VICTOR ROMERO, a recent college graduate living on what remains of his loans, has aspirations of fulfilling his dream of buying a building in his Lower East Side neighborhood and maintain affordable rents. Unfortunately, a ruthless real estate speculator, and racist, named Rudolph Archer, a.k.a. Archie Bunker, has plans to the contrary.
Victor's uncle, MITCHELL LEÓN, a middle-aged detective trying to make a difference in blue, moves back into the same Lower East Side neighborhood and is drawn into an unwanted high-profile homicide, and corrupt election, that is somehow linked to Victor's battle with Rudolph and, maybe, even the mayor and big business.
Mitchell and Victor take a Dantean journey into the inferno that is New York City politics, and find that they are inextricably linked with very ambitious women and men-one of whom is a deadly international terrorist-in a game that adds new meaning to the "usual suspects" and operating in "the gray area" of life, lechery and the law... in a game that could get them both killed.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Ivan Diaz
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Ivan Diaz
All rights reserved.
"Politicians? Coming to help? This place is all going to hell," Victor Romero said to himself as he watched the chaos unfold in front of him on Merchant Street. Recessionary times certainly called for desperate actions, and the chaos in front of him was no exception.
Gentrification or not, recession or not, the local residents on Merchant Street wanted change and they were going to get it if it ... well ... killed them.
That idea wasn't new.
What was new were the numerous signs in the hands of community members for City Councilwoman Margaret Prince who was running for the 12th Congressional District, their district. Even more surprising was the fact that the people hung colorful festoons from building fronts to add to the warm welcome in addition to making them seem, so they hoped, more politically savvy.
That idea scared the crap out of them.
Nearby, two factions of hecklers with signs for incumbent Carmen Nieves and challenger Donald Jones added to the Dantean flames with an occasional war chant in support of ... well ... whatever worked for the moment. Needless to say, they were smart enough to keep their distance from the overwhelmingly pro-Prince crowd.
Victor couldn't believe the energy levels being emitted as he walked through the crowd. He didn't want to be caught up in its powerful venom, so he found a spot next to a building that was within sight of the podium set up for Margaret. The spot, while close, was certainly far enough to avoid the venom and to cover his 5'10" frame. He felt lucky that the extracurricular cycling he had been doing not only gave him sharper features, but it also gave him the stamina to dart out of any type of hairy situation.
Half a block behind the podium, a black Lincoln Town Car, with the Prince entourage, rolled to a stop with a couple of cars alongside that held her staff and bodyguards. Inside the car, Margaret, a lanky, chain-smoking, tired conservative, tired liberal, dressed in a haute couture-inspired women's suit, read from her speech while her campaign manager, Sue Irizarry, listened.
"... That is why," Margaret said, reading from some index cards, "it is highly important that we work together after this election is over ... to reshape and build a future for our kids to grow up in—and for our parents to retire in—without fear, without hate, without economic burdens that force them into compromising, impoverished lifestyles ..."
"Excuse me, Margaret ... sorry, but we're fifteen minutes late. We've got to get going," Sue said. She looked at her mini tablet to confirm that they were behind schedule.
Margaret took a sip of tea from a plastic lid-covered Styrofoam cup. She glanced at Sue with her please-don't-rush-me look. "I'm aware of that, Sue. Remember, I have to make a good, convincing speech for the unconvinced. It's not my current supporters I'm worried about—it's the people who are pissed enough to run for themselves that I've got to win over."
Sue fidgeted with the organizer app on her tablet. The nerves clearly showing. She was biting the top of a free pen that the staff had been giving out with Margaret's name on it. "Well, now you've got them angry over a candidate who can't be punctual to address the concerns of the people. Keep 'em here any longer, and they'll vote for anyone who shows up on time."
"I'm ready." Margaret adjusted her suit, organized the index cards, checked a small mirror to make sure her make-up was in place, and nodded affirmatively to Sue. "Besides, I don't need someone acting like Rick Lazio, stealing my thunder, trying to steer my voters away."
Sue smiled like she had just thought of the biggest joke in the world and couldn't wait to get it out. "That only takes a janitor around here."
Margaret exited the car with Sue and her staff members. Two bodyguards cleared the way to the podium, while two remained behind to prevent anyone in the crowd from thinking about getting her from behind. The crowd chatter became a unified hum, which invigorated Margaret, as she climbed up a series of small steps and deposited herself behind the podium.
Before she could face the crowd, community activist, Joan Alvarado, made a quick effort to conclude her introductory speech.
"... Just remember," Joan said to the crowd, her lungs projecting words with fierce conviction, "as a team, come Nov. 6, as one big communal family, we can make our neighborhoods better by getting involved." Joan looked askance and realized Margaret was ready to go, so she rushed her words to make the introduction. "And now, the person you've all been waiting for, the person who's going to make the mayor, the governor and the president hear the power of our voices—the next Congressw-o-m-a-n of this district, the 12th District of New York, Margaret Prince!"
"Thank you, Joan ... and thank you all for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today." Margaret had a big smile on her face as she talked. She looked over at Sue, who was smiling as well, and then changed her smile to a serious scowl. She had her game face on.
The crowd of supporters moved closer together in front of the podium. Victor looked around and was amazed at his neighborhood, its people, and this charismatic woman. Before she could start her speech, Victor was on his way out to meet Jim and attend to his business despite the temptation to hear her. Margaret Prince and her running for the district meant a lot, but he had less faith and had his own plans for the neighborhood. Not taking care of those priorities meant that he wasn't going to be around the neighborhood to see all the possible positive changes, period.
Unbeknownst to Victor, Rudolph Archer, a.k.a. Archie Bunker, a middle-aged man with a weathered face, designer glasses, a thinning pate, a bushy mustache, and a live-off-the-misery-ofothers paunch, and a slightly undersized sports coat, watched as he walked away. His sinister eyes shielded the rest of his body behind a sign in support of Margaret and, once Victor was gone, he began chanting with the rest of the crowd.
Without making any blatant sounds, Margaret cleared her throat and began the introduction of her speech. "Welcome to your neighborhood. That's easy to say, but would you welcome an outsider and be proud of the condition and services that the community has to provide to visitors and members of the local community? No! That's not an insult, that's reality. The Republican Administration, at the top, cut the housing budget from 35 billion to 7 billion when they came to power in the 1980s, managed to create a housing scandal with H.U.D., B.C.C.I, and the S & L's, which trickled down to you in the form of more homeless, poverty, joblessness and decaying communities. Now, on the other hand, post a mortgage crisis, the Democrats, fixated on happy days, and happy about the high rate of home sales, have forgotten that we live in a city of apartment buildings made of concrete and stone and not open spaces and prairies. So, I ask you, can we depend on the current administration to rectify that, or can we expect them to perpetuate more of the same and go back to the eighties? I know ... I know that you know the answer. You live it everyday. I'm here to change that. We can start making change ourselves. We don't need them to come here for photo ops. Let's start by thanking the local merchants for donating paint and raw materials to this community—and the Lower East Side Block Association for initiating a face-lift of sorts—to show the rest of the city and the country how we as politicians are saying more than just: 'Vote for me!' In other words, I work for you. I'm not into the political welfare that exists throughout the rest of the country. I don't want you to vote for me, pay me through your tax dollars, and I do nothing for you. That's not what this country is all about. That's not what democracy is all about. It's about taking your communities away from the immoral, the disrespectful—the scum on the corners ... from the absentee politicians here and in Washington ..."
Margaret's speech lingered on hours after she departed from the neighborhood. Now a wave of heat pounced on the heads of Margaret's supporters marching down the tarred, ebony asphalt of Merchant Street. The protesters carried signs and banners with slogans castigating the corner drug dealers, the lack of good housing, and the politicians in City Hall.
Marching along with the crowd, Mitchell León, Victor's uncle, a frustrated and concerned forty-two-year-old resident of Merchant Street, with the looks of a slightly nerdy Andy Garcia, scouted the area because drug dealers had sent word that they would hurt the protesters.
Joan Alvarado didn't care about threats. She communicated with members of the community to move into action with the supplies the local businesses provided for the neighborhood improvement plan. "Franky, Mrs. Sotomayor, Jose, and Sam, take your assigned groups to each section and begin painting over the graffiti."
"I told you, I need more rollers!" Franky cried.
Jose seemed like he was a total jumble of nerves. "Is this all the paint that I'm getting? Three gallons isn't going to make it for me, Joan."
Like a field commander, Joan knew exactly how to respond. "Talk to Mrs. Sotomayor. She'll take care of you. I've got a couple of other important things to do once we block off the streets.
On the roof of an adjacent building, something disturbed the pigeons that resided in a square, wire-mesh cage. The pigeons, in a large flock, flew around the neighborhood, made an attempt to land back on the roof, only to be sent away once again in fear.
Mitchell drew his attention to the birds above. He witnessed the frantic pattern and their attempt to land on the roof. "Joan. Joan!" Mitchell said. He inched towards her while maintaining an eye on the roof.
"What's up, Mitch?" Joan asked.
"Look." Mitchell pointed to the roof and the birds.
Joan had a nonplused look on her face. She didn't know what he was pointing at, or what he was trying to get at. "Pigeons?"
"Yeah. Pigeons. Something's disturbing them. They don't normally fly that way." Mitchell didn't want to sound sarcastic, but his answer came out that way.
The pigeons continued to fly in a confused, erratic pattern around the neighborhood as if they had given up on trying to land.
Sam Roman looked up and said, "It's probably Aldo Franco cleaning out the coop."
Mitchell didn't seem to agree. "I don't know. You could be right, but I'm going up to check it out."
"It might be a waste of time," Joan said. "We need you to help set the barriers."
"Maybe ... but, I'm going to check anyway. I'll be back shortly. Slow the march and dispersal down by a few paces for me. I'll be back in a flash." Mitchell was on his way towards the building before he could finish his sentence.
Joan looked at the remainder of her crew who were waiting for her command to do something. "O.K. Everybody go. Go!"
The large mass of protesters broke off into groups and headed towards the buildings lining the street. Others began to sweep the streets, the sidewalks, and the gutters.
The stairs creaked as Mitchell ascended them, and he thought about the weird, old smell that pervaded four-, five-, and six-story tenement buildings like the one he was in. Halfway up the stairs, Mitchell heard the pop, pop, pop, of what seemed to be firecrackers. The sound caused him to pause for a second in caution, to listen for its direction, before he proceeded to ascertain the source.
The popping sounds were revealed to be gunshots from a rifle. Protesters ran for cover in every direction: some behind cars, doorways, alleyways, basement stairwells, and toward police/ fire call boxes to radio for help. They were the same police/fire call boxes that the mayor wanted to get rid of, because he said everyone had a phone and they were no longer needed, but couldn't because of court injunctions that said there were still poor homes without phones. It was really about the mayor trying to save money on the backs of the poor.
The frantic voices were screaming from all different directions: "Cover the children! Run for cover! Call the police!"
Once he made it to the top floor, Mitchell cautiously pushed open the roof door to see if anyone was waiting for him. Since he didn't have a weapon, Mitchell looked around and found a mop stick up against the wall. The gravel from the rooftop crackled as he looked around the area, walked over to the ledge, and peeked over to see a street littered with signs and groups of people hiding in fear. Near the pigeon coop, the barrel of a rifle, never quite making it out of its hiding compartment, protruded from a wire-mesh fence.
"Police! Freeze! Don't move!" an officer said.
"Don't move a fucking muscle!" shouted a second officer.
Mitchell stopped in disbelief. He wondered how the fuck police officers got on the roof so fast. "Wait a minute ... I'm a police officer, too." Mitchell attempted to reach for the wallet in his back pocket.
"Don't move! I said, don't fuckin' move." The first officer put both hands on his gun and squinted his eyes.
Mitchell stopped dead in his tracks, motionless, trying not even to move his eyes. He could see that the officer pointing the gun at him was named Mears, but couldn't see the identification plate of the second. There was no way he was going to move, not after what happened to Desmond Robinson on a subway platform. He had been watching the news, and Desmond Robinson was an undercover officer who happened to get caught up in a bust operation on a subway platform. Four cops were watching two young perps with firearms when Desmond was pulling in at the station on the train. Not realizing that there were other officers on duty, Desmond sprung into action to apprehend the perps. One of the undercover officers—all of whom were white—thought Desmond, who was black, was one of the perps and shot him four times in the back. The real perps were caught with the aid of two other uniformed officers nearby, but the white officer, Del Debbio, had to contend in court with having shot one of his own.
"O.K. I won't. Just ... I'll listen ..." Mitchell said, reassuring the officers he was going to be cool about the whole thing.
Officer Mears smiled in hearing that Mitchell would acquiesce, but he still had a Charles Manson look in his eyes. "Put your hands behind your head, face the ground, palms open and flat on the ground."
Mitchell followed the officer's commands. Once he was on the ground, the officers walked over and handcuffed him.
"My I.D. is in my—" Mitchell tried to say once again.
"Just shut up!" the second officer said, trying to sound like a tough guy. "What do you think we were going to do?"
The officer revealed a wallet, looked inside, turned to the officer, showed him the wallet with no police I.D. or shield, and turned towards Mitchell to read him his Miranda rights. In the rush to get to the march, Mitchell had taken the wrong wallet.
"I don't understand," Mitchell said. "It should be there. Oh, it's my civilian wallet ..."
"You have the right to remain silent ..." Officer Mears rambled off like an elementary school boy reciting the National Anthem, " ... Anything you say, can and will be used against you in the court of law ..."
Mitchell was yanked from the ground by Officer Mears and his partner and led to the door leading to the ground level.
Downstairs, Mitchell and the two officers bolted out of the door and rushed towards the blue-and-white waiting out front. People from the neighborhood gathered around the patrol car in disbelief. The second she realized what was going on, Joan plowed through the crowd, now even larger with the arrival of residents from their homes, and tried to prevent the officers from depositing Mitchell in the back seat.
"Wait a minute. What are you doing, officer?" Joan stepped in-between the officers and their car.
Officer Mears stopped and gave her a glaring look. "Mam, I suggest you back off and let us do our job."
Joan wasn't going to budge. The iconoclastic fervor of the sixties repossessed her body. "You can't do this—"
Officer Mears wasn't having it. "Yes we can. We found him on the roof where the shots were fired."
People in the crowd began to mumble to each other in disbelief.
Mears's partner said, "I'll meet you over in the Big Building in a bit. You take him down with Jamie."
"O.K. You can clean up the rest of this mess." Mears looked around the neighborhood when he made his comments.
The blue-and-white patrol car disappeared around the block in an instant. One Police Plaza was a stone's throw away. Joan watched on until she could no longer see the car before she paused to try to piece together what had just transpired. Instead of having quality time to think, she spotted two bloody bodies on the ground over on the sidewalk, which broke her train of thought. "Oh, my God! Who are they?"
Excerpted from Full Blue by Ivan Diaz. Copyright © 2014 Ivan Diaz. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsCHAPTER 1, 1,
CHAPTER 2, 15,
CHAPTER 3, 21,
CHAPTER 4, 25,
CHAPTER 5, 28,
CHAPTER 6, 33,
CHAPTER 7, 43,
CHAPTER 8, 49,
CHAPTER 9, 58,
CHAPTER 10, 64,
CHAPTER 11, 69,
CHAPTER 12, 71,
CHAPTER 13, 76,
CHAPTER 14, 79,
CHAPTER 15, 87,
CHAPTER 16, 95,
CHAPTER 17, 104,
CHAPTER 18, 108,
CHAPTER 19, 111,
CHAPTER 20, 113,
CHAPTER 21, 119,
CHAPTER 22, 121,
CHAPTER 23, 126,
CHAPTER 24, 128,
CHAPTER 25, 136,
CHAPTER 26, 140,
CHAPTER 27, 147,
CHAPTER 28, 150,
CHAPTER 29, 155,
CHAPTER 30, 158,
CHAPTER 31, 168,
CHAPTER 32, 171,
CHAPTER 33, 175,
CHAPTER 34, 182,
CHAPTER 35, 186,
CHAPTER 36, 189,
CHAPTER 37, 191,
CHAPTER 38, 196,
CHAPTER 39, 204,
CHAPTER 40, 207,
CHAPTER 41, 216,
CHAPTER 42, 221,