The woman in white had landed on a dingy white Ford Econoline.
Hand-painted on the side was "Times Square Ark of Salvation". A halo of loose dirt ringed the pavement beneath the van, jolted from the undercarriage by the force of the falling body. On the sidewalk in front of the van stood a tiny black man in a white shirt and black bow tie, holding a microphone in his trembling hands.
"Sweet Jesus", the street preacher kept saying, "Oh, sweet Jesus."
Ryan elbowed his way through the crowd as a familiar queasiness came over him.
It was a felling he remembered from his days as a young uniformed cop, when a sudden scream ricocheted off the buildings. Everyone looks right at the uniform; you cannot hide in the color blue in this city. John Q. Citizen demands that the monster be dealt with quickly, shoved back under the bed. And that shove was the street cop's stock-in-trade.
"Where did she come from?" Ryan said.
"From the Lord," the preacher said.
Ryan couldn't remember how long it had been since he'd felt the jitters that came with being the first cop on
an ugly scene. But the standing rule of the first cop was, "Take control."
The crowd calms when a uniform appears. The first cop plays all the roles. He's the doctor: he takes a pulse, checks for breathing, performs CPR, fakes CPR, fakes something, anything. Then he play cop: covers the body, talks into his radio, barks at the crowd, yells, "Move back.....give her some air!"
But he "takes control". No matter how wildly his stomach is doing back flips.
Ed Dee, "Nightbird", Chapter One, pp. 3-4, Copyright © 1999 by Ed Dee. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Warner Books, Inc., 1271 Avenue of the Americas New York, N.Y. 10020 Publishers.