Friday, November 10, 2006

Friends and Family

I push my way throw the captain's office door, like I'm a cop on TV or something and tell him and the lieutenant that I don't want to do this, but before I say it I already know that won't matter, so I say it, they look at me, I look at them, and I turn and walk back out and go upstairs to the strange little third floor room that is our locker room and many other things and I bang on the steel doors for a minute and then groan and light a cigarette and stare out the window at the Midtown skyline at sunset – it is stunningly beautiful from here – glowing golden just to the north, across the East River. It is the last moment of the day. I chain smoke three Camels and the final one glows against the dark night and the luminous mosaic of the world's greatest city.

"This is just a gun case," I say to myself. "I've done them before." I'm trying to sound like I know more than I do, like I've done more than I have. Convince myself first, I figure. I stick a fourth cigarette in my mouth and sit cross-legged on the table looking at the pictures in the thick file they've given me. Of course I can drop into this group. Of course. I close the file. I put it on the shelf in my locker. I take the nine off my belt and drop it on the shelf too. I grab the old five-shot .38 and wrap the holster onto my ankle. And then I drive home.

This will end badly. Yes it will. Not just because this is political. It matters to people. It's not just money involved. I know that
. Everything else I've done this year is really just business. And this is more. But that's just part. And so is the fact that, well, I could just – possibly – know someone involved. The big part is the ambivalence. Mine. And the danger that in one critical second the wrong emotion will surface. I may be young, I may be an idiot rookie in way deep over his head in these deep cover jobs, but I know all this. The captain knows this too. The lieutenant knows too. Everyone does. But I know it more. And they know that I know it more, but they are using me anyway – because it makes the most sense.

For the next three months this will play out. I will even fly to London and take a ferry to Dublin and fly back to New York from there with a fake passport and a flimsy visa and back story I barely need to rehearse. Covering the bases. I will drink in the last pathetic remnants of Hells Kitchen bars. I will commit a few crimes, do some good drugs, sleep on roach-covered floors, and day by day get closer to all those guns – all reported stolen by the M
etro-Dade Police Department as expected – that are aimed at people I have been taught are my enemies.

This will end badly. It will end in the kind of recurring nightmare I know I need no more of. Already. As young as I am. But it is the way things work. I am the person for the job. Of course.

Carolyn is watching LA Law when I get home to the little house on City Island. "You're early," she says. "Yeah," I grab a beer from the refrigerator, drop onto the couch next to her, kiss her a touch too deeply. "Yeah, nothing going on tonight."

copyright 2006 by Ira Socol

1 comment:

Brenda said...

"My experience of life as essentially unhappy and uncontrollable taught me to examine the way people, including myself, create survival systems ... for themselves in unorthodox and sometimes apparently self-defeating ways. These inner worlds, although often unworkable and unattractive in social terms, can have a unique beauty and courage."

Mary Gatskill - was in The Writer's Almanac this morning... and has woven itself into the incredibly precarious web of an undercover cop's life that you have so brilliantly expressed here.

What you have written is emotionally charged, not just the politics of it, but the knowing, and then the core, where what's done has its justifications, its ethic, but takes its exacting and unrelenting toll too.

There are layers of disguises, even to the end with the normalacy that descends as he sits on the couch and kisses his wife.

A troubling inner look at the moment before an entry into an undercover underworld of man-made hell, drugs, roaches, hard floors, guns, betrayals. The ways that we look after ourselves, I mean socially, how we do that, how we bust drug lords and gun runners, how we keep trying to save ourselves.

Like your last post, though on a very different tenor, this writing is densely full. With paradox, ambiguity, fear and trembling and knowing the right path anyhow, that I am left in awe. Of your life, your talent, your ability to say what most people flee at high speed from.

Thank you for this saying, this deep and difficult writing...