LIFE ON THE STREET
Note: This story utilizes characters from Homicide: Life On The Street and The Wire and takes place independently of any timeline or story arc featured on either series.
" The City That Bleeds, keeps on bleeding."
" The bitch is cheatin' on 'im."
" Bunk " Moreland, cigar clenched in his teeth, shined a small flashlight as he walked along the alley.
Meldrick Lewis shook his head as he followed, shining his own flashlight at the ground.
" No she ain't."
" The hell she's not. Look at the facts."
Lewis's head dropped.
" Fine, go ahead."
Bunk stopped and exhaled a cloud of smoke.
" He's good police, which means he's out bustin' his ass all the time, bringin' in cases, right? "
" She can't abide by that. She's a good lookin' woman. Doesn't wanna be ignored, so she goes lookin' for a li'l somethin' on the side to tide her over while her man's out keeping the city safe. Seen it a hundred times."
Lewis crouched and focused his flashlight's beam on something, then shook his head as he disregarded it and stood back up.
" See, man. Only you would think of something like that. Where's your proof? "
" My proof? "
" Yeah. Where's your proof? "
Bunk turned his back and kept walking up the alley, searching the ground.
" I don't need no damn proof. Look at her eyes. Let me get her in the box and I'll sweat a confession outta the bitch easy."
" Bunk. Dick Tracy's wife is not cheatin' him. That's just stupid."
" Man, open your eyes, Meldrick. It's plain as day."
" Yeah? Well maybe he's cheatin' on her. Huh? Ya ever think a that? "
" No way man. He's too busy to go runnin' around on his woman."
" Never stopped you before."
Bunk pointed at him with his cigar.
" Sir, we are not talkin' about me."
Lewis swept the beam of his flashlight near a dumpster and stopped.
" Damn. Here we go."
He crouched, and with his gloved hand carefully picked up a .32 pistol by the bottom of it's grip.
" How 'bout that? " he said." You owe me money."
" So you found a gun in an alley." Bunk deadpanned." This is Baltimore, man. That could've come from a completely different shooting. I don't owe you jack."
" The hell you don't." Lewis protested as he handed the gun off to an evidence technician." I told you I had a good feeling about this one and bang, here it is. Murder weapon in the alley, not fifty yards from where it went down. You owe me."
Bunk returned the cigar to his mouth and sighed as he retrieved his wallet.
He pulled out a twenty and slapped it into Lewis's palm.
" There. Ya happy now bitch? "
Lewis held the bill up in the glow of the streetlight to verify its authenticity.
" I won't be happy until this case goes from red to black."
Bunk nodded and the two men turned and headed back down the alley.
" The More Things Change "
The Baltimore Police Department's Homicide unit had undergone a myriad of recent changes.
The unit moved into new offices in the BPD's headquarters building, leaving behind the old, battle worn squad room that for so many years had been home to the city's murder police.
Several detectives had transferred or retired and were replaced by detectives from other units such as Lester Freamon who had worked in the recently disbanded Major Crimes Unit.
Some had simply switched from one shift to the other, like Bunk who, after closing several cases while on loan to Lieutenant Al Giardello's s squad, requested a permanent transfer.
Cedric Daniels, once the Lieutenant of Major Crimes was now the CID Colonel, a welcome change from Colonel George Barnfather who had little investigative experience, although that fact never seemed to stop him from interfering with several high profile murder cases.
One thing that hadn't changed was the Board, the long dry erase board that was split into columns, each detective's name written along the top with the names of the cases they were working in long columns underneath. Open cases in red, closed in black. An archaic tool used by the brass to track a detective's productivity.
The detectives began to slowly file in to begin their day.
Tim Bayliss walked in with a cup of coffee and sat down at the desk behind his partner, Frank Pembleton.
" Mornin' Frank."
" Hm." Pembleton replied, poring over paperwork and taking a sip of coffee.
" Hm. That's it, Frank? " Bayliss said." Every shift I come in and say hi to you, trying to start off on a positive note and all you ever seem to utter back is…is some monosyllabic grunt. Never a warm greeting in return. Nothing."
" Good morning, Tim. How are you? ", Pembleton answered laconically, not looking up from his paperwork.
" See, you didn't mean that, now did you? "
" Oh what? What do you want from me? " Pembleton sighed in annoyance as he swiveled in his chair." You have known me long enough to know that I am not a morning person. I come in, I have my cup of coffee, I catch up on my paperwork. I have a routine. It is the same thing at the start of every shift. You see this. You see this and yet you persist in your Little Timmy Sunshine routine."
" I'm just trying to stay positive."
" Tim. We are murder police. We are not a positive lot. It is by virtue of what we do that we are not positive people. How can we stay positive when all we see is death? Day after day. The fact that you even attempt it saddens me."
Bayliss leaned back in his chair as he sipped his coffee.
" Why does my being positive sadden you, Frank? "
Pembleton swiveled back in his chair and began to study his paperwork again.
" I am done talking to you."
John Munch strolled over, coffee mug in hand.
" Have you two ever considered couples counseling? "
" Go away, John." Pembleton sighed.
" No. No, I'm serious here. If I were a shrink, I could forge a new niche in psychotherapy. Counseling for police officers. Not counseling for grief or post traumatic stress, counseling for bickering police partners. I would clean up. I would make a mint."
Lester Freamon, an older black detective with a goatee, walked in with a few small boxes and sat down at his desk.
" What is he talkin' about? "
" Who knows? " Pembleton replied, still not looking up.
Freamon draped his jacket over the back of his chair and pulled a miniature dining table from one of the small boxes.
" Whattaya got there, Lester? " asked Bayliss.
" Replica of a Chippendale's." Freamon answered, as he sat down." This baby'll fetch me a nice chunk of change when I finish it."
Munch sat down on the corner of Freamon's desk.
" See, that's what I like about you, Lester. Most cops, their favorite hobby is drinking. Maybe fishing. But not you, Lester, my man. You make doll furniture. There's something…I don't know…very Zen about that. I dig that."
" It's miniature furniture, Munch." Freamon looked up at him over his half glasses." Not doll furniture and it's just a hobby. What's so "Zen" about that? "
Munch stood, sliding his hand into his pocket.
" I don't know, something about the patience required, the attention to detail. Very centering. Sort of like your own rock garden."
Bayliss pointed at Freamon and nodded.
" Yeah. I can dig that. That's cool, Lester."
" Thank you." Freamon sighed.
Bunk sat down at his desk with a pink doughnut box followed by Lewis.
" Lester, you still playin' with that stuff? " he asked, biting into a jelly filled.
Freamon gave him a stern look as he placed the table back into it's box.
Giardello walked out of his office and paused momentarily by the gathering of his detectives.
" Ah, the best and the brightest of the Murder Police, gathered here in my midst." the large man smiled, resting his arm on top of the cubicle wall." It warms my heart so."
" You know, we're not all here, Gee." Munch offered.
" Yes, Munch. I know. I haven't forgotten about Bolander and Felton."
" I can't speak for Beau, but Stanley got a raw deal, Gee."
" How you gonna say he got a raw deal? " Lewis called from his desk, easing back with a cup of coffee from The Daily Grind." There's a damn picture of Big Man goin' around, of him in his boxers, wearin' a lampshade on his head, like an old school drunk."
Giardello smiled and clapped his large hands onto Munch's shoulders.
" John, your loyalty to your partner is admirable, but for their escapades at that convention, they should be lucky all they got was suspended."
The phone between Pembleton and Bayliss began to bleat loudly.
Bayliss looked at Pembleton who refused to turn around.
" Come on Frank." Bayliss sighed." Look at all that red under my name. I can't be the primary on this one. My clearance rate is sinking faster than the Raven's playoff chances."
Pembleton casually eyed his partner over his shoulder as the phone continued to ring.
" Answer the damn phone! " Giardello snapped.
Pembleton snatched the phone from it's receiver, all the while maintaining eye contact with Bayliss.
" Homicide, Pembleton."
He copied down the information and hung up.
" Cabbie got shot down by the Inner Harbor." he reported as he stood and grabbed his coat.
Bayliss pushed back from his desk.
" I owe you, Frank." he said, pulling his gun from the top drawer and sliding it into it's holster." Hey, how 'bout I drive? "
" No." Pembleton replied, slipping on his hat." I'm primary, I drive."
" Frank, you don't have to be vindictive! " Bayliss called after him as they left.
Giardello stepped over to Lewis and Bunk.
" So, what's the status of that shooting in Reservoir Hill from last night? "
" It's a dunker, Gee." Lewis said, offering his superior a buttermilk bar.
Giardello waved him off.
" So it's down, then? "
" Well, not yet. But, we got the suspect's prints on the murder weapon and two eyeball witnesses who put him in for the shooting."
" So why isn't he in the box? "
Bunk cleared his throat.
" Uh, well. We're tryin' to track 'im down, Gee."
" Lewis, don't you think you're tempting the fates by calling a case a dunker before you have a suspect in custody? "
Lewis smiled as he dunked his doughnut in his coffee cup.
" I'm on a lucky streak, Gee. Case is goin' down today. I can feel it in my bones."
" Uomini programma, risate del Dio." Giardello smiled as he strolled off to his office." Men plan, God laughs."
" Hey, that's deep, Gee." Lewis called.
Bunk smiled at his partner and slapped a twenty on the desk.
" This says you ain't gonna put this one down today."
Lewis shoved the rest of his doughnut into his mouth and pointed at Bunk.
" I'm gonna get used to takin' your money."
Pembleton and Bayliss stepped from their car, holding up their badges for the uniforms as they ducked under the yellow police line tape.
" Man, I remember coming down around here when I was a kid." Bayliss said, his eyes scanning the block." Place used to be a dump. Almost literally. I mean, now look at it. Aquarium's a couple blocks up that way. Camden Yards. Whole area's a tourist trap now. Funny how things change."
" The more things change, the more they stay the same." Pembleton replied, nodding towards a yellow taxi cab that was parked at the curb, the driver's side door open.
A uniformed officer offered a half wave as they approached.
" Mornin' detectives."
" Smitty, what've we got? " asked Pembleton.
" Looks like a robbery." the officer replied." Watch your step."
He pointed to a wallet that was laying on the ground a few feet from the car in a white chalk circle.
" Gunshot wound to the left temple. Medics from the ambo already pronounced 'im, seein' as his brains are all over the passenger side window in there."
The two detectives peered inside the vehicle at the driver, careful not to disturb the body until the M.E. arrived.
A man in his forties with dark hair, lay slumped over the steering wheel, a small bloody hole in his left temple with a larger exit wound on the right side of his head.
" Armin Harvossian." Bayliss said, reading the cab driver's posted license aloud." Harvossian? What is that? Arab? Middle Eastern?
" Armenian." Pembleton replied, cigarette dangling from his lip." Last names ending in -ian typically denote Armenian heritage."
He stretched on a pair of latex gloves, then stooped to pick up the wallet.
" Armin Harvossian." he said, reading the name on the driver's license." Gas card, no cash…ATM receipt."
" Looks like a robbery, all right." said Bayliss." Find any shell casings? "
" None yet." the officer replied." Cars were rollin' past here when we showed up. A casing could be anywhere by now."
" Wait." Pembleton said, flipping through the wallet." There's an ATM receipt, but no ATM card."
" Killer probably took it." said Bayliss." We could contact the bank, see when the next withdrawal from his account is. Any witnesses? "
" Just one." said the cop." Mailman was around the corner, said he heard what he thought was a fire cracker. Walked around the corner and said he saw a black male in his twenties running west down the street."
" Description? " asked Pembleton, motioning for Bayliss to write down the information.
" Skinny, wearing a blue Wizards jersey. That's all."
A Channel 11 news van pulled to the curb up the street as another film crew began setting up their camera.
" What the hell are they doing here? " asked Pembleton.
" Cabbie gets shot in broad daylight at the revitalized Inner Harbor." Bayliss said, folding his arms." If it's a slow news day, I'd bet this leads the six o' clock report. Careful Frank, this might turn into a red ball before you know it."
Pembleton blew smoke from the corner of his mouth as he stared at his partner.
" I know you don't have the balls to gloat after I took the call for a case that, by all rights, you should be the primary on. I know you're not doing that, are you? "
" How should I be the primary? " Bayliss replied indignantly.
" You were up, Tim. It was your turn in the rotation. Since you started crying about your clearance rate, I, in a misguided attempt to be the bigger person, took the call. Something I won't do again."
" Okay, you know what? Fine, Frank. You want me to be the primary, I'll be the primary."
" Oh no. Forget it. It's my case now." Pembleton said, throwing a hand at him dismissively.
A second officer jogged over.
" Detectives, radio car picked up a kid matching the description over on Lombard."
The detectives exchanged glances, then headed for their car.
" The City That Bleeds, keeps on bleeding." Munch said as he and Freamon stepped from their sedan.
" What? " asked Freamon.
" If I ever write a book about Homicide, that's gonna be the last line. I thought about it last night."
" If you ever write a book,? So this is something you've actually put some thought into? "
" I have dabbled in journalism from time to time." Munch replied as they walked onto a vacant, weed covered lot." I wrote a few articles for my college paper about the evils of the Military-Industrial Complex and it's link to a large majority of the world's ills."
Freamon shook his head as he slipped on a pair of gloves.
" Man, you are one weird cat. How did you ever become a cop? "
" Lester, I ask myself that same question every morning."
A female patrol sergeant stepped forward as several officers and evidence technicians pored over the field behind her.
" Where's our stiff? " asked Munch.
The Sergeant rubbed the back of her neck.
" Well….here." she pointed at a small cordoned off patch of weeds." And over there. And…back there."
" I'm sorry." said Freamon, squinting at her." What exactly are you trying to tell us, dear? "
" Somebody chopped up your corpse, Detective." she said, pointing at the different spots in the field again." There's a hand here, another over there, and a foot, back by that tall patch."
" Well…I always did like jigsaw puzzles." Munch said, arching an eyebrow behind his dark glasses.
" Damn. First case back in Homicide as the primary and this is what I get." Lester shook his head.
Dr. Scheiner from the M.E.'s office sauntered over wearing a red flannel jacket and brown, cabbie-style cap.
" Lester, you back from listenin' in on other people's phone calls? " the old man asked in that raspy, half shout of a voice that he had.
" Yep." Freamon replied." I'm just a straight murder police now. What've we got here, Scheiner? "
" Somebody got chopped up, that's what." Scheiner replied, motioning for the two to follow him." Some guy was walking his dog, dog chased a ball into the lot and the guy saw a hand. Look."
The detectives peered down at a disembodied hand laying among a patch of knee high dead weeds.
" We haven't printed this one yet. We got prints from the other hand first."
Freamon crouched and inspected the hand without touching it.
" Are they from the same body? "
" Looks that way." Scheiner shrugged, pointing across the lot with his clipboard." That one's a lefty, this one's a righty. Both probably Caucasian or Hispanic. Same for the foot."
" Which one is it? " asked Munch.
" What? ", Scheiner barked, annoyed.
" The foot. A right or a left? "
" A left."
" Well, no blood to speak of." said Freamon, not breaking his gaze from the hand." So it was probably dropped here. You find any blood around? "
" Not yet." replied Scheiner." Look, you fellas wanna take a look at the other pieces, so I can pack 'em up and get back to the office? I got customers waitin'."
" What can you tell from the rigor, Doc? " asked Munch.
" Eh. Probably a day old. I gotta get 'em on the table to know for sure."
Freamon stood up and stroked his chin.
" Question is, where the hell is our crime scene? " he pondered aloud.
The two detectives eyed the surrounding neighborhood of old rowhouses and abandoned buildings.
" It could be anywhere around here." Munch turned in place as he surveyed the neighborhood.
" Let's get a dog out here." said Freamon." Maybe we can track a scent."
Scheiner threw his arms up.
" Ah hell. If you guys are gonna be a while, I'm gonna go get a sandwich."