September 2nd, 1985
Monday, September 2nd, 1985, 7:35 AM
Det. Laverne Kowalski arrives at the precinct house. After a whole summer with a surly teenager, her sister Veronica Kowalski, to deal with, Laverne can’t wait for next week to start when Veronica goes for her first day of high school. As Det. Kowalski settles in she finds PAA Lisa Maldonado already buzzing around the office, hard at work. Kowalski looks to the Lou’s office to see Lt. Bernard Epstein speaking to some people with the door closed.
“Detective, there’s someone here to see you,” says Lisa, “in the Break Room.”
“Thanks, Lisa,” replies Det. Kowalski and crosses the office to the Break Room.
Inside she finds a striking young woman dressed in a classy formal business outfit with long, blonde hair and a pleasant smile. She extends her had to the detective.
“You must be Det. Kowalski,” says the woman. “Hi, I’m Serina Goetchelle. I’m with the ADAs office.”
Counselor Serina Goetchelle introduces herself as the new Riding ADA for Lower Manhattan, replacing Richard Atwater after his recent promotion. She is there on the matter of David Donatello in a case of several counts of Public Lewdness. Three months ago Mr. Donatello exposed himself on a public street to Det. Kowalski, who then promptly arrested him. She initially let him go with a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). He has since exposed himself to four other women. Mr. Donatello is expected this morning with his lawyer, Mr. Lawrence.
Det. Sgt. Thomas O’Hinn arrives. As he settles in Lt. Epstein calls Det. O’Hinn into his office and introduces him to two new detectives: Felicity Shirley, and Gary McAvery. Det. Shirley is transferring in from the recently dissolved 9th Precinct, which was merged with the 13th, along with the 6th, and much of the 10th, due to city budgetary problems. Det. McAvery comes from the 32nd Precinct, up in Harlem.
While introducing the two new detectives to their new precinct house, a couple comes in looking for a detective. Right behind them come a penitent-looking Mr. Donatello with his lawyer, and elderly gentleman with a briefcase. Lisa directs them right away to the Break Room. O’Hinn sends Det. McAvery after Mr. Donatello and his lawyer to go help Kowalski while he and Shirley speak to the couple in Interview Two.
In Interview Two O’Hinn observes while Det. Shirley conducts the interview. They are Mr. and Mrs. Danvers, of Gramercy. Three days ago they lost contact with their daughter, Jennifer Danvers, age 24, of Murray Hill. They had tried to go to Missing Persons, but were informed that they had to wait for 24hrs. More than enough time has passed, so the Danvers’ feel they need detectives.
Meanwhile, in the Break Room, Det. Kowalski, Counselor Goetchelle, and Counselor Lawrence wrangle over the fate of the ne’er-do-well Mr. Donatello.
“Mr. Donatello has been under a great deal of stress, lately,” began Counselor Lawrence. “He’s not been in his right minds now for some time. He has always been an upstanding citizen, a productive member of society, who’s has an unfortunate break. He needs treatment, not internment.”
“I am so terribly sorry,” pleads Mr. Donatello. “I don’t know what’s come over me. I don’t know why I do these things. I need help.”
Det. Kowalski cannot help but lecture Mr. Donatello for his continued actions, but Counselor Goetchelle considers options for treatment for Mr. Donatello’s mental condition. The discussion goes on for some time, and Mr. Donatello looks back and forth between the two rather attractive women in the room with him. He leans forward, his hands in his lap and interjects here and there as the three debate his fate. None really notice the look on Mr. Donatello’s face. He is flushed, and beads of sweat are forming on his forehead.
Suddenly Mr. Donatello cries out, “Oh, no! Oh! Oh, no!” He’s drawn all attention in the room. “What? What are you doing to me?” Everyone wonders whom he is addressing when he leans back to reveal his penis erect and sticking pertinently out of his unzipped trousers! He admonishes his penis with heart-felt anguish, “Why are you ruining my life?”
Counselor Goetchelle stands up offended and begins putting away her paperwork, her face pink with embarrassment while Det. Kowalski, in a fit of pique, launches into a tirade at Mr. Donatello. Counselor Lawrence throws his jacket over Mr. Donatello’s lap while trying in vain to quell the situation. The Break Room thunders with a cacophony of outraged voices.
Back in Interview Two, the interview with the Danvers pauses at the din of outrage coming from the Break Room, but continues once the two detectives are sure they’re not needed.
Jennifer Danvers works as a translator at the United Nations Building, which is actually part of the 17th Precinct, but since Jennifer’s residence in in Murray Hill, the detectives continue in case the crime happened in their jurisdiction. She is a low-level employee of the Translation Office and doesn’t work directly with any delegates, so it is unlikely the matter will need to be turned over to the Feds just yet. The detectives take down as much information as they can and end the Danvers home to await word.
Det. Kowalski joins O’Hinn and Shirley, having placed Mr. Donatello into custody. Counselor Goetchelle is off to other precincts; as riding ADA, hers is a grueling job for a young prosecutor, fresh out of law school. O’Hinn assigns tasks to the other detectives and pairs Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley to go to the vic’s place of residence while he babysits McAvery and contacts the vic’s place of work.
Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley arrive at the Murray Hill apartment building, and after questioning the doorman, get the super to take them to Ms. Danvers’ apartment. After a tour of the apartment, it is determined that this is not a crime scene. Still, they look about to get a profile of the vic. Messages on the answering machine confirm that no one could get a hold of Ms. Danvers for three days. The tape is filled up with her parents’ repeated attempts to get a hold of her. In the bedroom they determine that the boyfriend is actually serious, since he is keeping some of his clothes in Ms. Danvers’ closet. Det. McAvery discovers a card in a coat identifying the boyfriend as Antonio de la Vega. He is part of the Spanish Consulate. Damn! Diplomatic Immunity is sure to be a problem if Antonio turns out to be the perp. On the way out, McAvery notices that the lobby is monitored. The detectives ask the super for the tapes, but are told they need to get a warrant. Lastly they find the vic’s car and call CSU to process it before calling in to O’Hinn.
Det.’s McAvery and Kowalski need to go downtown to the courthouse in order to get a warrant. Unfortunately their trip downtown is slowed because of the back-up due to a protest going on outside the Medical Center on 1st Avenue. A recent newspaper controversy involving an eight-year-old who had contracted the AIDS virus through an infusion had sparked anti-gay protesters to protest his being returned to school. ACT-UP and other advocacy groups came out in counter-protest resulting in multiple altercations. The end result is a much longer trip Down Town.
After noon Kowalski and McAvery manage to get a hold of the VHS tapes on the lobby camera and get back to the station to view them. Relatively early on, Det. McAvery (stuck having to go through them) comes across a strange video. The time stamp puts it at 11:54 PM, Aug. 28th, the approximate date of the disappearance. The poor-quality closed captioned film shows a young woman roughly matching the vic’s description seemingly drunk and staggering into the lobby. Obscured by a chair in the foreground, the young woman appears to be choking, or perhaps retching, and eventually lying unconscious. Then, incredibly, the woman is dragged seemingly by an unseen force out of frame! Det. McAvery excitedly shows this to Kowalski, who flies into another rage believing she is being tricked and that someone’s guilty of Obstruction of Justice by such a clearly faked tape! The two detectives find O’Hinn and Shirley at lunch at The Blue Line, a bar and grille frequented by cops, and dragged to see the offending cassette tape. After a piqued argument between the detectives, Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley decide to back up to Murray Hill to confront the super. Shirley is particularly interested in visiting the lobby on the tape.
After a bit of good-natured rubbing after realizing Kowalski’s first name is Laverne, “Laverne & Shirley” head out. Unfortunately Det. Shirley wasn’t aware of the tie-up on 1st and 2nd Avenues and gets caught in traffic. Also the fact that she’s relatively new to New York, having moved from West Virginia, Shirley doesn’t have great area knowledge yet. Det. Kowalski, still agitated, launches into poor Det. Shirley, while another car, having just joined the traffic jam, starts laying on the horn something fierce. Kowalski’s wrath is turned toward the impatient driver, who is also severely agitated. The two trade insults and barbs in true New York tradition, when suddenly the man draws a gun on the detectives. Laverne draws her service revolver and fires at the other car. The driver’s-side, rear window shatters and both detectives have a horrible ringing in their ears. Det. Kowalski looks on in horror at the sight of the other driver thrown part way through his open window and laying limp, a spider-web pattern over his front windshield where Kowalski’s bullet struck.
People from all around come out and surround the car. Det. Shirley fights through the fuzziness of having a firearm discharged so close to her head to call in the shooting while Det. Kowalski flashes her badge and tries to get the crowd to back off.
“You see that?” says one bystander, “the cops just shot that guy!”
Because of tensions over two other officer-involved shooting between the African-American Community and the NYPD, the crowd starts to turn ugly as Kowalski looks frantically for where the drivers’ gun had fallen. With racial taunts and anti-authoritarian insults joining the harsh ringing in her ears, Kowalski fights not to panic. There WAS a gun! She SAW it!
Kowalski forces herself back to reality and starts trying to administer some first aid to the wounded driver. Distant sirens approach as we close upon this most unfortunate scene. . .
Sept. 2nd, 1985 (Cont’d)
Police tape is up and the Uniforms are trying to control an increasingly hostile crowd. Over the angry ululation of the crowd comes the lash of stinging verbal abuse, “Fuckin’ pigs!” “That fuckin’ pink sow just shot that guy for no reason!” The frustration and anger over the previous shootings over the summer, like the May Day Shooting and the Harlem Shooting is steadily now coming to a boil. Someone shouts, “Another one of Mills’ hit men!”
An ambulance has shown up and is working on keeping the victim alive. Det.’s O’Hinn and McAvery were the first to arrive. They got the story from Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley. Det. Kowalski is a bundle of raw nerves; standing with the blood of the man she shot on her hands from trying to stop the bleeding. Det. Shirley is still a bit disoriented. She is physically unharmed, but jer head pounds and her ears are still ringing from the shot going of right behind her head. Both women still occasionally have to shake out bits of glass from when the window shattered from the concussive blast of Kowalski’s gun inside an enclosed vehicle. Lt. Epstein finally arrives on the scene.
“You two alright, you injured?”
Kowalski just shakes her head. Lt. Epstein looks at Shirley, “I want the EMS to get a look at you. Get those ears checked out.”
“Yessir,” replies Det. Shirley.
“Alright, what have we got?” asks Epstein as he looks over the scene.
O’Hinn says, “His name is William Denning, 43, Stuy Town address. He works at Safeway. EMS just took him away to the hospital.”
Lt. Epstein listens as both Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley tell him what went down. Det. Kowalski, normally a rock, is clearly on the verge of tears. Lt. Epstein is, of course, confident that it was a good shoot. The major concern, however, is what happened to the gun. Det. Kowalski had the recall to describe the gun Mr. Denning had: Black revolver, four inch, heavy barrel. Suddenly one of the crowd breaks through the cordon and shouts.
“Why ain’t that bitch in cuffs,” demands the young black man. “She the one who shot him!”
Lt. Epstein points at the man and says fiercely, “Sir, step back or you will be arrested for Interference.”
“Yeah, that’s right. N!##@ dead in the streets, gotta protect the white cops!”
At this the crowd erupts in angry shouts. The uniforms try to hold them in check. People start shoving. From somewhere up above, someone threw a bag of garbage out their window. It lands on top of a sector car, its contents scattering all over. Few bottles and some cans are thrown. The situation quickly devolves. Det. Kowalski can’t take it anymore. She desperately tries to plead that she didn’t mean to shoot. Lt. Epstein grabs her and pulls her toward his car, directing Det. Shirley to follow. The crowd is on fire, shouting racial epithets. A rain of garbage now comes down on the police, struggling to contain the situation.
In the immediacy of the situation, Epstein shoves the women into the back of his car and then drives away. It is not lost on Det. Kowalski that they are sitting in the back of the car, where the perps usually sit. They drive away to a vicious chant of, “Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs!”
Meanwhile the other detectives are trying to help quell the mob. O’Hinn manages to overpower a man while Det. McAvery falls under a dog pile of angry African Americans. From somewhere in the press a fist connects with his jaw. The melee continues for some time with the police and the crowd in full combat. Billy clubs are brought to bear. The cops find themselves outnumbered and the crowd are pressing their numerical advantage. Then the Calvary arrives at last. Three police vans pull up and out pour a stream of police in riot gear. They lay into the crowd, as garbage flies out of the upper windows down onto the police vehicles. There is chaos in the streets
The detectives are brought out of the brawl as the Riot Squad takes control of the situation with brutal efficiency. The riot cops thrust the detectives to their cars. O’Hinn and McAvery manage to get into their vehicles and head back to the House.
Batons are wielded indiscriminately. At this point the police have met the savagery of the crowd with overwhelming savagery of their own. One officer fired tear gas into the crowd to disperse them. At one point, as a young man staggers out of the smoke coughing, the officer fires a tear gas canister at him shouting, “Scum bag!” He falls back into the cloud of smoke. Two cops drag a man who can barely walk toward a police van. He falls to the ground and the two cops begin to stomp him and strike him repeatedly with their batons. What a mess. . .
Back at the Precinct Lt. Epstein talks to his squad as they tend their abrasions from the riot.
“It’s late. The scene is too hot. There’s nothing more we can do tonight. I want you all back her early tomorrow. Kowalski, Shirley, I’m gonna need your service revolvers for IAB. O’Hinn, I don’t want them talking to the Rat Squad until we got all out ducks in a row. You head them off and give them the rundown. Hopefully tomorrow things will be cool enough for us to start a canvas. We’ll do some rundowns of the vic through BCI. I want to know if he has a sheet, and I wanna know if he has a gun registered.” He sees the look on Kowalski’s face. Epstein says, “It was a good shoot. He had a gun. You did nothing wrong and we’re gonna prove that.”
Lt. Epstein takes Det.’s Kowalski’s and Shirley’s guns. I want you two to get home. Get some rest, Kowalski, you gonna be okay?”
Buy Kowalski was numb. The rest of the afternoon went in a daze. The angry shouts of the mob were still ringing in her ears, joining the ringing from the gun going off in an enclosed space. Where was the gun? Had she seen a gun? Did she just kill a man? Kowalski tried to call home to talk to her sister, Veronica. No one was home. She tried calling Mrs. Babbitt, the next door neighbor who looks after Veronica when Laverne can’t be home. No their either.
O’Hinn insists on taking Laverne home. When they get there he sees that she is settled in. Veronica arrives home. She had not been watching the news so she had no idea what was going on. O’Hinn offers his home as a refuge from the potential media storm that could be coming. Laverne sends Veronica to stay with O’Hinn overnight in his big house in Queens. But Laverne insists on staying. But as soon as O’Hinn leaves with a now worried Veronica, Laverne get on a coat and set off into the streets.
Laverne wasn’t thinking properly. All she knew was that she had to find the gun. As if of their own accord her feet had taken her back to the fateful corner at 22nd and 1st. In the City That Never Sleeps, of course, there were people about; casting looks at the blonde white woman in a largely African American neighborhood. But Laverne looked about giving them no notice.
The search turned out to be as fruitless as she feared it would. Her world was spinning out of control. Had she killed a man? Did she imagine the gun? Laverne was now wandering aimlessly through the streets of Gramercy. Near the park she became aware of someone she thought might be following her. He was dressed all in black, but always too far away for her to make out details. After some time she was able to get a better look. He was dressed from head to toe all in black. He had a mane of long, dark, curly hair that framed his head not unlike an English judge’s wig. He was very fair skinned, pasty, with a small, finely trimmed goatee. Laverne kept tabs on him. He always seemed to melt into the shadows and appear farther along, clearly keeping up with her. Laverne’s thoughts drifted reluctantly to her personal firearm, a 9mm Beretta tucked away. She did not want to have to use it. Not after today.
Laverne suddenly stopped cold. The mysterious man was standing ahead of her, casually leaning against the wall of a building. He seemed absolutely motionless and Laverne fancied for a moment that he was some sort of statue. Although not at all a handsome man, he was nevertheless fascinating. He had such a presence that she felt he would always be noticed entering even a crowded room.
“You’re out late,” he said in a very rich, placid voice. “It’s not safe alone for either of us. Care for some company?”
The absurdity of his approach blew away with Laverne’s fascination for this man. Somehow she wanted to know more about his fellow. She walked along with him for a while. In his presence she felt oddly safe, yet also a strong undercurrent of danger. For some time neither spoke, yet as she looked at him he walked in perfect confidence. The silence was not at all awkward for him, like the company was enough for their stroll.
At last he broke the silence. “I love the night. In a city of six million people, all living in one cramped little area, it is hard to recognize yourself amidst the din of humanity. But at night, you remember yourself.” He looks at her a moment, then: “You’ve had a bad day.”
“Trouble at work,” she said, feeling a tightness grip her chest as she said it.
“Care for some coffee?” he offered.
Though she had no idea why, Laverne said yes. She couldn’t figure this man out. He was not at all the sort of man she liked. His appearance was far too outlandish for her tastes, but there was a refinement and dignity all about him. They found a small coffee house and sat al fresco. The city lights, of course, his almost every star in the sky, but despite the almost constant drone of the city in the background, they shared a relatively quiet time together. He did not press her at all, yet she could not help but speak to him—even in in a roundabout way. She asked him what he did.
“I am a collector. I collect pretty things. Mostly antiques. I am particularly fond of books.” And somehow he managed to get her to tell him that she was a cop.
“I try to be a good cop,” she said. “But sometimes things go so wrong.”
“It is hard to stay in the light in a world of such darkness,” he said. “Sometimes it is hard to even find the light simply because you’re already standing in it. Surely you know the phrase ‘too close to see.’ Things have a way of working themselves out. Don’t worry so much about what’s going to happen. Don’t even want anything to happen. Just watch what does happen, and then act accordingly.”
He was helping her more than she was sure he knew. It suddenly occurred to her that she didn’t know his name, nor has he asked for hers. He was such a good listener—such a change from the men she usually encountered—that it never occurred to her.
“My name’s Laverne,” she said at last.
“Call me . . .” he thinks a moment, then, “Call me Malcolm.”
They eventually said their good nights and then went their own ways. Malcolm had made such an impression on her; Laverne couldn’t get him out of her head. But somehow he had helped her. Rather than going back to her apartment, Laverne made her way back to the precinct house. She went up to the Crib and sacked out there.