Deadly Wrong

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Overview

The police say "involuntary manslaughter," but a tragic accident turns out instead to be murder, plain and simple. And San Francisco Homicide Inspector Stanley Korski, on leave from the force and his unrequited love for fellow detective Tom Danzel, walks right into a murderer's web of treachery. Wrong, Stanley. Deadly wrong.
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Overview

The police say "involuntary manslaughter," but a tragic accident turns out instead to be murder, plain and simple. And San Francisco Homicide Inspector Stanley Korski, on leave from the force and his unrequited love for fellow detective Tom Danzel, walks right into a murderer's web of treachery. Wrong, Stanley. Deadly wrong.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934531860
  • Publisher: MLR Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Quit? No way, Korski, no way you're quitting the force."

Stanley Korski suppressed a sigh. It just went to prove, the way he saw it, you could never please some people. For starters, he certainly had known when he hired on some months ago with the San Francisco Police Department, as part of an affirmative action hire (and giving up a perfectly good interior decorating job), that they didn't want him in homicide. That prospect hadn't even seemed likely when he joined the force. San Francisco PD had gay officers, certainly, but none quite so openly and evidently gay as Stanley. The transfer to homicide had happened later, and no one had made any pretense of being happy about it. Certainly not Police Lieutenant Mallory, head of the homicide detail.

Now, they didn't want him to quit.

Lieutenant Mallory held a big brown cigar in his fleshy mouth. City ordinances prevented his lighting it. There was no smoking anywhere in the building. He chewed on it instead and rolled it from one corner of his mouth to the other, the pink tip of his tongue occasionally making a sly appearance.

Staring at it, Stanley Korski found himself thinking of a brown penis. A kind of small one, admittedly, but he'd had enough experience to know that the myth about the enormous phalluses of Negroes was largely that: a myth. You ran across them here and there, but there were plenty of black men with teensy weenies, too, porn fantasies notwithstanding.

The shape and the color were right, though, and he found it surprisingly easy to imagine the Captain's thick lips wrapped around one, rolling it to and fro, his tongue flicking at it from time to time.

Stanley foughtback the grin that threatened, knowing full well he would never be able to explain what he found so amusing. He was having enough trouble explaining things as it was.

For years, Stanley had dreamed of joining the police force; specifically, of becoming a homicide detective--Homicide Inspector, as SFPD called their detectives--something, he had felt pretty certain all the while, the powers that be in San Francisco's homicide department wouldn't want him to do.

He had made it, though, eventually, by way of his work as a gay liaison with the police department, that affirmative action hire, and, most of all, a politically charged murder with gay overtones, that, people higher up had decided, was right down his alley.

Now he was trying to quit the police force, and they didn't want him to do that, either. Worse, Stanly Korski couldn't tell his Lieutenant why he wanted to quit. That was something else he'd never be able to explain. He had given a weak excuse instead: "I don't think I'm cut out for it."

"Not cut out for it? Are you kidding me, Stan?"

"Stanley," he said automatically. He hated being called Stan.

"Whatever." Mallory took the penis--oops, the cigar--from his mouth and used it as a pointer, stabbing in Stanley's direction with it. "The point is, you did good. You did great, actually. Your very first case, that drag queen killer--"

"Actually, she was--" but the Lieutenant waved away his objection.

"Tom says it was you worked the whole thing out, too, beginning to end. And that's from Danzel, he's one of the best detectives on the force. If he says you're good ... well, Christ."

"Tom's just being modest," Stanley said.

What he couldn't say was that Tom Danzel was the reason he was quitting the force. He wasn't about to explain to the Lieutenant that he had fallen in love with his partner on their recent murder case. Even if he had been tempted to explain it, he knew Tom would never forgive him. Tom was so far in the closet the back door probably opened onto the African continent. Maybe even Nepal. China, at the least.

He puzzled over that for a moment. Which was actually further, Nepal or China? Whichever it was, he was sure it wasn't far enough to encompass Tom Danzel's closetedness.

And Stanley knew without a shadow of a doubt that Tom would wring his neck if he ever breathed a word to anyone on the force about what had happened between them in the course of that investigation. Happened three times. Four, if you counted a practically spontaneous eruption. He had barely gotten Tom's erection in his hand that time when it blew up, after which Tom had promptly passed out, dead drunk. So, make it three and a third, maybe. Three and a quarter, at least. But who counted?

The important thing, the key point, was that it was not--Tom had made this clear--was not going to happen again. Not ever. Zero. No way, Josefina.

Which, of course, Stanley could not comment on at all in the present circumstances, even if he'd been tempted. And fear for his life overrode all temptation. Tom would kill him, literally. His would be the department's next murder to investigate. No question. It even made him nervous to remember those three and a half occasions while he was pleasuring himself in solitary fashion--not enough to make him forget about them, but it made him nervous. What if Tom somehow found out about his masturbatory fantasies? The man was a detective, after all.

"Even so, you saved his life, didn't you?" the Lieutenant insisted, fortunately oblivious to Stanley's fantasies. "And you put yourself in grave danger while you were at it, which proved everybody wrong, the shit they'd been saying about you." He had the good grace to look momentarily nonplussed as he realized what he'd said, practically admitting the bias that had existed in the squad room toward Stanley.

He went on, talking quickly, like Stanley might not have noticed. "Plus you got yourself a broken arm, nailing your perp. Hell, you're a bona fide hero, Stan. The boys all look up to you. Everybody says, you're a natural born detective."

He said the last with gusto, as if he really meant it, although both of them knew it was a bald faced lie. The others snickered when he came into the homicide room. They looked at him with barely disguised loathing. That, he could have endured. What queen hadn't suffered snickers, if not far worse? The very day he'd taken his first baby steps, as he'd heard it, an uncle had said, "He walks funny, don't he?" and people had been laughing since. Who cared? That sort of scorn just made gay men tougher. People thought of straight men as tough, all the Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone stereotypes, but the truth was, your average gay man was far tougher than those swaggering he-men.

What he could not endure--what he hadn't the courage to face--was that the next time they met, Tom Danzel might look at him the way the other detectives did, might himself snicker in scorn.

"It was all luck, my figuring things out. It was all about gays. I came to it with a background none of the others had. That's all."

The Lieutenant grew serious, the cigar stationary for a moment. "Look, Stan, we leapfrogged you into homicide, you know what I'm saying? There's guys wait years for homicide, and you got assigned in, what, two, three weeks?"

Stanley didn't know what to say to that. Didn't know what he could say. It was true. He knew he ought to be grateful they had promoted him the way they had, right past lots of guys who should have made the cut. Which was another reason for the others to resent him. Resent him? Hell, they hated his guts.

He knew, too, that his sudden and miraculous promotion hadn't happened out of any respect for his intelligence or for any innate detective talent the higher ups might have sensed in him. He had only gotten assigned to that murder case because the victim, the first victim, had been a county supervisor, and gay, and a cousin of the mayor to boot. And they had promoted him overnight from rookie patrolman to homicide inspector because the killer was a drag queen. Stanley had no illusions about why they had chosen him either. It was not just that he was gay. They had plenty of those on the force, in and out of the closet. They chose him because he was a bona fide queer, a three dollar bill. Just the sort, as they had seen it in their straight, we-don't-understand-you-people minds, to track down a drag queen killer. Or, as they saw it, though political correctness would have prevented anyone's saying it: send a sicko to catch a sicko.

The point was, they had wanted the murder solved fast, and they thought his "special insights," which was how it had been phrased at the time, would be useful. As it turned out, they had been right, but still ... special insights? It sounded like he designed lingerie for cross dressers.

The Lieutenant looked at him steadily for a moment, and sighed. "Listen, I'm going to put it to you straight. The word came down from on high: keep Korski in homicide. You walk, my ass is in a sling."

That, however, the image of the Lieutenant in a sling, was more than Stanley's imagination could summon up. He sighed too, and shrugged. He'd have been willing to bet money when he had walked in here today that they would be deliriously happy to accept his resignation. Certainly the other detectives, who had made no secret of their animosity, would be. Turning cartwheels, he'd have imagined.

"Okay, Stan..." The Lieutenant leaned forward on his elbows. Paused to loosen a purple and acid green tie that threatened to choke him.

"Stanley."

"Stanley, tell you what. You went through a serious ordeal, your first case, and it was a dangerous one. First cases are always tough, and this one was a bitch, I know that. I can see why you'd be kind of freaked out, having to jump off a balcony to save Danzel's life--"

"It wasn't actually--"

"Here's what I think. Why don't you take some administrative leave? Say, a month. Hell, make it six weeks. Give some serious thought to what you want to do. Then, you come back and see me again. If you still want to quit the force, well, okay, it's your decision. But think about it some first, okay?"

"I guess it can't hurt to think about it," Stanley agreed, but without enthusiasm. As if he hadn't already thought about this very issue for weeks, without coming to any satisfactory kind of conclusion other than just quit.

It wasn't that he hadn't liked solving a murder case, or that he wouldn't have liked to solve another one, although he had discovered that the idea of homicide detective was more fun than the reality had been. What he had known before he got that case was only what he had seen in movies and read in books. In real life, it hadn't turned out to be very much like that. In real life, for instance, there were actual bodies to deal with. Dead bodies. What was the fun in that? The last guy he had picked up in the Castro had been as dead as a doornail, even if he was still breathing. He'd been no fun at all, as it turned out. Which was pretty much how he felt now about homicide.

Moreover, he was willing to grant that he wasn't really cop material. He got scared, too scared, too easily. He was a devout coward. That was a problem for a policeman.

That was a technical matter, however. The really big problem was, if he came back to homicide detail, one of two things would happen. Either they would team him up again with Tom Danzel, and nothing would make Stanley happier, except that Tom would be furious. He had made it abundantly clear he did not want that to happen, that he didn't want to work another case with Stanley as his partner.

One case, as Tom had explained it all too plainly, everybody will forget about it soon enough. If I continued working with you, though, well, pretty soon, people would start to wonder, they'd think maybe there was something going on between us.

Never mind the assorted pastimes that actually had occurred on those three and three fourths occasions. There was no denying Tom could be a real asshole. Even being in love with the man, Stanley wasn't blind to that fact. But, as Stanley had explained to his best friend, Chris, "He's an asshole with possibilities."

The alternative scenario for his return to the force was that they'd team him up with one of the other inspectors, none of whom wanted anything to do with him, never mind that he himself would spend the whole time wanting to be with Tom and looking over his shoulder in case whatever detective he was partnered with decided to do something about his homophobia. This was the kind of dilemma he couldn't exactly share with the Lieutenant, however.

"Great. Let's leave it at that. Six weeks." He came around the desk to clap a hearty hand on Stanley's shoulder. "We'll talk again after that. I'm betting money you'll change your mind."

"Maybe," was all Stanley would say.

Heads did not exactly turn as Stanley walked out through the homicide section, but he knew that everyone was watching him regardless, trying to decide if he was going or staying. He had learned earlier, a homicide squad room was more gossip prone that any ladies' bridge club.

Tom Danzel was seated at his own desk in a far corner. More than anyone else in the room, he studiously avoided looking at Stanley. Several pairs of eyes watched covertly to see what notice he might take of Stanley's departure. Stanley watched him too, covertly as well, but not the slightest flicker of an eye indicated that Tom was even aware of Stanley's passage through the room.

So much for that hope. Which, really, hadn't been much of a hope at all. Tom had made his feelings clear--it was all about the other detectives: I don't want to look at them and see in their eyes what--well, what's in their eyes when they look at you, if you want me to be honest. Quote, unquote. Stanley had listened to those words repeatedly in his head, remembering every single one of them, could diagram them, tell you exactly what syllables got the accents. Could probably set them to music. He resisted the urge to hum a melody.

And Tom's words represented, Stanley thought, probably more honesty that the situation warranted--personally, he felt honesty was sometimes overrated. Every once in a while, maybe a big fat lie would be better for everyone concerned. Better for him, anyway.

But there it was; the very horns of the dilemma. If he came back to the department, he would definitely not be working with Tom. And whoever else he worked with was not going to welcome him with open arms. In reality, he could well be in more danger from his fellow detectives than any criminal they might go after. Being a cop did not make you homophobia free. And homophobes could be hazardous to the health of someone as obviously gay as he knew he was. To a three dollar bill, cop homophobes were especially dangerous.

Outside the Hall of Justice, he sat in his car, trying to think what he wanted to do. A vacation, he thought, and then thought about his bank balance. Homicide detectives by whatever title did not make anywhere near the money a good interior decorator could.

Okay, a vacation some place cheap. Something he could afford--but what would that be? The ferry to Sausalito? A movie at the Metreon? A stroll through Golden Gate Park?

No, of course, it had to be someplace far enough away that he wouldn't be carrying Tom Danzel with him.

So, then, what did it cost to get to Mars? Or, at the least, the moon? He was pretty sure that was further than Nepal, and he was absolutely convinced Nepal wouldn't be far enough. Or China either. He made a mental note to look at an Atlas when he got home. Which of them was further, anyway? Once he'd acquainted himself with what lay south of the border, he'd lost any further interest in geography.

He adjusted the mirror so he could see himself in it, and did not like what he saw. I never knew how pathetic you are, he told himself.

What I did for love.

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