In Greenpoint, everyone comes to Yetta’s. A candy store one block west of McGoldrick Park, it’s a neighborhood landmark, the place where Brooklynites come to sip a soda, buy a paper, and argue about gentrification. But when Lt. Joe Gallagher comes by to drop off a birthday cake for Yetta, he doesn’t notice the homeless man standing outside. Gallagher has just handed over the cake when the man enters, drops his shopping bag, and pulls out a shotgun. The lieutenant doesn’t have time to reach his revolver before he’s blown away. Yetta is the next to die.
Investigating the double homicide, Det. Lt. Tony Scanlon discovers that Gallagher was more than an ordinary hard-drinking, hardworking Irish cop. And as more killings follow, Scanlon knows that this will be a summer of blood for the NYPD.
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By William J. Caunitz
MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated MediaCopyright © 1986 William J. Caunitz
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The old man walked unnoticed into the park. His face was badly wrinkled and shaggy gray hair covered the tops of his ears. His clothes were old, his shoulders stooped; in his right hand was a large shopping bag brimming with rags and newspapers.
It was Thursday, a slow June day. The summer was not yet in full bloom; the heavy wet heat of July and August lay ahead. Mothers had gathered their children inside the play areas while teenagers hung out, listening to boxes playing hard rock at full volume. Several joggers slapped around the park's block-wide perimeter; a lone skater boogied along a pathway with his cassette earplugs affixed and his cosmic antennae bobbing. People with Slavic features sat on benches speaking Polish.
At the end of the parkway the old man came to the monument that had been erected to the heroes of the Great War. He paused and looked up at the statue with the human body and the birdlike face. Turning away, he moved to a nearby bench and sat, his wary eyes taking in the indifference around him. A woman sitting nearby hefted a baby playfully. She glanced at him and smiled. He scowled back. She quickly looked away.
The newcomer pulled the shopping bag onto his lap and reached inside. The peanuts were on the bottom, wedged under the cold barrel of a shotgun. He worked out the bag of nuts, put the shopping bag on the ground, and locked it between his legs. Leaning forward, he began tossing nuts into the quickly swelling flock of pigeons. There was nothing for him to do now but wait.
McGoldrick Park, a wide expanse of trees and forgotten monuments, was sandwiched between Driggs and Nassau avenues in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. It had once been named Winthrop Park but that name had been changed in order to honor the eighteenth-century cleric who had built St. Cecilia's Church on Herbert and Henry streets.
Across from the park, on Russell Street, the Lutheran Church of the Messiah was squeezed between two renovated town houses. Some of the row houses and the brownstones on that block had small patches of tended grass in front, and some had blue-and-white Madonnas.
The peanuts were gone. Most of the birds had strutted away. Some lingered. The pigeon feeder looked at his wristwatch, reached down and took hold of the shopping bag, and got up. Directly in front of him were two one-story buildings that were connected by a colonnade of Ionic columns. He examined the decaying facade of the most grandiose public toilet in the Borough of Brooklyn. The structure was enclosed within a high wire fence that was topped by loops of vicious concertina wire. Its cornices were festooned with signs: Danger — Under Repair.
Passing the lavatory on the women's side, the old man wandered over to the Antonio di Felippo statue, a bronze man hauling on a rope around a capstan. As he strolled around the monument he glanced beyond the park to the A&P supermarket on Driggs Avenue. His friend was not there. Had something gone wrong? His stomach churned.
Gazing up at the massive bronze figure, he noticed the cupid heart that someone had painted on the right buttock: KB loves KS.
The old man turned his head and looked again in the direction of the supermarket. This time he saw his friend standing there, a wan smile fixed on his face. The hairs on the old man's neck bristled. His hands were suddenly clammy, and a sense of isolation engulfed him. He began a slow walk toward Driggs Avenue, his shopping bag firmly in hand.
One block away from McGoldrick Park, Joe Gallagher was backing his dented '71 Ford Fairlane into a space on Pope John Paul II Square directly across the street from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
Leaning forward in his seat, Gallagher looked out at the traffic signs. No Standing 8A.M. to 7 P.M. He took the vehicle identification plate from behind the visor and tossed it onto the dashboard. NYPD Official Business.
He got out of the car, leaned back inside, and slid a cake box off the front seat. With palms firmly planted under the box he crossed Driggs Avenue, heading for the open telephone booth on the corner. He was dressed in tan slacks over which hung the tails of a gaudy Hawaiian shirt that covered his potbelly and the holstered gun tucked inside his trousers.
He slid his parcel onto the skinny ledge, holding it in place with his stomach, and lifted the receiver off the hook. Dialing, he noticed a woman leading a Chihuahua, and watched her bend to place a sheet of paper under the squatting dog's behind.
Yetta Zimmerman's candy store was on Driggs Avenue, one block west of McGoldrick Park and across the street from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. It was six stores in from where Joe Gallagher was making his telephone call. The shop was a long, narrow place that blossomed in the rear into a good-size storage area where Yetta stacked cases of soda and where two video games stood. A row of bare light bulbs hung from grimy chains fastened to a tin ceiling. An old-fashioned soda fountain was to the right of the entrance, and next to it was a rotating rack of paperbacks. Behind the soda fountain there was a large wooden display cabinet with sliding glass doors, crammed with cheap games and toys.
Yetta was a hulking woman with sad gray eyes and a thick jaw that sprouted scattered gray whiskers. Pussy jaw, some of the neighborhood boys would tease.
Yetta's was a local landmark. She had been operating her candy store for more than twenty-five years. It was where the neighborhood women held their morning coffee klatch to gossip about the neighborhood men. And it was where the neighborhood men came to borrow a five till payday.
Most of the people in this section of Greenpoint were of Polish ancestry. They enjoyed their daily visits to Yetta's, where they could argue in Polish over events in their native country and discuss the pros and cons of gentrification. On this Thursday afternoon Yetta was wearing a faded housecoat buttoned down the front and white socks and sneakers. Her newsprint-stained right ring finger bore only a plain, worn gold band.
She had just slid out change to a customer when she remembered that the fountain was nearly out of soda. She shambled out from behind the counter and went to the rear of the store, where she picked up the top case of soda. Lugging it past the video games, she glanced at the three boys playing the machines and thought that they should be saving their money instead of squandering it on such nonsense.
She had just about finished replenishing her stock when Joe Gallagher appeared in the doorway. "Here's your birthday cake." He beamed.
Yetta bustled out to greet him. She pulled him into a bear hug, forcing him to hold the box out to his side to avoid having it crushed. "You're a good boy, Joe. Ol' Yetta appreciates you going out of your way for her."
A harsh voice barked from the doorway. "Hey you!"
Turning to look, they slowly backed out of their embrace.
The three boys looked away from the video games to see who had called out.
The pigeon feeder was framed in the doorway, his right hand deep inside his shopping bag.
Gallagher slowly measured the stranger, instantly sensing the presence of danger. There was something about that voice. Something in those eyes. The irises were white and had little specks of gray and the pupils were a deep ... No! That was not possible. He knew those eyes. He took several steps toward the door, looking, making sure.
The shopping bag slid to the floor. Bottles and rags and newspapers scattered about. A Coke can rattled across the bleached wood floor and hit against the soda fountain, making an eerie clatter in the still, cool, dim interior of the shop.
Gallagher saw the shotgun coming up at him and blanched with fear. He lunged to one side and frantically reached under his shirt with his right hand, grappling for his gun. He was too late. The blast severed his right arm, spinning him around. The second explosion turned his face into a grotesque, bloody mask and hurled him backward, a look of horrible disbelief forever frozen in his one remaining eye.
"No! Not like this. Not after all that I've been through," Yetta Zimmerman shrieked. She tried to scream but the sounds would not come out. They were clogged somewhere in her throat so that only a frenzied gurgle came forth.
She wanted to run, to flee to safety, but her feet would not move. And then, when she saw the barrel being swung toward her, she closed her eyes and threw up her hands to cover her face.CHAPTER 2
Tony Scanlon sat at the end of Monte's long bar playing liar's poker with Davy Goldstein and Frankie Fats, the bartender. The Mets game was on the tube. It was a little after two P.M. Most of the lunch crowd had departed, so the waiters had begun to set up for the evening rush. A few of the neighborhood regulars were scattered along the bar.
Scanlon sipped Hennessy as he studied the palmed bill. He was holding four sevens. His long, narrow face was complemented by black eyes and jet-black hair graying at the temples. He was a handsome, well-built man of medium height, who at forty-three had a still-youthful face, a quick mischievous smile, and a cleft in his chin that formed the inverted apex of a ragged triangle. If El Greco had painted a cop, Scanlon would have been a perfect model.
Davy Goldstein was an owl-faced man in his mid-fifties who had a fondness for Havanas. He liked to smoke them from a cheap amber plastic holder. Nodding his head in concentration, Goldstein bid four threes.
The other players reexamined their hands.
A customer at the other end ordered a Martell.
Frankie Fats slid off the bar stool and waddled down the length of the bar. He was wearing a white-on-white shirt with the collar opened and his tie wrapped but unknotted, the broad half rolled over the top.
Monte's was on Wither Street, a small side street one block from the elevated highway of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which separated the Polish section of Greenpoint from the Italian section. The houses in the Italian part were mostly one- and two-story dwellings of wood and clapboard. The streets in both parts were clean, and the buildings, unlike those in other parts of the city, were graffiti-free. On every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday an array of neatly tied green refuse bags lined the curbs of Greenpoint awaiting the garbage pickup.
Frankie Fats returned and draped his considerable rump over the top of the bar stool. He glanced at his hand and bid six fours.
Scanlon bid seven sevens.
Davy Goldstein called him.
They showed their bills. Scanlon's sevens had won it. He raked in the other players' bills. They were all folding new bills when the private line under the bar rang. Frankie Fats reached under, pulled out the receiver, and grunted into the mouthpiece. When Scanlon saw the bartender's tiny, piglike eyes dart to him, he knew that the plans he had made for the remainder of his day had just been changed for him.
That Thursday had begun for Tony Scanlon when he opened his eyes and reached out to shut off the buzzing alarm. Turning back onto his side, he inched his bulk across the queen-size bed to the other form. He began to rub his body against hers. She made a small catlike sound and moved with him. When it was time, she turned onto her stomach, snatched a pillow down, stuffed it under her, and spread her legs.
He mounted her, doggie-style.
Sally De Nesto could always tell when a man was ready to finish. She thrashed her head over the bed, miming sleepy ecstasy. "Come, Tony. Come with me," she moaned moments before his orgasm.
Scanlon lay on top of her, catching his breath, permitting himself the pleasure of leaving her body naturally. Her backside felt warm and nice, and he rubbed himself into the wetness of her.
Sally De Nesto reached her hand up and ran it through his damp hair. "You're one of the best, Tony."
He rolled off her onto the bed. "Sure I am," he said with sudden annoyance. He moved to the edge of the bed and sat up, reaching out for the prosthesis on the nearby chair. He pulled it over and rested it across his lap. He rolled the stump shrinker off the stump of his left leg, folded it, and put it down on the bed beside him. With both hands he kneaded his stump. The edema wasn't so bad this morning. He took the stump sock out of the socket of his prosthesis and rolled it up over his stump. He tilted back on the bed, elevated his stump, and slid the socket of the prosthesis over it. He stood, pressing his weight down on both legs, ensuring that the patellar tendon rested firmly on the patella bar of his artificial leg.
He moved into the bathroom and sat on the lip of the tub. He removed the prosthesis and the stump sock, put the sock inside the socket, leaned the leg against the wall, and slid around into the tub.
A few minutes later Sally De Nesto sat up in bed with a sheet across her chest, watching him get dressed. She wondered why she was so hung up on this one-legged man. Why the hell did she feel so much compassion for this one? After all, there were worse handicaps. And he certainly did handle his affliction well. He walked without a limp, had a good job, a cute cleft in his chin, and a subtle animal aura about him that made women pay attention to him. As he sat on the bed and slid into his trousers, she asked herself what it was about him that made her want to know more about him, and she decided that it was the simple fact that he didn't seem to give a rat's shit about her. There were other reasons too: the way his lips pulled back to form the cutest dimples, and there were those magnificent eyes that were so full of sadness. Many times she wondered about the woman who must have put the sadness there. Hookers are real connoisseurs of sadness.
At ten o'clock that Thursday morning Detective Lt. Tony Scanlon parked his car on Freeman Street, in the space in front of the Nine-three Precinct that was reserved for the squad commander. He walked to the candy store on the corner and bought three packets of De Nobili cigars. He left the store and went half a block on Freeman Street until he came to the end, the western tip of the Borough of Brooklyn. His gaze went across the East River to the shimmering towers of Manhattan. South, to the Twin Towers, they were in the First. North, to the Citicorp, that was in the Seventeenth. To the Empire State Building, that was in Midtown South. That's how a cop remembers prominent locations, by the precincts within which they are located. His forlorn stare fixed on the distant skyline. Manhattan. The same job, a different job. The Tenderloin. He used to work there. But then, that was ancient history.
Six minutes later Scanlon walked into the Nine-three Precinct and asked the desk officer what was doing. The gray-haired lieutenant with the half-glasses and heavy brogue lowered the Wall Street Journal, peered down at Scanlon from behind the high desk, and said, "And what could be doing here, Anthony?"
Scanlon walked behind the desk. He moved to the long green clerical cabinet and picked up the teletype message book. He paged through, scanning the latest messages. He turned his attention next to the Arrest Record. No arrests had been made in the Nine-three for three days. Going through the Unusual Occurrence Folder, he saw that the last Unusual had been prepared eight days ago when a car had exploded on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, killing the five occupants.
He saved the Personnel Orders for last. They would give him the pulse of the Job. Tell him who was transferred where. An inspector transferred out of the big building, as the cops called police headquarters, to Manhattan South was tracked for promotion. The same inspector transferred to Brooklyn North was being given a message to put his papers in.
As he looked over the latest orders he sighed in disgust when he saw that Inspector Sean O'Brien had been promoted to deputy chief and transferred from Support Service Bureau on the tenth floor of the big building to Management Analysis on the twelfth floor. They never go far from the breast, he thought, walking out from behind the desk. He crossed the muster room, heading for the curving staircase.
The Nine-three was considered one of the best houses in the city to work in. There were few crimes, plenty of available women, and many good restaurants where the man on post was always welcome.
The caseload of the Detective Squad did not warrant a lieutenant assigned as the Whip. But Scanlon had been put out to pasture after he lost his leg in the Adler Hotel payroll heist. "Take it easy, Tony. Go over to the Nine-three and enjoy the good life. You've paid your dues," retired Deputy Chief Kimmins had told him after his year-long recuperative leave was up. That was four years ago. And today Tony Scanlon was a man bored out of his tits.
Excerpted from Suspects by William J. Caunitz. Copyright © 1986 William J. Caunitz. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THIS BOOK IS SET IN BROOKLYN IN THE MONTH OF JUNE. ITS ABOUT THIS COP JOE GALLAGHER AND YETTA ZIMMERMAN WHO WAS MURDERED IN YETTAS CANDY STORE AND A DETECTIVE NAMED TONY SCANLON WHO TAKES ON THIS INVESTIGATION. THIS BOOK GAVE ME A GREAT IDEA OF THE DAILY LIFE IN A COP AND HOW THEY SOLVE THESE HORRIFIC CRIMES.THERE ARE SOME REALLY SEXUAL GRAPHICAL PARTS IN THE BOOK THAT REALLY EXPRESSES THE CHARACTERS. SOME MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITED FOR CHILDREN. THE AUTHORS EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH NYPD GIVES YOU A MORE REALISTIC IDEA OF WHAT THESE COPS FACE EVERYDAY. THIS BOOK IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER BOOK THAT I HAVE READ. IT GAVE ME A BETTER SENSE OF THE POLICE FORCE AND THE PROCEDURES AND TIPS THEY USE TO SOLVE EACH AND EVERY CRIME. IT WOULD BE GREAT FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO HAVE A GREATER IDEA OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE KIND OF THINGS THAT GO ON IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. ESPECIALLY FROM AN AUTHOR WHO LIVED THE EXPERIENCE. THIS BOOK WAS A GREAT BOOK WITH A GREAT PLOT AND RECOMMENDED TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO READ A GREAT MYSTERY BOOK. WITH MANY CLUES POPPING UP YOU WONT BE ABLE TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN. HOPE YOU ENJOY THE BOOK.