By Lynne Hoffman
These long shifts were going to kill him. The overtime pay didn't begin to compensate for the tiredness. Or the feeling that he was paying rent on a one-bedroom apartment when all he really needed was a closet to hang his trenchcoat in and one of those mats kids used in kindergarten. He straightened his shoulders in an attempt to appear alert and poured himself into the squad car. Just watching his partner, go-getter Eddie Green, was enough to wear him out. The man had energy to burn.
Briscoe wondered how long it had been since he'd been full of piss and vinegar. Probably, he reflected to himself, before he'd started drinking. Certainly before he accepted he needed the twelve-stepper. He sighed.
"Now what Ed?"
"Dealer bought it."
"Yeah. So?" In Lennie's opinion, not exactly a newsworthy event. No longer, in his world, a crime worth investigating.
"Narcotics had the guy under surveillance for months. They finally popped him last week and he did so much singin' he almost put the Mormon Tabernacle choir outta business."
"Lemmee guess. He made bail."
Eddie shook his head impatiently, "Took a plea. In exchange for leniency, he agreed to wear a wire. The hit was an inside job."
"So why are we checking it out? That's I.A.D territory."
"We're not checking it out. You asked what's up, that's the latest." Eddie grinned.
"Wise guy." Lennie pulled the car to a stop in front of a convenience store, "Wanna coffee?"
Lennie exited the car and rolled his eyes, 'Good Christ.' He ran his hand through his thick, greying hair and went in to fetch a coffee for himself and a bottle of mineral water for his new partner. At least his former partner, Rey Curtis, had the decency to like coffee. Ordinarily, the fetch and carry would be the new guy's job but it had been a long day and Lennie had a headache. The less time in the car, the better.
Moments later, purchases made, Lennie reluctantly got back in the car and refastened his seatbelt. He silently passed Eddie his water and watched, impassively as Eddie cracked the top on his drink and took a long pull. Lennie sipped at his coffee with the same tired relief.
"A-a-a-h. Goes down good." Eddie leaned back in the squad car and readjusted his seat belt as Lennie carefully fed the car back into traffic. The streets were busy. It was Hallowe'en and hordes of children were running back and forth along the streets.
"Funny. Today they're out there running around in disguises enjoying themselves. Tomorrow they'll be running around knocking-off little old ladies for their bingo money and they won't even bother to wear disguises." Lennie heaved a sigh as he watched the kids run around.
"You got it Old Spice." Eddie craned his neck around and watched three youths disappear down an alley.
Lennie winced at his partner's nickname for him. He hated nicknames. Especially when they were directed at him. He'd think of one for Eddie, though, just as blistering and lay it on him one day soon.
"They have Hallowe'en when you were a kid?" Eddie smirked in his partner's direction.
"Yeah, sure. We dressed up like our heroes. You know, Columbus, Galileo... "
Eddie laughed, glad his partner didn't mind taking a ribbing once in awhile. You had to get along with your partners in this line of work. Carrying a grudge could be fatal. Briscoe was a good cop. Underneath his teasing, Eddie was glad he'd drawn the veteran detective as a partner. He hoped one day he'd be able to make Lennie feel the same way about him.
"I usually went out as one the usual suspects," Eddie offered, "How about you?"
"Yeah, no big costume designers for me either. A ghost. A cowboy."
"Ever go out as a cop?"
"Nope, but you know my nephew Ken?"
"Yeah, to see."
"He and a couple of his pals went out as cops one year," Lennie settled himself more comfortably against the car seat. He loved telling this story on young Kenny; too bad the kid wasn't around so he could embarrass him.
"No kidding." Green sat up straighter, interested. Impersonating an officer was a crime. He wondered why Lennie hadn't stopped the kid.
"I didn't know anything about it until it was all said and done or he'd never have got his hands on a uniform."
"Kenny was quite young, fourteen I think, but he was already quite tall, close to five nine, I guess. Anyway he calls my place and talks to my ex-wife. He didn't know we were separated," Lennie punctuated his story with shrug of his shoulders, "Gloria, my ex-wife, tells him, sure, no problem. You can borrow your Uncle's old uniform."
"Go on. You're kidding me, right?" Eddie glanced sidelong at Lennie. It would serve him right, he thought, teasing Lennie the way he did.
"Nope. No joke. I hadn't even remembered that old uniform was still in the back of the closet. I'd been in plain clothes for a number of years already. Anyway, Kenny goes over there; collects the uniform, goes home, dresses up and goes to meet his buddies. There were three of them. I'll never forget it as long as I live." Lennie took a breath and quelled a rippling laugh. He concentrated on his driving for a minute before continuing with his tale.
"Kenny fit the uniform pretty good, though the trousers were too long and he still needed to fill out a bit. The other two rented uniforms from that dump down on Lexington. They went out late, after most of the young kids were finished and they were cutting through an alley, running through the shadows like idiots. They turned the corner and came out under a streetlight. Lo and behold, what do they come across? Two punks ripping off hubcaps... "
Lennie checked the traffic and caught sight of Eddie staring at him in obvious disbelief, "I'm almost afraid to ask. What'd they do?"
"I think they nearly pissed themselves," Lennie grinned at the thought, "The punks hear them come out of the alley and turn around. They see three 'cops' bearing down on them and then all of a sudden the cops skitter to a halt and just stand there staring at them. One punk takes off but the other mook figures it out. These yahoos aren't cops; they're kids, out trick or treating. He hollers after the guy that's on the run, yells for him to come back but the guy's taking his sweet time trying to make up his mind whether or not to come back. He stands down the road, yelling at his partner to forget it all and get going. The guy the boys are now reluctantly confronting lunges at our intrepid trio. I don't have a clue what he was thinking but apparently he thought the boy's loot bags would go good with the hubcaps.
One of the boys, a big Puerto Rican kid, took umbrage at his audacity and tripped him up. The other kids ran for a phone and called for the real cops. Kenny, our wannabe hero, picks up one of the hubcaps and uses it like a Frisbee. Wham! Takes the legs right out from under the fleeing punk. Then he went back and gave Ricardo a hand until the beat cops showed up." Lennie laughed now, at the memory.
Eddie tilted his head back and roared. Slowly regaining his composure he managed to croak out to Lennie, "So seeing someone's hubcaps getting ripped-off didn't upset him half as bad as having his candy almost stolen."
"Yeah. He gets downright ornery when you take away his candy."
"How long did it take him to live that story down?"
"What year is this?" Lennie was really chuckling now. It felt good. He felt his headache begin to ease up.
"What happened about the uniform?"
"I made him get it dry-cleaned and told him, 'You wanna be a cop big shot? Go apply at the academy. Get your own uniform.' Trouble is, I didn't think he'd actually do it."
Both men laughed and as Lennie checked the traffic again, he realised they had reached their destination. They were back at the squad room and it was finally time to go home.