E X C E R P T
Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.
What happened, a guy by the name of Booker, a twenty-five-year-old super-dude twice-convicted felon, was in his Jacuzzi when the phone rang. He yelled for his bodyguard Juicy Mouth to take it. “Hey, Juicy?” His bodyguard, his driver and his houseman were around somewhere. “Will somebody get the phone?” The phone kept ringing. The phone must have rung fifteen times before Booker got out of the Jacuzzi, put on his green satin robe that matched the emerald pinned to his left earlobe and picked up the phone. Booker said, “Who’s this?” A woman’s voice said, “You sitting down?” The phone was on a table next to a green leather wingback chair. Booker loved green. He said, “Baby, is that you?” It sounded like his woman, Moselle. Her voice said, “Are you sitting down? You have to be sitting down for when I tell you something.” Booker said, “Baby, you sound different. What’s wrong?” He sat down in the green leather chair, frowning, working his butt around to get comfortable. The woman’s voice said, “Are you sitting down?” Booker said, “I am. I have sat the fuck down. Now you gonna talk to me, what?” Moselle’s voice said, “I’m suppose to tell you that when you get up, honey, what’s left of your ass is gonna go clear through the ceiling.
When Chris got there a uniform let him in. There were Thirteenth Precinct cars and a Tactical station wagon parked in front of the house. The uniform told Chris that Booker had called 911. They radioed him here and when he saw who it was he called Narcotics and they jumped at it, a chance to go through the man’s house wide open with their dog.
A guy from Narcotics who looked like a young vagrant told Chris that Booker was a success story: had come up through the street-dealing organizations, Young Boys Incorporated and Pony Down, and was now on about the third level from the top. Look around, guy twenty-five living in a home on Boston Boulevard, a mansion, originally owned by one of Detroit’s automotive pioneers. The guy from Narcotics didn’t remember which one. Look how Booker had fucked up the house, painted all that fine old oak paneling puke green. He asked Chris how come he was alone.
Chris said most of the squad was out on a run, picking up illegal fireworks, but there was another guy coming, Jerry Baker. Chris said, “You know what today is?” And waited for the guy from Narcotics to say no, what? “It’s my last day on the Bomb Squad. Next week I get transferred out.” He waited again.
The guy from Narcotics said, “Yeah, is that right?”
He didn’t get it.
“It’s the last time I’ll ever have to handle a bomb, if that’s what we have, and hope to Christ I don’t make a mistake.”
The guy still didn’t get it. He said, “Well, that’s what Booker says it is. He gets up, it blows up. What kind of bomb is that?”
“I won’t know till I look at it,” Chris said.
“Booker says it’s the fucking Italians,” the guy from Narcotics said, “trying to tell him something. It makes sense, otherwise why not shoot the fucker? Like we know Booker’s done guys we find out at Metro in long-term parking. Guy’s in the trunk of his car, two in the back of the head. Booker’s a bad fucking dude, man. If there was such a thing as justice in the world we’d leave his ass sitting there, let him work it out.”
Chris said, “Get your people out of the house. When my partner gets here, don’t stop and chat, okay? I’ll let you know if we need Fire or EMS or if we have to evacuate the houses next door. Now where’s Booker?”
The guy from Narcotics took Chris down the hall toward the back of the house, saying, “Wait’ll you see what the spook did to the library. Looks like a fucking tent.”
It did. Green-and-white striped parachute cloth was draped on four sides from the center point of the high ceiling to the top of the walls. The Jacuzzi bubbled in the middle of the room, a border of green tile around it. Booker sat beyond the sunken bath in his green leather wingback. He was holding on to the round arms, clutching them, fingers spread open. Behind him, French doors opened onto a backyard patio.
“I been waiting,” Booker said. “You know how long I been waiting on you? I don’t know where anybody’s at, I been calling—you see Juicy Mouth?”
“Who’s Juicy Mouth?”
“Suppose to be guarding my body. Man, I got to go the toilet.”
Chris walked up to him, looking at the base of the chair. “Tell me what the woman said on the phone.”
“Was the bitch suppose to be in love with me.
“What’d she tell you?”
“Say I get up I’m blown up.”
“Is that all? Man, that’s final, that’s all there is all, nothing else.”
Chris said, “Yeah, but do you believe it?”
“Asshole, you expect me to stand up and find out?”