Posts Tagged ‘inner courage’

(Some time has passed, so here’s another big chunk in the story.  Anybody new to this site, please go into the Archives and click on the July 16th posing, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1) to begin this crime novel work in progress.  For those up to speed, let’s finish cooking.  Thanks for dropping by.)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxviii ) continues…
     Terrance opened the packages of ham and swiss cheese, picked up his beer and took a long swig, smacking his lips as he set the bottle down on the counter.
      “Here’s the sequence-” he said, “we take a piece of chicken, and top it with a slice of each.” He took a flattened breast from the stack, then placed the ham and the swiss slices on its center to demonstrate. “Then we roll it up, and Parker, you put a toothpick through each end and one in the middle, to hold it together.” He took one end of the chicken then rolled the slab around itself and the inner slices tightly, holding it in place. Parker began to insert each toothpick as if he were performing major surgery.
      “Don’t need to be fancy, Park,” Terrance chuckled, “we want to eat this while we’re still young.”
      Toothpicks in place, Terrance picked up a two- tined carving fork. He took one of the platters on the countertop and placed it next to the bowl of flour. He stuck the fork into the chicken roll, then placed the piece into the bowl holding eggs and milk. “Just swish it like this until it’s covered, hold it up and let the excess drip off.” He moved to the last step, “Finally, put it in the flour, take the spoon and sprinkle it over the top. And, like so,” Terrance said. He took the coated piece and placed it on the platter, then held it down with his index finger, and pulled out the fork, “you are done. Think you got the idea, gents?”
      Parker gave the ‘thumbs up’, Becker took a long swallow of the Grey Goose. “Will do,” he said.
      “Then have at it,” Terrance said and crossed to the stove, poured the canola oil into the skillet about a half- inch deep, then turned the gas jet below it to high flame.
      Becker and Parker were laughing, fumbling along with what Terrance had made look so simple. Occasionally they would get sidetracked by the commentator on the TV describing the action of the game, and would pause to watch an instant replay. Terrance took the flour bag back to the pantry and returned with a sack of Tostitos, tossing them onto the counter under the microwave. He went to the fridge and removed a package of shredded, Mexican- blend cheeses and a large bottle of salsa, then opened an upper cabinet door and took out four plates and four small bowls. All these were placed with the chips. Parker watched his father through the corner of his eye, while he worked with Becker. He liked visitors at the house. Snacks that were usually off- limits became fair game when his parents entertained.
      Terrance pulled a long set of tongs from the caddy and began to set the completed chicken rolls into the skillet. Each piece sizzled as it made contact with the hot oil, and the smell reminded Terrance of weekend visits home, back from college, and family dinners his mother prepared.
      He flipped the rolls in the liquid, their bottom portions now golden brown and crispy. He went and pulled off another long stretch of paper towel and folded it in half twice, then laid it down on the counter, in the space between the cookie sheet and the skillet. He took the prepped pieces out and transferred them to the paper towel to wick off the oil. They were replaced with new rolls from the assembly line; both Becker and Parker nursed their drinks, eyes glued to the ballgame, their task completed.
      “All right, fellas,” Terrance broke in, “let’s get this stuff rinsed off and in the dishwasher.” They emptied the bowls into the trash, and brought everything over to the sink. “Park, you rinse, Mase you load.”
      Becker flipped the washer door downward, “any special way you want these put in here?” he said.
      “Fill it as much as you can,” Terrance answered, Lana’s gonna rearrange them anyway.”
      Parker sprayed each article with the rinse hose and handed them to Becker. Terrance finished frying the remainder of the chicken and placed them on the paper towel, then shut off the burner. He ignited the gas jet below the double- boiler, which already contained water, to a medium flame, then set the upper oven’s temperature to 350 degrees to preheat. Ripping a sheet of aluminum foil from its roll, Terrance lined the cookie pan with it. He distributed the chicken evenly onto the sheet and discarded the oil- soaked paper towel.
      Parker and Becker had wrapped up. Becker wiped down the island countertop with a dishrag. The oven’s chime sounded and Terrance opened the door and placed the pan of chicken on the middle rack. He checked the clock hanging over the refrigerator, figuring in about twenty- five minutes to bake.
      “Time for a little food before the food,” Terrance said, producing a smile from Parker and a look of confusion from Becker, “Park, separate those plates and pour out the chips. Mase, salsa goes into each bowl, if you please.”
      Terrance crossed to the fridge and took out three more eggs, two sticks of butter, a small plastic bottle that Becker noticed looked like a lemon, and a bundle of asparagus in water held by a plastic quart soup container recycled from a previous Chinese take- out order. And another Miller.  He set the items on the island, picked up the beer and twisted the bottle cap off, then drained half its contents in one gulp. The game caught his attention as the quarterback slung a long pass for a touchdown across the small screen.
      “Mase, sprinkle the cheese on the chips and nuke each plate for a minute.”
      “Way ahead of you,” Becker said, placing the first plate of chips and cheese into the microwave, “this kind of cooking I’m familiar with.”
      Terrance opened a cabinet in the island and pulled out a nine- by- nine inch, shallow Pyrex dish and set it on the counter, near the asparagus. The microwave beeped.
      “Son, take the nachos and dip into your mother, please.”
      Becker handed Parker the plate, who watched the small cheese bubbles popping. He picked up a bowl of salsa and headed for the door. Hands full, Parker turned around, then backed up, to swing the door open.
      “You’ve got a good kid there,” Becker said.
      “Thanks,” Terrance said, then finished his beer and tossed the bottle into the bin, “I think we’ll keep him.”
      “He looks a lot like his mother.”
      “Got lucky on that count.”
      Parker reentered.
      “Hey bud, grab yourself a plate and go watch the game on the big screen,” Terrance said, “thanks for your help. Couldn’t have done it without you.”
      Parker took the chips and salsa, then headed back to the door before his father changed his mind.
      “You ever think about settling down?”
      Becker picked up the vodka and drank.
      “Right woman hasn’t come along yet?”
      Becker swirled the glass and watched the ice float counterclockwise in the liquor.
      “Maybe I should shut up.”
      “I did have someone…once. She was taken from me.”
      “Taken?”
      “AND THAT’S THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, WITH DETROIT STILL AHEAD OF SAINT LOUIS, SEVENTEEN TO THIRTEEN”
      Becker finished his drink.
      “Mase, you’re the best cop on our squad,” Terrance said, “best cop I ever met. But I really know nothing about you. And the last couple of days…”
      “Some things are best left buried.”
      “Sorry to open up an old wound, man. You know I’ve got your back. Just know I can listen, too. Anytime.”
     “Appreciate it.” He set his glass on the countertop, “What do we have to do with those?” he said, pointing to the plastic container.
      “The asparagus? We gotta roast ’em and make the hollandaise.”
      Terrance took the container to the island sink and dumped out the water. He set it back down near the Pyrex dish.
      “First, we got to get rid of the tough ends on the stalks.”
      Where do you keep the knives?”
      “Don’t need one. You snap them apart. Here.” Terrance said, picking up two asparagus spears, handing one to Becker. Terrance demonstrated.
      “You take the top between your thumb and fingers of one hand, and the bottom end the same way with the other. And then you,” Terrance started to bring his hands toward each other. The spear began to bend in an upward arc, then fractured and separated from the tensile pressure.
     “You chuck out the tough,” Terrance said, tossing the bottom end into the trash, “and keep the tender.” He placed the spear in the baking dish. “Got it?”
      Becker followed suit and his spear broke in two. Lana entered the kitchen with a china platter and covered dish. Terrance turned up the heat under the double- boiler.
      “The table’s set, Terry,” she said, placing the dishes on the island, “how are you doing out here?”
      “Mase just popped his first asparagus,” Terrance said.
      “Oooo,” Lana said, “today you are a man.”
      “Cant wait to make the entry in my diary tonight,” Becker droned.
      “Mason,” Lana said, pointing to the empty glass, “one more?”
      “Please,” he said, “and that’s ‘last call’ for me.”
      “How much time left, sweets?” Lana asked Terrance.
      “Be ready in about fifteen, twenty minutes.”
      “Excellent,” she said and left the room.
      “Finish the rest of those off, Mase,” Terrance said, “I’ll get the sauce going.”
      He took a bowl and a small plate from their stacks in an upper cabinet and set them on the counter. One stick of butter was unwrapped and dropped into the bowl. Terrance unwrapped the second stick, but picked up a spatula and used the blade edge to cut the stick in half, then dumped one portion into the bowl, rewrapped the remainder and returned it to the fridge. He covered the bowl with the plate and went to the microwave. Setting the bowl inside, he shut the appliance door and pressed the MELT mode. Becker brought the dish of spears over to the oven.
      “You went to town on those,” Terrance said.
      “Well, you know what they say,” Becker quipped, “once you go asparagus…”
      Terrance’s roar filled the kitchen with a reverberating burst, as he picked up the eggs in one hand and set them on the counter near the trash bin. Becker munched on the nachos and checked the score on the TV. Five minutes remained in the game. Terrance opened the oven door. The chicken was quietly crackling and he took in a long breath. He place the vegetable dish on a lower rack and close the door.
      “That smells good,” Lana said, as she entered with Becker’s drink, “guess I can put Mario’s number away.”
      “You got that right, young lady,” Terrance said, as he opened a drawer and withdrew a butter knife, then returned to the eggs. He took one and held it upright, between the thumb and index finger of his left hand and gently tapped around the egg’s midsection. He put the knife down, then separated the halves, holding one in each hand like two dainty cups. Terrance tilted the halves one side to the other, and the yolk plopped back and forth in the shells, until all the whites had dribbled into the trash. He dropped the yolk into the top pot of the double- boiler and discarded the shells, then repeated the process with the other two.
      “I’ll take care of the water glasses,” Lana said, and pulled a clear pitcher from a cabinet, then filled it in the dispenser, recessed in the refrigerator door. Terrance grabbed another whisk from the caddy and began whipping the yolks.
      “Take the butter out of the microwave, will you Mase?” he said, and picked up the lemon bottle, squirting juice into the frothy eggs. He pulled a small jar of cayenne from a spice rack on the back wall, removed the cork top and added a dash into the pot, while continuing a vigorous churn with the whisk.
      “Where did you learn all this shit?” Becker said.
      “I had a roommate in college,” Terrance said, “Business Major, but he loved to cook. He used me as his guinea pig to try out recipes. I leaned by watching and assisting.”
      “You’re talking about Ronnie?” Lana said.
      “Right. He kept me eating good for three years straight,” Terrance said, decreasing his mixing speed. “Mase, start to pour in the butter, slowly. Just drizzle it.”
      Becker poured and Terrance continued to stir. The color of the liquid went from deep to creamy yellow.
      “Anyway,” Terrance concluded, “we eat at his steak house, every time we visit my folks, Upstate.”
      “Which reminds me,” Lana said, “your Mom called, wondering when we’re going up there again. The leaves are turning.” She turned to Becker, “Mason have you been through the Adirondacks in the Fall?”
      “Years ago.”
      “The mountains are gorgeous, all red, orange and gold. And the quaint little shops, scattered all over.”
      “I hear the makings of another expedition for hidden treasures.”
      “Never mind you.”
      Terrance looked at Becker, “Mase, we go up in a car, come back in a U- Haul.”
      “No sense in wasting a trip,” Lana said, then headed for the door, “let’s plan a visit soon, honey.”
      “Mmm Hmm.” Terrance turned off the oven, then kept stirring. Becker put the empty bowl in the sink.
      “Bring over the china, buddy.”
      Becker took the dishes from the island and placed them on the counter near the stove. Terrance pulled a wooden spoon from the caddy, dipped into the sauce, then tasted his creation.
      “Oh, that’s good,” he said, putting the cover on the pot, then tossing the spoon into the sink. He opened a drawer and pulled out what Becker thought had to be the largest oven mitts he’d ever seen.
      “Damn, T, those look like something from the bomb squad.”
      “Yeah, I got them on-line.”
      Terrance opened the door on the oven and removed the sheet of chicken and the Pyrex dish. He took the spatula and transferred the items to the platter and the dish. He lifted the pot, uncovered it and poured the hollandaise over the middle sections of the asparagus, then grabbed the lemon pepper from the spice rack and sprinkled granules over the sauce. He covered the dish, handed it to Becker, then picked up the platter. “Let’s eat.”
      Becker led the way toward the door.
      “Hey Mase, you plan on shooting anything at the table?”
      “Huh?”
      “Your sidearm. You want to lock it up with mine?”
      “Yeah. Right. Didn’t even think about it.”
      Becker always removed his weapon first thing, when at home or in friendly surroundings. In the last two days he never let it out of his reach, even in bed. What changed things on Friday night? he thought. It bugged him, through the meal and after. He dreaded the old feelings, rising within him.
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(All right, time for another chunk of the story.  New?  Please go to They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), located on the July 16th posting, in the Archives section. Otherwise, let’s move along…)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxvii )…
     NORA FINISHED PACKING HER BAG for the gym. She tossed in a couple of extra towels, and zipped it closed.
     It weighed a lot more than usual.
     She planned on a long, rigorous workout.
     And time in the steam to erase the pain.
Chapter ( xxxviii )…
     LANA HAD BEEN POURING LEMONADE for Parker and was returning the pitcher to the fridge, trying to stifle laughs behind the open door.
      “I can handle that for you, Mason,” she said, and gave Becker a pat on the shoulder as she exited the kitchen through the swinging door to a hallway.
      “Let’s wash up,” Terrance said.
      Becker went to the sinks on the counter. Terrance guided Parker to the one on the island. He ran the water and made sure Parker used soap from the dispenser. Becker let the stream flow over his hands, looking blankly through the window, wishing his phone would ring with urgent news needing his immediate attention.
      Terrance stepped over to the paper towel rod mounted on the wall near Becker and yanked a long portion out with his left hand. He placed his right hand on the roll and tore off the hanging section. This left a gargantuan damp imprint over the remainder hanging on the wall. He separated the piece into thirds, handing one to Becker then another to Parker.
      “First things first,” Terrance said, “set up our assembly line.” He opened an island cabinet door at the end furthest from Becker and pulled out a trash bin, then dropped his used paper towel in it. Becker rolled his towel into a ball and tossed it in an arc over Parker’s head and into the center of the bin. Not to be outdone, Parker began to take jump shots, then scampered around Terrance to retrieve his misses from the floor. Frustrated, he decided to give a pass to Becker.
      “Take one from downtown,” he said, as he flung the wad of Bounty, wide of Becker’s reach. The ball whizzed past Lana’s head as she swung open the door, returning to the kitchen.
      “Didn’t take you long to turn my kitchen into a gymnasium, Terry,” she said, then handed Becker the Grey Goose and ice, with a wedge of lemon perched on the rim of the short glass.
      Terry was busy collecting ingredients from the refrigerator, “Every thing’s fine baby.” He took out deli- wrapped packages of sliced swiss cheese and ham, the jug of milk, then balanced three eggs on top of the packages, while he removed a bottled beer from an inner shelf on the fridge door.
      “T has mentioned you worked at a hospital,” Becker said, “but he never told me what you do.”
      “Queens Memorial,” she said, “I’m involved in the Administration offices there.”
      “Heads up,” Terrance yelled, as he underhanded a saran- wrapped, foam plastic tray of chicken breasts toward Becker, who caught the bundle against his chest, sloshing the vodka in the process.
      “It’s getting too dangerous in here for me,” Lana said, “I’m going back in to appreciate my centerpiece and enjoy some quite reading. Call me back at your halftime.” She pushed the door toward the hallway, then looked back smiling, “Terry, please don’t injure our son during your cooking game.” She left and the door swung back into place.
      “Game!” Parker said, “Dad, the TV?”
      “Go ahead, but keep the volume down,” Terrance said, as he picked up a metal bowl off the island, handing it to Becker, “rinse the chicken off with cold water and put them in this.” He set the articles from the fridge on the butcher- block, taking care to keep the eggs from rolling.
      “Park,” Terrance said, as he arranged two bowls near the edge of the island top. Hearing no reply, he looked up to find both his son and Becker gazing at the televised ball game.
      “Yo, guys. You want to eat today? Parker, go in the pantry and get the flour and toothpicks.”
      “OK, Daddy.”
      “Mase, please rinse the chicken.”
      “OK Daddy.”
      Becker tore open the plastic, set the faucet head to shower mode, and began rinsing each piece, then placing them into the bowl. Parker came out of the pantry with a ten pound bag of flour in both arms, holding the toothpick box steady on top of the bag with his chin. Terrance transferred the skillet and double- boiler to separate burners on the stove top, then placed a large cookie sheet on the counter next to it. He leaned down and opened a cabinet, taking out a jug of canola oil along with a roll of aluminum foil. He set them on the counter, then removed a whisk out of a nearby utensil caddy.
      “Parker, please take a scoop and put some of the flour into that bowl,” Terrance said, pointing to the one closest to his son. He dropped the whisk into the other bowl near the edge of the island, and took out a twelve- by- eighteen inch, plastic cutting board from another of its cabinets, setting it on the countertop at the end near Becker.
      “All cleaned, Boss,” Becker said.
      “Put them next to the board,” Terrance said, then picked up an aluminum meat tenderizing mallet, with its raised, patterned grid of diamond shapes on each striking face of the hammer’s head. He handed it to Becker, “You should enjoy this part.”
      Becker looked at the business end of the mallet, considering the damage that could be inflicted if it fell in the wrong hands.
      “Take each piece and pound it flat,” Terrance said, then looked down at Parker’s end of the island to find half the flour being scooped was missing the mark, falling on the countertop or floor. “Hold on there hombre,” he said to his son, and walked over to lend a hand.
      The sudden smack of metal to plastic gave both Terrance and Parker a start, and flour flew upward in a poof from the scoop in Parker’s hand. There were footsteps in the hallway and Lana swung the door open looking for the source of what she thought a gunshot.
      All three stood looking at Becker, who was motionless, holding the mallet upright in front of him, inspecting his handiwork. A chicken breast, the center of which was missing, drooped over the handle like a floppy horseshoe.
      “What?” Becker said, then shrugged his shoulders, “you told me to pound. I pounded.” He picked up his glass and took a long draft.
      “All right,” Terrance said, “lightly tap the chicken, Mase. We want it flat, not pulverized.”
      “I can call down to Mario’s,” Lana interjected, “have something here in an hour or so.”
      “Never mind that,” Terrance said, “rookie mistake… everything will be everything.”
      Lana raised her eyebrows and mouthed “O-K” to her husband. “Mase, can I freshen your drink?”
      “Big ‘affirmative’ on that,” he said, handing her the glass.
      “Coming right up,” she said, then pushed the door, and headed for the living room wet bar.
      “Let’s get this all in one place buddy,” Terrance said to Parker, holding the bowl just below the island top edge and pushing the flour from the countertop into the bowl with the scoop. Becker had resumed his duties.
      “How’s it going now, Mase?”
      “Tapping lightly.”
      “Excellent. Gonna make a chef out of you yet.”
      “Wouldn’t bet the farm on that one.”
      Terrance picked up a pepper mill and handed it to Parker, “Grind this on top of the flour, son.” He went to the center portion of the island, then cracked and emptied the eggs into the remaining bowl. To these he added about a half cup of milk, then returned the jug to the fridge. He pulled open a nearby drawer and removed a large spoon. “Enough pepper,” he said to Parker, “now shake in some salt and mix it all together.” He set the spoon next to the bowl of flour, then picked up the whisk and whipped the eggs and milk.
      Lana slowly pushed on the door and stuck her head through the partial opening. “All safe to enter?” she said.
      “Doing just fine,” Terrance replied.
      “Here you go, Mason,” she said, setting his filled glass on the island, “ is the chicken being a little more cooperative?”
      “I think I’ve got the hang of it,” Becker said, as he stacked the thinned- down poultry on the corner of the cutting board, then then stopped to take a sip of vodka, “but keep Mario’s number handy.”
      “Hey, none of that talk,” Terrance said, “we’re ready to put it all together. You squared away, Park?” His son nodded and brought the seasoned flour over to his father’s side.
      “Carry on, gentlemen,” Lana said, and left the room.
(A few days have gone by.  Let’s update this crime novel in progress.  If it’s your first time here, welcome.  Please go to the July 16th post, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), located in the Archives section.  Up to speed and wondering what’s going to happen?  Me too, and I’m writing the damn thing!  Let’s go, shall we?)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter  ( xxv ) continues…
     Becker took a left onto 1st Avenue, then another left on 9th Street heading west. He turned right on 3rd Ave and continued north to 34th Street. There he took a right and went about two miles to the Queens Midtown Tunnel ramp. He swerved to avoid the longer lines at the blue and white toll plaza, zipping into a queue with only three cars ahead of him, to pay the fee. He proceeded down the chute- like street, with its stone walls gaining height on each side of him as he approached the tunnel’s entrance. The white lights that lined the side walls of the tiled enclosure reflected in a continuous stream on top of the hood’s quarter- panels. Becker crossed the 1.2 miles under the East River.
      He thought about the encounter at the basketball courts that morning; how quickly a simple derogatory comment escalated into physical confrontation, and especially the wolf- pack mentality displayed by the insulted group, when they assailed upon their lone detractor. Trash- talk is omnipresent during these contests, a white- noise. Whatever Bank Shot‘s retort was, it struck a nerve with the others, something their collective egos wouldn’t let go unchallenged. The crowd around them had laughed openly in response to the smaller player’s remark. In the mind of an athlete, it’s one thing for another player to get the best of you during a competition, quite another to be mocked in any way, particularly in public. Reciprocation goes to base levels, rationalization goes out the window. Animal response was sparked, and the group’s mutual state of mind fanned the flame. Becker wondered about the chain around the young man’s neck. Did his orientation play a part in this; the banter crossing the line of what was deemed acceptable by his aggressors? Prejudice starts young, dies hard; the pressure- cooker atmosphere of the Cage the perfect catalyst for the rearing of its bigoted head.
      Becker squinted. The sun’s full brightness shone down in a flash when the GT exited the tunnel, and he put on his sunglasses to help his eyes adjust. He merged into I- 495 then took the exit for Route 25 and drove down the ramp straight onto Elliot Avenue, followed by the first right onto the twelve- lane behemoth of Queens Boulevard.
      He watched for pedestrians crossing the street from one median to the next in this commercial area, midst the vehicular congestion, recalling the moniker bestowed upon it by locals, as The Boulevard of Broken Bones. His right foot hovered over the brake, prepared, if some daredevil decided to attempt a run outside the boundaries of the designated white- striped grids. Becker noticed the car’s cabin getting toasty, and he dialed the vent’s fan setting up a couple notches to increase flow. The interior acquired the musky- sweet scent of the daffodils, as the air circulated throughout the closed- in area.
      The further Becker traveled, the greener the scenery developed. Places of business were framed by large trees, well maintained shrubbery edged along property lines. He turned right onto Continental Avenue, then left onto Station Square, with its red brick buildings and paver- lined streets. He continued straight about a half- mile, then steered right into the fully residential area of Fleet Street and Olive Place. He leaned against the constrains of his seatbelt and opened his glove compartment, pulling out a small sheet of paper containing the address and description of the house Terrance had given him the day before. A two- story white Colonial, sitting elevated on a corner, Becker remembered. Should stick out like a developer’s mistake, Becker thought, as he passed one Tudor after the next. He gave a low whistle, admiring the plush lawns and landscapes surrounding the attractive homesteads, sitting behind the Florida Dogwoods with their clusters of crimson berries, the yellow- brown leaves of the Red Oaks, the white- barked Maples, and the twisted trunks and zig- zagging branches of the low- hanging Eastern Redbuds; the street’s leafy canopy enclosed the hypnotic ambiance of peaceful solitude as the car crept along. Becker removed his sunglasses for all the shade they provided.
      The hushed tranquility was broken by the familiar boisterous roar of Terrance’s laugh, Becker heard bellowing from the corner lawn, just up the street to the right. Terrance and Parker were tossing a football back and forth and Becker beeped his horn to get their attention. Terrance wore a blue and orange jersey from his playing days at Syracuse, Parker a black top with Stallions embroidered across the upper chest. Both shirts bore the number 75.
      “Hey, hey,” Terrance said, motioning with his left arm for Becker to take a right at the corner and park in the driveway just behind the house, “look who finally made it.” Parker stood still on the lawn, his eyes never leaving the car, as he watched Becker bring the Mustang to a stop on the inclined pavement in front of the two- car garage.
      Terrance hurdled up on the front porch in one stride, then opened the door, “Lana,” he yelled inside, “Mase is here babe, meet us in the back.” He placed a hand on Parker’s shoulder and gave a little shake, breaking the mesmerizing spell his son seemed to be under.
Chapter ( xxxvi )
      “WELL LOOK WHO SHOWED UP,” Terrance said, as he and Parker crossed the side lawn and walked on the mortared slate path to the driveway.
      “Do all the police in Manhattan ride around in one of those?” Parker said, tugging on his father’s sleeve. Becker overheard the question as he walked to the passenger side of the car to join them. He extended his hand and shook with Parker.
      “Not all of them,” he said.
      “Just the nasty ones, and their big ugly partners,” Terrance chimed in with a toothy smile.
      Terrance’s hand met Becker’s with a meaty crack that startled the youth, like hearing a thunderclap near his head.
      “You get some sleep, Chief?” Terrance asked.
      “Not much,” Becker said, “couldn’t get settled.”
      “Been there myself,” Terrance said, “but I think I’ve got a way for you to forget all that for today.”
      Lana opened the sliding glass door of the family room and stepped onto the redwood deck, which spanned the rear of the house in length. She walked to the side edge, placed her hand on a rail and stepped down the stairs to ground level.
      “This must be the famous Detective Becker,” quickly gliding to the gate of the wrought iron fence that surrounded the backyard. She swung the gate open and approached the males with her right hand extended.
      “A pleasure to finally meet you, Mason,” she said, taking his hand in hers, then covering it with her left hand. “Terry speaks so highly of you.” Becker sensed a trustworthy nature projected by the firm handshake and Lana’s unwavering eye contact. “It’s good to finally have a face to go with the name,” she said.
      “The pleasure’s all mine,” he replied.
      “Shall we go inside and have a drink?”
      They began their walk toward the gate. Becker took in the landscaping of the backyard. The lawn was well groomed. Terrance had joked about his high speed jaunts on the riding mower, weaving around the oak trees and shrubs that bordered near the fence. Becker couldn’t picture his partner in the flower gardens, though. Definitely a woman’s touch and taste. Oh, shit.
      Becker stopped, “I almost forgot,” he said, turning back toward the driveway, “I have something for you two, in the car.”
      He unlocked and opened the door, leaned inside, and unbuckled the flower arrangement.
      “Just a small thanks for the invite,” he said, giving it to Lana.
      “That wasn’t necessary, Mason. You shouldn’t have,” she said, breathing in the fragrance. She gave a smile and wink, “but I’m glad you did.”
      Becker pulled the paper bag off the floor, “This should keep you busy,” he said to Terrance, handing over the package, then closing the door.
      His partner slid the book from the bag and leaned his head backward with a roar, after reading The Encyclopaedia of Jumbles on the front cover.
      Lana saw the title, “Mason, this man will never talk with me again, his head in that book.”
      She gave Becker a joking grimace of disapproval, “You really shouldn’t have.”
      “Mase,” Terrance said, “you ready for a beer?”
      “Sounds good.”
      “Let’s have at it then.”
      “I’ve got lemonade for you, young man,” Lana said to Parker, putting her arm over his shoulder as they approached the deck.
      “Like Gramma’s?”
      “Exactly.”
      They entered through an oak door which opened to a mud room, just off the kitchen. The walls were finished with two- inch strip wainscoting, that matched the door’s light tone and grain, while the upper sheetrock was painted a deep crimson. The floor below was of bluish slate. Its naturally irregular shapes, meticulously pieced together like a stone jigsaw puzzle, exhibited the talents of the artisan who had laid them in place.
      Fixtures and furnishings were all antique: the pewter chandelier, discovered in New Hampshire, which had been wired for flame- shaped bulbs; the enameled basin and pitcher set atop a dry sink, found in Maine; the bench on which to sit, while removing garden– soiled shoes or snowy boots in the winter – a six foot, carved pew rescued from a forgotten church in Upstate New York.
      Terrance pointed to the row of brass coat hooks mounted on a wall.
      “You can hang your jacket here, Mase, then we can pop a cold one.”
      Becker hung the windbreaker’s collar over the porcelain knob at the end of the hook, while the others proceeded through an interior door into the kitchen.
      Becker followed and scanned the room, noting that it was just shy the size of his entire apartment. The cabinetry was all a simple white, with moldings that followed an Americana motif. Upper cabinet doors were each paneled with six beveled panes of glass, another of Lana’s ‘finds’, that were retrofitted onto the original cupboards. These, along with lower cabinets and counters, covered three walls.
      The flooring matched the slate of the mudroom, its wax coating polished to a hard shine. In the center of the kitchen ran a long island with butcher- block on top, equipped with a deep sink on one end.
      Unlike the woodwork, the appliances were state- of- the- art and predominately stainless steel. The gas stove set atop a double- oven, with a semicircular, domed exhaust hood directly above. The refrigerator had French dual doors on the upper portion, a large drawer freezer on the bottom, and Becker realized he found something that dwarfed Terrance. Mounted to the underside of upper cabinets at opposite ends were a television in one corner and a microwave in another, both adjacent to the outer wall. The two sinks, with a goose-neck faucet, sat in the middle of that wall’s countertop; above them a window overlooked the lawn and side street. The bottom sash was clear, while the top had been replaced with a stained glass piece that held stylized renditions of the moon, sun, and stars, set in a navy blue background.
      Becker started to wonder if Terrance moonlighted a a restaurateur. The island top had pans, platters, bowls, a double- boiler, and various utensils placed about it, unused. T’s going to be busy, he thought, with no hint of recent cooking in the air.
      “All right, gentlemen,” Terrance said, “we’ve got work ahead of us. Time to get cookin’…Mase, ready for that beer?”
      Becker looked down at Parker, whose wide- eyed star mirrored his own, then turned to Terrance.
      “When did I give you the impression I could cook?”
      “It’s all good, brother,” Terrance said, “I’ll give the both of you easy jobs.”
      “I want to change my drink order. You got any vodka?”
(Well a bit of time has passed, so let’s give you another chunk to chew on.  If you have no idea what’s going on here, you’ve dropped into a crime novel that’s a work in progress, and you can get to the beginning by clicking on the Archives section, back to the July 16th post, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1).  In the next few posts, let’s learn a little bit more about our Detectives.  And maybe you’ll get a recipe mixed in to boot!)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxiv ) continues…
     The streets were becoming populated as Becker traveled northeast to St. Mark’s Place, off 2nd Avenue. He resisted the urge to turn on his police radio and listen to chatter. Take the day off, Mason.
     Parking was already tougher to find, and he squeezed into a spot, leaving about a foot of space between bumpers, from the cars in front and to the rear. Stores and bistros were operating or in the process of starting their day, and some of the vendors were setting up tables on the sidewalks, to peddle their wares street- side, taking advantage of the crystal blue skies above. The ambient temperature was now pleasant enough for Becker to leave his leather jacket in the car. He opened the trunk and placed the jacket inside, then retrieved a nylon shell to replace it. He slid his arms through the sleeves and adjusted the coat. He was comfortable, and his 9 millimeter was once more concealed.
     He approached a florist shoppe which was just opening for business, and reasoned that flowers would be a safe gift for Lana, but the essence of toasted beans that emanated from the café directly across the street diverted his attention. He went over to the restaurant, ordered an espresso, then took it outside and sat at one of the small round tables in the front courtyard.
      Becker watched a petite young woman on the other side of the street with her flowers, hurrying in and out of the shoppe’s propped open door, as she set up different arrangements on the tabletop, or placed wrapped bouquets into water- filled, five- gallon buckets located on the sidewalk just below it. She wore a light, earth- toned tan peasant shirt and a pair of bluejeans, faded to white in several spots. The straps of her leather sandals were fastened over brown and yellow socks, striped in bumblebee- fashion, with individual toes knitted in the ends. Her long, silky black hair was drawn upward and tied with bands, on the left and right sides of the crown of her head, resulting in symmetrically feathered plumes cascading outward. Her coif and cheerful greetings to all passersby gave Becker the impression of a Yorkshire Terrier, or better yet a Papillon, excited by their master’s arrival home at the end of the workday.
     Below street level, practically hidden next to the café behind clinging ivy, was a walk- down cubbyhole of a store, selling new and used books. Becker finished his coffee, checked his watch, and decided to peruse the shop’s interior, to pass time and wait for the perky florist to complete her setup. He took the four concrete steps to basement level, then pushed the door open.
      The store ran through the entire length of the building and a small handwritten sign, taped to a rack filled with Cliff Notes, beckoned customers to visit the garden patio in the back for more selections. Yellowed pine shelving covered most of the exposed brick walls on the left and right, interrupted only by plumbing. The four- inch, cast iron waste drains were like black tree trunks sprouting out of the floor, their branches the smaller diameter pipelines that weaved their way outward, spreading along their paths an inch below the ceiling, elbowing ninety- or forty five- degree turns here and there, to avoid the bare- bulb light sockets. The conduit was painted the same glossy white as the plywood above it, in an effort to camouflage what looked like a freeway conjured in the mind of Dr. Seuss. Three more cases of bookshelves stood floor- to- ceiling, parallel to the long walls, across the rear half of the room. They were shimmied with pieces of two- by- fours on their top planks, to compensate for occasional dips in the warped plywood above them. Box fans hung from chains and circulated the air within. Becker noted a musty scent mixed in with those of paper and ink. The two- inch strip oak floor creaked with every step taken, its varnish long since worn away by customer traffic, and was as gray as the pavement outside.
      There were four other browsers scattered amidst the narrow aisles, and a well- preened man sat behind the counter to Becker’s right, carefully finishing his McMuffin breakfast, alternating his bites with napkin wipes, while reading The Village Voice. A small radio sat on the countertop next to him, a commentary on NPR crackling through its lone speaker, the reception hampered by interference from the pipes.
      Becker scanned the shelves, with sections identified by sheets of paper thumbtacked to the edges of the soft pine. Established subject matter was displayed in stenciled block lettering, while newer additions had the same uneven cursive of the placard he saw on the rack when he first entered.
     Large portions were occupied under the genres of Philosophy, New York Culture, Politics, History, and The Arts. Becker chuckled to himself when he noticed a shelf labeled War, Guns, and Ammo squeezed in amongst the other groupings, and contemplated the correlation. He took his time going up and down all the aisles, reading the jacket blurbs off several selections in each genre, hoping for something to pique his interest. He noticed the man at the counter – finished with the breakfast, the man folded his paper bag and wrapper, then aggressively wiped his beard and shirt front for crumbs. Satisfied, he placed the refuse into a nearby wastebasket, rather than tossing it, then went back to his reading. Becker mused there should be a sign pinned near the clerk marked Anal Retentive.
      On the back wall, next to the door leading to the patio, was a shelf marked Word Games and Brain- Teasers. Becker’s index finger glided horizontally along the spines, as he read the titles. It came to rest when he reached a paperback standing seven inches tall, two inches thick, snuggled between the larger softcovers of Crosswords and Suduko. Becker wrestled the book from its tight squeeze, then smiled as he flipped through the pages.
      Perfect, he thought. He made his way to the front checkout counter, now having to side- step other patrons through the close quarters, as the store had filled considerably since he first entered. He placed the book on the countertop and pulled out his wallet from his back trousers pocket. The clerk winced as he read the title, then looked up at Becker with a disapproving expression.
      “To ward off Alzheimer’s,” Becker said, grinning at the clerk. He handed over a ten- dollar bill.
      “One can only hope,” the clerk said, as he rang up the purchase and gave Becker his change from the sale, then placed the book in a small bag. Becker noticed the clerk’s meticulously groomed facial hair, as he put the money in his jacket side pocket, picked up the book from the countertop, and headed toward the exit. He open the door, then turned back to the clerk.
      “By the way, chief,” Becker said, “you’ve got some egg action going on in that beard.” The clerk’s face was pristine, but his widened eyes gave Becker the satisfaction of knowing the condescending ass would be scrounging for a mirror and comb for the next few minutes.
      The café courtyard tables were now all occupied, and the sidewalks getting crowded; New Yorkers basking in the day’s deliverance of Indian summer warmth, after its chilly start in the wee hours of the morning. Becker crossed the street toward the florist with the striped socks. She was engaged in a lighthearted conversation with an elderly couple; the gentleman presented to his wife a dozen long- stemmed roses he’d just purchased.
      “Sixty years,” the florist said, as Becker approached and overheard, “well, God bless you two.” She drew a red carnation from one of the bouquets in the water buckets, snapped its stem short, then slid the stem into the buttonhole of the gentleman’s sportscoat.
      “That’s for you, Ernie,” she said, then kissed both of them on the cheek. They continued down the sidewalk.
      “Good morning, Sunshine!” she said, looking upward, as Becker, at six- two, stood fifteen inches taller than she. Her head bobbed side- to- side with each syllable uttered, “You look like you could use some beautiful flowers to go with this gorgeous day.” He just grinned, thinking his countenance didn’t much bring to mind the image of flowers.
      The woman’s genuine smile, cheery salutation, and welcoming spirit, in such stark contrast to his experience with the clerk at the bookstore, caught Becker off guard…if she had asked, I’d have probably handed over my wallet, he thought.
      “Do you want something like this bouquet,” she said, holding up red and white roses, “for someone special?”
      “More of a housewarming gift,” he said, “no romance.”
      “Romance is everywhere, doll,” she said, handing him a red rose from the bouquet, “just remember this place, when it comes around for you.”
      She started to look through the assortment on the table. Two men in their thirties slowed down to look at the arrangements.
      “So, for Halloween, what do you want to go as?” one asked the other.
      “Why not do what we did as last year?” his mate said.
      “A horse? No way.”
      “They loved us at the parade, and during the block party!”
      “And why do you know that? What part were you?”
      “Let’s not start this again.”
      “I’ll do it, but I’m the head piece this time.”
      “I have a bad back.”
      “So did I, by the end of the day. Keep on thinking.”
      They walked across the street and were still bickering as they entered the café.
      “Are you having dinner there…at this house?” the woman asked Becker. He nodded.
      “Then,” she said, “we’re talking centerpiece.”
      The woman pursed her lips and tapped at her nose with her pointer finger, as she scanned her dozen or so blooming creations. She picked up an arrangement by its crystalline vase, filled with daffodils, yellow- and peach- colored roses, and calla lilies. Interspersed amongst them stood the brown cylinders of cattails, with their yellow spike tops and their leaves, like large blades of grass jutting out from below. She placed it on the front of the tabletop near Becker.
      “This will give a nice warm feeling,” she said, “to the whole room,” she extended her arms wide for emphasis.
      “Those are interesting,” Becker said, pointing to the paper- thin, bright orange, bulbous husks that accented the bottom portion of the arrangement, “they look like little pumpkins.”
      “The Chinese lanterns?” she said, “Sometimes, they’re called ‘Love in a Cage’.”
      “Oh,” he said. He remembered the Cage he’d seen earlier. Not a lot of love going on there, he thought.
      “Pumpkin!” she said, clapping her hands together, then, “Could you watch everything for a second?” She picked up the vase, “I’ll be right back…promise.”
      “Sure,” he said. She picked up the vase, then turned and went into her shoppe, the hair plumes on her head swayed with every step.
      He checked his watch, then looked over at the café. The two Halloweeners were still in their animated argument, now seated at one of the court tables. The warm air around Becker carried the subtle scents of roses, honeysuckle, mums and gardenia in the gentle breeze of the early afternoon.
      “This’ll do the trick,” she said, bouncing back out to the sidewalk, “whatta ya think?” She had replaced the glass vessel with a ceramic pumpkin to hold the floral cluster. She placed the improved version back on the tabletop.
      “That will do very nicely,” he said, pulled out his wallet and paid her, “I appreciate all your extra efforts.” He picked up the arrangement, waved off the change she offered, then turned to head back to the GT.
      “Don’t forget me, when the love- bug bites,” she said.
      “No chance of forgetting you,” he answered, then switched the vase from his right arm, cradling it in his left, along with the book, and pulled his keyring out of his trousers side pocket.
      He unlocked the car with his remote, then placed the flowers on the passenger seat and secured the seatbelt across the bowl, to avoid tipping during transport. He shoved the bagel bag to the car’s flooring and placed the book for Terrance next to it. He went to the driver side, got strapped in, then turned over the engine. The low rumble perked some ears of pedestrians and courtyard patrons alike, as Becker shimmied the 500 back and forth to move it out of the tight parking spot. He cruised slowly down St. Mark’s Place, and waved to the florist. I won’t be forgetting you too soon either, she thought, as she waved back.
(Well, it’s been a while since I’ve put a continuation of this crime novel up in the blog-sphere, so I’ll drop a load on the page today.  For those of you stopping by for the first time, please click into the Archives section, the July 16th posting, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), and you’ll be square on the first page of chapter one.  Otherwise, if you’re with the program so far, let’s continue.)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxiv ) continues…
     Lana entered the kitchen. She had her terry robe and slippers on, and Terrance noticed she had spent time with her hair before coming downstairs.
     “Morning, gentlemen,” she said, pinched Terrance’s side, then kissed the top of Parker’s head, and went to the cabinet for mugs, “we’re getting a late start today, aren’t we?”
     “Did they want you in the pros, Daddy?” Parker asked.
     “Yes,” Terrance said, “I was drafted in one of the later rounds.”
     “Really?” Parker’s eyes grew wide, “din’cha wanna play?”
     “I wanted to be a policeman,” Terrance said, “and that’s the choice I made.”
     “And now you can still kick butt,” Parker nodded.
     “Where did that come from?” Lana asked.
     “Grampa T,” they answered. She shook her head, then looked at Parker’s napkin.
     “Terry,” Lana said, “cookies?”
     “They’re peanut butter,” Terrance countered, “They’ve got protein, right?”
     “He’ll be bouncing off the walls with all the sugar,” she said, “those are the only ones?”
     They nodded. She poured coffee into both mugs, then brought the mugs and set them on the island’s countertop. Terrance picked one up and took a long swallow, while Lana went to the refrigerator and took out a carton of half- and- half, left the door open, poured some into her cup, then placed the carton back into the fridge, and closed the door. She opened the drawer of a lower cabinet and removed a spoon.
     “Parker,” Lana reminded, “closed mouths while we’re eating. I don’t have to hear the Captain crunch.”
     “MmmOh…MmKay,” Parker replied, the cereal filling his cheeks like a chipmunk gathering for the winter.
     “I’ll get the paper,” Terrance said.
     “I’ll do it,” Parker said, jumped off the stool and ran out of the kitchen, opening the swing door with a shoulder block he’d learned at football practice. Lana took a seat on the stool next to the one Parker just exited, and stirred her coffee.
     “Do you ever regret it,” she asked Terrance, “the chance to play in the pros?”
     “I’d be lying,” he answered, “if I said I didn’t wonder about it a little, what it would have been like,” he crossed to the coffee maker with his mug, for a refill, “but you know how I felt about being a cop.”
     “Yes.”
     “And I sure don’t miss being too sore and stiff to get out of bed, the day after a game,” he said, and then leaned over from the counter to kiss her cheek. She remembered the flak he took from sports writers, and some family members, when he made the decision. His resolve and conviction were other reasons that had made her fall in love with him.
     “That would depend on what’s stiff,” she whispered in his ear.
     Terrance drew back with feigned shock, “Why, Mrs. Marshall!
     “When is Mason coming over?” she asked. Parker returned with the Sunday edition of The New York Times, cradled in both arms. Terrance returned to his stool with a filled mug.
     “Sometime between one and two,” he said. Lana glanced at the clock mounted to the wall above the refrigerator.
     “The Stallion game,” Parker said, “starts at four today, Daddy.”
     “How are they doing this year?” Lana asked.
     “They suck,” he said.
     “Parker!” both Terrance and Lana said, then Terrance followed, “none of that language, young man.”
     “Sorry,” Parker replied.
     “Why don’t you head upstairs for a shower,” she said, “your father is going to have to start cooking soon. I’ll be up to check on you.”
     Parker jumped off his stool, then took his bowl, spoon and glass to the sink. He went over and kissed his mother on the cheek while Terrance watched as Parker slid his left hand over the napkin, grab the cookies and put them in his bathrobe pocket. Terrance pulled out the Sports section of the paper and took over Parker’s unoccupied seat, closer to Lana.
     “I’ve got time,” Terrance said, “I’m going to have Mase cook with me. Two is better than one, right?”
     “Mason can cook?”
     “We’ll find out…It’ll be fine…I’ll use Parker too.”
     “This should be interesting.”
     Terrance turned to the page covering the local pro teams and their match- ups for the afternoon games.
     “So,” Lana said, “are the Stallions really that bad?”
     “Without Bayberry on offense?” Terrance sighed, “they suck.”
Chapter ( xxxv )
     BECKER HAD DECIDED TO HEAD WEST and then travel southward on 5th Avenue, along Central Park, idling down to about twenty miles- per- hour. The sun was coming up, and flashed at him between the high risers that passed to his left along with Museum Row, while the dew dripped off the leaves of the oaks and elms, just inside the Park’s stone walls to his right.
     At the edge of the Park, he turned right and went to the southwest corner, then pulled to the curb at Columbus Circle. He took a cinnamon- raisin from the bagel bag, then got out of the car and sat on the corner of the hood, over the passenger- side headlamp. He zipped the front of his suede jacket in response to the chill still lingering from the unexpected cold snap overnight. The light on his back was warm, but the air around him hadn’t caught up yet. He noticed the deeper trees on this side of the park, still well hidden in shade, had leaves laced with the thin, white film of an early frost, though that would be gone within the next few minutes.
     Not wanting to eat alone, he decided to have breakfast with a group of pigeons that showed no fear of his presence; quite the contrary, they cooed and paced around him, their heads bobbing up and down towards the sidewalk, as if to direct him where to throw the pieces of dough he pinched off the bagel. He watched them scurry en masse to each morsel tossed, bumping and tripping over each other.
     He looked toward the Circle, then raised his left hand to shield his eyes from the glare bouncing off the glass Matterhorn that was Time Warner Center. Rather than the weekday racetrack of gray suits and yellow taxis, the Circle’s only dwellers on this early morning were the Chestnuts and Buttermilks, the Smokeys and Bays. They stood peacefully in front of the handsome cabs that soon enough would carry fares wishing to see the Park in a leisurely fashion, or through romantic eyes. Their drivers were busy. They meticulously brushed the equine coats and manes, or polished the black leather and golden brass of the reins, riggings, and blinders. The steeds, oblivious to the grooming, dined on the feed from the canvas bags hanging over their muzzles.
     Becker hadn’t slept well, but relaxed in the surroundings, a respite from the last four days of violence and unanswered questions. He threw the last few bits of cinnamon- swirled bread in different directions, away from the congregated birds, and headed back around the front of the GT, then watched from behind the steering wheel, as the bevy rushed towards the leftovers; wings flapped haphazardly; some in the group using low flight to gain advantage over their counterparts. He turned over the engine and witnessed their clustered takeoff, like escaping from a shotgun’s blast.
     Becker headed southeast on Broadway, and felt like he had the street to himself. One or two heads silhouetted the windows of buses, cabbies were parked or cruised slowly. He reached Times Square, and looked around at the unlit banners, signs and billboard fronts of theaters and stores; even the neons and incandescents took their day of rest, if only for a few morning hours. He bore to the right, and proceeded downtown on 6th Avenue. Hotel first- floor restaurants and corner diners were beginning to fill, and the wafts of bacon, eggs, waffles, and oatmeal – blowing from kitchen exhaust fans – permeated the car’s interior with each passing block. He pulled over and got a coffee from an all- in- one newsstand, then continued south.
     He was tired. He’d lain in bed, starring at the ceiling, then had gotten up and took a second shower. He tried to lie down once more, but found no peace. He spent the remainder of his time pacing through the apartment in the dark, waiting for morning to come. The real investigation would start on Monday. He dreaded the wait.
     At the corner of West Houston Street, Becker turned into the driveway of a soft- cloth car wash. The Mustang was third car in the queue. He sipped the last of his coffee, trying to block out visions of the body with the gaping hole, the smell of burnt flesh, the piercing eyes of Pam’s sketch.
     He lifted the clutch with his left leg to move the car toward the automated cave, steam rolling out of the entrance. He aligned the front wheels into the guide tracks, then set the car in neutral. An attendant wearing yellow rubber boots came to the side window to collect the fee, and Becker watched him walk to the front, then disappear as he squatted and hooked the chassis to a tether underneath. He popped back up and moved out of the car’s path, as a gentle tugging pulled the vehicle into the building and jets of hot water and detergent sprayed from both sides and above. The interior became progressively dimmer. Long strips of chamois- like fabric dangled and swished from side- to- side, then dragged along the top of the car like jellyfish tentacles, working the suds over the hood, then the windshield and roof, finally engulfing the GT’s entirety. A claustrophobic’s version of hell, Becker thought. The car continued to roll along, and traveled through the next phase. Water poured from every angle, lapping over the glass, rinsing away any signs of foam. The interior began to brighten, though the windows were translucent at best through the sheets of water. A framework of spouts applied a hot mist. Becker noticed the distinctive oily aroma of carnuba wax. He heard the cyclone rush of large blowers as air buffet the car, and he watched the beads of moisture scatter off the windshield and then the hood, while the Cobra crept toward the exit. He thought of blood spatter. Jesus, Mason, turn it off for a while.
     Another attendant was at the doorway, and unhooked the guideline. He looked at Becker, raised his hand, then made a swirling motion with his index finger pointing upward. Becker cranked the ignition, shifted to first, and proceeded left onto Houston, then left again, now heading north on 6th Ave, to what he hoped would be another brief diversion. He put on sunglasses to darken the glare of the sun reflecting off the hood’s mirror- like finish. He got a whiff of diesel from the exhaust of the bus which had pulled out in front of him.
     Traffic was beginning to pick up. Becker drove three blocks and started to look for a spot to park. He found an empty section of curb, within view of his destination; the patch of green- painted asphalt, enclosed by twenty- foot tall, chain- link fencing on the northeast corner of 4th Street.
     West 4th Street Courts’ nickname of The Cage was on the nose; it was undersized, about half the square footage of a traditional basketball court, the sideline perimeter lying only a couple of inches inside the fence surrounding it. Becker had played in pickup games on this court in the past, and saw that the style of participation was still reminiscent of his younger days.
     The diminutive space and the looming barricades restricted any type of ‘open’ game, and forced the players into constant contact. He remembered the sensation of confinement, of being penned in, the lack of escape, where winning and survival were synonymous and achieved only by beating your opponent; you had nowhere to hide. Beating, he thought, was the right description. The competitors used methods that pushed the envelope of assault. But these were the guidelines they accepted once they set foot to the playing area. No blood, no foul… Sometimes blood.
     Becker noticed the number of spectators increasing steadily. They leaned up against the outside of the fence and yelled their encouragement or dissatisfaction toward those on the court. Some grasped the links of the fence and shook, which caused the metallic pinging of the tubular framework to resonate around the players’ heads.
     The observers’ catcalling presence heightened the intensity of play; it rubbed raw each athlete’s inner machismo and produced a myriad of responses. Strong ego and talent rose to the level of bravado, and quickly exposed the weaker opponent’s flaws, whose temerity ineffectively belied shortcomings. The superior instinctively pounced upon those less gifted or inexperienced, like predators sensing the wounded. Becker watched the emotionless thrashing that took place in what should have been a lopsided battle. The better team drove the action into the paint, close to the basket; their maneuvers analogous to a rugby scrum, as elbows and shoulder blocks established their dominance, accentuated by endless trash- talking.
     Only one of their opponents, the shortest in the group, had the skills and the tenacity to cause them fits. Clearly heads above his teammates in talent, he kept his side’s score close in the game, with relentless ball handling and dead- eye outside shooting. But the bigger team’s persistence in pure physicality over finesse won out as they bumped, prodded, and leaned into their weaker adversaries. At game’s end the audience clapped their approval, and more so their relief, to the cessation of the drubbing they’d witnessed.
     One of the winning players made a comment toward the star of the losing squad. The wiry kid retaliated with a verbal barrage of his own, which brought laughter from those within earshot, and caused blatant embarrassment to the victors.
     Becker raced to the entry gate, when he saw all five of the larger opposing teammates as they encircled the out- muscled youth, then shoved him from one to the other, while the ring became tighter with each thrust.
     “Break it up!” Becker yelled and the court fell silent, inside and outside the fence. The circle expanded. Becker now stood next to the lone defiant player.
     “This quarrel is over,” he said, and pointed toward the other end of the court, “you can wait for the next game down there.” Three turned and walked away, while two walked backward, giving off threatening looks.
     “Something you wish to add?” Becker said. They turned and caught up with their cohorts.
     Didn’t fucking think so, Becker kept to himself, nostrils flaring.
     “I don’t give in to their shit,” the youth said, fists clenched, visibly shaken.
     “I can see that,” Becker said, “come on,” he put his hand on the adolescent’s shoulder then led him off the court toward the exit; another team came onto the court and the next game commenced.
     “You showed a lot of heart out there,” Becker said, “more than your teammates. What’s your name?” They crossed the street, toward a bodega on the corner opposite the Cage.
     “Bank Shot.”
     “When you’re not on the court.”
     “Michael. And those aren’t my regular teammates. This was a pickup. Those other guys, they play together a lot.”
     “My Captain’s name is Michael, he’s tough just like you. Let’s get you something to drink… So, what was the commotion about?” Becker pushed the door open, and they went inside then crossed the store, to a stand- up cooler which was filled with bottles of different colored sports drinks.
     “The guy called me something…I don’t want to talk about it.”
     “You said something back, got the rest of them all riled up.”
     “I threw it back in their faces,” Michael said, “what they called me.”
     Becker slid open the cooler’s glass door. Michael chose a liter- sized bottle of a fluorescent- blue liquid on the bottom shelf. When he leaned over, the chain around his neck slid out from his collar. On it was a grouping of small rainbow- colored rings. He quickly shoved the chain under his shirt. Becker paid at the counter and they headed back outside.
     “What are you going to do right now?” Becker asked.
     Michael pointed at the entrance to the 4th Street – Washington Square subway station, adjacent to the courts.
     “I’ll go home,” he said, “maybe come back later.”
     “Well, keep up on your game, Bank Shot,” Becker encouraged, “you’ve got some real potential.” They shook hands and Becker headed toward the parked Cobra.
     “You said your Captain’s name was the same as mine,” Michael yelled. The car alarm chirped, as Becker unlocked the GT with the remote on his keyring.
     “You a cop?”
     “Twenty- four, seven,” Becker said, then noticed an approaching blue and white patrol car.
     “It’s cool,” Michael said, as he headed toward the subway entrance. Becker flagged down the uniforms.
     He told the officers about the brief skirmish as a heads- up, then got into his car, and drove northwest a few blocks, to the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue, making a stop at the Village Cigar Store.
     The little, one- storied triangular building had metal signs in any space available, hanging from or propped against its entrance exterior walls. Its large side windows were covered with posters of various musical icons, present and past, who were compatible to the tastes of Greenwich Village.
     Becker breathed in the sandalwood fragrance of the freshly lighted incense cone, burning in a tray on the glass counter that encased paraphernalia; the thin trail of smoke rising from its glowing tip.
     He bought two Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signatures, deciding that this was the day to rekindle a tradition he had had with his former partner, and keep it alive with Terrance. They’d share a smoke after dinner, and he resolved to do it again, when this case was solved.
(A crime novel in the works…if you’re new, please head over to the Archives section, to the July 16th post, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), where it all begins.  Otherwise, if you’re up to speed, let’s start another chapter.  Thanks for dropping in.)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxiv )
     THE SUN HAD RISEN ABOVE the neighboring homes and trees across the street. A ray sneaked through the sliver of spacing between the drapes of the bedroom window and fell on Lana’s face. She opened her eyes, then squinted from the beam’s irritation. She shifted her naked body toward the center of the bed to get out of its path, and stopped when she felt her back resting up against the skin of Terrance’s chest. He let out a low moan and his right arm crossed over her, resting on her shoulder. She moved in closer, now their bodies in full contact. His left hand and arm slid between her and the mattress; she was always surprised at his strength and ability to move her as if she were weightless. She took his hands in hers and brought them to her breasts.
     “Good morning,” she whispered, “where did all that energy come from last night?”
     He kissed the nape of her neck.
     “You wiped me out,” she said, “but I loved every minute of it.”
     “You can do that to me,” he said, “I’ve been missing this.”
     “I know,” she said, “we haven’t had any time for ourselves, not for a while.”
     “We’ve got time now,” he said, turning her over to face him.
     She could feel him growing, and he lifted himself. She moved underneath him and pulled him to her with her arms and legs, wanting to feel him inside, to be one with him. Their lovemaking was passionate and strong, and they remained in each others’ arms after climax, letting their chests naturally fall in sync with their deep breaths.
     She kissed his shoulder, “I’ll go make some coffee,” she said.
     “I’ll take care of it,” he said, “stay here as long as you like.”
     She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him one last kiss, “OK,” she agreed.
     He rose from the bed, then tucked the covers around her. He found his drawstring flannel lounge pants in a pile on the floor, where he had thrown them in haste the previous evening. He slid them on, then went to the closet and took out his robe and slippers. He donned the robe and tied its sash while he slid his feet into the fleece- lined moccasins. Getting out of the cozy bed caused a shiver, and he heard the air from the floorboard’s heat vent start, as he headed for the door.
     Lana heard the thumps of Terrance’s heavy footsteps on the stairs, as he descended to the first floor. She curled up into a fetal position, hugged a pillow, and enjoyed reliving the moment in her mind.
     Terrance went down the hallway and pushed the swing door open to the kitchen, where he found Parker, busy at the center island. Parker sat on a stool, deeply engrossed in the process of trying to get the strawberry syrup that was layered at the bottom of a glass to mix with the milk above it. Thoughts of mad scientist came to Terrance’s mind, as Parker swirled a spoon, causing a good portion of the milk to spill out of the glass onto the countertop.
     “Whoa, there, Doctor,” Terrance said, breaking Parker’s trance, “there’s got to be a better way.”
     Terrance went to an upper cabinet and opened its door. He removed another glass, then brought it over to the island, setting it down next to Parker’s.
     “You’re up early,” Terrance said, taking the filled glass and pouring its contents into to the new empty one, leaving only the syrup stuck to the bottom. He took the milk jug, still on the countertop, and poured a small amount onto the syrup, then stirred the red juice with the spoon until it dissolved, leaving a pink concoction.
     “Early? Daddy, it’s almost eleven o’clock,” Parker said, as he watched his father mix the liquids together, into the original glass.
     “Oh, shi..oot,” Terrance said, glancing at the clock, as he took the milk container and returned it to the refrigerator, then took a washcloth from the island’s sink, turned on the faucet and rinsed it, then wrung out the cloth and wiped the countertop clean. He rinsed the cloth once more and hung it over the middle divider of the double- sink.
     “You want some eggs?” he asked Parker.
     “Cap’n Crunch,” Parker said, finishing his first gulp, which left a pink mustache on his upper lip.
     “Get a bowl,” Terrance said, and Parker went to a cabinet, then removed a bowl from its shelf, and returned with it, placing it in front of him on the island.
     Terrance crossed to the pantry, took out the box of cereal, a coffee filter and the plastic cannister of grounds, then set them all on the island. While Terrance’s back was turned, Parker took a napkin, then removed the top to the cookie jar, located in the middle of the countertop. He took out two cookies, placed them next to the bowl, then covered the cookies with the napkin. Terrance noticed the opened cookie jar, as he scooped grounds from the cannister into the coffee filter.
     “That’s a pretty lumpy napkin you’ve got there,” Terrance said, lifting the paper to reveal Parker’s stash, “you planning on desert?”
     “They’re peanut butter,” Parker argued, “one of my favorites.”
     “Your mother would kill me,” Terrance said, then reasoned, “but peanuts have protein. Two…no more,” he placed the cover back on the jar, then took the filled filter and crossed over to the coffee maker on the countertop under the cabinets. He he lifted the lid on the coffee maker, then placed the filter and grounds into the top basket. He pulled the sprayer hose from the sink on that counter and filled the machine’s reservoir, flipped down the lid then pressed the brew switch. Parker poured the cereal into his bowl while Terrance took the milk out of the refrigerator.
     “How are you liking football practice?” he asked, as he added milk to the bowl, then returned the jug to the fridge.
     “It’s OK,” Parker said, “but can I ask you something?”
     “Sure.”
     “Did you ever wanna be quarterback?”
     “Every lineman does, son.”
     “Why din’cha?”
     “Well, sometimes you have to use the talents God gave you. I didn’t have those skills, but I was good at other things.”
     “Like kickin’ butt?”
     “Where did you hear that?”
     “Grampa T.”
Back to the crime novel in progress…if you’re new, get up to speed by starting at the July 16th posting, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), in the Archives section to the left of the site.  For the rest of you, thanks for stopping by and here we go…)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xxxiii ) continues…
     The back of the shop emptied, the employees following Becker out the door. Sid shook his head and laughed, amused by the grown men acting like five- year- olds; Becker hadn’t had time for this in the last few weeks.
     Sid liked and respected Becker. There was the character he demonstrated, the Detective had never lost the soul of a beat cop. When Becker was around, he’d walk the neighborhood. He kept tabs. Like ninety- five percent of his comrades in the fraternity of ‘On the Job’, he took ownership of his duties to his City. He knew their names, their families, wanted to know what was going on in their lives. He cared and reacted when there was trouble. Locals had his cell number. Courtesy. Professionalism. Respect. It was the reason he carried a gold shield. He took pride in his responsibility to make a difference.
     Sid went to the doorway to watch the antics. The Detective nestled into the bucket seat behind the steering wheel and dropped the warm paper bag on the passenger seat. The Cobra ornament on the wheel’s center hub – poised in striking position, the reptile’s distinctive hood spread open on its back – gave Becker a fanged smile. He pulled the seatbelt across his chest and buckled it in, slid the key into the steering column’s ignition slot, and turned over the 5.4 Liter V8.
     He heard the whistles of approval from his audience, up until he revved the engine, drowning them out with a tailpipe roar that combined the growl of a Rottweiler with the turbine rumblings of an F-14 Tomcat. He felt the GT’s body instantly pitch clockwise’ when he tapped his right foot on the accelerator, throttling 480 foot- pounds of torque. He grasped the cue ball handle atop the chromed stick shift located in the floor’s center console with his right hand, and guided the rod toward him, then forward into first gear.
     He let the engine idle and pulled up his left foot on the clutch pedal, enough to initiate the Mustang’s slow crawl away from the curb into the middle of the street, then depressed the clutch back down toward the floorboard, letting the car ease into a stop. He checked forward, then in his rear view mirrors, confirming the street all clear. He turned to his onlookers and gave them a short salute, while his dark blue machine stretched its muscles with one long, throaty yawn.
     Becker turned forward once more and tightened his hands on the steering wheel, at 10:00 and 02:00.
     “This is so wrong on so many levels,” he grinned.
     He floored the accelerator pedal and released his left foot off the clutch simultaneously.  The 500 horses laid thirty feet of smoking Goodyear Eagles on the asphalt. Two new black strips replaced the faded patches, left from weeks prior.  Good morning, New York.