Excerpt of The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos
(Page 3 of 4)
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Tonight, wearing the blue, the badge and gun,
standing next to a guy he would have ridiculed a few years back, now his
contemporary, it felt like he had been free.
"...and she drops a bomb on me. Tells me she likes me
and all that bulljive, but she's dating one of the Redskins, too."
"Joe Jacoby?" said Ramone, side-glancing Holiday.
"Nah, not that beast." "So who?"
"A receiver. And not Donnie Warren, if you catch my
"You're saying she's dating a black receiver." "One
of 'em," said Holiday. "And you know they like white girls."
"Who doesn't," said Ramone. Over the crackle of the
radios coming from the cars they heard Cook telling one of the men in
his squad to keep the Channel 4 reporter, who was attempting to move
under the tape, away from the deceased. "Punk motherfucker," said Cook,
saying it loud, making sure the reporter could hear. "He's the one got
that witness killed down in Congress Park. Goes on the air and talks
about how a young lady's about to give testimony... "
"I had a problem with what she told me, I gotta be
honest," said Holiday, watching Cook but going ahead with his story.
"'Cause he's black." "I can't lie.It was hard for me
to forget him and her after that.When I was in the rack with her, is
what I'm talkin about." "You felt, what, inadequate or somethin?"
"Come on. Pro football player, a brother ... "
Holiday held his palm out a foot from his groin."Guy' s gotta be like
this." "It's an NFL requirement."
"Huh?" "They check their teeth, too." "I'm sayin, I'm
just an average guy. Down there, I mean. Don't get me wrong; it's
Kielbasa Street when the blood gets to it, but when it's just layin
"What's your point?" "Knowin this girl was hanging
off the end of this guy's dick, it just ruined her for me, I guess." "So
you what, let her go?"
"Not with that ass of hers, I wasn't gonna let her
go.No, sir." A woman had wandered under the tape while they were
talking, and as she approached the body of the girl and got a look at
it, she vomited voluminously into the grass. Sergeant Cook removed his
hat, ran a finger along the brim, and breathed deeply. He replaced the
Stetson on his head, adjusted it, and allowed his eyes to search the
perimeter of the scene. He turned to the man beside him, a white
detective named Chip Rogers, and pointed to Ramone and Holiday.
"Tell those white boys to do their jobs," said Cook.
"People regurgitatin, fucking up my crime scene ...If
they can't keep these folks back, find some men who will.I'm not
Ramone and Holiday immediately went to the yellow
tape, turned their backs to it, and affected a pose of authority.Holiday
spread his feet and looped his fingers through his utility belt, unfazed
by Cook's words.Ramone' s jaw tightened as he felt a twinge of anger at
being called a white boy by the homicide cop. He had heard it
occasionally growing up outside D.C. and many times while playing
baseball and basketball in the city proper. He didn't like it.He knew it
was meant to cut him and he was expected to take it, and that made it
burn even more.
"How about you?" said Holiday. "How 'bout me
what?" said Ramone.
"You been gettin any hay for your donkey?" Ramone did
not answer. He had his eye on one woman in particular, a cop, God help
him. But he had learned not to let Holiday into his personal world.
"C'mon, brother," said Holiday. "I showed you mine,
now you show me yours. You got someone in your gun sights?" "Your baby
sister," said Ramone.
Copyright © 2006 by George P. Pelecanos