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Triss Stein Triss Stein

NYPD Daughter

Triss Stein: NYPD Daughter

Joe had a plan for his children’s lives and it didn’t include following him into the police force. They were going to take their hard-earned college degrees and get jobs that were safer. And better paid. And cleaner.

The plan for his little science whiz son was medicine and his argumentative daughter Ellie would go to law school. So his son took a break after college, joined an EMS team and never looked back.

Now his daughter had just told him she was taking her degree in sociology straight to the police academy.

His wife said, “Somewhere up there, your parents are laughing.”

“It’s not the same.” He said it loudly. “It is not at all the same.”

“It’s exactly the same. Your mother used to call me up crying, every time a cop was hurt. She thought I could persuade you to give it up.”

It was true, he admitted to himself. The NYPD was never his parents’ plan for him either. He was supposed to take his hard- earned diploma and get a job where he wore a tie every day. When he told them he’d go nuts chained to a desk, that he needed to be outside moving around, and he was taking the department exam, his father turned pale and left the room without a word. They didn’t speak to each other again for a week. His mother cried and cried and assured him between sobs that she only wanted him to be happy.

His girlfriend, as it turned out, was not concerned about his happiness. When nothing, not even some steamy hours in her father’s car,convinced him that he wanted to be an accountant after all, she gave him back the ring. Actually, she threw it in his face.

So he became a cop. A year later, a cute kindergarten teacher stopped in to bring a forgotten lunch to her brother, who was his first partner. Twenty-seven years later they were arguing about their kids’ careers.

“Yes, but that was me,” he said to his wife. “I could handle it. I was a big tough guy, even if Mom couldn’t see it. Street smart. It was different. ”

“It’s not different. Ellie isn’t your baby, any more than you were your mother’s. She’ll do fine.”

“That’s the craziest thing you ever said. She’s five-foot practically nothing. I wish they would have kept the old height requirement. She’s just a ….. ”

“Mmm. I dare you to say – ‘she’s just a girl.’ I dare you.” She stood with her arms folded, a tiny tiger defending her young. Against him. Him, who would jump into a pool of sharks for that little girl.

“What if …what if she gets involved with another cop? You don’t know what scum some of those guys are. Most of those guys.”

That’s when she started laughing at him. “You know, that’s just what my brother said when you wanted to ask me out. ‘I don’t care if he’s my partner, I don’t want you dating a cop.’ ” She patted his shoulder. “Remember? You had to steal my number from his desk. It worked out ok, didn’t it?”


“Honey, she can beat you at basketball and press 200 pounds. And she’s got a mouth on her that can rip off skin. And now,” she said, putting down her dish towel, “I’m leaving before I start screaming at you.” Her smile was mocking when she added, “Think I’ll take my baby girl shopping for fabulous shoes today.”

He admitted to himself at last that there was not a damn thing in the world he could do to stop this. All he could do was use his many connections to keep an eye on her.

Yeah, he could make sure she wasn’t getting a tough time from an asshole sergeant or being harassed by her jerk colleagues. He could lay some pressure on any cop she dated who didn’t treat her right. He’d have to be real careful. He could never let her know he was watching over her.

That was the best he could do, being a father. He couldn’t keep her from chasing some scumbag across a roof, or slamming open the door in a drug dealer’s apartment, or learning more about the sleazy side of life than he ever wanted her to know. He couldn’t keep her from mouthing off to a punk who’d take offense with violence, or to a boss who’d take offense with bullying. He couldn’t protect her from temptation or from the disappointment and despair that sometimes hit good cops. And he couldn’t stop thinking he was supposed to.

*     *     *

Actually, my old man wasn’t as good at keeping it a secret as he thought. Most of the teachers at the academy seemed to know whose kid I was, and they all went out of their way to tell me they wouldn’t cut me any slack. I worked twice as hard and showed them all.

Mom’s brother and my cop cousins were never assigned anywhere near me, yet somehow our paths kept crossing. And everywhere I worked, it seemed like someone was around who knew my dad. I finally caught on when he knew I was being transferred before I did. I blew my stack to my mother. I might have used the word “spying.” I certainly used the word “respect”, combined with “lack of.”

She told me all about how he felt. She even told me everything he said, right before I started the academy, that day we went shoe shopping. She told me I had to try and understand. So I tried. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes I just yelled at him.

One day, when I ‘d been on the job about a year, working in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I walked into Rivera Ace Superette, a little grocery on my beat. I was through with work, not in uniform, and I just wanted a cold soda. To tell the truth, Dad was right about just one thing: I am five foot nothing, and I didn’t look like a cop in my jeans and sandals and baseball cap.I looked like any kid on the street.

So there I was, rummaging around in the cooler and Mr. Rivera was talking to a white guy in a suit, very low, but I caught the words. “I just don’t have it today. It’s summer, my customers go away, and it’s been a bad week. Please. I just can’t.” The guy never even looked my way, but Rivera was begging me with his eyes. I just didn’t know what he was begging for. Go away? Stay and help? Keep quiet?

I was thinking, “What the hell is this?”

The guy in the suit wasn’t thinking about me at all. He was all business, removing his sunglasses, looking into Mr. Rivera’s eyes, and tapping his rolled up newspaper on the counter. It took me a little while before I realized the paper had a metal pipe inside. Rivera kept darting his eyes down at it.

Finally the man said, “Day after tomorrow. That’s it. End of story.” He slammed the counter top with the newspaper and the hidden pipe clanged against the tile. When I heard the door close, I came out from behind the shelves and said, “Mr. Rivera, what is this? Are you in some trouble?”

“Who, me? Naa. What could be wrong?”

His hands were shaking and his smile was as fake as the $10 gold watches people peddle on the streets.

I shook my head. “I know when something isn’t right. It’s my job, isn’t it? Should I take out my badge to remind you?”

“No, no, no. You think I don’t recognize you in your street clothes?” He winked, doing a weak imitation of his usual self. “Cops sure have gotten cuter over the years. Here, honey, you take the soda, a gift from me, and I’ll throw in a whole flavor pack of chips. All different kinds. A meatball sub to take home for supper, too.” As he talked, he was hustling me toward the door, loading me up with random extra snacks on the way.

You didn’t have to be a cop to guess it was some kind of payoff. Protection money? Loan sharking? I knew real banks wouldn’t always lend money around here, so people in need had to get it somewhere else. Gambling? He didn’t seem like the Atlantic City type, but really, how could I know if he had a bad betting habit combined with worse luck?

I wanted to help. I was outraged that someone was being a thug in this neighborhood I was assigned to protect. Besides, Mr. Rivera was a nice old man. Everyone liked him, from the cops who stop in on patrol to the mouthy underage kids trying to buy beer to the old ladies who want a bar of soap and a half hour of conversation. That’s probably why he’s managed to stay in business all these years.

The neighborhood went up and down a few times, I’ve been told, slowly dying with drugs and gangs, reviving as some of the century-old row houses were bought by stable immigrant families and then by young professionals. It was Arab on the edges, West Indian at the core, sprinkled with Dominicans. and yuppifying on some blocks. The gangs were going but they weren’t gone everywhere.

Mr. Rivera just hung in there, adding ginger beer and grape leaves, and lately balsamic vinegar and organic granola, to the corn flakes and Budweiser and baby food, and he survived all these decades.

I made up my mind to find a kid named Omar. I had picked him up once for minor mischief and when I let him go with just a warning to choose his associates more carefully, he was grateful. And he worked part-time for Rivera. I told my partner Jimmy what was up, and he hung back to let me talk to my own source.

I caught up with him a block from his school. “Let’s take a walk,” I said.

“Am I in some kind of trouble? ‘Cause I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t do nothing.”

“See that you keep it that way. Today I’m only looking for some information.”

“I don’t rat on my friends.” Tough words in a shaky voice.

“Do some of your friends need ratting? ” He looked shocked. “No, no, just kidding. It’s Mr. Rivera I want to know about.”

“Good man. Never does nothing wrong. Won’t even sell smokes without you have an ID.”

“Just what I figured, but I also figure he’s in some kind of trouble and he won’t tell me what it is.”

Omar went completely silent and looked around nervously.

“What do you know?” I said.

“Not much. Mr. Rivera, he don’t tell me nothing.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t see plenty. You’re a smart guy. Come on, just give it up and don’t waste my time.”

He swallowed hard. “OK, a couple of times, I was there stocking shelves and this kind of snaky dude comes in. White guy, silk suit, flashy rings.”

“Big sunglasses? Dark hair?”

“You know him? And him and the boss have words, you know? And Mr. Rivera, I know he was scared.”

“Excellent information. Thank you. Anything else?”

“I never seen him again, just those times.”

I stopped right there on the street, looked him straight in the eyes, as tough as I could be, and said, “I’m counting on you to tell me if anything else happens, if he comes back, anything. Are you hearing me? ”

He nodded solemnly. “Mr. Rivera, he’s been good to me. You want me to keep looking out for him, I’m down with it. I come to you if there’s anything up?”

“Sounds like a plan”

We were almost at the playground, crowded with teens playing basketball.

“OK, scram. You don’t have to walk past your friends with me.”

The day the man said he would come back, I was already there, doing a prolonged examination of the different brands of crackers in the store, purposely hanging around after my shift. The shelving kept me mostly out of sight but allowed me to see right up to the front. I was in the perfect undercover outfit, street clothes, disguised as a regular citizen.

Mr. Rivera had turned white when I walked in, but I didn’t say a word. I just picked up a plastic shopping basket and stepped to the back of the store. When the mystery man came in, Rivera handed him an envelope. I did not imagine his shaking hands.

The man in the suit wrote in his little book, slammed his fist on the counter, said “Next time I won’t be Mr. Nice Guy, ” and walked out. Because I had positioned myself where I could see him leave and get into a double-parked black car, I made it to the front of the store just in time to write down the license plate.

Mr. Rivera put his hand over mine and moaned. “No, no, no. You must not do that. You don’t understand.”

“Tell me about it.” I patted his trembling hand. “I want to help. I can help.”

He shook his head. “No, honey, you can’t. And I’m not getting you involved in this. I got to lie in the bed I made.”

I said, “I understand,” and left. Of course that was a lie. I did not understand but I was going to.

After that I decided to stop by the store more often, and Jimmy and I were looking out for that guy or that car all the time. I was alone when I did finally spot the car. It was a petty satisfaction to write him a parking ticket, but he caught me at it, grabbed my hand, crushed my fingers into the pen, and said, “Let it go.”

I looked him straight in the dark glasses and said, “Can’t do that. If you don’t know it’s illegal to park at a hydrant, I’d be happy to send you back to driving school, but I’m sure you do know better.” I handed him the ticket.

You should know better. I don’t pay tickets. I don’t even get tickets.” He ripped it to confetti, threw the tiny pieces into the gutter and gripped my arm tight enough to bruise. “Don’t make this mistake again.” He was in his car and peeling down the street in an instant.

Then I cursed myself for not responding faster. Preferably with violence. I knew he meant to intimidate me, but I wasn’t intimidated. I was furious.

I didn’t know what to do about it though. I could imagine my sergeant’s face if went to him saying some jerk was being mean to me on the street. And I couldn’t look up his plate number on my own. It had to be part of an investigation. And there wouldn’t be one, unless Rivera made a complaint or I caught the jerk at something.

I needed advice. I thought about calling the best cop I knew, but though I kept opening my cell phone I couldn’t bring myself to punch any of the numbers labeled Dad. A call on purpose would be too much of a concession. Instead, I would cadge dinner and free laundry at the folks and kind of slip it into the conversation.

There was the usual discussion about how my car was running, then the usual attempts to find out about my love life. I fended them off as usual. When I did bring up the Rivera situation as casually as possible, over Mom’s peach cobbler, Dad looked startled. He made a fast recovery, but I knew I had seen it.

“Rivera’s place?” he said. “It’s still there? I remember him from way back when Sandy and I were assigned there, a couple lifetimes ago. There was one time….” He was starting a yarn. I knew this was blowing a smoke screen. I just didn’t know why.

I cut in. “Obviously it is. I can’t figure out what my next step should be.”

Dad looked away, like he couldn’t look me in the eyes, and said, “Your next step should be stepping away.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. Ellie, listen to reason, for once in your hothead life. You’re still new at this. You have no idea what you might be getting into. Chest deep. Scum running this kind of racket, these bullies, you have no idea what they can do.” His voice rose at every word. I forgot, for awhile, that it had started with a tremor.

“I’m not new anymore.” I could feel myself turning red. “And I’m not a hothead, either. I sure didn’t battle expressway traffic all the way out here to be insulted like this.” Where was Mom when I needed her? Down in the basement with my laundry, I bet.

“Honey, I’m just looking after you. Hand it over to the big boys. This is quicksand….”

“Dammit, Dad, I am a cop. Get it? COP. I can put a six foot drunk in cuffs!” I stood up ready to stalk out. “If you won’t help me, I’ll handle it myself!” Then I did stalk out, so angry I left my laundry behind.

I would go talk to the man I used to call Uncle Sandy. He wasn’t my uncle, but my Dad’s old friend, one of the guys in the photo on the dresser, clowning for the camera the day they graduated from the academy. My first day on the job Sandy called to kid me about how long a Barbie doll from the neat, green suburbs would last here on the mean streets of Brooklyn. “Just watch me,” is all I said.

When I phoned him, he said “Advice? I’d be flattered. Sure, honey, meet me when you get off today. Bridge Inn on Flatbush. You know it? Couple blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge approach? We can grab a beer before we head home.”

Why did everyone call me honey? I wondered. I bet they wouldn’t if I was five ten and had big biceps.

The bar was dark and cool and almost empty in the late afternoon. Sandy looked older than I remembered but he still had that full head of gray hair my bald father envied so much.

He nodded as I described the situation and he said, “You did right. Something sounds dirty there. You got the plate number? Good girl! Give it here and I’ll follow up. He didn’t look like a gang banger, right? More mature guy? We both know what it sounds like, but a hunch ain’t evidence. I’ll look around in the neighborhood myself, ask a few questions, talk to my friends in Organized Crime.” He could see me hesitate. “What’s wrong?”

I feel kind of like I found this so I want to see it through. You know?”

“Sure I know. But you can’t investigate this. You don’t have the rank, you’re in uniform, you’re going to attract too much attention.”

He put up a hand to stop my protest.

“All kinds of people will get messed up if you step into deep waters you don’t understand. Good people too. Even the best people.” He gave me a hard look. “Get me? Forget this now.”

Then he smiled. “You’re a real officer in the making, but you’d be in over your head on this. I’m just looking out for you. I’ve got to do that, you know. The first time I met you was a Christmas party. You were just a tiny thing in a red dress with a candy cane in your hand.”

Something I did learn from my dad- if you want to get someone to talk, shut up yourself. The silence makes people nervous and they rush in to fill it up. My brother and I spilled a few guilty secrets before we caught on to that one.

He returned my blank gaze, then suddenly laughed out loud and patted my hand again. “Honey, you’ve got the look down perfect, but you should know you can’t kid a kidder, not one who’s been on the job longer than you’ve been alive. I’m not falling into that pit, so just trust me, and stay off it. No more parking tickets.”

By then we were out in front, ready to go our separate ways. He chucked me under the chin, kissed me on the cheek and said, “You’re a good girl. You’ll be a good cop too.”

All the way home, I was thinking hard. I didn’t remember the Christmas party, but I did remember him at barbecues on our deck, frankfurters on the grill, beer bottles in a tub of ice. I would be running in and out of the sprinkler with the other little kids, or sneaking beers behind the garage when we were older. None of those kids were his, and if he was “uncle” Sandy I didn’t remember an “aunt” Sandy to go with him. Maybe a few different women on his arm over the years, all with bright red lipstick.

Walking down Memory Lane was all very sweet, but I had to wonder how a middle-aged white guy in a suit, asking questions, could be less noticeable that me, in this mostly immigrant, mostly dark-skinned neighborhood? I could pass for one of the students who shared the cheap apartments, but who wouldn’t make him for a cop, no matter how plain clothes he was? And all those warnings? I couldn’t get rid of the hunch he was gaming me somehow, but I couldn’t figure out why. I even wondered if he had talked to Dad about protecting me. I wouldn’t put it past either of them.

I started to call Dad and confront him on that, but I knew my interrogation skills are not yet up to breaking him down. Oh, right, and I wasn’t speaking to him anyway.

The next morning, on my way in, I stopped to get an iced tea and Mr. Rivera could barely get a paper cup off the stack. All the fingers on his right hand were bandaged and splinted.

“What happened?”

He looked wary and then smiled sheepishly. “I was moving a case of beer and I dropped it. Broke some fingers.” He shrugged. “I know, I know, my wife says I’m too old for this kind of thing, but what can I do? I got to run the store.”

“Geez, that must have hurt! ”

“I’m taking a lot of aspirin.” He winced. “It’s not working as good as last time, though.” He seemed to hear his own words and closed his mouth abruptly.

“Last time ? You’ve done this before?”

He shook his head. “Yeah, I drop things sometimes. This is hard work, this place. Sometimes I fall, I get hurt.”

He shoved the tea at me, and muttered, “Got to get back to shelving.”

A little chill ran down my back. I’d been taught that accident-prone is how women who are being abused describe themselves. “I ran into a door.” “I fell down the stairs.”

I slammed my fist on the counter. “Damn it, I know what’s going on! And I talked to a family friend who’s a detective and he’s looking into it. We can help, you know!”

The old man had tears in his eyes. “You don’t know nothing about what’s going on. Now get out, I’ve got work to do.” He went to the door, turned the sign over to say “closed” and held the door open. It was way more than a hint that I should go away.

I did, but I was going to look for Omar. He found me first, before I even reported to work.

“That badass guy we talked about? He was in one more time, with someone else. And the someone else has been there a couple of times too. Just didn’t notice him before.” A sudden stop and a long silence, as if he was having second thoughts about his information.

“Come on, buddy. I don’t have all day.”

A big swallow. A look all around. A whisper, “He seemed like he could be a cop, only in regular clothes.”

“What did he look like?”

“You know. A cop.”

“I’m a cop, Omar. Did he look like me?

“Hell no.”

“Give, damn it.”

“He was a white guy, old but not real old. Big.”

“And? What else? You must have noticed something.”

Omar shot me a look of disbelief. “Now why would I notice anything else? He’s

just some old white guy in boring clothes.” He put himself to the trouble of explaining. “I noticed the other white guy cause of his flashy suit and rings.”

I gave him a hostile look. He conceded.

“Oh yeah, this one was wearing a jacket. Ugly nylon hoodie kind of thing.”

I thought, a jacket on a hot summer day? To hide a gun? Omar could be right

about him being a cop. I floated an idea.

“If he was a cop, maybe he was investigating?”


“Come on, spit it out.”

“I don’t really know nothing, but I’m not so sure about the investigating. It seemed like Mr. Rivera was more scared after.”

So, the nasty guy in the big black car never paid tickets, someone had hurt Rivera, a possible cop had visited. and Rivera seemed more scared after. What the hell had I gotten into here?

Omar took off, and then came back for just a second. “Forgot something.”


“He had a friend with him, one of those times, waiting out in the car. I mean the maybe cop guy.”


“Well, you said you wanted to know everything so I’m telling you. ” He shrugged. “I didn’t get a real good look, but he was a white guy too, and maybe bald? And the car was different too. Still a boring cop car, like they always drive Fords? Ya know? No style. But this one had like three shields on it.” He made a sketching gesture with his hand. “Dark red.” He ran off again.

Dark red. Three shields was a Buick. I knew it right away, because it sounded like my mom’s car. It sounded like her car and it felt like a stomach punch, because it also meant I knew a bald cop who drives one when his own is in the shop.

My dad? Involved in this, whatever it was? Officer Do It By The Book? How could that be? And I remembered the look Sandy gave me when he said good people could be messed up by my questions. What did he know?

I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t seem to breath. Jimmy joined me then, and asked what was wrong, but I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, tell him. I couldn’t tell anyone. It was probably way past time to talk to someone above me about Mr. Rivera, but now I couldn’t, not if my dad was in some kind of trouble. Even if it was trouble he chose.

Maybe if I hadn’t been so distracted, I would have wondered why Rivera’s store was already closed in the early evening. Normally he did a brisk business in late night desperation for cigarettes, a six-pack, diapers, condoms and lottery tickets. It wasn’t until much later, when Jimmy and I were on patrol in the dead of night, that the uneasiness finally hit me.

We went back, peered into the store windows, tried the door, checked the window security gates. There was nothing, until we finally saw a thin line of light coming from the metal hatch that covered the sidewalk chute down to the basement. No window in the front, so we slipped silently around to the back.

Guns out, holding our breath, bent low, we crept up to the ground level basement window and lay right down on the pavement to see in. Sure enough, there was Mr. Rivera, tied in a chair, bleeding, and two men. One was the menacing man I’d seen in the store, still in dark glasses.

The other was Sandy.

I cursed under my breath, shook my head, and put my finger to my lips when Jimmy turned to me with a question on his face. He moved away from the window to call it in. Rivera shouted, “Go on an’ hit me again. I don’t care, I got no more. You bled me dry, you mother…” They cracked him across the jaw before he finished. We looked at each other and knew we had to go in right now and hope our back-up was on the way. He kicked in the flimsy back door.

There was massive confusion, shouting, running, a gun firing. More cops came in behind us. Someone was breaking glass. Someone was untying Rivera. Then someone hit me in the face.

Next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor and a light was shining in my eyes. I heard sirens and cursing and someone shouting that it was a mistake, didn’t they know who he was? People in EMS uniforms were lifting a stretcher.

And my father was there.


“Come on, kiddo.” He was helping me up. “I’m going run you over to the hospital. Ambulance has the other guy. They said I can take you.”

“I don’t need a hospital.” I touched my cheek and winced. “I just need some ice.”

“Yeah, well, I know you’re tough but your mother would never forgive me if I didn’t get you checked for a concussion.”

As we drove through the empty early morning streets, I was just able to mutter, “What did I miss?”

“Not so much. Two men arrested. ”

My head was starting to hurt as much as my cheek, but I had to know. “Rivera?”

“Ambulance. He was hurt pretty bad but conscious. Jimmy’s ok,”

“What was it? Did he finally say? Rivera?”

“He couldn’t talk much but from the little we got, looks like some kind of protection racket. They’ll be looking for more and I’m damn sure they’ll find it.” Then he said, “Nice work, baby girl,” but he sounded grim.

My brain was finally starting at work. I struggled to sit up. “Dad! What were you doing there? And you were there before too, weren’t you? The bald man in the car like Mom’s? The other guy—was that Sandy?” I felt like a dope for not guessing sooner.

During the long silence that followed, I dreaded hearing his answer and I dreaded hearing any lies he might tell. I wished I hadn’t even asked.

“You knew about that that day? I had no idea what Sandy was up to; he said he was stopping in for a candy bar.” Another long silence “I’ve been keeping an eye on him lately. That’s why I was there tonight. I followed him because I was worried about you.” He finally muttered, “I thought you were dating him.”

Then I really sat up, astonishment overcoming pain. “What are you talking about? Have you completely lost your mind? ”

“Yeah, that’s what you mother said too, but just listen. Honey, he’s a player. Always has been, and the older he gets, the younger the girls are. Who knows what they see in him? Besides,” he said, “someone saw you.” He flinched at my indignant gasp. “Outside Bridge Tavern, looking affectionate.”

“You spy on me? Is that what you are saying?”

“No, no, it’s a cop bar; someone saw you. Spying? What do you think I am?”

I didn’t have the energy to take him up on that one.

“Hey, here we are.” Hospital workers rushed up to the car, opened the door, eased me out into a wheelchair. “No more talk now.” His relief would have been comical if I had been in any condition to appreciate it.

We continued later, as we waited in an emergency room cubicle.

“I was only asking his advice about Rivera. And he warned me off. That lying phony. And then I didn’t want you to know, when I started wondering about him. I thought you would be…you would be hurt. ” I swallowed the next words. My dad would never know that I was wondering about him too.

We had been protecting each other.

“That time when I told you about all this. Why did you seem so surprised?” I still had to know.

“We broke up something like this, years ago, right there, me and Sandy. ” He shook his head.

“He was a great guy, Sandy, all those years, except for the women. Great cop. Who the hell did he turn into? If he needed the dough, dammit, I wish he would have come to me.” He stopped, looked away so I couldn’t see his face.

Then they came to take me for x-rays. After, I slept, and they woke me up every two hours to look at my eyes and ask me my name and age. Every time, there was my dad, dozing in a dark corner of the room.

I woke up the next afternoon with a fierce headache and bruised face, and they said I could leave. Now Mom was there too, with clean clothes, make-up for the bruises and Chinese food, and they took me home.

In the end, it was pretty much what it had seemed, a small time punk trying to become a bigger one; a cop who was willing to help out for a piece of the action; and the small store owners, many of them immigrants, many not too sure that this wasn’t the normal American way of doing business, many convinced by an officer’s involvement than they had nowhere to turn. Small potatoes as crime rings go. Small, unless you were the victim.

Once word got out that Sandy had been arrested, a whole neighborhood of business owners came forward, ready to make statements. My partner and I couldn’t buy our own hot dogs or soda or coffee on the street. We were invited to a Jamaican barbecue and a Palestinian wedding, and were guaranteed a lifetime of manicures at the Korean nail salon. Mrs. Rivera and Omar kept the store going until Mr. Rivera was out of the hospital.

And I finally introduced my parents to my boy friend. He isn’t a cop but the real estate agent who found me my apartment. He wears a tie to work every day and is sure I will get my detective shield in record time.

This story appeared in the first edition of the anthology Murder New York Style, a collection of short mysteries set in and around New York.

© Triss Stein