The Secret History
By Lady V
Before a few days ago, I wasn't sure there was such a thing as divine retribution. It was a hazy concept to me, much like the existence of an afterlife when we die. I knew there was such a thing, but it usually never affected me, only other people. In my time, I saw senseless evil touch people often for no rhyme or reason. People with a lot going for them would be inexplicably murdered, mutilated or raped, while their perpetrators would escape the jaws of justice for a petty reason such as their last name was spelled wrong on court documents. A number of years ago, such a travesty affected me. Never really believed that the laws that governed right and wrong would ever be rectified.
Until I got that phone call.
Before I received confirmation that justice, in the end, was never blind, I'd been living a fairly mellow existence. Well, mellow for me, anyway. I've been retired from the force for the past six months after putting in my 20 years of service. I had mixed feelings at the time I'd first done it. I still liked the thrill of living life on the edge, but I was tired of the political bullshit and my last few years on the force weren't all that satisfying. I'd spent five years as a beat cop, the last fifteen as a detective. Two of my partners got shot. One died. Both shootings happened within a year of each other. It was rough, since I liked both of them and they were good cops, but after a while, you deal and carry on. For a while, I was considered a jinx, but I never took any of the ribbing seriously.
What was really fucked up was what happened to me the last five years I was on the force. I'd made the mistake of attending a trial of an asshole councilman accused of murdering his gay colleague. Fucker was acquitted (yet another example of the scales being out of whack, but I'm getting off the track). When said piece of shit was about to go off into the sunset, I felt this rage boil over me and punched him in the face. It wasn't so much that I was so upset that he got off. I mean, lots of other skels get acquitted every day. It was like I felt the world was off kilter, just knocked off its axis. I wanted to put it back where it belonged. Particularly in light of the travesty that had affected me a few months before then. The brass' response was to ship me out to deadly dull Staten Island. I was investigating idiotic crap like bike robberies, because the people out there have nothing more exciting to focus on. In all my years before then, I'd been in Homicide in Manhattan. It was draining, but at least I was never bored. My brain fucking atrophied in Staten Island. The one homicide case I got to work on out there, I was treated as a nuisance and a leper because of the brass' bullshit. Tired of playing their game, I threw in the towel. Sometimes I'm amazed I lasted as long as I did.
Right now, I've got my hands in a couple of things. Living the leisurely life of golf and hanging around the racetrack isn't my style. I'd go apeshit. I do security a few nights a week at a bar a friend of mine owns out in Brooklyn. Even though I get a pension at half of my salary, it doesn't cover all my bills, so I kind of need the work. And I'm trying to start a P.I. business, once I take the exam, that is. All was good. And it all got a little better after that aforementioned phone call.
I'd just come back from getting some Chinese take out when the phone jangled. After putting the food down on the kitchen table, I'd debated picking it up and just letting the machine answer it. I was trying to avoid having to speak to Rhonda, the last woman I was involved with. Crazy bitch called at all hours of the day and night, pleading to give our relationship another chance. The woman wanted to talk about our pre-engagement on our second date, for Christ's sake. Said she knew right away that I was the one for her. How'm the hell I'm gonna marry you if I just met you? Shit, they're been several women that I was involved with for years and I never took that step. I've never been sure that I wanted to be tied down that way. A lot of relationships end up getting oppressive and suffocating. You're not really free to be yourself. You wind up struggling not to be the kind of person your partner wants you to be, even though she claims she loves you as you are. Bleah.
So, anyway. I'd decided to let the machine pick up and had started to take the food out the bag when I heard that dulcet voice.
"...Um Mike...this is Don. Give me a call back when you-"
I reached over to turn the machine off and grabbed the receiver. Don had been one of my captains on the force. Even through the bullshit in Staten Island, I had no ill feelings toward him. He could be demanding, but he was fair and was good people. "Hey, Donnie. Long time, no hear."
"I could say the same for you. How's the life of leisure going?"
"Can't complain. How's the sex crimes thing going?"
His voice took on an annoyed tone. "It's the Special Victims Unit, not sex crimes."
"But a lot of the cases you get are sex crimes, right?"
"I'm not about to split hairs with you."
Donnie's tone then turned serious. "Listen...I just got this news through the grapevine that you might want to hear. You might want to be sitting down."
Now my curiosity was peaked. "Is it good or bad?"
"Depends on how you take it."
"Well, what is it?"
He took a deep breath and I heard the air escape his lips like a strong wind on a cold day. "Krolinsky was murdered last night."
I felt myself go frozen. All kinds of feelings flowed through me like electricity.
"Mike, you still there?"
Jolted back from my temporary paralysis, I answered, "Um...yeah, yeah Donnie, I'm here. How'd it happen?"
"According to what I heard, his wife came home from visiting her sister to find him dead in the middle of the kitchen floor. His oldest son Jason was crouched down a few feet away, not moving, not saying a peep. Briscoe and Green said there were at least 20 stab wounds on his chest and back. Kid's fingerprints were all over the knife. Last I knew, he was being held at Rikers."
My insides had tightened like a lid. Sure, Krolinsky deserved an express ride to Hell, but it hurt to hear that one of his own kids had delivered him there. They should be shielded from evil, not immersed in it. Things had to have been horrific for his kid to do what he did. After thinking about it some, I could see where he was coming from. Lord knows I wanted to do the same to my own mother once upon a time.
"This Briscoe... Could it be the same Lennie Briscoe from the 2-7?"
"The one and only."
He'd been one of my partners when I was at the 2-7. We'd been good friends until I worked that homicide case out in Boonieville. The outcome of that investigation was the arrest of another cop that worked in that precinct, Profaci. He'd been one of our friends, too. Briscoe labeled me a traitor for having a part in bringing down our colleague. We hardly speak anymore. The force is supposed to be like your family. You stick up for each other, right or wrong. I was never much into that Blue Wall crap. Covering each other's ass takes precedence over protecting the public. And they wonder why civilians have such a dim view of the department.
"Who's this Green guy?"
"What happened to Curtain, Curtom, Curt something or other?"
"Oh, Curtis? I'm not really sure. I think he quit the force entirely."
After a few moments of silence, I let out a sigh. "Jesus."
"...What are you thinking, Mikey?" Don is one of the few people who could ever get away with calling me by such a juvenile nickname.
I pondered for a moment. "I'm thinking a lot of different things. And I'm also not thinking, you know? It's hard to give a concrete answer right now."
"Well, my thinking is this: you reap what you sow."
I gave a bitter laugh. "You got that right."
"Yeah. Well, I just thought I'd do my civic duty and let you know."
After hanging up, I flopped down on the couch, all thoughts of eating forgotten. As much as I tried to bury the burning uneasiness I felt inside my core, some of it still managed to seep through like water in a toilet that had overflowed. My thoughts kept drifting to the past, to a history kept secret from even those closest to me...
After classes ended for the altar boys that Wednesday afternoon, Father Joe had made me stay behind. He always had a way of looking at you that made you feel unclean, although he seemed as pure as the driven snow I faced what he wanted with some trepidation, though I wasn't quite sure why. He was a priest, after all. Someone sent by God to do His work. What could he possibly want that could be so bad?
"You seem kind of withdrawn, Mike. Tell me -- is something going on at home?"
I shrank back from his question, as if he'd punched me in the gut. I wasn't sure if it would be safe to tell him about the way Ma was treating me. Suppose she got sent to jail and our family got broken up? What if he thought I was bad and deserved her punishment? Speaking with a cheerfulness I didn't feel, I managed to answer, "Everything is fine at home, Father."
He sat back at his desk and looked at me as if I was a specimen under a microscope. I started to squirm under his intense scrutiny. I wished this meeting could be over and done with so that I could leave.
"I asked you that because sometimes when things are troubling us, we can withdraw from those who can be able to help us. Sometimes we think we can handle things on our own, never realizing that sometimes our burden is too much for us to bear."
I started to relax, thinking this was going to be the same kind of religious instruction I got every day in religion class. Not that I had much use for it, but considering present company, I figured the faster I could appease him, the faster I could leave.
"So...the whole point is to leave everything to God, right?"
Father Joe started bobbing his head up and down and smiling. "Yes. Yes. God is our friend through every sort of trial and tribulation."
Then he stood up and shuffled over to where I was sitting. He had that piercing look in his eyes again, as if he could see down to my last molecule.
Father asked, "Do you have a girlfriend, Mike?"
It took me a minute to process the question. It seemed to come out of nowhere and had nothing to do with what we were talking about
He seemed bemused. "I asked if you had a girlfriend."
"Do you ever think about them?"
I wondered what he meant by that. "...I don't know. Sometimes I think they're creeps."
"I don't mean thinking about them that way. I meant...thinking about them...romantically."
"No way, Father."
"You mean you've never even wondered what they might look like naked?"
Jeesh, what was with these kinds of questions? I was beginning to think he was going mad or something.
"Has anyone ever touched you like this before?" And the next thing I knew, he had put his left hand on the crotch of my blue dress pants and was moving it around in circles. After a few moments, he undid my zipper and released my dick from the confines of my clothes and started rubbing on it. Something told me that what Father was doing was wrong. My insides roiled with the steam of disapproval. But at the same time, it felt warm and gooey. This strange look came over Father's face. He wore this half-smile and seemed to look -- I don't know -- enthralled by it all. My dick started to enlarge and I started feeling these tingling sensations that I never imagined were possible to feel. This sick balance between agony and ecstasy lasted for another few minutes until this white foam like substance squirted out of me. Some of it landed on my pants. Father quickly withdrew his hand from me, as if he'd been burned by fire. Now there was this hard look on his face.
"You've sinned in the eyes of the Lord. What happened was evil and impure. If anyone were to ever find out about this, God will strike you dead."
I zipped myself up and cleaned up as best as I could with my vest. Waves of shame threatened to drown me. It felt as if a skyscraper had suddenly been placed on my shoulders and I was crushed by its weight. It was like I was 100 years old. First, I had to carry around the burden about Ma. Now this. I left the room shortly afterward, but I honestly don't remember taking any steps...
That sick bastard. He had the nerve to blame me for what he'd done. I never told anybody about it for the next 25 years and when I did, I never went into specific detail.
Everything hit the fan a few years back, when Billy Marino had killed himself. He'd lived a few doors down from me growing up. We went to the same school; the same church and we also were victims of Father Joe.
Billy had been a sex crimes detective for the 3rd precinct. He'd tracked the bastard down after his mother had told him that she'd run into the good priest on the subway. Only it turned out that Father Joe wasn't even a priest anymore but had a wife and two kids. Billy put the squeeze on him and the bastard had paid him $50,000 to leave him alone. I guess seeing him did a number on Billy and he ended it all.
Yours truly was put into the service of investigating Billy's death. Briscoe and I had arrested Krolinsky for bribery and for a sex abuse charge that someone had filed way back in '68. It didn't do any good. It turned out the sex abuse charge was well past its statute of limitations and it was revealed that Billy was actually the one who roped us kids into visiting with the bastard. Never mind that he was just a kid who didn't know any better. The bastard's slimy lawyer had charged that his payment to Billy was actually a belated gratuity and therefore there was no bribery nor any conspiracy committed. Lawyers are like snake oil salesman. They'll do and say anything to come out on the winning side. I actually had to testify for the defense and admit that Billy had once tried to recruit me for a matinee with Father Joe. I wound up kicking his ass, but the court never heard about that. It did occur to me to pretend that I didn't remember while I was up on the stand, but in the end, I knew I'd never be able to live with myself.
My testimony actually ended any chance of myself or any of the people in the old neighborhood getting justice. The bastard got acquitted. To say that I was upset would be an understatement. I always wondered if there was ever more to it than what was told in court. In all my years as a cop, I'd never known a child molester to just stop cold. They're harder to rehabilitate than junkies. And there had been no charges filed against the bastard for at least 15 years prior to the trial. I'd asked McCoy, the ADA in charge of the case if they'd looked at every possible angle and he claimed that they had. Whatever. Many times over the years, I considered going up to him and having him eat my gun, but my damned sense of honor would kick in. Besides, he wasn't worth ruining my career. So, he lived his perfect average life and I remained trapped in the prison of my secret history.
Not anymore. He's dead, remember?
And it felt both sad and exhilarating at the same time.
The following day was a Saturday. Curiosity and a need for closure (God, what a New Agey term) led me to the Rikers Island jail. Jason Krolinsky hadn't yet made bail, so he was still among its residents. Even in the sunshine, the jail had a gloomy air about it.
It took several minutes for them to bring the kid down to the visiting area. I hadn't been prepared for what I saw on the other side of the glass partition. The kid was so thin that I nearly got up to go to the infirmary to demand that they put an IV in him. He had thick, wavy brown hair, worn long on top and short in the sides and the back. He also had huge blue eyes. Eyes that seemed devoid of life. Jason plopped down in his chair and seemed to just vegetate. It was hard to believe that this frail looking kid was even capable of murder.
As for me, I was beginning to lose my nerve. Everything I had planned to say to Jason had dissipated like wisps of smoke. I mean, we didn't know each other from holes in the wall. What business did I have in even seeing him? And what could I possibly say to him, anyway? Thanks for killing the bastard who molested me? Totally tasteless. But then, as I kept looking into his expressionless eyes, I'd thought about how I'd always been kind of a sucker for kids in trouble. Probably because I'd been a kid whose world hadn't recognized that I was in need of help. And Jason was obviously in need of help.
I picked up the phone that was hanging from the left-hand side of the partition and motioned for Jason to do the same.
"...Jason...I'm Mike Logan. I...I knew your father a long time ago."
Silence on the other end. Jason made no indication that he had even heard what I'd just said. He sat so motionless and his eyes were still as flat as ever.
"I don't know if you know this, but he used to be a priest in my church when I was a kid."
Jason continued to look right through me.
"Look...um...I know why you're in here. There's never an excuse for killing your parent, but I figure that things must have been pretty bad to do what you did. I had it rough at your age, too."
Jason continued to stare at something beyond my line of sight. It didn't even feel like he was even in the same room. It felt like he was in another galaxy altogether.
After another few minutes of virtually talking to myself, I decided to end the visit with the offer that the kid could talk to me whenever he wanted and that I'd leave my name and phone number with the guards. I had no idea what it was like to be so removed from life and didn't want to know. As soon as I crossed the iron gates leading outside, a light drizzle began to fall. It felt appropriate for the setting. However, my mood had lightened somewhat just by being freed from stifling surroundings.
Rot in hell, Krolinsky.