I made my way up the steps to the same doors I’d walked through thousands of times before. I stood aside as a couple of officers manhandled a six foot four, bearded guy in a cocktail dress into the station. I could tell from the language he was using that he was no lady. And from what he was suggesting the two cops did to each other, it was pretty clear he didn’t have much of a grasp of biology either. The sound of insults and high heels blended into the general noise of the station as I approached the desk.
“Well, well, well. Mr Able! How the devil are you?”
Seargant Pat O’Halloran beamed at me from over the desk. He’s your typical genial Irishman. The genial part is true, but no member of his family had been anywhere near the Emerald Isle for at least seventy five years. This didn’t stop him talking with a pronounced Ballymena accent. At least that’s what he told everybody it was. When he’d had a couple of drinks, it tended to drift about five thousand miles west...
“Hi Sarge, I’m fine. How you doing?”
“Protecting and serving, Chuck. Protecting and serving. So. Come to aid the finest precinct in New York?”
“I’m hoping they can aid me, actually.” I said, lowering my voice. “Just need to do a bit of research. In and out in half and hour?”
“I never saw you.” said the Sarge, pressing the button to allow me through the barrier and sliding a badge across the desk.
I danced a waltz through a crowded corridor of cops, crooks and civvies as I made my way down to the Archive.
We did the imperceptible nod of the head / tight lipped smile thing that passes for greetings amongst most men.
“On a job?”
“Not today. Just picking up something I left here last week”
I’d trust the Sarge with my last bottle of malt, but I figured it was sensible to keep the advertising to a minimum. I did my best to blend into the background.
“ABLE! GET IN HERE!”
Ok. So a chameleon I ain’t.
I walked into the Captain’s office looking for the source of the bellowing. It looked even worse than usual, if that was possible. The desk was piled high with papers. It wasn’t just the desk though. The filing tray had given up the ghost years ago, and now any flat surface seemed to have a dusty stack of reports, files, letters and memos. They stood on the floor all round the desk, making it look like a paper iceberg adrift on a sea of musty green carpet.
On the wall was a picture of a proud, eager young officer in dress uniform. An older, grumpier, red-faced version, chewing on an unlit cigar, suddenly appeared from over the top of the papers on the desk. I turned and followed his eyeline out to the corridor. How the hell had he seen me? He couldn’t even see the door!
“Close the door and sit down.” he barked.
I moved a stack of papers off the chair and put them on the floor. The pile teetered for a moment, like a drunk getting off a barstool, carried on the analogy and slid gracefully across the carpet. Fortunately it blended in nicely with the rest of the mess in the room. I sat down.
“Able. I thought I told you to come in here last week?”
Ok, I’d figured maybe he just wanted to invite me for cocktails on Friday night - I guess not.
“Sorry Cap - been kinda busy. Musta slipped my mind.” I said to the pile of closed case files.
“Busy? If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m still twenty men short thanks to those clowns down at City Hall you wouldna had to get out of bed since June!”
“Now listen up!” His voice fell. “I’ve got a job for you.”
“Like I said, Cap, I’m kind of busy at the moment.”
Fifteen minutes later I left his office and headed for the archive. If my mind had been ticking over when I walked into the station, now it was in top gear with the throttle jammed wide open...
o o o o o