Copyright and Author's Rambling

            NYPD Blue and all known characters belong to Steven Bochco, David Milch, ABC, etc.  In other words, they don't belong to me.  Capese?  Noelle Camden, Lisa Wilder, Jasmyn Wilder, Greg the bartender, and any other character you don't recognize, was created in my insane mind.

                Did they ever give Connie's niece a name?  So far, they've just referred to her as "the baby."  I'm naming her "Michelle" after her mother.  Since I don't live in New York City, I'm not sure if places and organizations I mentioned are correct.  I do know that in Manhattan, streets run east-west and avenues run north-south.  If somebody can offer suggestions, I'm all ears.  Any racist remarks are the reflection of Sipowicz's character and in no way represent the views of the author.

New York City Blues

Chapter One: Surprises in Hell

McDowell-Sipowicz Residence

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

7:30 pm

            Detective Andy Sipowicz took a bite of glazed ham and glanced over at his son.  "Stop playing with your food," he told Theo.

            The red headed seven-year-old wrinkled his nose in disgust and continued to shove the French-cut green beans around his plate.  "But it's yucky."

            "C'mon, Theo.  I thought you liked green beans."

            Theo shook his head.  "Not this kind I don't."

            "You know the rule.  You have to eat one green vegetable."

            The boy pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.  "I don't want to," he stated matter-of-factly.

            Andy sighed and shot Detective Connie McDowell an exasperated look.  Maybe she'll have better luck.  The blonde detective seemed to understand what her boyfriend was thinking and addressed the stubborn child:  "How about you eat four green beans?"

            "No way!"

            "One for Daddy, one for me, one for you, and one for Michelle," she continued.  The ten-month-old in question was napping in her infant seat next to Connie.

            Theo seemed to be pondering this idea.  "It's better than eating all of them," Andy reminded his son.

            The phone rang, giving Theo a chance to escape from eating the cursed green beans.  "You sit here and eat," Andy said before the boy could jump up out of his seat.  It's seven-thirty in the evening.  Who the hell would be calling during dinner?  "McDowell-Sipowicz residence," he greeted the caller.

            "Is there an Andrew Sipowicz in this household?" a woman inquired.

            "Speaking," he answered. 

            "My name is Noelle Camden," she told him.  "I'm a …"  Great, one of those damn solicitors.

"We're in the middle of dinner," he cut in before she could continue.  "So whatever it is you're selling – we're not interested."

            "I'm not a solicitor," Ms. Camden informed the detective.

            He apologized.  "Where did you say you were calling from again?"

            "I'm a social worker with the New York City Department of Child Services," she explained.  "We have your daughter in protective custody."

            "I don't have a daughter." 

            "Does the name 'Lisa Wilder' sound familiar to you?"  Lady, what the hell are you talking about?

            "No, it doesn't.  I think you've got the wrong number, lady."  Blunt and to the point. 

            "Lisa Wilder was killed in an automobile collision five days ago," Ms. Camden said.  "She left behind a daughter, Jasmyn.  You were listed on the birth certificate as the father."

            "I don't know no "Lisa Wilder' and I've never had a daughter," he repeated more forcefully.  "I won't tell you again – you've got the wrong number."

            "So you're not Andrew Sipowicz, Jr.?" she asked.

            He found himself gripping the phone until his knuckles turned white.  Are you okay? Connie mouthed.  He gave her an encouraging nod and turned his attention back to the conversation at hand.  "No, that's my son," he told the social worker.  "I'm Andrew Sipowicz, Sr."

            "I'm sorry for the mistake, sir.  Do you know where I can reach him?"

            Yeah, at Monroe Cemetery.  "He was killed seven years ago in a bar fight," he said, his voice taking on a softer tone.

            "Did he ever mention Lisa or Jasmyn's names?"

             "Not that I can remember.  How old is the girl?"  He glanced over at Theo.  The boy glared back and stabbed a green bean multiple times with his fork.

            "She turns nine in November.  From what I've heard, Mr. Sipowicz was very involved in Jasmyn's early life.  I'm surprised you've never met her."

            He mentally did some calculations.  "I was a heavy drinker back then," he admitted.  "My son and I didn't have any sort of relationship until right before his death."  A thought occurred to him:  "Aren't there any relatives on Miss Wilder's side?"

            "Apparently, Miss Wilder was estranged from her family, too," the woman said.  "You appear to be this girl's only family."

            And to think I thought getting Theo to eat his vegetables would be the highlight of the evening.  "Why don't I take down your number and give you a call tomorrow," he said.  The social worker gave him the information.  "I'll stop by during my lunch break."

            By the time Detective Sipowicz returned to the table, three pairs of eyes were upon him.  Two pairs were curious to learn what the conversation was about.  The third couldn't care less about the telephone call; she just wanted her diaper changed.

            Connie touched his arm.  "Who was that?" she asked.

            "Can I have a Popsicle?" Theo asked.

            He nodded his head toward the bedroom.  Connie headed toward it while he dealt with his stubborn son.  "You've got one more green bean to go," he said.  "I'll be completely bald by the time you finish, at the rate you're going."

            Theo giggled.  "But Daddy, you're already bald."

            Andy touched the side of his head.  "No, I've still got some hair."  He pointed to the boy's plate.  "Now finish up."

            "Who was on the phone?" Connie repeated once they were out of earshot of Theo.

            "A social worker," Andy said.  "Apparently, I've got a granddaughter …"

* * *

John Clark, Jr. Residence        

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

2:59 am

            Blood … Pop … I just want to be at peace and be with your mother … my fault my fault my fault …where does your dad keep his gun cleaning supplies, John? … I'm done raising you … I want to be at peace … why, Pop? … No! An anguished scream broke through the murky thoughts swimming around his head with an intensity that threatened to shatter his already fragile existence.  He felt a hand grasp his forearm; he thrashed around trying to get the intruder to leave him be.

            "John, wake up," a voice coaxed.  "You're having a nightmare."  Hands gently stroked his hair as the voice attempted to shush him.

            Little boy soaked with perspiration … you're having a nightmare … Pop's here now … I'll never let nothing bad happen to you (bullshit!) … that's my boy … that's my Johnny … keep making me proud.  He blinked his hazel eyes and brought the blurry ceiling into focus.  "Pop?" he whispered anxiously.  He cast a hopeful glimpse at the man who loved him and protected him from the bad dreams.  Wait a minute – you're not Pop! He silently accused the dark-haired woman who had mysteriously taken his dad's place.  "Rita?"

            Rita Ortiz continued running her fingers through her boyfriend's sweat-matted hair.  "It's okay, John.  It's gonna be okay."

            He rubbed his tear-stained eyes, further increasing their redness.  "What time is it?"

            "Three in the morning," she answered.  She wrapped her arms around his body and drew his head to her chest, unconsciously cradling him in the identical manner of his father.  This had become a common ritual over the past three weeks. 

            "You really shouldn't be here," John advised her.  "You're never gonna get any sleep at this rate."

            "I don't mind," Rita assured him.  Her tone changed to one of concern.  "Have you gotten any sleep?"

            Blood … Pop … eyes wide open … blood …can't close my eyes without seeing the blood … someone please make it go away!  "On and off," he lied.  When Rita wasn't spending the night, he would occupy himself with bland infomercials or a brisk jog through the inky black New York City streets.  He barely had enough energy during the day – couldn't even take a bite out of a plain bagel without feeling nauseous – but when his exhausted head finally found solace on a pillow, he couldn't fall asleep.  The mere act of closing his eyes caused hell to resurface. 

            "I wish you'd talk to somebody about the nightmares," she urged him.  And the insomnia … and your loss of appetite … but you can't worry about any of those things because you don't know they even exist.

            "I'm fine," he told her.  He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.  "I'm gonna make some tea.  You want?"

            "I really think you should talk to some …"

            "I said I was fine!" he said abruptly.  "Lemon chamomile tea – that's what I'm making.  If you want some, I'll be in the kitchen.  That's where the stove is."  She looked puzzled by choice of words, but he could care less.  He shuffled his feet into the kitchen and opened the cabinets in search of tea.  His eyesight blurred and there seemed to be two conjoined twin boxes of Lucky Charms instead of the original one box.  As soon as his knees buckled, his hands reached out to grab the edge of the countertop.  You haven't been getting any sleep … that's why you keep having these dizzy spells. 

            Rita joined him in the kitchen while the water boiled.  "I just want to help, John," she explained.

            He sighed and buried his face in his hands.  "I know.  I just … you don't …"

            She interrupted his stuttering with a kiss on the forehead.  "I'm here, John.  You can talk to me.  Alright?"

            He wanted to scream at her, accuse her of lying – he lied … promised he'd always be here for me … screw you! – but he bit his tongue and attempted a smile.  "Thanks," he said quietly.  I don't care what you or Andy or anybody at the Fifteenth says … I'm truly alone … Pop!

* * *

New York City Department of Child Services, Temporary Group Home

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

12:18 pm

            Detective Sipowicz entered the five-story building and nearly collided into a young girl running down the hall. 

            "Sorry, mister," the girl said.  Her dark skin reminded him of coffee after it was watered down with milk. 

            "Don't run like that," he advised her.  "You could fall down."

She shook her head back, letting jet-black curls fall away from her eyes.  "I'm a good runner," she boasted.  "I'm pretty careful, ya know."

            A man with platinum-blond hair approached the child.  They let freaks like you work with kids?  "Jasmine, you know you're not supposed to be running inside the building," he chastised her.  The now identified "Jasmine" crossed her arms over her chest and rolled her eyes in Andy's direction.  "Don't be sassy with me.  Why aren't you in the dining hall?  It's lunch time."

            "Cause I'm not hungry," Jasmine explained.  This girl's just as stubborn as Theo.

            "Oh, you're not, huh?" the man responded.  "I'd eat something if I were you.  Dinner's not for another six-and-a-half hours."  I don't think she's going to care until her stomach starts to grumble.

            "But Rocky …" she whined.

            "I'm not giving you an option here."

            Realizing she was defeated, the girl let out an exasperated sigh and retreated down the hall toward what Andy guessed was the aforementioned dining room.

            Andy cleared his throat.  The man turned around and noticed the portly detective for the first time.  "I'm sorry, sir," he said.  "Can I help you?"

            "Yeah, I'm looking for a Noelle Camden."

            "You must be Detective Sipowicz," the man stated.  He extended his hand.  "Damon Rocklander.  Everybody calls me 'Rocky'.  Most everyone's in the dining room right now.  Come on, I'll show you where it is."

            He observed his surroundings as he followed Rocky down the hall.  The mint-green paint was peeling, the floorboards were creaking, and the ceiling appeared to be covered in dust and mold.  How old is this dump?  This place is "Allergy City."

            Rocky seemed to be able to read the detective's thoughts.  "This building used to be a shirtwaist factory back in the 1920s," he explained.  "We're trying to raise enough money to move into newer accommodations by next summer."  He opened a door and ushered Andy inside.  Approximately five adults and twenty to thirty children of various ages were sitting at long tables.  The social worker and the detective approached the table closest to the door.  This table was occupied by five preteens and one middle-aged lady with her graying brunette hair pulled back into a harsh bun.  Rocky addressed the woman.  "Noelle, this is Detective Sipowicz," he informed her.

            The woman stood up and extended her hand to Andy.  "Noelle Camden," she introduced herself.

            Andy clasped her hand and shook it.  "Andy Sipowicz."  He glanced around the room in the hope of catching a glimpse of his granddaughter.  I only see about eleven or twelve eight or nine-year-olds.  The only three white girls look nothing like Andy, Jr.  "Which one's Jasmyn?" he asked.

            "Second table to the end, third seat on the left," Ms. Camden told him.

            "Are you sure?" he asked.  The girl she was pointing toward was the same girl he had collided with before.  "There's got to be some kind of mistake," he explained.   A big mistake – that girl's black.

            "No mistake," the social worker clarified.  "Jasmyn is biracial."

            "I can see that," Andy shot back.  "She doesn't have any family on her mother's side?"  I can't be taking care of no black girl.  God knows what type of trouble them people get into.

            "Ms. Wilder's family lives in Jamaica," she said.  "She was estranged from them.  It was her expressed wishes that Jasmyn be placed with her paternal family."

            "And if I don't take her?"

            "She'll most likely end up spending the next nine years in foster care," she replied.  "Children her age are impossible to find permanent homes for."

            "Alright, I'll take her," he answered.  Ms. Camden's face seemed to brighten.  "Do I need to fill out any paperwork or anything?"  Andy, Jr., what the hell did you get yourself into?