Pete turned to me. “Don’t say anything. Nothing at all. Not your name, not please or thank you. Nothing. Let me do all of the talking.”
There were a lot of cops out there, all with their guns pointed at us behind the walls. I had no idea how Pete expected to talk his way out of this. We’d had an extended gunfight just minutes ago. Shell casings were all over the ground inside and outside the wall. When they searched the camp they’d definitely find the guns. I really wished I’d had time to get to that lawyer and put him on retainer.
Pete was looking me in the eyes, waiting for me to acknowledge what he was saying. “Got it.”
“Alright then, let’s go,” Pete announced, opening up the gate. He was the first out, walking calmly with his hands above his head.
The rest of us filed out after him, walking slowly with our hands plainly visible. The helicopter’s spotlight turned the area around us into bright daylight. When we were about twenty feet from the gate the orders changed.
“Get down on your knees! Do it now!” the amplified voice bellowed.
I followed instructions, the concrete rough underneath me. Cops rushed forward from outside the spotlight, guns on each of us. They were in pairs, one covering us with their weapon while the other handcuffed us.
Once we were all cuffed the spotlight turned off and I heard the helicopter fly off. They obviously had better things to do.
With the noise level reduced, the two uniformed cops that had cuffed me started asking questions.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“You don’t belong here. Did you come here to buy drugs?”
“What just happened here? Did you see anyone shooting?”
And on and on. I just looked at them, not speaking. They hadn’t arrested me, or read me my rights. The cop shows I had watched had led me to believe that would be one of the first things to happen, but it hadn’t. Behind us, the cops were tossing Nirvana. I could hear the crashes of heavy bits of metal falling over, and the occasional tinkle of broken glass. At any moment I expected them to announce that they’d found a shitload of guns and that we were all fucked.
Similar conversations were happening with Circe, Z and Pete, but only Pete was responding at all.
“What happened here, Pete? Be straight with us,” one cop asked.
“You know how it is. Kids like to set off fireworks down here,” Pete replied.
“Fireworks? That’s what you’re going with? What about all the shell casings?”
“Oh those. I don’t know where those came from. There are a lot of litterbugs in this city.”
The cop was getting frustrated, but I knew that wouldn’t work. It was like a child’s version of how to fool the police. Make up a stupid story and deny any contradictory evidence. It didn’t matter, because Pete was just screwing with them.
“Officer, can you please call Lieutenant Warner? He’s your commanding officer, isn’t that right? I’d love to speak to him. We know each other, I’m sure he’d like to hear about this.”
The cops asking me questions had still been trying as I ignored them, but were getting frustrated. They left and a plain-clothes cop approached me. He was a 5’9″ white guy with an average build, and short brown hair but a truly outstanding Cop Stache. His badge was plainly visible on his belt, and he knelt in front of me to look me in the eyes. I IDed him.
A detective. That was worrying. What skills did detectives have? The ability to detect lies? Probably. That’d be why Pete told me to keep my mouth shut.
“Hi there, Mack. I’m Detective Dees. If you talk to me, there’s a chance you won’t be going to jail tonight.”
The Detective was walking in the light, but knew my name. This wasn’t good. I looked him in the eyes and kept my mouth closed.
He smiled. “It’s going to be like that, is it?”
Dees reached out and pulled the Sunshrouds from my head. “Look at this. Quite an expensive little toy. Is someone looking for you, Mack? Were they here tonight? Did you have yourselves a good old fashioned gunfight in the river?”
I could only hope I kept my poker face. If that was a guess, it was a good one.
“It doesn’t matter if you talk or not. We’re going to find the guns in that pile of trash over there, and when we do you’re all going to jail.”
He folded up my Sunshrouds and tucked them in the breast pocket of his shirt. I bared my teeth at him and he smiled back pleasantly, showing me yellowed teeth under his bushy cop-stache.
“Did you know that we have a test for gunshot residue now? Once we find the guns we’ll have probable cause and can test all of you. If it turns out you’ve got GSR on your hands… Well that’s it for you, isn’t it? They like kids like you in San Quentin.”
I didn’t know what he was expecting. Did he expect me to start spilling my guts, desperate to avoid going to prison? I met his gaze and kept my mouth shut.
“Let’s see what else you’ve got here,” he mused, and reached for my front pockets.
“Detective Dees? I think you’ll find you need a warrant to search my young friend there,” Pete said, his voice carrying.
The detective looked over at Pete and sneered at him. “I think you’ll find that you should shut the fuck up.”
One of the officers that had been talking to Pete came over and leaned down to whisper something in Dees’s ear. I caught the word ‘lieutenant’ but nothing else.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. This old fuck?” Dees asked, and the officer nodded.
Dees stood up, and yelled to the cop supervising the search of Nirvana. “Anything?”
“Nothing yet, Detective,” was the reply.
He looked back at me, and then over to Old Pete, his lips tight. Without another word he left us and entered Nirvana.
Five minutes later an unmarked car joined the collection of squad cars already in front of us. An officer stepped out of the car, his uniform a little neater than the patrolmen around me. I IDed him.
|James Warner, Junior Officer (D1), Lieutenant II, San Tadeo Police Department|
He had a quick conversation with a pair of patrolmen and then walked over to Pete.
“James, good to see you,” Pete said, his voice full of warmth.
“Hi Pete,” The lieutenant replied. “Patrolman, uncuff him. We’re going to have a private conversation.”
The nearest cop uncuffed Pete, who stood up and walked off with the lieutenant. They stopped far enough away that I couldn’t hear a word, with their backs to all of us.
Something changed hands from Pete to James, but it couldn’t be seen. Detective Dees had emerged from Nirvana and was standing nearby watching with a stormy expression on his face, but didn’t approach the meeting.
The two men separated and shook hands. Pete was smiling broadly.
“Motherfucker,” Dees cursed, just barely audible.
“Everyone, pack it up,” the lieutenant ordered. “Call off the search, we’ve got bad guys to catch and they’re not here. Uncuff those three.”
I couldn’t believe what was happening. Did this sort of thing really happen in the USA? It looked like it did.
“Sir, I am certain if we keep searching we will find the weapons. There are 7.62 and 9mm casings all over the ground here near the gate,” Dees said.
“Dees, you heard what I said. We’re done here. I won’t overlook your hard work here, believe me.”
Dees seemed mollified. That sounded like code to me. Dees would get a piece of the bribe, I’d bet.
I was uncuffed and stood up, rubbing my wrists. Circe and Z retreated through Nirvana’s gates to check the damage the search had done.
The detective stepped in front of me as I was following them.
“It’s your lucky night, Mack. Until next time!” he said and smiled at me. I could see my Sunshrouds nestled in his front pocket. He followed my gaze and his smile got wider as he walked off.
Old Pete and Lt Warner were still talking in low voices, but I was surprised when the lieutenant spoke up again.
“Dees. Give the kid back his sunglasses,” he ordered.
I looked over at Pete. He caught my eye and winked.
“Sir? I don’t,” Dees started.
“I’m sure you’ve just forgotten to give the citizen back his property, Detective.”
“Oh, of course sir,” Dees said.
He turned and extended the Sunglasses to me. I reached for them, and he dropped them before my hand got there. They hit the concrete… and were just fine. I snatched them up before Dees could be an even bigger dick and ‘accidentally’ step on them. He looked a little disappointed and walked back to his car.
The cops filed out of Nirvana, got into their squad cars and left. The lieutenant finished his conversation with Old Pete and drove off.
Forty minutes after we’d had a hostage situation, a standoff and a brutal gunfight the cops had come and gone. Just another night in San Tadeo.