After saying hi to the guys and paying my union dues to Joe Sculley, our union steward, I headed out to the 12th precinct. But when I went out to unlock my car, I found some low life snatching hubcaps, right across the street from the station. I know the world has always been crooked, but now it's getting stupid, too. Bad combination, crooked and stupid. It took me thirty minutes to get that guy handed off to a beat cop.
Finally found a parking place at the 12th - actually it was the Captain Taylor's spot, whoever he was. I hated what they did to the 12th. Used to be housed in this red stone building, an elegant Victorian classic. A couple of years ago, they tore it down and built this glass and steel monstrosity, a shiny cube devoid of any personality, a box to hold people.
My phone call led me to believe that Officer Kyle Davis of Vice would meet me at the Intake Desk. "Well here I am, where's Davis? For that matter, where was the friggin' Desk Sergeant?"
Here I was standing in the midst of the hub of law enforcement and I could have walked off with the company store and not a soul would have stopped me.
"Hey, anybody know where I can find Officer Kyle David?"
Finally some janitor comes over and asks, "Who are you?"
Showing my badge, "That's who I am. Where is everybody?"
"Oh, they're down in the lounge giving a retirement party for Sarge Williams. But you said, Officer David, right?"
"Oh, he's down at the end of the hall, Interview Room 1. He's got some drunk down there, waiting for somebody, I think."
"Well, that somebody they're waiting for is me. Thanks."
"You's welcome, sir."
One sturdy knock on the door brought the lost Officer Davis to the door. Younger fella, more than a rookie, but still living with face full of acne and a gut full of enthusiasm. "Davis?"
"Come on in." He seated me at the bare gray steel table on a bare minimum folding chair. Across from me was one certifiable drunk, proven so merely by the smell of the man, that raw alcohol smell that seems to seep from these guys skin and the fragrance of a month's worth of dirt and sweat in his clothes.
"Slick, this is Lieutenant MacKenzie. He's the one you need to talk to if you want to have us help you out."
"Lieutenant, this is my good friend, Slick. He's pretty connected with our street population around here."
"Okay, Slick. What do you know about Archbishop Collins?"
"How many days to I get in the shelter? Food too, remember."
"Slick, it depends how much and how good your info is."
"Oh, it's good, Lieutenant."
"Alright. What's ya got?"
"You see, I've got this friend named Nickels. He knows how to get into the basement of the church when it get cold."
"Okay. Which church?"
"The Catholic one with the school across the street. St. Francis, I think they call it."
"So far so good. Now what about Nickels?"
"Oh, yeh, well, you see Nickels says on two different nights that he saw some priest come down pour some of that rat killing poison in a thermos bottle. He thought a bit odd but gave it not much more thought until the other day, when he saw the police looking over the body of that dead old priest. Then he was listening through the fence and he heard somebody say that the old guy had been poisoned."
"Well, Lieutenant, I don't want to get Nickels in trouble, but he said a couple of days before, some priest gave a friend of his that same thermos filled with soup. One of those plaid bottles with a red cup on it.."
"Does the guy still have that thermos?"
"No, sir, he done threw it away."
"What's his name?"
"Not sure, he's got a name. I never heard it. Some colored dude, pretty young."
"Where did he throw it away?"
"I reckon in a trash can near where he stays."
"And where's that? Nickels beds down most nights behind that Salvation Army just down the street from the Catholic Church. I figure some place near there."
"Do you think Nickels could identify which priest he saw?"
"Are you sure, Slick?"
"Pretty sure, sir. Nickels done died. Got hit by a car last night. Now, I think that car might be looking for me. That's why I'm here."
We worked out a deal and I gave the poor guy two month's worth of living but only if went to a mission in another part of town. he was plenty scared so he was more than eager to cooperate. Officer Davis helped to get some members of the 12th to scour the trash cans by the Sally Lodge. I expected we were too late, but I had to give it a shot. Nothing to be found except the morning's trash.
I made a call to the city sanitation department to check the landfill but I knew they weren't going to look though they said they would.