Being inspired, maybe – 64
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
I had no idea why I was sitting in a hotel room watching a construction site.
The briefing had intimated that a deal of some sort was expected between a known criminal and one of the foremen on the site, though no one was sure which one it was, or, in fact, what the deal was about.
I did say, when questions or comments were asked for, that they were hardly going to conduct their business out in the open, seeing it was close to freezing, and snow was falling off and on, but it was viewed with disdain.
The officer in charge, Ken Cursoff, seemed emphatic this was going to happen and had specifically asked that I and another officer be assigned to the task of conducting the surveillance.
The other officer, a rookie named Nadine, who I discovered was the Commissioner's daughter on a fast track, was basically being sidelined in what seemed to me to be a classic case of a senior officer making life difficult for a junior officer and this one in particular.
I could understand why I'd been assigned to this potential waste of time, but not her. She had recently been instrumental in the arrest of several wanted criminals who had outstanding warrants and she had been lucky enough to stumble across them.
Unless, of course, there was something more sinister in play. It was not unlikely there was a possible link between those criminals and Cursoff, but that rumour was being fuelled by his enemies, one of whom was the Commissioner himself.
At least we were warm in the room, and there was plenty of coffee and doughnuts on offer. It gave me a chance to consider whether or not she would make a good police officer, despite everything I'd heard about her.
Like any new colleague added to an already cohesive unit, there was always good and bad news. It seemed to me the real problem was for one main reason, she was the Commissioners daughter, and, in a time when there was an inquiry into possible police corruption, it was suspected she had been planted with us to report on the group, and quite possibly Cursoff himself.
She'd find out soon enough I was not corrupt, and maybe that I was not well regarded by either my peers or contemporaries. To improve that opinion would require being assigned to better investigations but that had not happened. Cursoff just didn't like me.
I was guessing that perhaps her one problem with getting better recognition was how she looked, which was more as a model rather than a policewoman. And the fact she looked like she wouldn't hurt a fly. In fact, it was the opinion of the ranking senior officers led by Cursoff himself that she would not get any respect from the criminal classes and hadn't when she made her recent arrests. Nut, on underestimating what she was capable of, they never knew what hit them, so it could be her secret weapon.
Other than that, she had treated me with the same disdain that Cursoff had, which I could have found annoying, but it was par for the course so I just ignored it.
"So, who did you piss off?" Not exactly the first line one would use to break the ice, but I was curious.
"Everyone apparently. Seems our fearless leader just doesn't like me."
Or, if I was not mistaken, it was also possible he had made a pass at her as he did with all the new female recruits, and those that passed the test were viewed more favourably than the others.
"Nor me, as you can see. At least here, it's warm and better than being outside."
I took another look through the binoculars, last sited on two workers working on the metal framework before the concrete was poured. They had headed for cover when the last snowfall came and had only just returned now it had almost stopped.
I did a quick sweep taking in other areas of the site, particularly at the front on the ground level, in case anyone arrived by car. Only a truck with more iron bars for the concrete framework had arrived and spurred the crane driver and the ground crew into action.
Several other men on the top level were getting a space ready for the incoming iron. Other than that nothing else was stirring.
"Outside is where the bad guys are. It's our job to catch them, try them, and throw them in jail. Anything other than that is a waste of time."
I turned to look at her. A fierce expression, a look that would deter many from getting in her way, myself included.
"So I'm guessing you missed surveillance 101 at the academy?"
"That was just a lot of pompous men relating their tales of courage and capture in what they called the good old days when you could beat a confession out of a suspect."
"Yes, those good old days. My father used to tell me about them, still does when I visit him."
Which I didn't much since my mother died. He had become very bitter, but none more so than his 'removal' from the force. He would not be impressed I was talking to the man who had facilitated his removal's daughter.
"So you're that Benoit?"
"Sadly, yes. According to my father, I'm not worthy of the name."
"Perhaps, then, you should consider doing something about that."
Good advice I would take on board, but circumstances were as always, against me.
Whilst I never believed in such things as a sixth sense, I did get premonition sometimes. Like some months ago when I was called put for a domestic dispute on a well to do neighbourhood, the moment I crossed the property line I got a shiver down my spine.
Not one to use a gun even though we were encouraged to do if the occasion warranted it, this time I pulled it out and had it ready in case it was needed. And, as it happened, I made to to the front door, open and displaying a terrified woman with her hands up. I called out just as the husband started shooting, and as soon as I had him in line of sight I gave him a warning, and with no response, I had to shoot.
Without that premonition we might all be dead, or, at the very least, injured. It certainly changed my perspective on handling domestic violence calls.
But, right now, after stepping away from the binoculars after another a week of the building site, I got the same shiver down my spine.
Something was not right.
Once again I found myself analysing why I'd been put on this detail with Nadine. My mind then unaccountable flipped back to when I arrived at the room, and the officers who had just finished setting up.
Plainclothes, but not the sort of men who looked like police officers. It had struck a chord at the time, but I put it down to the sort of men Cursoff attracted to his little fiefdom.
Now I was not so sure.
I stood back and took in the layout of the room. There was a clear line of sight from the door to the viewing point. I checked all of the positions along the window line and found the best one was further along towards the wall, but it was in a position where it couldn't be seen from the door.
I moved the tripod to the new position and did a scan. Yes, now I could see a spot near the front where there was both a part of a car and two men talking.
"What are you doing?"
Nadine had just looked up from reading her magazine. She had not once been interested in having a look.
"Checking different positions to change angles."
"Didn't you hear they set it up in the optimal position and all we had to do was keep our eyes open."
"Well I've got eyes on the target right now, and that wasn't going to happen where it was."
She leapt out of her chair tossing the magazine on the floor and pushed me aside.
"Bastards," she cursed. "We were not meant to see anything. Let's go."
Another, more predominant shiver down my spine told me that we'd been set up, and trouble was coming. I pulled out my gun and switched the safety off.
Nadine was about to open the door when there was a knocking sound, the type one would expect from room service.
I came partly around from my obscured position to see her yank the door open, and take two bullets, pushing her back into the room, followed by the entrance of the shooter aiming directly where the binoculars had been minutes before.
Three shots and a moment's hesitation, I shot him, and then his partner following him in. There was no time to ask questions.
There was no hope for Nadine, a cursory glance telling me if she wasn't dead already she soon would be, and I would be too if I hadn't moved. No doubt about it, Cursoff was getting rid of what he perceived as troublemakers.
I made sure his assassins were not going to add to their tally, and, after a last look, headed cautiously out the door, heading for the fire escape, making the assumption that Cursoff would believe in his men's ability to take Nadine and me out before we knew what hit us.
Cursoff was in for a surprise.
On the way down the 12 floors, I made the call to 911 reporting the shooting back in the room. Approaching the ground floor I slowed down and carefully took the last few steps in case Cursoff had taken precautions if either of us managed to escape.
I walked past the door to go down the next level, planning on leaving the building by the basement when I heard the door open.
At the top of the steps, I stopped and turned around.
"If you want something done," he said, "it seems you have to it yourself."
"Your men took care of Nadine. Was I supposed to be collateral damage."
"Or the blame for her death."
Cursoff had his gun in his hand, but hadn't raised it. Perhaps he thought I was no match for him.
"Who's going to tell the commissioner about his daughter?"
"I will. It'll be a very sorry story about how one of my officers was in league with the gang whose members Nadine arrested recently. Payback."
"Perhaps not. Maybe he'll want to hear the truth."
"Who's going to tell him?"
I raised my gun and squeezed off the mandatory three-shot kill spread. I watched his expression change from smug disbelief, and seconds later utter surprise as he fell to the floor.
A few seconds passed while my ears adjusted after the very loud bangs of bullets being fired before I realised Corsoffs backup would be on its way.
I stepped over the body muttering, "me, asshole, I'm going to tell him the truth," before heading down to the basement, and out the car park exit at the rear of the building.
Then, once I was clear, I called the commissioner.
© Charles Heath 2019