He has the "cop stare" down, but doesn't even understand how ridiculous that is. I could turn that on too. He won't scare me with cheap tricks. "Where were you, patrolman?" he asks, using the antique term of rank to try and gain some advantage. "Police Officer," I say. "Huh?" he responds, and I know I've already won. "I think we're called 'Police Officers.' I don't think the term Patrolman's actually been used since the sixties." He stares at me across the small gray table, "You think you're funny."
"This is not a joke," he states, his stare dwindling, I rock my chair back on the rear legs, studied insolence. "Surely not, but I was in the backyard, I wasn't there."
"Everybody says they were in the back yard." I laugh. He doesn't like that at all. "Yeah," I say, "there was a crowd back there." "Who?" he asks. "Who?" I say. "Who was there?" I press my luck. I grab the folder in front of him and in one movement spin it toward me and open it, scanning his notes. He grabs it back, violently. "I guess I don't really remember, you know," I'm casual, "we were just on back up, then we left."
I notice how old he is, like my dad maybe. I expect him to say "You kids got no respect these days," but realize that's from a movie or a Dragnet episode. He's tired. This is crap. I mean, of course it's serious, but I haven't done anything wrong. Someone has, but it isn't me, and I have better things to do right now than rat on people. I don't like the guys involved at all and if they can prove it, more power to them: fuck 'em, fire them, send them to Sing Sing; but it isn't gonna happen through me.
"How does a young guy like you end up with this attitude?" he asks, but he's not angry, he's resigned. I feel, well, yeah. "It seems to come with the job," I mumble. He waves me out.
Brandon's already sitting in the lobby. "Lunchtime?" "Yup," I say, "Chinatown?" "Very good," he says. The dead kid in the apartment on East 221st Street all but forgotten._______________________________
copyright 2004-2006 by Ira Socol