Krantz was working. The prick. McConnell had vowed on the spot that he would shaft the skinny bastard and fuck his career if it was the last thing he did. This, even though Mike McConnell only had to sweat out two more years before retiring to his beachside trailer in Mexico. Jesus, even looking at the little skeeze made McConnell s skin crawl. A human parrot.
Krantz nodded briskly. "Hello, Louise. Mr. McConnell"Always with the "Mr.," like he was trying to underline the difference in their ages.
Louise Barshop said, "Hi, Harvey. You ready to go?"
Krantz inspected the empty witness chair with his parrot eyes. "Where's the subject?"
McConnell said, "You talking about the officer we're going to question?"You see how he did? The subject, like they were in some kind of snooty laboratory!
Louise Barshop fought back a smile. "He's in the waiting area, Harvey. Are we ready to begin?"
"I'd like to go over a few things before we start."
McConnell leaned forward to cut him off. Something loose was shifting in his lower abdomen and he was getting a cramp. "I'm telling you right now that I don't want to waste a lot of time with this." He riffled through his case file. "This kid is Wozniak's partner, right?"
Krantz looked down his parrot nose and McConnell could tell he was pissed. Good. Let him run back and bellyache to the boss. Get a rep as a whiner. "That's right, Wozniak. I've developed this investigation myself, Mr. McConnell, and I believe there s something to this." He was investigating a uniformed patrol officer named Abel Wozniak for possible involvement in the theft and fencing of stolen goods. "As Wozniak's partner, this guy must certainly know what Wozniak's up to, even if he himself isn't involved, and I'd like your permission to press him. Hard, if necessary"
"Fine, fine, whatever. Just don't take too long. It's Friday afternoon, and I want to get out of here. If something presents itself, follow it, but if this guy's in the dark, I don't wanna waste time with it."
Harvey made a little oomping sound to let them know he wasn't happy, then hurried out to the waiting room.
Louise said, "Harvey s quite a go-getter, isn't he?" "He s a prick. People like him is why they call us the Rat Squad."
Louise Barshop looked away without responding. Probably exactly what she'd been thinking, but she didn't have the cushion of twenty-eight years on the job to say it. In IAG, the walls grew ears, and you had to be careful whose ass you kicked today because they'd be waiting their turn on you tomorrow.
The interviewee was a young officer named Joseph Pike. McConnell had read the officer's file that morning, and was impressed. The kid had been on the job for three years, and had graduated number four in his Academy class. Every fitness report he had received since then had rated Pike as outstanding. McConnell was experienced enough to know that this, in and of itself, was no guarantee against corruption; many a smart and courageous young man would rob you blind if you let him. But, even after twenty-eight years on the job, Mike McConnell still believed that the men and women who formed the police of his city were, almost to a person, the finest young men and women that the city had to offer. Over the years he had grown to feel that it was his duty -- his obligation -- to protect their reputation from those few who would besmirch the others. After reading Officer Pike's file, he was looking forward to meeting him. Like McConnell, Pike had gone through Camp Pendleton, but unlike McConnell, who had been a straight infantry Marine, Pike had graduated from the Marine s elite Force Recon training, then served in Vietnam, where he had been awarded two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. McConnell smiled as he looked at the file, and thought that a smug turd like Krantz (who had managed to avoid military service) didn't deserve to be in the same room with a kid like this.
The door opened, and Krantz pointed to the chair where he wanted Pike to sit. The three LAG detectives were seated together behind a long table; the interviewee would sit opposite them in a chair well back from the table so as to increase his feelings of isolation and vulnerability. Standard LAG procedure.
First thing McConnell noticed was that this young officer was starch. His uniform spotless, the creases in his pants and shirt sharp, the black leather gear and shoes shined to a mirror finish. Pike was a tall man, as tall as Krantz, but where Krantz was thin and bony, Pike was filled out and hard, his shirt across his back and shoulders and upper arms pulled taut. McConnell said, "Officer Pike."
"I'm Detective McConnell, and this is Detective Barshop. Those glasses gotta go."
Pike doffed his sunglasses, revealing brilliant blue eyes. Louise Barshop shifted in her seat.
Pike said, "Do I need an attorney present?"
McConnell turned on the big Nagra tape recorder before answering. "You can request consultation with an attorney, but if you do not answer our questions at this time, which we are hereby ordering you to do -- and we ain't waitin' for some FOP mouthpiece to mosey over -- you will be relieved of your duties and brought up on charges of refusing the administrative orders of a superior officer. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, sir." Pike held McConnell s gaze, and McConnell thought that the boy looked empty. If he was scared, or nervous, he hid it well.
"Do you wish an attorney?"
Louise Barshop said, "Has Detective Krantz explained why you're here?"
"We are investigating allegations that your radio car partner, Abel Wozniak, has been or is involved in a string of warehouse burglaries that have occurred this past year."
McConnell watched for a reaction, but the boy's face was as fiat as piss on a plate. "How about that, son? How you feel, hearin' that?"
Pike stared at him for a moment, then shrugged so small it was tough to see.
Krantz barked, "How long have you been partnered with Officer Wozniak?" "Two years"
"And you expect us to believe you don't know what he's doing?"
The blue eyes went to the parrot, and McConnell wondered what on earth could be behind those eyes. Pike didn't answer.
Krantz stood. He was given to pacing, which annoyed McConnell, but McConnell let him do it because it also annoyed the person they were questioning. "Have you ever accepted graft or committed any act which you know to be in violation of the law?"
"Have you ever witnessed Officer Wozniak commit an act which you know to be in violation of the law?"
Louise Barshop said, "Has Officer Wozniak ever mentioned committing such acts to you, or done or said anything that would lead you to conclude that he had?"
"No, ma "am."
Krantz said, "Do you know Carlos Reena or Jesus Uribe, also known as the Chihuahua Brothers?"Reena and Uribe were fences operating out of a junkyard near Whiteman Airport in Pacoima.
"I know who they are, but I don't know them."
"Have you ever seen Officer Wozniak with either of these men?"
"Has Officer Wozniak ever mentioned them to you?"
Krantz fired off the questions as fast as Pike answered, and grew increasingly irritated because Pike would pause before answering, and each pause was a little longer or shorter than the one before it, which prevented Krantz from working up a rhythm. McConnell realized that Pike was doing this on purpose, and liked him for it. He could tell that Krantz was getting irritated because he began to shift his weight from one foot to the other. McConnell didn't like fidgeters. His first wife had been a fidgeted, and he'd gotten rid of her. McConnell said, "Officer Pike, let me at this time inform you that you are under orders not to reveal that this interview has taken place, and not to reveal to anyone what we have questioned you about. If you do, you will be brought up on charges of failing to obey a lawful administrative order, and fired. Do you understand that?"