Authors: A.M. Madden
“This briefing room stinks like ass.” Rob walks in grimacing while carrying two coffee cups.
“You’re an expert on the smell of ass?” I reach for a cup, and he pulls it away.
“Fuck off, these are mine.”
“Good morning, sunshine. Rough night?” Rob shoots daggers at me. “Why so blue, Kemosabe?”
“You’re welcome. For what?”
“Thank you for ditching us last night. Thank you for leaving me with a huge bar bill, a dry cleaning bill for the man Andrea threw up all over, and a huge cab bill because we ended up on Long Beach Island instead of Long Beach, New York.”
“How the fuck did that happen?”
He looks angry at my obvious question. “It doesn’t matter.”
“When did you realize you were going the wrong way?”
“When the cabbie woke us up on LBI.” I openly laugh at him, enjoying this immensely. “It’s not funny.”
“It’s hilarious. Why didn’t you just crash at my place?”
He glares at my revelation. “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?” he asks with sarcasm dripping from each word.
“How is any of that my fault?”
“Did you or did you not order a total of twenty-eight shots of
at six bucks a pop?”
“No one forced you to drink all those shots.”
“At six bucks a pop? There was no way I was going to let them go to waste. I tried to drink them, but I couldn’t do it. Last night cost me a fortune. I would’ve poured them into Andrea’s bag if she let me.”
I snatch one of his coffees. “That’s what you get for forcing a situation that had no business being forced.”
He looks at me over the rim of his cup. “Ella pretty much said the same thing to Andrea this morning.”
At the mention of Ella, I remember her perfume. I think I could pick it out of a line-up. “So?”
“Andrea’s right. You are perfect for each other, and you’re both so fucking stubborn.” He shakes his head, immediately holding his forehead with one hand as if the motion is causing him pain.
“You both need to mind your own business.”
“Fuck, I couldn’t give a shit about your love life, but for some reason Andrea does. And if Andrea cares, then I care.”
“Maybe she needs a distraction, like a ring or a baby or a boyfriend with a bigger cock.”
He flips me off, not looking the least bit amused. “Why are we here so early on our day off?”
“Sarge wanted to talk to us.”
Unease alters his features. “Crap.”
“Why do you always assume the worst? I’m hoping that we’re getting a kick-ass case. I’m bored.”
When I get restless, Rob gets nervous. He’s completely comfortable with mediocrity. After our last promotion, I told him that if it weren’t for me, he’d still be walking the beat in Chelsea. He told me to get off my high horse and then to please suck the horse’s cock.
I often wonder the real reason he became a cop. He told me he was predestined to, coming from a long line of cops. I don’t buy it. I love the guy, but his personality is better suited to be an accountant, one with a gutter mouth.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s a very good cop. He keeps me focused, and I get the job done. His strengths are my shortcomings. My strengths are ones he lacks. We moved up the ranks together because of our partnership. We do make a great team. We were promoted sooner than any of our entire graduating class. The guys on the force nicknamed us B & R. One would assume it would stand for Ben and Rob. They’d be wrong. We are known as Batman and Robin in our precinct. I called dibs on Batman, made complete sense to me. That automatically made him Robin. The guys have been ruthless in tormenting him. Last Christmas he received a black mask and a lifetime supply of flesh colored tights.
“Robin, you know I need some action.”
He opens his mouth to respond, but Sarge walking in shuts him up. “Hello, boys.” Following Sarge is a tall dude with black hair. His
aviators scream FBI. “This is Agent Nick Farley.”
Bingo. I remember this guy. He was the head agent in that rock star case last year, Taylor something. Farley was commended on the successful rescue of Taylor’s girlfriend. I recognized the name, having seen the band Taylor plays for in concert. Devil’s Lair is a kickass rock band that Rob and I have seen a few times in Manhattan. Farley was promoted after that case. Farley’s presence means something good is coming. The anticipation that starts coursing through me causes my leg to jiggle instantly under the table on its own accord. I almost laugh out loud at the dread that’s all over Rob’s face. We are opposite in every way.
They join us at the metal table that’s centered in the room. Farley looks at me and says, “You Stone?” I nod, offering my hand. He shakes it firmly and then turns to Rob. “So, that makes you Withers? Or do you prefer Batman and Robin?”
Rob grimaces, following suit with his own handshake. “Stone and Withers will do, thanks.”
Farley laughs at our expense. “I’m just bustin’ you. Sergeant Lawrence speaks very highly of you.”
Sarge scoffs. “All I said was that they were the best of
crew. That doesn’t say much.” That’s just like Sarge to knock us off our pedestal.
“All kidding aside, I read through your files. Very impressive.”
“Thanks,” we both say in chorus.
Farley removes his aviators, opens the file he carried in, and points to the picture that’s stapled to the inside cover. “Victor Politto Jr., have you heard of him?”
The name causes the excitement I was feeling just a few seconds ago to turn sour. I haven’t thought of that name in years. I haven’t had to.
Farley looks over and nods. “One of the front men in the Volante family. Politto’s specialty is drug trafficking.” He points at us and says, “Also your specialty.”
He’s right. We do specialize in narcs. Choosing narcotics was personal. Eradicating every lowlife drug dealer from the streets of New York is my one and only purpose in life.
Farley continues to tell us about the case. They’ve been trying to get Politto, and his moving to New York recently is a perfect opportunity to get that done. We are a front to the FBI investigation. Drugs are not what the FBI wants him for. We will be flies in his paint, a nuisance to his existence, decoys.
“What brought him here?” I ask.
“Our guess is because of his nephew, Frank. Frank has been running New York, and he’s getting sloppy. Politto is a control freak. If anyone fucks up, they’re out. We need to nail Frank before he vanishes.”
“Vanishes?” Rob asks sarcastically.
That’s the word on Politto. There’s never proof. Theories have circulated that he keeps acid in barrels in a hidden warehouse somewhere. This scum deserves a dose of his own medicine. Just because I’m a cop doesn’t mean I believe in our judicial system. There’s a lot to be said about corporal punishment…an eye for an eye, a cock for a rape, etc.
Rob watches me from across the table. He knows what I’m thinking. He claims that the combination of my past and my unconventional thoughts on how I believe justice should be served, gives him heartburn. You can tell by the look on his face, this is one of those times.
“Read through the file.” Farley pulls out two cards from his wallet. “We’ll meet at this address tomorrow at nine a.m.” He stands, and Sarge follows. “You can call the number on the back if you have questions before tomorrow.”
On their way out Sarge gives us a curt nod, which translates to “
Don’t fuck this up
” in Sarge language.
The minute they close the door, Rob is on me. “You aren’t the one for this case.”
“Fuck off. I’m perfect for this case.”
“Really?” Rob folds his arms and raises his eyebrows. “You’re invested, Ben.”
I ignore him and slide the folder closer to me. As my eyes skim the fact sheet, my blood simmers reading some of this shit. I am the perfect person to help nail this fucker to the cross. Rob sits, eyeing me suspiciously. I refuse to give him one iota of satisfaction. He has no clue what I’m thinking right now. He just assumes he does.
Closing the file with a firm hand, I mimic his posture. “What?”
“Don’t you think you need to tell Farley?”
“Tell him what, that I have a personal goal to fuck the mob up? For Christ’s sake Rob, we just got the case. How about we let things play out the way they’re supposed to. If I need to, then I’ll tell him.”
“Yeah, if.” I gauge his expression. There’s more than he’s letting on. “Are you afraid of this one?” Rob is the only person on this earth that knows my entire truth. Not even my brother knows. I trust Rob implicitly. It’s not unusual for him to be apprehensive when we are given a case. He goes in very clinically, facts, above all else. My approach is more vigilante-like in nature.
“I’m not afraid of the case. I’m afraid of your reaction to this case.”
“I appreciate the concern. I’m fine.”
He doesn’t look convinced but chooses not to argue. “Give me that,” he barks, dragging the file closer.
“Give me that,” my mom said as she dragged one of the boxes my father brought home for my birthday closer. “Where are you getting the money for all of this?” That gift made four in total, and each one was more expensive than the next.
“I know a guy. He scored some stolen stuff. He owed me and said I could help myself.” My father’s tone was clipped. He wanted her to drop it.
With each box I opened, it made me feel sicker to my stomach. “Dad, I don’t need this stuff.”
“Sure you do.”
Jonathan grabbed the cellphone out of my hand. “I’ll take it.” My father snatched it back, wordlessly putting it on the table.
“Aw, man,” Jonathan griped.
“Go to bed.” Mom pointed toward his room.
My brother mumbled under his breath and left the three of us at the table. Once his door slammed shut, my mom leaned closer to my father. “David. We can barely pay the bills...”
“This shit won’t pay the bills, Carol!” He stood abruptly and stalked over to a cabinet to retrieve his whiskey. Drinking it right from the bottle, he turned and said, “Stop bothering me. Can’t I give my son some presents on his eighteenth birthday?”
“I don’t want your presents,” I responded, leveling him with my glare. “I don’t need this shit.” What I needed was a father, but those words I kept to myself.