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©1999 - 2012
Edward D. Reuss
All rights reserved. Including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any form

 

ANGEL
By Arthur W. Dolan

"You'll never get me to turn to the dark side," Luke Skywalker said, bringing his light sabre to the ready position.

"Obi-Wan has taught you well young Skywalker," I said, in the deepest voice I could muster.

"Daddy! That doesn't sound like Darth Vader!"

"Well kiddo, I'm doing the best that I can," I said shifting my position in an effort to get the blood flowing in my cramped legs. "Any way, I don't think I like being a bad guy. I'd rather be one of the good guys. "Who's this?" I picked up a particularly ugly Star Wars figure in a white uniform. My son hopped over to where I was sitting on the floor with the agility that only a five-year-old could possess.

"That's Admiral Ackbar," he said, taking the figure from my hand and pointing out some minute insignia on the uniform.

"Ah yes, of course," I said "And what does he do?"

"Well, he's kind of in charge but not really. He has to ask other people if it's ok."
"I know how he feels," I said. "I often find myself in the same position. The Admiral and I are kindred spirits." My son gave me a puzzled look.

"Kindred spirits," I explained, "Means that two people are a lot alike. Like you and Greg."

"Oh! Like best friends?"

"Yeah kiddo. Like best friends." I got up from the floor leaning on my son, grunting and groaning and tickling him in the process. He squealed with delight.

"Well Son, I gotta to go. Gotta go catch the bad guys."

"OK daddy," my son said leaping into my arms and hugging me tightly.

"UFF! I swear Junior if you get any stronger you're going to break me in half."

I walked down the stairs to the living room with my little boy hanging from my neck, giggling with each new "UFF!" accompanied by a tickle.

My wife, who had falsely accused me of being entirely too rough with the boy, was standing at the bottom of the stairs. She took him from my arms and added a tickle of her own, causing him to shriek with laughter and squirm in her arms. Seeing my raised eyebrows at her obviously hypocritical behavior, she anticipated my remarks, stuck her tongue out at me and crinkled her nose.  "It seems that what's good for the Gander, is apparently not good for the Goose, in this house," I said in my most judicial tone. Again the tongue and the crinkled nose. I took her in my arms and with my son squirming and giggling between us gave her a kiss. Her tongue flicked my lips and she pulled away smiling.

"Try to be home at a decent hour tonight, Dolan," she said, "And may be you'll get a special treat."

"What's the treat? What's the treat?" my son questioned loudly.

"Never mind," my wife said putting him down on the floor. "It's just for Daddy."

"Ah, no fair!" he complained.

"Come on into the kitchen and I'll get you some ice cream. That will be your special treat," she said.

"Yeah!" my son whooped and sped toward the kitchen.

"You on the other hand will have to wait until later," she said poking me with her finger and giving me a demure look that spoke volumes.  The woman knew that she could drive my crazy with that look.

"I will count the minutes," I said as she turned and walked toward the kitchen, her hips swaying provocatively

"OK!" I said, forcing myself back to reality. "I gotta go!" I walked into the kitchen gave them both another kiss and gave my son his last minute instructions. "Now you take care of your mom and sisters while I'm at work. OK Buddy?" His three older sisters would be home from school after I had gone.

"OK," he said between mouthfuls of ice cream.

"Be careful love," my wife said, a look of concern creeping onto her face.
"Careful? Are you kidding? I'm going to hide under my desk for the entire tour. I've I got a treat to collect? Don't I."

She smiled as I went through my departing routine patting myself down. Shield in the left-hand front pocket. Handcuffs in the back of my belt. Gun tucked into my waistband, secure in its holster.

As I turned to leave, my son jumped from the chair abandoning the remains of his ice cream. "Daddy wait," he shouted as he ran from the kitchen and up the stairs to the second floor.

"Now what is he up to?" my wife asked.

As we walked toward the front door we could hear him bounding back down the stairs.

"Here Daddy," he said handing me a small plastic figure. "Take the Admiral with you. He can help you catch the bad guys."

"Are you sure Kiddo?"

"Sure! He's your kinded spirit, right?"

"Right," I said. "Thanks Kiddo. But don't forget that you're still my best pal, right?"

"Right," he said beaming.

As I entered the small office that I shared with Mike Neibling, the Squad Commander, he looked up from his paperwork. Our desks were placed back to back to so he couldn't miss my placing the small plastic figure in its place of honor next to the photo of my family.

"Taken to playing with dolls, have we?" he quipped, a smile on his face.
"Action figures," I corrected him, smiling back. "A gift from the boy. A kindred spirit."

"What?"

"Long story," I replied.

""I'll bet," he said.

"Anything shaking?" I asked closing the subject.

"Bernie and Bobby made another collar on one of the old homicides. Brings the clearance rate up to ninety percent. Those guys are really good, you know?"
"Ah yes, Michael darlin," I said using my best phony Irish brogue. "And it won't be forgotten, that the wonderfulness of yourself placed them on special assignment to do just that. Why I can hear them down at headquarters now, extolling the virtues of the innovative and charming young squad commander, who through his brilliance -----."

"Screw You Dolan," he said as he got up and put on his coat. He threw a large stack of reports onto my desk and said, "Finish those up, will ya? I'll be home if you need me. Have a safe tour."

"You got it Boss."

Mike and I both held the rank of Sergeant but since he was the designated Squad Commander and ultimately responsible for the operations of the squad, he rated the unofficial but respectful title of "Boss". I got myself a cup of coffee and dug into the paperwork.

It's not that detectives are averse to paperwork, it's just that they see it as taking a great deal of time away from what they really love to do. Most detectives would rather be out in the street, talking to people, chasing down leads and solving their cases. Oh, don't get me wrong. Some of them really despise paperwork. When I was a young detective I had an Old Timer for a partner who was firmly convinced that every follow up report should consist of three statements. "He did it." "We got him." "Case Closed." The pronoun could be changed to suit the gender. As I waded through the stack of reports, I was tempted to agree.

An hour later, Ronnie Walther leaned into the office and said, "We got one boss."

"We got one," means only one thing to a New York Squad Detective. A homicide.

"What- a- we - got?" I asked rising and putting on my coat.
"Seems like a ground ball," Ronnie said. "Uniform called and said they're holding one on the South Side for a stabbing. Victim was taken to the hospital but the paramedics said he's DOA"

"What? Could it be? An easy one for a change?" I asked incredulously.
"Yeah. Pretty soon they'll be breaking down the doors to surrender," Ronnie said smiling.

It wasn't all that complicated. An abused woman, a drunken husband and one too many beatings. She had finally had enough and had defended herself with the first thing that came to hand, in this case an eight-inch kitchen knife. She stuck it right up under his ribcage, just where his bloated beer belly met the ribs. Perfect strike. Right into the heart.

As Ronnie and his partners went about their routine of securing the crime scene and bagging evidence, the woman spoke to me. "My baby Angel. He is very upset. Can I take him with me to the police station?" she said in broken English. I looked at the child clinging to the woman's leg. He was a chubby little guy with huge brown eyes that were filled with tears.

I crouched down. "It's ok Angel. We're not going to hurt you or your Mama." He clung closer to his mother; his little hands white with the pressure of the grip on his mother's skirt. "Jesus," I said to myself, "he's no older than my boy. Hey Ronnie," I said over my shoulder, "do we need to do anything else with these folks or can we get them to the squad?"

"No boss. The place is secured and one of the guys will safeguard until Crime Scene gets here."

"Taking him aside I said," Look Ronnie, this kid is petrified. Tell the mother to get a change of clothes and then transport them to the squad. We'll bag the clothes she's got on now at the squad. Tell her to bring a change of clothes for the kid too. He's getting blood all over him from her skirt.
When we arrived back at the squad the woman and her son changed their clothes and cleaned up under the supervision of a female police officer. The bloodstained garments were bagged for evidence. Ronnie was ready to take the woman into the interview room to get her statement. That left us with a problem. Angel.

With the help of his mother we convinced Angel the it would be safe to sit in my office and wait for his grandmother to pick him up. One of the detectives got him a soda and some chips from the vending machine downstairs and lifted him into Mike's chair. Ronnie got a uniform hat from his locker and placed it on his head. We told Angel that now he was the Squad Commander and that he was in charge. The poor kid just sat there, the soda and chips clenched in his hands, the hat swimming on his head and tears in his eyes. My heart broke for him.

"Would you like to draw some pictures Angel?" I said taking some pencils and paper to him. He shook his head quickly. "OK, you don't have to if you don't want to. Your Grandma will be here right away."

"Admiral" Angel said. I looked in the direction that he was pointing and there indeed was the Admiral. The figure my son had given me had fallen over onto Mike's desk and was staring up at us.

"Hey Yeah, Admiral Ackbar. Do you want to meet him?" Picking up the figure and bringing him to Angel, I said in a voice that I imagined the Admiral would sound like, "Hello Angel. Will you be my friend?" The boy reached for the figure, dropping his chips in the process. For the first time I saw Angel smile. If any of my detectives saw me doing my Ackbar impression, they were intelligent enough never to mention it.

As we played with the Admiral, I improvised other characters using a stapler, several pencils and a two-hole punch. Angel smiled at my antics for a while then became serious again.

"Kitty?" Angel asked.

"Well yeah sure, we can make one of them a kitty," I said a bit confused.
"No. My kitty," Angel insisted softly.

"Your kitty? Do you mean that you have a kitty?" I asked. Angel nodded.

"Where is your kiddy Angel?"

"Home. I want my kitty," he said, his eyes again filling with tears.

"OK. Don't cry Buddy. Let me see what I can do."

Ronnie had finished his interview and had just walked into my office. We stepped into the hallway and he filled me in. It seemed that the husband had a habit of getting drunk several times a week and coming home and beating his wife black and blue. She had been to the hospital a number of times but had refused to press charges.

"Looks like she stabbed this prick in self defense Boss. She's got fresh bruises all over her. The guys canvassed the building and came up with a shitload of witnesses to verify the beatings."

"OK. Is the DA on the way?"

"Yeah, should be here any minute."

"OK. Run the self-defense by the DA. The woman will still have to go before the Grand Jury but maybe they'll buy it. Oh, by the way, did you happen to notice a kitten at the apartment?"

"No, but with all the traffic in there, who knows."

"Do me a favor will you. Ask a couple of the guys to go back to the apartment and see if they can find a kitten. Tell them that the one that brings me the cat will get dinner on me." I explained about Angel's concern for his "Kitty."
"OK Boss," Ronnie said, shaking his head as he walked toward the main squad room.

"Oh, and Ronnie, tell them not to bring me any bogus cats. The kid will know the difference."

"You got it Boss," Ronnie said, walking away smiling.

For the second time that night I saw Angel smile, as two burly detectives walked into my office with a small bundle of fur. The smile told me that this was no bogus cat. This was Angel's "Kitty."

Angel's grandmother arrived shortly afterwards. His mother was brought to my office and explained that she had to go away for a while and that he should be a good boy for his grandma.

Holding his kitten close to him, his other hand held tightly by his grandmother Angel walked toward the door. "Hey Angel," I said, "don't forget the Admiral." I placed the small figure in his coat pocket. For the third and last time I saw Angel smile.

My wife was sleeping when I got home. I leaned over and brushed a lock of brown hair from her forehead and kissed it gently. She looked so peaceful lying there I didn't disturb her any further. I could collect my "Treat" some other time.
 I crept softly into my children's rooms, rearranged their covers and kissed them each softly.

"Dear God," I whispered, "please keep them safe. And while you're at it Boss, please keep an eye on Angel."

Copyright 2001 Arthur W. Dolan

EDITORíS NOTE:
Arthur W. Dolan, Sergeant, NYPD (retired) spent 21 years with the department. Most of his career was served in the Detective Division as a Detective and Detective Supervisor. His assignments took him throughout the city and at times throughout the country.
He is currently the Director of Safety and Security with Rosenman and Colin LLP, a 300 Lawyer law firm with offices in four states.
Mr. Dolan is a member of the faculty of St. Joseph's College with the title of Preceptor.
e holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Science from the New York Institute of Technology and a Master of Science degree in Education from Brooklyn College.

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