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Book Jacket

0800759613
Trade Paperback
320 pages
Sep 2005
Revell

The Crossroads

by F.P. Lione

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

1

On December 31, the Crossroads of the World become the Center of the Universe as the eyes of the planet look to Times Square when the old year ends and the new year begins. Over the years millions of people have come from all over the globe to witness the brilliant spectacle that only happens in New York City. A billion others watch by television as an illuminated ball is dropped from the top of One Times Square, at the most famous intersection on earth, as the deafening cheers of the wild crowds below greet the new year.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square is controlled chaos. Roughly eight thousand cops keep between five hundred thousand and a million people under control because we corral them like livestock behind police barricades.

The New Year’s event is a culmination of input from the mayor’s office all the way down to the garbage pickup. Dick Clark, the celebrities, and the performers make the whole thing look effortless, but it’s not. What goes on behind the scenes is very different from what you see on your television. There’s a lot that goes into the annual celebration, and before the last piece of confetti is swept up by Sanitation on New Year’s Day, it’s already on the planning tables for the following year.

My name is Tony Cavalucci, and this is my tenth year as a New York City cop. It is my eleventh year working New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I went into the Academy in June and was assigned my first New Year’s Eve in Times Square six months into my career. The first time I worked it, I was a rookie just starting my FTU or Field Training Unit. FTU is where you go when you first get out of the Academy and before you’re assigned to a precinct. I had graduated in December, worked Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and then spent my first six months at the FTU in Coney Island. I got assigned to the precinct in Midtown Manhattan right before my second New Year’s Eve.

At my first New Year’s Eve, I was posted at a barrier on 40th Street and 7th Avenue with instructions not to let anyone into Times Square. Since I was green and had no idea what to expect, I spent most of the night at Bellevue getting stitched up after I was hit in the head with a bottle. Had I been assigned inside Times Square, whoever tossed it would have already been searched and the bottle would have been confiscated.

Last year I was fortunate to be on the job at a time when I could count off a year, a decade, a century, and a millennium all in one night, and be part of the history that started nearly a century ago.

On December 31, 1904, Adolph Ochs, the new publisher of the New York Times, hung the first ball on top of One Times Square. A rooftop fireworks display at midnight celebrated the completion of the Times building and the renaming of Long-acre Square to Times Square. The first illuminated ball was dropped from One Times Square in 1907. Except for two years during World War II, when the people gathered in the dark to listen by loudspeaker, it has been celebrated that way ever since. Long ago, when it was a “gentlemen only” celebration, men came here on New Year’s Eve in their finest evening clothes and rang in the New Year with merrymaking and order.

By this time next week I’d be crawling on my hands and knees looking for bombs under parked cars in some parking garage in Times Square, because nowadays some people like their merrymaking with explosives and large crowds.

But now it was the night before Christmas Eve, and I was standing in the muster room, the thirty-by-thirty-foot room where roll call takes place. I was taking the last hit off my cigarette and waiting for my partner, Joe Fiore, to come up from the locker room.

Garcia, a cop from my squad, was standing in front of the shoe-polishing machine that said “Club Members Only.” He was lighting the can of shoe polish on fire to soften up the wax. He put the top back on the can to put the flame out. He waited a minute, then opened it back up and smeared some on his shoes. I heard the revolving brushes of the shoe-polishing machine thumping as he shined his shoes.

I picked up a copy of the New York Post, thankful that the headline didn’t have anything to do with the recent presidential election. After six weeks of the New York papers having a field day with the state of Florida and the Supreme Court’s duking it out over the voting numbers, it was time to move on to something else. The papers were relentless, and every day headlines like “Florida Fiasco,” “Gore Loser,” and “Sissy Al’s Going Down Kicking and Screaming” were plastered across the front page. They seemed to be having the most fun with Al Gore, and we were all sick of hearing about it. The headline “No End in Sight” said what we were all thinking—enough already.

I was almost glad to see the paper picking on the cops again, and I scanned an article about low morale among the NYPD. The police commissioner says the low morale is overstated, but morale is on the rise. Yeah, right. The veteran cops say that morale began to nose-dive back in 1995 when a two-year wage freeze slapped us in the face, followed by two of the worst scandals the department has ever seen.

I leaned my back against the doorway and stepped away, wondering if I had dirt on my back now. I put the paper back in the radio room, trying to brush off my back as I walked. It’s not that the precinct is dirty. In fact, I could still detect the faint smell of pine from the floor recently being mopped, but I doubt they ever wash the walls.

It looked like someone had tried to spruce the place up a little by putting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree at the entrance of the muster room. The tree was leaning precariously toward the radio room, and only every other light was lit. Someone was having a little fun with the decorations, and I leaned in to get a closer look.

There was toilet paper garland—someone had taken a roll and wound it around the tree. A bitten donut was pushed on the top of it in place of a star. It looked like a chocolate-covered Entenmann’s to me. A 28, the form we fill out to ask for time off, was pushed through one of the branches. It was a request for Christmas Day off from one of the day tour cops, and “Denied” was written across it in red magic marker. About four condoms in their wrappers were taped to the bottom branches with white adhesive tape. I laughed out loud at a Polaroid of Mike Rooney glued onto a green piece of construction paper cut into a wreath. The picture was of Mike Rooney asleep on one of the benches down in the lounge. Someone had written “Insert here,” with an arrow pointing to Rooney’s mouth.

“Where do they get this stuff?” I heard Fiore’s voice beside me.

I turned and shook his hand, and he pulled me in for a hug like he always does, slapping my back in affection. “Sneaking up on me?” I smiled.

I’ve worked with Joe since last June when my old partner, John Conte, was injured and needed knee surgery. When Fiore became my partner six months ago, I had been on a downward spiral from too much drinking and too much time alone. He stood by me through a dark time and brought me into his life and his church. I’ve learned a lot from him in the last few months about God, and we’ve become as close as brothers.

“Finish your shopping?” Joe asked.

“Just about. I have to pick up Michele’s earrings in the morning,” I said, then added, “You didn’t tell Donna what I got Michele, did you?”

“What are we, in high school?” He shook his head. “Donna’s not gonna tell her what she got for Christmas.”

Donna is Joe’s wife, and Michele is a friend of Donna’s. Last summer I met Michele at Joe’s house, not impressed with anything but her legs. She didn’t seem my type, no makeup, no long nails, no big hair. I met her again at Joe’s church and took a second look. She leaned more to a classic type, refined I guess you’d call her. I didn’t realize I liked that kind of woman. Looking back, I think I just didn’t have much exposure to women outside of happy hour and turtle races. Michele has a little boy, Stevie, who is four and a half, but she’s never been married. She’s thirty-three, a school teacher, and pretty much everything I’ve been looking for in a woman.

“How ’bout you? You get everything you need?” Joe had been shopping a lot at the Toys R Us in Times Square. He’s got three kids, two boys and a baby girl, so he did a lot of the shopping to give Donna a break.

“I’m done,” he said with feeling. “Now all we have to do is wrap it.”

Sergeant Hanrahan gave the fall in order from the podium in the muster room.

“The color of the day is green,” he said, indicating the citywide color that plainclothes officers would use to identify themselves if stopped by uniformed officers. Knowing the color of the day would keep them from getting shot when they went to reach for their badge.

Our precinct is made up of different sectors. Port Authority, Penn Station, Times Square, the garment district, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Grand Central, 34th Street, part of the theater district, and 42nd between 7th and 8th (“the Deuce”). Each sector handles a piece of this.

He gave out the sectors without looking up.

“Garcia.”

“Here.”

“Davis.”

“Here.”

“Adam-Boy, 1883, four o’clock meal.” That designated their sector, the number of the RMP they’d be driving, and their meal hour.

He went through Charlie-Frank, which is McGovern and O’Brien, and David-George, which is me and Fiore, without incident. When he got to Eddie-Henry, Connelly answered “here,” but Rooney bellowed “Yo,” causing the boss to raise an eyebrow. The boss moved on to the foot posts, robbery posts, and the substation, and ended the sectors by speaking to Noreen Casey, his driver.

“Casey, 2455, four o’clock meal. Nor, make sure you grab me a radio,” he said.

John Quinn from the four-to-twelve was bringing in a collar, a drunk and disorderly we could hear yelling before he even got in the door.

“Who do you think you are?” his collar bellowed. “Do you know who I am?”

“I don’t care who you are,” Quinn answered in a bored, tired voice.

“Lou, this guy’s hammered,” Quinn said as he stopped at the desk. “Do you mind if I just take him in the back?” He was pulling the guy in backward by his cuffs.

“I pay your salary!” the drunk said, inviting a whole slew of comments from the roll call.

“I want a raise.”

“So you’re the guy holding back our pay increase!”

“This job sucks!”

Quinn ignored this, taking the drunk back toward the metal gated door. The lou buzzed him in, and he went back toward the cells.

The boss ignored the heckling from the ranks as he went into “It’s been brought to my attention that there’s been some congregating on the front steps before the day tour finishes roll call.”

“Oh, here we go,” someone groaned from the back of the room.

Hanrahan held up his hand. “Apparently the CO came in early and saw ten to fifteen guys gathered on the front steps of the station house.”

“Oh, gimme a break,” Rooney yelled.

“I know.” The boss nodded in understanding. “Just do us all a favor and stay around the block until the day tour is done with roll call. We don’t want to bring attention to ourselves, especially if the CO comes in early.”

Hanrahan finished up with “Be careful, there’s probably gonna be some late-night Christmas parties, and there’ll be drunks spilling into the streets. It’s gonna be busy out there, all the stores are open late for the last-minute shoppers.”

I walked over to the radio room, surprised to see Vince Puletti working. He had enough time on not to be working Christmas week.

“Hey, Vince, whatcha doing here?” I asked as we shook hands. He had big beefy hands and a big pot belly. His bald head was mottled with age spots, and over the last few months he’d been out sick a lot.

“Ah, tonight’s my last night. I’ll be here for Christmas, then I’ll be in Florida for ten days.” He could use the sun, he was looking kind of pasty. He had been having some problems with his stomach and some chest pain. At first they thought he was having a heart attack, then they said it was some kind of hernia.

“Feeling okay?” I asked, concerned.

“Yeah, don’t worry about me, Tony. I’m too mean to die,” he said, not looking mean at all.

“Just don’t work too hard,” I said as I pointed the antenna of my radio at him.

“You can count on it.”

“Hey, Tony,” he called as I turned.

“Yeah?” I looked back at him.

He gave me a “come here” signal with his hand.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“You still on the wagon?” he whispered.

“Yup,” I nodded.

“How long has it been?”

“About five months,” I said. He looked like he was thinking.

“Is there a bet going?” I asked dryly.

He held up his hands, “Mike Rooney only gave you two weeks. Me, I said you could do six months.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Vince.” I shook my head as I walked away.

I stopped by the front desk, where Fiore was talking to the sarge.

“Hey, Joe, Tony, Boss,” Nick Romano said as he came out of the muster room. Romano’s a rookie that Fiore and I look out for. We drive him to post and have coffee with him, and teach him all the little things that nobody taught us. We only do it because his father was killed in the line of duty, otherwise we would antagonize him like we do the rest of the rookies.

“Can you give me a ride to post?” he asked. His hair, which had been spiked and bleached white at the tips over the summer, was now dark again, cut short, with just a little spike in it.

“Romano,” Rice and Beans from the four-to-twelve called. They came in as we were leaving. “Can you do me a favor?” Beans asked. “Central gave us a job about thirty seconds ago for a dispute at 705 8th Avenue, a couple of guys are arguing over there.” The dispute was at an Irish pub across from the Milford Plaza. Central stands for Central Communications, those phantom voices that transmit our jobs from the 911 operators. Central’s operators each work one division made up of three commands. When 911 gets a call, they dispatch it to Central, who transmits it to us.

“Sure, no problem, that’s my post. I’ll check it out when I get up there,” Romano said, writing it down in his book.

“We’ll drop you off up there and back you up,” Fiore told Romano.

We walked out to the RMP, which stands for Radio Motor Patrol, or sector car. It was cold out, in the low thirties and expected to dip down into the twenties overnight. It was sunny this morning, but clouds had started to come in and we were expecting some snow showers in the morning.

We drove up 8th Avenue, holding off getting coffee until we answered the dispute.

“How long were you on the job before you got Christmas off?” Romano asked from the backseat.

“Don’t expect it anytime soon,” I said, lighting a cigarette.

I pulled up in front of the bar. It was an older bar, smoked glass front window, white brick face. I’ve been here before; they get a big lunch crowd that comes in for the five-buck buffet. It’s an all-you-can-eat deal, and they put out a spread of corned beef and cabbage, roast beef, turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. They also have shepherd’s pie and a pretty good potato soup.

The food draws the crowds, mostly construction workers, but the place makes its money on booze. It’s quick and easy to get your food, leaving the rest of your lunch hour to drink. I’ve seen guys scoff down a plate of food and drink six shots of whiskey to wash it down.

The tinted window with the big shamrock on the front kept us from seeing inside. I took a last drag off my cigarette, tossing it into the street. We opened the front door into a small hallway with wood paneling. We walked into the bar through an inside wooden door with a glass cutout.

A small Christmas tree was perched on a table in the corner in front of us. Three small tables were in front of the window, and a twenty-foot bar ran along the wall. Christmas lights were strung along the bar and around the window. To the left was an open area with a stainless steel buffet counter, now long since cleaned up from lunch.

Leftover food smells, cigarette smoke, and booze hung in the air. Past the buffet counter and up to the kitchen door were wooden tables with wooden chairs pushed in and out at odd angles. A couple of chairs were overturned, and the floor was wet.

Toward the end of the bar we saw two men. One was in a Grinch costume, the other in a Santa Claus suit. They were pummeling each other on the floor of the bar. Beside one of the barstools, the head to the Grinch costume was lying on its side on the floor. Even in the dark bar, the face on the Grinch mask looked strange—small droopy eyes and thick black eyebrows sewn on, giving it a maniacal look.

Santa’s hat and beard were on the bar next to a glass of beer and an empty shot glass. A pack of Kools was next to the red hat, and one was smoking in the ashtray.

The bartender in his white apron was standing with his hands on his hips, watching them scuffle. Three or four people sat at the bar, giving little interest to the drama around them.

“Good!” the bartender yelled in his Irish brogue. “Now the cops are here to take your sorry hides to the slammer.”

Romano went toward them, and I grabbed him by the jacket. “Whoa, let’s let them tire themselves out a little before you separate them.” It’s been my experience that it’s smart to let them run out of steam a little so if they throw you a punch, there’s not much force in it.

“These guys stand up on 42nd Street and take pictures with the tourists,” Romano remarked.

When we got within about five feet of them, we could smell the sweat mixed with beer. Santa looked like a harmless old man, somewhere in his sixties. His black patent leather belt was broken, hanging open around his waist. The white trim on his Santa suit was now black from the dirt on the floor, and when he rolled over he had a foot print on his back. His face was blotchy where he took some punches, his left eye was swollen, and his lip was split and bleeding.

The Grinch had gotten the best of Santa; aside from a couple of choke marks on his neck and a knot over his eye, he looked okay. He was younger than Santa, heavyset with dark brown hair that was sweaty and disheveled. The Grinch’s suit was torn at the collar, revealing a white thermal shirt underneath. His hand was cut, probably from the broken glass on the floor.

“Alright, guys, it’s over now,” I said as I grabbed the Grinch. Fiore came up next to me in case the Grinch started to swing again.

“Nick, grab Santa,” I said to Romano.

“I’m not gonna lock up Santa,” Romano said, looking horrified.

“We can’t leave him here,” I pointed out.

“I want them both out of here!” the bartender shouted. “They’ve been fighting all night.”

I still had my gloves on, and when I grabbed the Grinch to cuff him, my hold was slippery on his wet fur. He smelled like a wet dog that’d been rolling in beer.

“When was the last time you washed this thing?” I asked the Grinch, wrinkling my face in distaste.

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug.

Nick was standing next to Santa, making no move to cuff him. “Nick, cuff Santa,” I said. “We’ll sort this out at the precinct.”

“Great, I locked up Santa,” Romano said miserably.

“And the Grinch,” Joe added, holding the more docile Santa’s arm in back of him while Romano put the cuffs on him.

At this point the Grinch was breathing heavy, looking at Santa menacingly. He pulled away from me and screamed, “I’ll kill you!” as he threw himself at Santa.

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” I said dryly. “Now leave Santa alone.” He hocked some spit at Santa, catching him on the front of his furry red jacket. I whipped him around. “If you spit at him again, I’m gonna put your mask back on you and you can spit on yourself.” He looked at me defiantly and spit on Santa again. I sighed and walked over to the Grinch head, pulling it a little roughly onto his head.

“He took my money!” he said. It sounded muffled under the mask, but I could hear what he was saying.

“Shut up!” I said, “Look at me.” I pulled on his cuffs to pull his stare away from Santa. I couldn’t see where his eyes were through the mask and looked in the general direction of his face. “Did you see him take your money?”

“No, but I had a twenty on the bar.”

“So anybody could have taken it. You probably drank yourself through it and don’t remember,” I said. The mask was giving him a deranged look. The eyes on the mask were nothing more than two slits and left him looking like he just shot heroin or something.

Joe got the information from the bartender: name, address, phone number, and a brief summary of what happened. Then he picked up Santa’s beard, holding it up to let the beer drip off it. He got Santa his red hat and cigarettes, and we marched them out to the RMP.

We put Romano in the backseat, crushing him between Santa and the Grinch.

“Ah come on, these two stink!” Romano said with disgust. “Why do drunks always wet their pants?” Joe and I laughed at him but rolled down the windows in the back. “You’re gonna clean that backseat, Nick,” I yelled toward the back. “I’m not smelling that all night.”

“Nick, what post you got?” Fiore asked him, calling Central.

“Robbery Post 4,” Romano said.

Fiore gave Central Romano’s post and told them he had two under, meaning two arrests. He asked them to have a bus (ambulance) meet us at the station house. Better to have these guys looked at—the last thing we needed was to have Santa Claus die while in custody.

Vince Puletti started laughing as soon as we walked through the front doors of the precinct. “I guess the Grinch made the naughty list!” he cackled, cracking himself up.

Terri Marks, an old-timer, was working the desk tonight. She’s got about eighteen years on and is probably somewhere in her midforties. Because she was inside, she had no vest on. She had a winter tan. She goes to a tanning salon regularly, sunning herself into a piece of leather. She has these piercing blue eyes, almost silver really, and her hair is dyed a dull red. I hear eighteen years ago she was gorgeous, but she looks like a hair bag now.

She kept her face impassive as we walked over to the desk. We caught Lieutenant Coughlin by surprise. He peered over the top of his glasses, then put his head down and snorted. He looked up again, straight-faced.

“Whaddaya got, Romano?”

“I got assault three on both Santa and the Grinch,” Romano said nervously. When he saw the lou looking at Santa, he added, “We got a bus coming to the house.”

“Sure,” the lou looked at Joe and me. “We don’t want Santa sick for Christmas.”

“He stole my money!” the Grinch insisted, mumbling the words.

“Uh,” Romano stammered, “the Grinch said Santa stole his money off the bar.”

I saw the look of distaste on the lou’s face as he caught a whiff of these two.

“What’s with the mask on the Grinch?” he asked, eyeing the mask suspiciously.

“He’s a spitter,” I said.

“Take them in the back and keep them separated. Then come back out and do the pedigree sheet.” He sighed, then added, “Search them good and see if Santa has any of those magic corn kernels that make the reindeers fly. My wife’s got a cat I want to get rid of.”

“Nick?” Terri Marks said seriously as Romano started toward the cells. “For the pedigree sheet, what do we got, the North Pole and Who-ville?”

“Come on, Nick, I’ll help you get them to the back,” Fiore said.

While Joe went back to the cells with Nick, I took some alcohol pads and wiped down the backseat of our car. Fiore came out, and we stopped on the corner of 35th and 9th to get some coffee.

While I was paying for our coffee, I heard Central give us a job on 35th Street between Broadway and 7th. It had come over as a 10-22, past larceny from an auto.

We drove out, heading east to the back of Macy’s where their loading dock is located. Three empty trailers were backed up into the loading dock bays behind the store.

There was a woman talking on her cell phone, waving us down. She flipped her phone shut and walked toward our car. I pulled up behind the car she was standing next to, a black Porshe that was parked on the south side of 35th Street. Joe radioed Central, telling them we were 84, on the scene.

She was wearing a fur coat that came to about her ankles. I could see black high heels and stockings sticking out under the fur coat. She was a cool blonde, probably midforties with that well-kept look rich women have.

“Somebody broke into my car. He broke the window and took my presents,” she said, indicating the driver’s side window that was missing.

I took out my flashlight as I walked over to the car. I shone the light inside the car. In the passenger seat I saw the porcelain part of a spark plug used to break the window.

The woman was looking at us like we could do something about her stolen packages.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas in Midtown are packed with people. As Christmas gets closer, shoppers and perps compete to buy or steal those last-minute gifts. Perps make the most of the season by doing some shopping as they watch unsuspecting consumers relieve themselves of their heavy packages, put them in their cars, and go back to shop some more. Then the perps usually use the spark plug to gain access to the gifts—the porcelain part is heavy enough to break any window, and you just can’t find rocks on the streets of Manhattan. The perps stand a couple of feet away from the car and throw the spark plug as hard as they can at the window, shattering it in one easy move. Then they help themselves to all the gifts and bags people are stupid enough to leave in the backseat of their car. After that, the perps use the latch inside the car to pop the trunk and make off with all the really good stuff the complainant didn’t want anyone to walk by and see in the car.

“How long has the car been here?” I asked.

“I came out about forty-five minutes ago and put the packages in the car. I forgot the table linens I needed, so I ran back into Macy’s about a quarter to twelve.” She held up a brown shopping bag. “I have the linens, but all my presents are gone,” she said with a disgusted sigh. “I was so glad to get back in the store before they closed. I would have had the table linens and the presents finished.” She shook her head, “They were already wrapped.”

I looked at my watch, it was now 12:30. “How long ago did you call?”

“About fifteen minutes ago.”

“Whoever it was, they’re long gone.” I said, looking into the car.

The glove compartment was open and a gum wrapper was on the seat, along with small pieces of glass from the shattered window.

“Not much glass in here,” I looked back at her.

“I brushed most of it out of the car already,” she said. I looked down to see glass on the street in between the curb and the car. I was wearing gloves so I wouldn’t cut my hands. I brushed the rest of it out, picking up a couple of pieces in the console. I picked up the gum wrapper and she said, “And he helped himself to my gum too.”

“Does your insurance company cover the contents of the car?” Fiore asked.

“I don’t know.” She rubbed her forehead. “Now I have to shop all over again. I had it all wrapped already, and now I have to do it again,” she repeated. “I’m having thirty guests for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow, and I don’t have time for this.” She turned to Joe. “He took the book to my Porshe, the one you keep in the glove compartment. What is he going to do with that?”

“Maybe a souvenir,” Joe said with a shrug. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

“What are you doing out so late? Couldn’t you finish this in the morning?” I asked her. I know she had to shop, but this was a dark and desolate street; you’d think she’d know better.

“I wanted to finish all my shopping so I could concentrate on dinner tomorrow.” She rubbed her forehead again and asked, “Are you going to dust for fingerprints?”

I’m glad I didn’t laugh and say, “Not for this, lady.” They weren’t coming out for a smash and grab.

Joe said diplomatically, “We’d have to see if someone from the evidence collection unit who is latent print qualified is working.”

“How soon can they be here?” she asked.

“It would take a while. Unless you’re willing to wait here for a few hours and have powder all over your car, maybe you should check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered. How much was in there?” Joe asked. “If it’s only a couple of hundred dollars in gifts that you’re probably not gonna get back anyway, it’s not worth having your car dusted for prints.”

She shook her head. “I can’t believe I have to do this again.”

“Thank God it’s stuff you can replace,” Joe said. “Do you have your receipts?”

“Some of them—the rest were in the bags.”

“We’ll do a report,” I told her. “Then when you get a list for the rest of the items from your credit card bills, you can come down to the precinct and add them on. Did you use a credit card to buy the gifts?”

She nodded, “Yes.”

We took her info, she gave us an Upper East Side address and a list of the receipts she had on her.

“Thank you for your help, officers,” she said, smiling. “Merry Christmas.”

“No problem,” I said. “Merry Christmas to you too.”

We got back in the car, and a job came over from South Adam for a robbery in progress.

“South Adam to Central,” South Adam radioed.

“Go ahead, South Adam,” Central responded.

“I have a pickup of a 30, West 38th and 6th, happened two to three minutes in the past. We’re looking for a dark-skinned male Hispanic in a camouflage army jacket with a hood. Suspect armed with a machete, last seen 6th Avenue and 38th.”

A 30 is a robbery in progress, and 38th Street was three blocks from where we were. I smiled and raised my eyebrows at Fiore as I turned the car around. I pulled into one of the empty bays of the loading dock, threw my lights on, and drove the wrong way on 35th Street, toward Broadway.