“Bad News Travels Slow” – Continued
“Bad News Travels Slow”
“Who did this to you?” An obvious question from an obviously bored cop.
“I dunno. We didn’t exchange addresses. He was big, strong, and didn’t say much.”
“That’s not much of a description. How are we supposed to find the guy with just that?”
“Well, I’m sorry, Detective. That’s all I can give you. I was busy bleeding at the time. I’ll try to do better next time.” Why do I even bother?
I spent the next twenty minutes telling the Detective from the PD that I had been on the job when things went sour for me. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t tell him much more than that – Professional Ethics, you understand.
He didn’t, so there wasn’t much he could do other than turn in a pretty skimpy report and wish me good luck. Right. Good luck to you too, I told him.
After he left one of the young doctors came in and told me that I was going to be stuck in the hospital for a few more days – just to make sure that my insides had stopped bleeding and my brain had stopped ricocheting off my skull. I used the time to go over the skinny of what got me here.
About six weeks ago a woman came into my office asking me to help find her missing husband. When I asked why she didn’t just go to the police she said that she suspected it was the police who made him go missing.
I’m always reluctant to get mixed up in anything like that. A Bad Cop looks a lot like a Good Cop until you get up close, and by then you’re all too likely to find an untraceable gun stuck in your ribs.
I was reluctant, but I was also broke. When she ponied up the front money without blinking my reluctance began to fade. When she bit on my request for “expense money” too it was gone like a politician’s promise.
She filled me in on the details: Her hubby owned a chain of bake shops in the area. Good stuff – I’d had their cherry pie – just like my mother’s, only edible.
What she told me next made me nervous all over again. She said that some of the boys from the local precinct house had been pulling a little ‘protection’ scam on her husband. You know – “We’d hate to see anything happen to one of your stores. Maybe you should hire us for some extra security.” Classic stuff. It’s been going on since the first guy started selling dinosaur meat out of his cave.
In the beginning, he paid them off every month, but then they started to get greedy and began to really squeeze him. That’s when he began to fight back. He got some of his own boys, strong from tossing around those fifty pound sacks of flour, to go out and wrinkle a few blue suits in the alley. Anybody with half a brain could have told him that that was a losing bet. The cops had guns while his guys had spatulas.
I remember reading about the fire at one of his stores – killed two of his employees – a mother of three working as a clerk and a kid who decorated cakes in between classes at the Junior College.
The publicity from that turned some bad press on the precinct. A few people began to talk. A few cops were transferred, thrown to some toothless wolves, but the bad actors who were really running the racket stayed put. That was when the woman’s husband disappeared. He said he was going to a trade show in Miami, but he never arrived.
That’s where I entered the picture. The wife comes to me, tells me the story and hands me enough cash to turn my head and I start poking around.
The first thing I did, after paying some seriously overdue rent notices, was to go out and talk to the plant manager at the big bakery – a factory really, where they cranked out cakes, pies and goons willing to go one on one with the cops.
— To be continued next Saturday —