(This blog is dedicated to the writing and telling of a crime novel, bit by bit, to fit the readers’ busy schedule.  The opening chapter is located on the July 16th post, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), easily navigated to in the Archive section, on the left-hand column.  If you’re up to speed, through all the proceeding sequential postings, we begin a new chapter below.)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxvii )
     The group of teen-aged boys headed east on 96th Street towards Central Park. A nucleus of only five players near Riverside Drive, they grew in number with each block traveled.
     “I’m open!” one yelled, as he darted out between parked cars onto the asphalt in a sprint. The football spiraled high overhead and well in front of him. His arm stretched forward in full extension. The strain on his shoulder socket caused his long guttural groan in response to the burning pain, while still in full gallop. His knuckles were white; fingers fully spread open.
     With one last thrust of his arm, he pulled in the single- handed grab on a dead run. He held the ball up high and proceeded to celebrate with a dance that was a combination Michael Jackson moonwalk, and the Funky Chicken. This brought trash talk from the others, and horns from traffic on this main thoroughfare.
     The group had an unspoken but rigidly kept protocol, which included a rotation in duties. This allowed them to warm up for the game while traveling; like a band of helter- skelter nomads, as they progressed to the green fields of the Park. The player with the ball was the quarterback, and would launch the next missile into the street. One was a lookout, checking for gaps in traffic. The others blindly placed their lives in his hands, as he would yell ‘OK’, and signal a chance for the them to sprint down the pavement; all eyes skyward, as they searched for a spiraling pigskin, oblivious to the tons of motorized vehicles that sped their way in both directions. Whoever caught the ball became the next passer, while the last QB became the spotter.
     “Oh!” the current ball keeper shouted, as he took on the role of his own sportscaster, “Bayberry fades back to the twenty- five yard line, looking down the field!”
     “OK,” yelled the former QB, now in his spotter role, having checked the street both ways.
     This gave cue to the others, who sprinted down the street with arms raised for the pass. The boy let the ball loose. Four would- be receivers collided in midair. The ball deflected off their hands and plopped into the chest of another player, outside the fray of intermingled bodies. Once again, the obligatory gyrations were performed, as everyone dashed to the safety of the sidewalks, responding to the blaring horns and cursing drivers.
     This ritual continued down the street as the number of participants grew to over twenty. 96th came alive through the adolescent energy radiating from them. Locals on the lower floors of the apartment towers stared from open windows, as if watching a human pinball machine on steroids. They responded with whistles and applause to the extraordinary feats of skill, while silently praying the ball wouldn’t end up on the hoods of their cars.
     Every Saturday afternoon the scenario repeated. Over the years, the only change was younger brothers replacing their older siblings, now retired from the pickup game.
     Becker steered onto 96th Street. He turned to Terrance in the passenger seat; his partner ever- trying to get comfortable.
     “You never mentioned how Parker’s practice went,” he said.
     “What’s this guy’s address?” Terrance asked.
     Becker started to fumble for the paper in his jacket side pocket.
     “Well?” Becker pressed.
     Terrance smiled, “Very positive outlook,” he said, “he can only get better.”
     They both started laughing and Becker looked down at his right side. He started adjusting his seat belt to free up the bottom of his jacket to get to the pocket, which was pinned between his leg and the belt.
     There was a sudden thud at the front of the car and Becker slammed on the brakes. Looking forward the pair saw the group, no longer hyperactive. They stood scattered and motionless, like remnant tree trunks of a burnt forest.
     “I’ll handle it,” Terrance said. He flung open the door and exited.
     Becker watched as all heads rose skyward in unison; jaws dropped, faces showed a mixture of awe and fear. Terrance walked to the front of the car and bent down to look underneath. The ball was wedged between the bumper’s skirt and the street. He yanked it free, then stood up.
     “Who’s ball is this?” he roared, doing his best Voice of God imitation. The boys reciprocated, and became pillars of salt.
     Two cars were now behind the Cobra and started to beep. Becker rolled down his side window, took his shield out of his shirt pocket, then held the gold badge straight out in his left hand, facing the cars.
     “Well?!” Terrance’s bark reverberated down the street.
      Damn T, you’re scaring me now, Becker thought.
     “It’s mine, sir,” came a feeble reply.
     Terrance saw the boy slowly raise his hand. The youth was smaller than his cohorts, and Terrance got the notion that ownership of the game ball played a large part for his inclusion in the group.
     “I’m real sorry,” came the mousy whisper.
     Dead Silence.
     “Huh!” Terrance finally grunted.
     “Jesus, they’re gonna be pissing themselves in a minute,” Becker said, loud enough for Terrance’s ears.
     Terrance struck the quarterback pose, arm cocked with the ball at the side of his head.
     “Well go long, big man,” he shouted.
     The boy took off down the street, his companions giving way. Terrance heaved the ball and it fluttered into the boy’s waiting arms. Cheers came from the windows of the onlookers, and honks came from the cars of rubber- necks, who had slowed down on the other side of the boulevard, wondering what the fuss was all about.. Terrance got back into the Shelby.
     “Well…how’s that?” he asked. Becker smiled, shifting back into first gear and easing up on the clutch.
     “Seeing that pass,” Becker said, “I now know why you were a defensive lineman.”
     “Funny, Mase. Oh, before I forget, Lana asked you come for dinner tomorrow.”
     “What’s she making?”
     “She’s not cooking, it’s on me.”
     “So…pizza or Chinese?”
     “I beg your pardon. I’ll be serving chicken Cordon Bleu with asparagus tips and a mild hollandaise. What’s the address on this guy?”
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