Anyone who wants an idea of what apocrypha is looking for in a good story, take a peek at the work of our most regular, and consistently-excellent contributor, Susianne -- who not only incorporates Logan into every story she writes, but effectively conveys a totally unique character in her Simone, who's as Cajun and cagey and clever as they come. In this latest segment from Logan's and Simone's lives, the Exiled-esque opening takes us much more deeply into Mike's head than any two-hour flick ever could.Brotherhood
“The good you do dies with you, but your fuck ups are forever.”
-- Police saying, quoted by James Prine
The skyline of Manhattan faded across the water, and with it the better part of Detective Mike Logan's career. In a heated moment, the frustration of his personal life spurred a reckless, thoughtless action that effectively ended his career in Homicide. The likelihood of working Homicide again, especially in Manhattan, was nonexistent. The Department had spared his job, but chose to freeze him out -- literally -- in the suburban Siberia of Staten Island. It was a gutless ploy made by the brass in the Ivory Tower ... those so far removed by political correctness that they were "cops" by name only. They wanted him to quit, but hadn't the courage to dismiss him, hoping instead that he would simply quit from the frustration and hopelessness.
Clearly they didn't know a damned thing about Mike Logan.
Looking out across the waves, Logan found himself mulling over his situation yet again. The press, the brass, the backstabbers all conveniently overlooked the small fact that the councilman he assaulted was a murderer. A murderer who beat the system because of a jury's prejudice against his victim. What he couldn't understand most of all was how he became ostracized by the brotherhood he had always been so fiercely loyal to. He could handle being thought of as a fuck-up by thousands of cops who didn't know him. Yet when his own partner and most of his former precinct ignored him, it hurt like hell. The injury usually gave in to resentment, which bubbled over into rage.
After all of his years on the job, he ought to know that human nature was perhaps the most worthless thing in the world. At the very least, he should have been able to rely on his own partner. Lennie Briscoe was older and had been through the battles of multiple divorce, alcoholism, and subsequent job turmoil. So when Logan's childhood friend committed suicide under brutal emotional pressure, and when his girlfriend Simone lost her baby, what gems of wisdom did his partner have? Only to "be nicer" to his girlfriend. Simone Broidveaux was a New Orleans Homicide detective; she needed "nicer" a hell of a lot less than she needed Logan himself.
You old bastard of a AA reject. If it had been you, I would have looked out for you. You should have taken care of me, you useless son-of-a-bitch. I hope you spend your retirement homeless and eating cat food.
He drank too much, and knew it. His whole life was falling apart, and the only person who could prevent it was hundreds of miles away, blissfully ignorant of his situation. He wondered what Simone would think of him now. Here was a man humiliated publicly on the job, ashamed to confide in her, disgusted with himself for not bringing her to New York, and embarrassed by the anguish at the loss of his child.
Despite the heartache in her personal life, Simone found the strength to triumph in her work. Her Homicide platoon was honored for a rewarding 72 percent clearance rate. Logan spent the previous night viewing a tape of the ceremony, including a crude, homemade video parody of her unit rapping 'Whoomp! There It Is" in front of the Central Lockup. Normally, he would have relished their black humor. This time, however, his reaction was one of jealousy. He begrudged Simone her strength, the support of her fellow detectives, and most of all, the quality of her career. Perhaps what irritated him the most was that her heart was not in Homicide, yet she remained too spooked by the death of her partner to return to Narcotics.
How frigging nice to have a choice.
Staten Island's 128th Precinct was as clean, sterile, and soulless as a modern office building. Surfaces not colored some shade of gray or white were enclosed by glass. The walls were bare, devoid of posters, either official or tasteless. No noisy, ancient typewriters clattered. Telephones rang with a hushed mechanical bleat. Voices were usually nondescript, reeking of political correctness. Desks and filing cabinets were orderly, unencumbered by clutter. The detectives of the 128 weren't the NYPD's anal-retentive neat freaks. They were, in Logan's embittered opinion, a bunch of losers who could do nothing, so they were simply put in a precinct where there was nothing to do,
Logan hadn't quite decided if his new comrades were "Stepford Cops" in the making or just resigned to a career of clerkdom. He found no cohesiveness between them, no warmth, no humor. No competence, either. These "detectives" couldn't find their ass with both hands, a flashlight, a roadmap, and a tour guide. They were strangers to him, and appeared to be strangers to each other. That was fine with him; his personal life was none of their damned business.
His new partner, a Detective Boyer, was a total wash-out. He had neither talent nor ambition, and probably swiped his gold shield from some detective at a crime scene. He was a crude jerk who deserved to be in a gulag like this. Logan could almost hear Simone's accurate assessment of, "Lookit that jackoff ... a walking homicide in search of a patch of crime scene tape to lay down in." What a blessedly cynical broad she was. If they ever got bored with sex, they could enjoy trading attitude just as much.
Logan paused on the sidewalk outside, debating as he did every day, whether or not it was worth his while to continue playing the freak in this circus. He was offered a job as an investigator by his old friend Paul Robinette. Robinette, a former assistant DA, had gone into private practice. "The job's here any time you want it," Paul told him on more than once occasion. Logan knew he should accept the job and tell the NYPD to jam that gold shield sideways, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He was too proud to hand the brass exactly what they wanted.
Sighing, he trudged drearily up the steps and through the glass doors to his personal hell of Domestic Investigations. Internal Affairs aside, it was perhaps the most idiotic job in the Department. Granted, every domestic was a homicide in the making, but usually the party involved carried a badge.
As usual, the squadroom had the level of activity of a library. People filtered in, passing minimal words between each other. By contrast, his former precinct had been a hub of vitality, with obscenities, wagers, jokes, and papers tossed about freely.
He hated this place.
With an odd domesticity, he set about to making coffee, using the New Orleans chicory blend that Simone constantly supplied. A lifetime ago, back in his former precinct, coffee-time had been playtime. The plastic coffee-can lid sailed around the squadroom with Olympic flair. It usually ended when Detective Vitello, the wizened, bespectacled grande dame of the two-seven would inject a generous observation like, "Hey sweetie pie, from all the women who turn you down, it's a miracle you can still get your wrist to move." Logan nearly laughed aloud at the memory.
Absorbed in the task at hand and the memories, he started at the insolent voice behind him: "I never had you figured as a gourmet. What does that bag say ... Café du Monday?"
Logan resisted the pressure to curse. "Learn to read, Boyer. It's 'du Monde.' Since everybody in New Orleans drinks it, I don't think you could classify it as 'gourmet.'"
"And what makes you an expert on New Orleans?"
"My girlfriend lives there." Logan regretted the words the moment he spoke them. He adamantly wished to remain distant from everyone here.
His partner's eyebrows and antennae went up: "Girlfriend? You've got a girlfriend?"
"Hey, if an asshole like you can get a wife, I can get a girlfriend."
"I'll be damned. I always had you figured as some hot-shit player."
"Don't give up your day job, man."
Doggedly holding onto this slice of gossip, Boyer tracked Logan back to his desk, where the latter tried to ignore him. "Got a picture of her? What is she, a stripper? Masseuse?"
Refusing the bait, even if it was in humor, Logan said blandly, "She's a homicide detective."
Boyer paused a moment, digesting the information. He stepped back, his expression dubious. "I saw something on TV about them cops ... don't they kill people?"
"Yeah," replied his partner with a roguish smile; "you want to meet her?"
"Wise ass. You know what I'm saying."
"Why do you want to know, anyway?"
"I wanna know what kind of woman would take up with someone like you." And, more kindly, "I'm your partner, Mike. I'm just curious, is all."
If you turn out anything like my last partner, you're the last thing I want. "Then I guess I don't have to tell you to mind your own goddamn business, do I?"
Boyer took the hint and backed off. Logan sifted through the forms on his neat, bare, boring desk. Across the bay, and even down in New Orleans, detectives with far less experience and ability than he were taking control of crime scenes. Simone and her homicide bunkies were probably drinking café au lait in some all night French Quarter bar, listening to a near-blind piano man beat out rhythm and blues with his crippled fingers. At the end of the day, they would hug one another before going home, or stop for a quick one in the neighborhood bar. Logan bitterly resented her niche in the big, happy family of law enforcement. She would never know what it was like to be an only child.
The Griffins spent most of their time engaged in battle. When it reached an exceptionally feverish pitch, their neighbors dialed 911. To the uniforms who arrived in response, they were sheepish, apologetic, and non combative, in spite of the mutual bruises. Instead of channeling the aggravation of constant surveillance at the officers, the Griffins' neighbors felt the brunt of payback. As more disturbance calls were logged, the more the hapless neighbors found flat tires and cracked windows. This morning, however, the neighbors had taken all that they could after the Griffins began fighting in the driveway. In front of God, in front of the block, and in front of their two children.
The unfamiliar terrain of suburbia passed before Logan during the drive to the Griffins' home. He felt disconnected and lost, unsure of the area. After spending so many years in Homicide, it was difficult to adjust to nice, middle-class, living victims.
One uniform was already on the scene, trying vainly to keep the warring spouses apart. Although well dressed in office attire, the pair were disheveled, with blood spatters on their faces and hands. The woman had peeled off one of her shoes and was holding it cocked over her shoulder, eyes flashing threats.
"I want to file a complaint!" she shouted to the detectives as they stepped onto her lawn. "He's an abusive bastard!"
Logan sighed. He hated these scenes, because they were only resolved when one spouse killed the other. It was oddly reminiscent of his uniform days ... and his childhood. What he felt like doing was cracking their skulls together, Stooges-style, and leaving them on the pavement.
The man stepped toward his wife, pointing angrily at her. "What bullshit! She's not a fit mother!"
"What? Oh, you lying, lying bastard!" She appealed to Logan and Boyer: "He's not a fit father, officers. You should lock him up! You should shoot him!"
"Ma'am, I don't think you should be concerned about that right now," Boyer tried. "I think you should..."
"She sits around all day and plays on the Internet! She spends all my money on herself and not on the kids!"
"How can I spend anything when you drink it away before you bring it home?"
"Ma'am ... let's just..."
"Once they see how unfit you are, I'll get the kids, you bitch!"
Any minute now, thought Logan, I'm going to shoot one of you and be off this job for good.
Mrs. Griffin finally let the shoe loose in her husband's direction. "You'll get my kids over my dead body!"
"That's fine with me!"
"I've had enough of this crap." Logan snapped steel around the woman's wrists. "You know what? You can both go to jail, your kids will go into foster care, and we'll all be happy. Does that sound good to you? It damn sure sounds good to me."
Once cuffed, the pair became penitent. Griffin begged for another chance, citing every reason from stress to caffeine for his outburst. Mrs. Griffin wept copiously as they handed her into the squad car. "Please don't take me to jail! What will the neighbors think of me?"
Boyer merely smiled at her. "Couldn't be worse than what they think of you now." He turned to his younger partner. "We're going to get our asses chewed for this, you know."
"Yeah, I know." Logan slipped on his sunglasses. "What's life without a little fear and loathing?"
With less than 10 years till retirement, Lt. Stolper was one man who could live without fear and loathing. His goal was to simply spend his last years on the force with as few headaches and heart attacks as possible. Unfortunately, Mike Logan was changing his plans.
He reprimanded his two detectives for the "premature arrest" in the most civilized voice he could muster, and demanded they be released. It was, he thought, like disciplining a couple of rowdy kids. Whenever something went wrong lately, he knew Logan had to be behind it.
Logan watched the lieutenant carefully shut the door behind his partner, leaving the two of them alone. Unconsciously he assumed the blank, slack-eyed fuck-you-I'm-bored look teenagers reserve for authority figures.
"I don't give a damn where you want to be," Stolper began, his eyes hard and bright. "I don't want you here any more than you want to be here. You're a troublemaker and a fuck-up. I don't know how you kept your job, but you are going to control yourself when you're in my precinct. Otherwise, when I kick you out, you're gone for good. Do you understand me?"
"Sure. You got anything else you want me to kiss?"
The lieutenant's lips turned white. In a strangled voice, he managed, "Get out of my office before you're kissing the pavement."
As a subtle payback, the detectives took a longer lunch than required. Lunch was an indifferent Chinese, which Logan prodded more than tasted. He hated this place and wanted to go home. His partner, however, had no problems with appetite.
"So, you gonna show me your girlfriend or not, Mike?"
"Why don't you just drop it?"
"What're you, ashamed of her or something? Embarrassed?"
Angrily, Logan fished out a small photo which he shoved under Boyer's nose. "Take a good, long look ... you're never going to get this close to her again."
Over a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt, the magnolia skin, big eyes, and mop of burgundy curls beamed. She was not the kind of girl Boyer was expecting to see. "My mistake, okay? She's cute. Too clean for you, though. How come she's not up here with you?" Then he joked, "Which one of you's afraid of commitment?"
That question was a little too close for comfort. Logan's eyes were ice. "You've seen her. Now drop it."
A day spent with feuding families and dog bites could tempt the staunchest saint to iniquity. Logan reached for the whiskey bottle when he arrived home. The refrigerator was empty, except for some moldy takeout and beer. He wasn't hungry, anyway.
His job had become a joke. He had neither the heart nor the energy to stomach the resentment, the attitudes, and the authority any longer. However, as much as he wanted out, he wanted to redeem himself even more. He didn't know what to do. And the only person he could talk to about it was ignorant of it all.
He picked up the telephone.
In the pink apartment on the corner of Orleans and Burgundy in the French Quarter, Simone Broidveaux had been drinking tequila while doing homework on her latest homicide. Tears of relief stung her eyes when she heard the voice on her telephone. Prolonged separation from Mike Logan and facing senseless deaths every day had worn her down. She passed the healing points of food and zydeco; and was sliding into the most destructive and seductive demon of her culture, alcohol. Only her friends from Homicide and Vice kept her from slipping into chronic depression. And, in spite of everything, there was the job above all else. It could be cruel and vicious, but it remained as encompassing and comforting as a mother.
"How you making, babe? You lucky you caught me. I'm finishing up my latest, if the dumbass DA lets us get any further. How about you?"
Without eye contact, Logan could bluff his way around her. He made up some story, taking details from an old homicide he worked years ago. Over the telephone, he heard some woman warbling about honky tonk angels. Beneath the exotica of South Louisiana, Simone was still a Southern girl. And nothing soothed a Southern girl's pain more than the whining strings of a steel guitar. It had to be a cultural thing; country music made him nauseous. "Are you holding up? I heard you've already got something like 300 homicides. It must be the heat."
"Nah. It's the stupidity. I caught one Uptown. The only good thing about it was I got a nice eyeful of the district lieutenant, Nick Robichaux. He is one sight, for true. All hot and sweaty with them big blue eyes and the phone-sex voice."
Simone was nothing but talk as far as other men were concerned, yet Logan was well aware of how charming she could be. Fighting to clip the irritation from his voice, he managed, "What, did you stick him in a go-cup and take him home?"
"Yeah, right. Like a man who looks even hotter than Alec Baldwin would have anything to do with me. Besides, you know my huzzy heart has your address on it. This case is a hot one. Some post-deb who's daddy's a member of the Boston Club. Whoopie-shit, huh? 'Politically sensitive.' They can sprinkle me in powdered sugar and bite my ass." Logan couldn't stifle a laugh; her dialect made the oddest things sound amusing. "You prolly worked a whole lot more cases like this than me, with all them rich people up there. Maybe you can tell me how to get around it. This bitch in the meantime is giving us all sorts of bullshit. Christ, I hate white people."
"Having an identity crisis? I think you need to look in the mirror."
"You know what I mean. I'd rather work the Projects. The brothers and sisters don't scream how they'll call some rich fuck on Bayou St. John if you scoop them. You know me. I spent too much time there being a narc."
"Yeah I get it ... you can't get any fashion tips from the debs Uptown, right?"
"Hey cap ... you don't gotta sprinkle any powdered sugar to bite my ass, okay?" When her giggles subsided, she launched into a rambling monologue of her invitations for a rare weekend off. "Toussaint invited everybody to go shrimping down in Delacroix ... the girls want to go see Irma Thomas ... the guys in Vice are gonna go shoot some possums and poach some ducks."
Suddenly Logan felt more depressed than ever. He had nothing to do, and certainly no one to drag along. He knew that possum-hunting and shrimping weren't on her mind; she wanted to be sitting on her wrought iron balcony, rocking her baby. There was no way he could bring himself to broach that subject any more. "Big time on the bayou, huh?"
"Well," she drawled, her voice wobbling, "the French Heritage Festival is this weekend. I might take my partner's kids there, and then drag them to the Riverwalk, or something. I miss you, Mike. I need to see you. If I can get just a couple of days?"
He hesitated. "Okay ... uh, I'll have to see what my schedule is. It's been crazy here lately."
Simone took a big swallow of tequila before a tentative, "Are you seeing someone else?'
His conscience burned with guilt. "No ... Christ, Simone. Of course not." Of course, a few nameless, drunken pickups could not qualify as "seeing." Not technically. "Why do you want to start that again?"
"I just wondered why I'm still here and you're still there."
"Because I told you," he said, voice grating with the irritation of deception, "there's a hiring freeze right now."
"And I told you to fuck the badge. I don't need it."
"And where would you be?" he exploded, furious at her cavalier attitude towards something she knew nothing about. "Some nice, ignorant Catholic girl selling candles in a fucking voodoo shop for the rest of her life, is all."
Simone bit her lip and fought to keep her voice steady. "I'm sorry. I got to go back to work, okay?"
You stupid bastard. "Simone, look ... I'm sorry. I --"
"I'll call you later. G'bye."
Logan was left staring at a dead receiver, which he promptly threw across the room. He should call her back and finally tell her the truth. He wasn't afraid that she would leave him; only a nuclear holocaust could cause that. Unlike everyone else, she still respected him and admired his ability to do the job. Yet there she was, with a 72 percent clearance rate, astonished by "nice" people who didn't kill for drugs.
All those years ago, when his Field Training Officer handed him the standard lines fed to every rookie, Logan never imagined that he would end up in the proverbial bonepile. He had done his job and stood by his friends in worse circumstances. Everyone wanted him to quit, that was certain. But more importantly, what did they expect? He could always bide his time, hoping eventually that bygones would be bygones.
Than what? Transferred to the Bronx?
Logan looked at the blue and gold embossed shield for a long time, wondering if the damn job was even worth keeping any more. Though the years, it had been difficult, exhilarating, and downright ugly. He loved his job, and knew that he was unfit for anything else. Yet the era of political correctness and sensitivity had destroyed the web of support that was ultimately the most important aspect of being blue. He thought of Simone and her friends, holding hands across the bar while the jukebox played "Stand by Me." True, her department might be corrupt, and her culture odd, but she and her colleagues knew that the most important thing behind the badge was loyalty.
Logan reached for the telephone. Even if he couldn't tell Simone the truth, he could at least help her with her homicide. For now, that was all he had left.