Cop Killer

Chapter Eight


Jim woke up before his alarm sounded. He was almost relieved that the work week was beginning. It had been a long weekend, with – he hated to admit it – frequent reminders of how much he relied on Christie now. He could – and did – manage on his own when he needed to, but there was no getting around the fact that Christie made his life a lot easier. He wasn't sure, he thought wryly, how much longer he could survive on take-out. He hadn't been much of a cook when he could see, and he still wasn't, even after the cooking classes he'd had in rehab.

All weekend long, it seemed he couldn't leave the apartment without encountering someone who'd noticed Christie's absence and invariably asked him if he needed help. He told them all she was "out of town on business" and he was fine, thanks very much. On Saturday evening, he retreated to a neighborhood bar frequented by serious drinkers who, he knew from experience, would leave him alone. He spent most of a rainy Sunday afternoon at home, listening to a baseball game on the radio. The Yankees' twelfth-inning loss at Cleveland did nothing to improve his mood.

Mostly, though, he missed his wife. Their relationship would never be easy, but there had always been a strong connection between them – strong enough to keep them together in spite of his infidelity and blindness. And after a year and a half of couples therapy, he'd thought the worst times in their marriage were behind them – until now.

Over the weekend, he'd left several messages on Christie's voice mail, but she hadn't returned his calls. When he finally gave in and called Cat on Sunday night, she hung up when she heard his voice. He knew he couldn't let this go on much longer. He wasn't sure how long Christie could stand up to Cat's constant harping on his shortcomings and the burdens of being married to a blind man. He could almost hear Cat telling Christie she had done more than anyone expected of her, he took her for granted, and no one would blame her if she thought of herself, for once. He threw off the covers and headed for the shower, telling himself he'd find a way to convince her to come home. He just wasn't sure how.

The squad spent the morning doing follow-up and finishing their reports on Jennings' murder. At mid-morning, the phone on Jim's desk rang. "Eighth squad, Dunbar," he answered. A moment later, he said, "Yes, sir," and hung up.

Karen stopped what she was doing and looked at him. "What was that about?" she asked.

Jim shrugged. "I'm not sure. The Chief wants to see me in his office. He's sending a car for me."

A few minutes later, a uniformed officer walked into the squad room. "Detective Dunbar?" he asked.

"Right here." Jim stood up and signaled to Hank, then followed the officer out of the squad room. Karen watched him go, a worried look on her face. Marty looked pointedly at Tom, who shrugged noncommittally and looked away.

On the way to One PP, Jim's mind raced as he ran through a mental list of the possible reasons for the Chief's summons. This couldn't be good. He guessed it had something to do with the case, but what? He doubted Tunney had called him in to congratulate him on clearing the case. He gave a mental shrug. He'd find out soon enough.

After a ten-minute wait in the Chief's reception room, Jim heard Tunney calling his name. He stood and ordered Hank forward, in the direction of the Chief's voice, and followed Tunney into his office. After Tunney closed the door behind them, he said, "Have a seat, Detective, there's a chair right in front of you."

Jim reached out, found the chair, and sat down. Hank sat next to him. "Thanks, Chief," he replied.

"I've been following Greg Jennings' murder closely," Tunney began, "terrible thing, just terrible."

"Yes, sir," Jim said guardedly.

"You worked with him when you were at the 3-2, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did," Jim replied, wondering where Tunney was going with this.

"As you know, IAB has been looking into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Calvin Marshall ten years ago." Jim nodded but said nothing. Tunney pursed his lips, then continued, "Lieutenant Krause has agreed it's best for him to take 'early retirement.' Jennings' widow and children don't need to know about what he was mixed up in."

Jim turned away for a moment, thinking. When he faced Tunney again, he replied, "No, sir, they don't. But what about Calvin Marshall's trial?"

Tunney gave Jim an impatient look. "There isn't going to be a trial, Detective." Noticing Jim's puzzled expression, he explained, "Calvin confessed to killing a cop. Pleading guilty is the only way he can avoid the death penalty. If he brings up what happened ten years ago, all he does is give himself a motive. He wants to save his sorry ass, he'll shut up and plead guilty."

Jim considered this for a moment, then started to ask Tunney whether the DA was going along with the deal. He stopped himself when he realized he already knew the answer. Calvin wasn't the only suspect Krause had set up. Every conviction the DA had gotten in Krause's cases could be in doubt. Of course the DA would go along. He nodded to himself, then asked, "And what about Tyrone Walker?"

"He was released first thing this morning," Tunney replied. "The DA says they can't charge him – something about the statute of limitations. But Tyrone doesn't know that. He kept his mouth shut for ten years to cover his ass. He's not gonna talk now."

"Probably not," Jim agreed.

Frowning, Tunney scrutinized Jim for a moment, then continued, "One other thing, Detective, this stays in house – all of it. I don't want to read about any of this in the newspapers, so don't go running to your buddies in the press."

Jim began to protest, "I don't have any 'buddies' in – "

Tunney cut him off. "You're in no position to make waves, Detective," he said. "You were in the same squad with Phil Krause and Greg Jennings, you worked Calvin Marshall's case, too."

"I'm aware of that, sir," Jim replied.

"I wouldn't want that information to end up in the hands of – certain people," Tunney observed. "We wouldn't want them to get the wrong idea, would we?"

Jim nodded grimly. "So that's how it is."

"Yes," Tunney confirmed, "that's how it is. We understand each other, right?"

"We do."

"All right. That's all, Detective."

Jim stood up, grasped Hank's harness, and left the Chief's office without another word.

Sitting in the unmarked on the way back to the 8th Precinct, Jim considered what had just happened. Tunney's swift damage control didn't surprise him. He knew how these things worked. The Department couldn't take another hit to its public image. But Tunney was wrong about him – he wouldn't break ranks over this. No matter what happened ten years ago, Calvin killed a cop. He had to pay for that. Still, it rankled that Krause was getting off so easy. And he would have to be careful not to get sideways with Tunney. He hadn't been part of Krause's dirty schemes, but guilt by association was a powerful weapon. He shrugged. He never expected it to be easy.

Marty was the first to spot Jim and Hank returning to the squad. "Hey, Jim," he asked, "what'd the Chief want? You getting transferred again?"

Jim released Hank and stopped next to Marty's desk. "Nope." He shook his head, then added, with a little grin, "Sorry to disappoint you."

"Just keeping hope alive," Marty shot back. "So what was that about?"

Jim ignored the question and resumed walking to his desk. After he found his chair and sat down, he scratched Hank's ears, then reached for his earpiece and went back to work on the report which had been interrupted by the call from the Chief's office. Karen looked at him curiously but said nothing. Marty gave Tom a knowing look and pointed at him. Tom rolled his eyes resignedly.

As the end of the tour approached, Fisk came out of his office, looking solemn.

Karen noticed him first. "What's up, boss?" she asked.

Fisk crossed the room and sat on the desk next to Jim's before he answered. Finally he said, "Corrections just called. Calvin Marshall's dead."

Jim sat up straight. "Dead?" he asked. "How?"

"He got shanked in the day room of his module at Rikers," Fisk said. "Forty guys, and no one saw anything." He shook his head.

"Yeah," Marty said, "and it's not like Corrections is gonna bust their tails finding out who offed a cop killer."

"You got that right," Tom agreed.

"Damn," Jim muttered. He turned away from the others and bowed his head.

Fisk glanced at him, frowning, then said, "You can call it a day when you finish up your fives." He stood and returned to his office, closing the door behind him.

The end of the tour finally arrived. Jim headed for the subway, but instead of taking the train home to Brooklyn, he went uptown, to Cat's apartment on the Upper East Side. He and Christie needed to talk – and it was time to get her away from Cat.

Cat opened the apartment door partway in response to Jim's knock, then stopped when she saw him and Hank. "I told you not to come here," she said, "she doesn't want to see you."

Before Jim could answer, Christie's voice came from behind her sister. "It's all right, Cat."

Cat turned toward her. "Christie – " she began.

"I said it's all right," Christie repeated more firmly.

Cat gave an exaggerated sigh. "Suit yourself." She opened the door all the way and stepped back grudgingly to allow Jim and Hank to enter.

"Hey," Jim said.

"Hey," Christie answered him, then turned toward her sister. "Would you excuse us, please, Cat?"

Cat didn't reply, but Jim heard her footsteps leaving the room.

"Did Cat give you my message?' he asked.

"Yes. She told me."

He smiled at her, a little tentatively, before asking, "So how's that 'forgetting' thing working out for you?"

"Not very well," she admitted.

"Christie, I – " he began.

"Jimmy, I – " she began simultaneously. After an awkward pause, she said, "You first."

Jim bit his lip and turned away from her. When he turned to face her again, he said, "Cat said you were – hurting, you'd been hurting for a while, but I couldn't see it. Was she right?"

Christie looked away, uncertain how to answer him. Finally she said, "Yes – and no." In response to Jim's questioning expression, she explained, "I wasn't hurting, not like I was before. But there are some things you never really get over. You just try to put them behind you and move on. I thought I'd done that, but – maybe I haven't, not really. . . and then when you lied to me about the case – it all came back to me. I couldn't be with you, I had to get away."

Jim bowed his head. When he raised his head, he said, "I'm – sorry. I know how important me being honest is to you. I just – sometimes there are things about my job you don't need to know – you know, the ugly stuff."

"I understand you want to shield me from the ugly parts of your job," she told him. "But you can't – not really. And even if you could, you can't protect me by lying to me."

"I know."

"Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to trust you again, after – ?" she asked.

Jim nodded gravely. "I do."

Christie was about to snap back that he couldn't possibly know, but she stopped herself. Of course he knew. Trust had never come easily to Jim. His work as a cop had made it even harder for him to trust. But losing his sight had forced him to trust other people – sometimes total strangers – to tell him about things he couldn't see for himself. She sighed, then said, "I know." She reached out and rubbed his shoulder.

He held out his hand and said, "Come home with me – please."

She looked at her husband closely while she considered her decision. Finally she took his hand and said, "Let's go home."

The End