September 13th, 1985
Laverne Kowalski comes in to the Squad early this Friday morning. She has had enough vacation time and she’s eager to get back on the job. Doing time with a fourteen-year-old turned out to be more than she was bargaining for. Laverne and her little sister, Veronica, are just too different to spend that much time with each other and not eventually rub the other the wrong way. She’s already getting into trouble at school. One day she came home on the back of some guy’s motorcycle. When Laverne confronted her, Ronnie said it was a guy from school. His name is Carl Marsden. He’s eighteen, he got held over one year. On the positive side, a budding relationship between Laverne and Officer Steve Ravetti has blossomed. Unfortunately she has no idea what to do about it, however. Still, getting back to work is what she needs to do now.
Det. Kowalski is greeted by the always pleasant PAA Lisa Aldonato. After chatting pleasantries, eventually Lt. Epstein walks in.
“Hey, hey look who’s back,” he says. “How you doin’, Kowalski? Enjoyin’ your time off?”
“Oh, yeah. Went to Coney Island, worked on my tan . . .”
“So what, are you slummin’?”
“No, I was hoping to come back early.”
“O, it was one of those vacations. I see. Nice sometimes to get back to work where you can relax kind of vacation, I see. So you got signed off and all that?”
“Yup,” she hands Lt. Epstein a manila folder. “Blessed by Psych Services, fit to return to active duty.”
“Alright, come wit’ me to my office.”
“Welcome back, Detective,” says Lisa.
“Thanks,” says Det. Kowalski, and she follows Lt. Epstein into his office.
While Lt. Epstein and Det. Kowalski are going over the paperwork for the shooting event, Det. Felicity Shirley showed up in a thoroughly foul mood. Her whole weekend was taken over by the horrible find under the FDR. On Saturday she was approached by a Federal Agent of the FBI. She had been questioned several times by several people. Given her unusual gift, it wouldn’t do to simply tell what exactly happened. No one ever seems willing to believe these things. Well, almost no one…unfortunately.
Waiting to see her in the precinct lobby was a person she’d rather not have seen. His name is Stanley Morehouse of The Sun, a notorious tabloid known for outrageous stories. He had been fascinated by the idea of a genuine psychic on the NYPD payroll. Stanley had been following Shirley’s career for quite some time. But the lanky, strange little man was no comfort to Det. Shirley. His lazy eye always disturbed her. She was never sure if he was really looking at her, or over her shoulder.
He peppered her with questions, “We’ve been hearing for years about this sixth sense you seem to have Det. Shirley. Care to comment?” “I understand you made quite a discovery last night; care to comment?” “How did you know where to look?” “How long have you been a psychic?”
And the normally easy going Det. Shirley lost her temper. Before the matter got out of hand, the Desk Sergeant, Joe Danforth, ejected Mr. Morehouse from the building, ignoring his protests that “the people have the right to know!” Thus the reason for her perfectly foul mood.
“Good morning, Detective,” said the irritably bright Lisa. “There are some messages for you and Thomas—I mean Det. Sgt. O’Hinn.”
“Thank you,” said Shirley.
Most of the messages were for O’Hinn. But the LUDs came back on Andrew Sullivan’s phone. It was a sizable stack. As boring as that kind of work can be, at least it was absorbing. She could shut the world out at least for a while.
At last Det. Sgt. O’Hinn gets to the station. “Good morning, Lisa,” he says.
“Good morning,” says Lisa.
“Good morning, Cornpone.”
Not looking up from the LUDs, “I don’t answer to that.”
“Tough,” he says. “What do we got today?”
“Messages from Dex. He has something on the shirt found in the sewer grate. The LUDs are in on the Sullivan phone. And there’s one from Det. Rudler. The photos are of Elite Meats. It’s in the Meat Packing District.”
While Det. Shirley spoke, O’Hinn could see activity in Lt. Epstein’s office. Always on the lookout for trouble, he got a better look. Seeing it is Det. Kowalski returning, he grabs his coat.
“Where are you goin’?” asks Shirley.
“To go talk to Dex.”
“Something happen to the phones?”
But he’s out the door. O’Hinn is still angry about a confidence between him and Det. Kowalski that she revealed to Lt. Epstein. Whether or not it was for his own good, it was a confidence betrayed. He wasn’t ready to deal with Kowalski right now.
Kowalski asks what happened to O’Hinn. When Shirley explains it, Kowalski just brushes it aside.
“He’ll get over it.”
So the two detectives spend some time going over the cases going on while she was away. She learned about the strange new tape that Rudler found. The whole affair is starting to piss off Kowalski. Nothing makes sense—especially that so many cases seem to be strung together for no reason. First there is the strange missing body from the morgue, then there is the Danvers disappearance with the impossible videotape, then there’s the old NYU disappearance—complete with another strange tape, and then the mysterious death of the officer assigned to the case. And his dead has the same strange event of “hemolytic anemia” on his autopsy. Three strange disappearances, two strange video tapes, and two strange deaths of investigators—what, the hell?
But then the conversation takes a strange turn as Kowalski pumps Shirley for details. Eventually it comes up that Shirley admits to Kowalski of her “visions.” That goes over well. Kowalski is too much a resident of the real, banal world; not one for wondering about “the other side.”
Lt. Epstein leans out of his office. “We got a double homicide in Alphabet City, on B Street. Kowalski, welcome back. You’re up!”
Kowalski heads out to the scene at B Street in Alphabet City. She can see the crowd of people still milling about. Fire trucks are still there, along with a sector car.
As she gets out of the car, a tag catches her eye: A “Ravens” tag on a wall. The words of Shirley’s speculation and the vision that led her to the bone pit are floating around her head. Like most cops in the area she heard of The Ravens, but doesn’t know much about them. She never put much thought into it, but now that she’s thinking about it, she has never heard of an arrest of a known Raven. She knows the other gangs fear them, but will say and do nothing to cross them. Now that she thinks about it…it’s pretty strange. Kowalski shakes herself out of her reverie and gets her head back into the game. She finds the First Officer on the Scene, Frank Lowell.
“Heya, Detective,” says Frank. “We got a real horror show here.”
“Four vics,” began Lowell.
“Four? I thought there were only two.”
“Two dead; four vics. First off we got a black male, age 28. Gunshot wound to the head, severe burns over most of him. His name is Sam Lowell. Next we got Maria Alvado, Hispanic female, aged 35. Two gunshot wounds to the back, also badly burned. Those are your DBs. Then we got José Alvado, age 10, and his sister, Bernadette. She’s age 6. Both badly burned. They’re at the burn unit.”
“Yeah,” he says. He has the look of someone who’s been on the job too long. He points toward an African American woman standing by the RMP. “That’s the neighbor, Elise Cummings. Says she knows the guy that she says did it.” He looks at his notebook, “Ramon Calderón. We got units out lookin’ for him.”
“Any other witnesses?”
“We finished canvasing. Only witness that would talk to us was walkin’ the pooch. He name’s Barbara Nuñez. She says she’ll come to the precinct later to talk to us.”
“Alright, thanks Frank.” Det. Kowalski walks over to where Mrs. Cummings is standing, still in shock over what she’d seen. Kowalski says, “Mrs. Cumming? Hi, I’m Det. Lavern Kowalski. I’d like to ask you some questions.”
“It was Ramon Calderón. He did it.”
“Why don’t you tell me what happened, Mrs. Cummings?”
She takes a deep breath before beginning, “It was early, about 4:57 am, ‘cause I looked at the clock. Then I saw Ramon shouting up at the building—shouting his head off! And then Sam came to the door—“
“I’m sorry, did you say Sam?”
“Yes, Sam Lewis. He’s Maria’s boyfriend. Sam came down to the door and Ramon to leave. Leave or he’d call the police. Ramon went back to the car and he got these two bottles of gas. He lit them, and he threw them on the porch and one of them hit Sam’s leg. It was awful! Sam c-caught fire—“Mrs. Cummings started sobbing. Kowalski did her best to comfort her.
“Take your time, Mrs. Cummings.”
“You should have seen the burns on those kids! Anyways, Sam started running around screaming, and Ramon shot him! He shot him dead, on the street, in front of God and everyone! I-I couldn’t watch anymore! I ran to the kitchen and called you. I hid there, ‘til I heard the sirens. I couldn’t watch anymore, all the screaming and the shooting! It was just too much!”
Meanwhile, back at the precinct, O’Hinn returns. Shirley asks him what Dex had to say. He had the analysis from the shirt found in the sewer grate. The shirt was covered in Andrew Sullivan’s blood; it is definitely the doer’s shit. Also there were traces of uncooked bovine blood on there. So that confirms that this is tied to the Meatpacking district.
Well,” said Shirley, “I been goin’ over the LUDs for Andrew Sullivan’s phone. I got several calls to a Mr. Frank Logan. It’s a New Jersey number.”
“Ah, Christ,” says O’Hinn. “You can take that one, Cornpone; I wouldn’t be caught dead in Jersey!”
“Well, Bobby Rudler says those photos are from Elite Meats. It’s in the Meatpacking District. We can at least go check that out.”
Upon arriving at Elite Meats, the detectives ask the woman in the front office if she’d seen Andrew. She said no. They asked to see the owner, but she said he was down on the cutting floor. Not wanting to be in a situation surrounded by knives, they asked if she would get him to the office to talk to them. Time stretched out, ‘til the detectives got the hint that the owner of Elite Meats, Mr. Tracey King, was just “too busy” to see them. So they went down to the cutting floor to find him.
Eventually they catch up with Mr. King, but he’s not very cooperative. He says impatiently that he’s never seen or heard of Andrew Sullivan, and he doesn’t know a Frank Logan, either. The detectives see that they aren’t getting much from Mr. King, so they ask if it’s okay that they ask around some of his employees.
“Look, detectives,” says Mr. King, “I got 10,000 cuts that have to ship tonight. Can’t this wait?”
“We promise you won’t even know we’re here.”
Asking around the plant they eventually come up with Desmando and Moya. They say they saw Andrew. He was asking around for Frank. Frank was an employee that used to work there before getting injured. He’s out on workman’s comp. So…they caught Mr. King in a lie…
Kowalski had finished at the Crime Scene. The ME took away the bodies. It’s too early to know anything about the kids, yet. She checked out the apartment. The place was badly burned out. It must have been an inferno for a while. The FDNY told her that the Fire Inspector would have to go over the place, but it looks like Molotov Cocktails. When she got back to the station she was able to fill in the Loo; and by the time she was done, Barbara Nuñez came in to make her statement.
Ms. Nuñez is acting rather like an automaton. She is clearly still in shock over what she had seen. Kowalski lets her tell her story in her own time.
“I saw a man with a gun. And he was standing over a guy with his head shot off, and…a piece of his skull was in the street. And I froze. I didn’t know what to do. For a moment I thought he was going to shoot me, too. I kind of wish he did shoot me, or I would have run, or something. Then I wouldn’t have had to see the rest of it.”
Ms. Nuñez pauses for a long time before continuing. Kowalski patiently waits for her to continue. It is disturbing how robot-like this young woman is telling her tale. She seems mentally numb.
“The woman ran out of the house, and she was holding her two kids. And she was on fire. And she was trying to run away from the house.” Her voice was slowly rising as she spoke. Her emotion was starting to bubble to the surface again. “And it wasn’t really working, ‘cause their hair and their clothes were on fire, and…” She begins sobbing. “And that man shot her in the back! And he pointed the gun at the kids, but he didn’t shoot them.” Finally the dam burst, “I guess he just decided to watch them burn!”
Uncomfortably, Kowalski held the distraught woman in her arms. Ms. Nuñez is inconsolable. Almost mercifully, there is a knock at the door. Lt. Epstein pokes his head in, “I need you for a sec.”
Outside Interview Room 2, Lt. Epstein says, “I sort of need you to wrap this up really quick. I need you to go to the hospital. One of the kids is waking up and I need you to get a statement quick. There’s no telling how long they’re gonna last after something like that. It’s a shitty deal, I know; but you got it. Sorry.”
At the hospital, Det. Kowalski finds the doctor in charge of the burn unit and gets the assessment of the situation. His name is Emil Rubarossa.
“They both have extensive burns over 70% of their bodies,” says Dr. Rubarossa. “The girl has it a little worse. The boy lost both his hands, but it looks like he’s going to pull through. The girl is doubtful.”
“I hate to ask this,” said Kowalski, “but I understand one of them is awake. I need to get a statement, in case…”
“You can talk to José, but I’m not sure how much you can get out of him. He’s still in bad shape.” He stops Kowalski. “I have to ask that you wear protective wear, and that you are careful not to touch him. We don’t want you to contaminate him. Also…brace yourself, Detective. I know you see a lot in your job; but, this is as bad as it gets. This can be very hard to handle.”
Det. Kowalski is given disposable wear covering her hair, her body, she’s given gloves and elastic covers for her feet as well. Then she’s ready to go in.
Even the hard-bitten Det. Kowalski is not prepared for the pitiful sight before her. A small mummy lies on the gurney, hooked up to all kinds of machines with tubes and wires. She carefully walks beside the gurney and sits in the chair.
“Hello, José. My name is Laverne. I’m a detective. If you’re up to it, can I ask you a couple of questions?”
“I…hurt…,” comes the pitiful, raspy whine of the young boy.
“I know it hurts,” she tries to sympathize. The energy of the whole scene is intense. The weight in the room is crushing. “Who hurt you, can you tell me that?”
For a moment Kowalski thought the boy slipped back into sleep. But then he says, “It was daddy.”
“It was daddy?”
“Daddy hurt mommy, daddy hurt…”
José slips out of consciousness. Kowalski is worried the something happened. She calls a nurse in to check and then leaves. She cannot get out of that paper outfit the hospital gave her fast enough. Her skin crawls, she feels like her hair is standing on end. The outrage of the situation is overwhelming!
Meanwhile, O’Hinn and Shirley, after having checked in with the Loo, head out to Hoboken to visit Mr. Frank Logan.
Frank Logan lives in a small house in Hoboken. He is in sweats with a beer glued to one hand, and a sandwich in the other. Worker’s comp has been very good to him, though it looks like he earned it hard. He is missing a finger off his left hand as part of a scar that travels up his forearm to the elbow. He clearly has limited use of it.
Mr. Logan insists that he hasn’t seen nor heard on anyone named Andrew Sullivan. Eventually he recalls, “There’s a message on my phone. I figured it was a sales call, so I never called him back.”
“I don’t suppose you still have the message,” asks O’Hinn.
“Yeah, I think so. Maybe.”
Like most answering machines, the quality is not great, but a clear young voice says, “Hello, Mr. Logan. My name is Andrew Sullivan. I’d like to ask you some questions at your earliest convenience. Please call me at the NYPIRG office at 212-555-4141.”
“Do you have any idea what he wanted to talk to you about?” asks Det. Shirley.
“Not a clue.”
“May we ask you why you left Elite Meats?”
“You can ask, but I can’t say. Look, they had been sign a nondisclosure agreement when I left. The lawyer said I could lose my disability.”
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Logan,” says O’Hinn. “We understand perfectly. We’re cops; we understand the importance of pensions.”
The two pairs of detectives arrive back at the squad about the same time. Kowalski wants to confront O’Hinn about why he’s avoiding her, but just before things can get going, Lt. Epstein pops out of his office.
“Hey, you guys, suit up. Crime Stoppers tip came in. Ramon Calderón is spotted at a carwash at 13th and First. I’m sending a couple of sector cars as back up. Remember, this mutt’s armed and dangerous. I want you all in vests, now get goin’.”
The detectives all go into the locker room and put on their ballistic vests as Kowalski gives Det.’s O’Hinn and Shirley the rundown of the case. On hearing about the kids, O’Hinn is ready to kill. But Kowalski is determined that this get done right. The whole trip to the carwash the two argue. Soon it spills over to what the argument is really about. Shirley tries to get their heads where they need to be. Eventually the two reach detente.
It is a difficult approach. The main building of the carwash has windows on all four sides. There is a vehicle making its way through the wash. Customers are around, so they’ll have to be mindful of their backgrounds. O’Hinn takes the north side while Kowalski heads in the main, south entrance with Shirley supporting.
Inside, Calderón is chatting up the girl behind the counter. Next to him is a morbidly obese Hispanic male, his gut spilling out over the waste of his baggy shorts from under his worn tee shirt.
O’Hinn enters nonchalantly from the north. Calderón notices him. He looks suspiciously for a second, but goes back to his conversation. Then Det. Kowalski comes in. He looks at her and pegs her for a cop. She raises her weapon and identifies herself. Faster than she expected he raises his gun and fires. The shot shatters the glass behind Kowalski, showering safety-glass gravel all over Det. Shirley. O’Hinn pulls out his gun, but Calderón ducks into the wash tunnel. O’Hinn wastes no time and heads out the way he came in to cut off that route. Kowalski darts after Calderón. Meanwhile, the obese man looks all around in confusion. Finally everyone is cleared out. He sees Det. Shirley, who tells him to get down. He draws out his own gun, but Shirley’s ready. She puts a shot into him, dropping him instantly. His arm flied wild and he puts a shot harmlessly into the ceiling as he falls. Det. Shirley quickly moves in and secured the gun.
Kowalski carefully enters the wash tunnel. An employee works further up the way. It is so loud in here that it’s no wonder he hasn’t heard anything yet. He sees Kowalski with her gun drawn. She flashes him her badge, but he doesn’t know what to do. He finally dives down. Calderón rises up and shoots at Kowalski. She dives and manages to keep from getting hit. Her recent shooting incident has made her perhaps a bit too cautious.
Just outside, O’Hinn moves in but cannot get a clear shot. Finally he closes in on Calderón. He wants to take the shot. He wants to blow Calderón’s head clean off, but he remembers the fight he had with Kowalski on the way in. She is far closer to Ivory Tower than he is, but he’ll play nice. He identifies himself to Calderón. Seeing he is caught, he drops his gun. Kowalski comes out of her hiding spot and dives at Calderón to take him down, but she connects wrong. Calderón flips her. She goes cartwheeling up and over the hood of the passing car, landing hard on the floor. She looks up, covered now in soap and water. The car is bearing down on her. She rolls out of the way and gets up. The uniform police have Calderón in custody.
The rest of the day is spent processing Mr. Calderón, who seems to have no remorse whatsoever. He even seems proud of what he did. He and the obese fellow, Hector Muñoz, are both members of Los Catorces. They have him dead to rights. He’s taken to The Tombs.
There is a sense of camaraderie in the precinct that evening. Kowalski is invited to “The Blue Line” for a celebration. Det. Shirley declines, however. She’s tired and she just wants to go home. So the group, minus Shirley, heads down to “The Blue Line.”
Before O’Hinn can head down to The Blue Line with the others, two women walk into the Squad. One is a striking woman with a strong, athletic build and long, curly red hair. With her is another woman with auburn hair, wearing sunglasses and carrying a white cane. They ask specifically to see O’Hinn.
They introduce themselves as Gwynn Creiddylad and Moira Mac Kell. O’Hinn directs them to the Break Room and sits down with them.
“How can I help you,” asks O’Hinn.
“Gwynn says, “I understand that you came to see Tommy the other day. I’d like to apologize for him. He lets his mouth run off with his good sense sometimes.”
“O dropped a bit of a bomb on him,” says O’Hinn.
“You say you’re kin. I must say, you definitely have the look of him,” says Gwynn appraisingly.
“We were hoping to know if you anything about Andy,” says Moira.
“I can’t say anything about an ongoing investigation. It’s proceeding, is all I can say.”
“Well, Detective,” says Moira, “we’re with a group of activists, and we’ve come across some information that may be of some use to the police.” And she draws out a manila folder and places it in the table.
“And since you’re kin,” adds Gwynn, “take a look. We’ll give you q clue. Do some digging into cases involving child abuse in New York. If we find what we think you’ll find, we think you might be wanting to work with us.” She slides the folder toward O’Hinn.
“Thank you for your time, Detective,” says Moira as she stands up and extends her cane.
“We’ll keep in touch,” says Gwynn. And the two women leave.
Felicity goes home to walk her dog and eat some dinner. Then she heads over to her Wicca class at Visions & Dreams. She gets there early, as usual. It is her place to unwind after a hard day protecting and serving. But when she gets there she finds Donna and Deborah are very angry. It turns out that their daughter, Bethany, came home in tears today. She had been horribly bullied by her tormentors at school. It takes some time, but Felicity gets the story out of the distraught teenager.
“Like, I was in the gym, and, like, I was going through my stuff before heading home. Like, no one else was there, you know? And then Carl Marsden and his gang show up. It was Carl, Ronnie, and Kevin, and Sarah, Justine, and Rocky. They started, like, giving me the same crap as usual. I tried to get up to leave, and he, like, shoves me back down. I fell into the bleachers on my butt, and they thought it was, like so funny.”
“Tell her what happened next,” says Deborah.
“So Kevin, like, holds me down, and they all start making fun of me for being a witch. And then, like, Carl pulls out this lighter and, like he says, ‘You know what we do to witches? We burn them.’ And then he takes his lighter and burns some of my hair.”
Of course, Bethany has such a wild mane of copper locks it’s hard to tell. But Deborah says, “You can smell it, the bastards. Isn’t there something we can do?”
Felicity does smell the traces of burnt hair from Bethany.
“The school said they suspended the bunch,” says Donna. “We have to have a meeting on Monday.”
“I hate school! Mom, can’t I go somewhere else?
At The Blue Line Kowalski and the officers of the day tour party it up. Afterward, Steve Ravetti offers to walk Kowalski home. A little tipsy, Laverne feels like a schoolgirl all of a sudden. She very much likes Ravetti, but can’t bring herself to go for anything. They talk about everything as they walk together. This along with the time they spent together while she was on vacation, their conversations could go on, and on. Finally they get to Laverne’s building. But the potentially awkward goodbye is immediately dispelled as Steve steps in and kisses Laverne! As much as she likes to talk herself out of acknowledging when good things happen to her, Laverne is flying high after that kiss. They say their goodnights, and Laverne heads up to Mrs. Platt’s apartment to pick up Veronica. As soon as Edith answers the door, Laverne falls of Cloud 9 and back to earth.
“Veronica got sent home from school today,” says Edith.
“Oh, god, Veronica, what did you do?”
Ronnie shows none of the attitude she usually does. She honestly looks scared. She immediately launches in, “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it—I mean I was there, but I didn’t do anything!”
“We were razzing this weird girl a little bit and it got out of hand.”
“What did you do? Why were you picking on her?”
“I didn’t—I mean it was just a little fun. The girl’s a freak.”
“SHE’S a freak?” says Laverne looking at Ronnie’s wild outfit.
“She’s, like, got this attitude, like she thinks she’s so cool. Her mom runs this occult shop and, like, she goes around like she’s hot shit.”
“Carl was just messing with her.”
“No—I mean, yes, but—“
“WHAT HAPPENED, VERONICA?”
“They tried to set the girl’s hair on fire,” says Edith.
“No, it wasn’t like that!”
“You set a girl’s HAIR ON FIRE?”
“It wasn’t me!”
“Oh, my God, Veronica!”
“Look, it-it just got out of hand! Look, I tried to stop it! Carl and his brother just get carried away sometimes—“
“I just had a case today where a guy burned up FOUR people! Two are dead, a little boy lost his hands, and a little girl might not survive! And YOU’RE telling me you tried to set someone on fire?”
“It only got singed a little, she didn’t catch on f—“
“I don’t care, Veronica! I don’t believe this! You know that’s assault? That’s assault with a deadly weapon!”
“I’m sorry, it wasn’t supposed—“
“That’s a Class D felony, Veronica! ‘Reckless Endangerment!’ You could go to prison!”
“I’m sorry,” sobbed Ronnie.
“You’re sorry? At best that’s a Class A misdemeanor! You could still go to jail! For a year!”
Ronnie wraps her arms around herself, openly crying, suddenly looking very much the little girl that she is. Laverne looks her over, with her leather jacket, her dog collar, the ridiculous hair, and her clown make-up. Laverne says, “I’ve had enough of this, Veronica, this has got to change!”
Edith hands Laverne the referral and says, “They want you to come in on Monday for a teacher meeting.”
“Thanks, Edith,” says Laverne. Then, to Ronnie, “Get to the apartment, right now! Tomorrow we’re gonna get that hair cut right! I’m sick of you looking like that!”
The day ends with the promise of a fun weekend for all!
Back in his house in Queens, O’Hinn sits down to look over the envelope the two women gave to him. It is full of newspaper clippings. It involves case after case of incidents of child abuse. It also shows time after time the perps getting off somehow. Always it’s some sort of technicality. A few judges are highlighted, as are several prominent defense attorneys. The last clipping involved the Garza case that O’Hinn recently worked back in June. That bastard walked because O’Hinn tuned him up. He deserved worse. O’Hinn pours himself a shot of whiskey and mulls over what he’s been given.