For my family
THE GUMSHOE DIARIES
Baxter Stairway, Los Angeles…December 4
Officers Perez and Kingman climbed back into their black and white. It was 7:15am and their shift would end on the drive back to the stationhouse. Neither was looking forward to the hour or so of paperwork required before clocking out, a part of the job that was a universal drag among the rank and file. Officer Bix Kingman yawned as he strapped himself into the passenger seat. Rubbing his eyes with one hand he reached over and grabbed the radio mic with the other and informed dispatch that they were on the move.
“Man, I’m beat!” exclaimed Sgt. Perez through a yawn of his own.
Ray Perez put the Crown Royal into gear and sped off down Avon toward Ward and Hollenbeck Station. He covered his face to mask another deep yawn. It had been a long night of mostly just standing around while the detectives and the CSI techs did their thing at the murder scene. Ray was looking forward to a hot cup of bad coffee back at the house. He glanced over at Bix who had returned the mic to the radio and slumped back into his seat. The big rookie leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
“Did you ever think about going for a gold shield and becoming a detective?” he asked Ray out of the blue.
Ray thought about that and rubbed and at his five o’clock shadow before answering. “Once or twice I guess. I’m pretty sure that most patrol officers wonder about it off and on,” he replied. “Why do you ask?”
“I’m just curious, that’s all.”
“Yeah well you know what usually happens to curious cats don’t you,” Ray replied making a slashing motion across his throat.
Bix chuckled, “Okay, ‘nuff’ said I guess,” he replied.
They drove in silence until they hopped on the 10 Freeway for the last leg home. Bix was resting his eyes but still alert, he hadn’t dozed off yet. Keeping his eyes closed he broke the silence, “I think I’d like to be a detective one day,” he announced nonchalantly.
“You’ve put a lot of thought into that have you rookie?” Ray asked sarcastically.
“Actually I have,” Bix answered opening his eyes and sitting up straight. “My whole family is in law enforcement in one way or another. Mom and Pop want me to follow my older brother’s lead and go to law school and work for the District Attorney’s Office. ‘It’s safer baby my Mom says,’ she’s always worrying about me being out here in the shit.”
“Yep, Moms are like that,” Ray replied as he changed lanes to come alongside a young lady talking on her cell phone. He gave her a warning stare and she tossed her phone into the back seat and gave Ray a guilt ridden smile.
“Why haven’t you gone for a Detective shield? I mean what keeps you on the streets anyway?” Bix asked.
Ray didn’t hesitate to answer, “The action rookie, I’m an adrenalin junkie. Detectives do way too much paperwork to suit me, and from what I’ve seen sit on their asses too long yacking on the phone,” he answered with a big grin.
Bix snorted a reply with a not so subtle warning, “Yeah well most junkies OD eventually, I’m just saying.”
“I already have a mother thank you very much!” snapped Ray Perez, his mood changing quickly.
Bix held up his hands as if to surrender, “Sorry, not my business,” he replied, turning in his seat to look out his window and avoid exacerbating whatever had set off his training officer.
“You’re goddamn right it’s not! So let’s just drop it and relax the rest of the way back to the house. That okay with you?” Ray said through clenched teeth.
“Roger that boss, this is me zipping my lip,” replied Bix quickly.
The two officers drove the rest of the way in dead silence, each of them secretly wishing they could take back that last few minutes. Partners are like that, especially police officers. No relationship is ‘spat free’, people are people eventually they say or do the wrong thing. Cops see each other at their best and at their worst, often times in extremely tense situations. And because they place their very lives in the hands of the person riding next to them there has to be a bond of trust that goes beyond that of even a marriage. Any less than that could prove fatal.
Hollenbeck Station, Los Angeles…December 4…8:00am
Wally Price stood near the rear entrance of the squad room sipping on a mug of coffee that had already began to cool. He had been waiting impatiently for Ray and Bix to return from their shift. He checked his Timex, it was after eight o’clock and they should have been back by now. He was about to get dispatch to contact them when he spotted the two officers appeared through the wired glass of the heavy door. They barged into the room and were met with an icy stare that neither of them was expecting this early in the morning.
“Long night fellas?” Lt. Price asked sarcastically.
”Something wrong LT?” Ray Perez answered, visibly startled by Lieutenant’s presence.
Lt. Wally Price glared at them without responding, it was making Bix sweat nervously. Ray just sighed and waited, he was used to the new Lieutenant’s mannerisms. Actually he was a pretty good leader, his bark worse than his bite. Ray was just tired and he hated it when a boss dragged out an ass chewing. After an uncomfortable minute Lt. Price moved away from the counter and stood toe to toe with Sgt. Ray Perez, towering over him with his six foot four inch frame.
“What I want to know officers is which one of you two is feeding Whitey Roode information about the crispy kiddies’ case,” he asked, his gaze alternating between the two officers.
“What are you talking about? Neither one of us is talking to that PI. Hell, Bix here hasn’t been here long enough even know who Whitey is anyway,” Ray answered, his tone slightly defiant.
“Look LT, if you think there’s a leak you should hit up Detective Ingram, I hear he and Roode go way back,” Ray added, not bothering to hide his irritation.
Price relaxed a bit and considered Ray’s response. That did make more sense and nobody at this precinct knew of his own connection to Whitey Roode and Iggie Ingram for that matter. For now he’d play it cool as he stepped back to give Sgt. Price his personal space back. He held out his thick paw and offered to shake Ray Perez’ hand, he accepted.
“Sorry Sargent, chalk it up to an especially shitty morning. As soon as I walked in the door at 7am I started taking crap, first from the Mayor’s office and then from the Arch Diocese. Both of them up demanding status reports on our investigation of that murder suicide of the young mother and child burned alive outside the Egyptian Theater,” Price explained apologetically.
“So what’s the PI have to do with all of this?” Bix asked, relaxing.
Lt. Price answered with a frown, “His Honor the Mayor hates that guy! He’s been the butt of many a joke around town about being made a fool of by an ex-cop turned gumshoe who seems to be one step ahead of the LAPD on several high profile cases since he was kicked off the force. He called Chief Celeya who also loathes the rat bastard and wanted to know why Roode was poking his big nose in LAPD business, who he was talking to him from inside, and what we were going to do about it short of shooting him.”
Ray grinned and spoke up quickly, “Say the word LT and we’ll haul him in directly. You can quiz him yourself.”
Price snickered as he conjured up an image of Whitey getting grilled in the interrogation room by the Chief and the Mayor. Now that would be a hoot, he’d even buy a ticket for that show. Why not he thought. “Good idea Perez, consider yourself approved for a little OT. Take your partner there and bring me a gumshoe for breakfast.”
Ray rolled his eyes, he was tired and just wanted to go home to his wife and kids. “Seriously LT, can’t you send another unit, Bix and I have already pulled a double shift,” he whined.
“This won’t take long men, Whitey is a creature of habit. It’s Friday, that means he’s at the Nickel Diner downtown on 5th Street. He’ll be pigging out on bacon donuts and coffee until 9 or 10, so you’ll have no trouble picking him up. Tell him I sent you,” Lt Price said reassuringly.
“What makes you so sure about that LT?” Ray asked.
“Just bring him in and I’ll tell you all about it later,” Price snapped as he brushed past Sgt. Perez and headed back to his office.
“Weird,” Bix said, watching the lieutenant turn the corner and disappear.
“I’ll say,” replied Ray Perez. He pulled out the car keys and tossed them to his partner. “Let’s go rookie, you drive.”
“Really?”“First time for everything son. Try not to kill us on the way,” Ray answered, walking past Bix and out the door to the motor pool.