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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: July 6, 2020      Views: 27
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Retired Homicide Detective in NYC, Retired Nurse, Retired United States Army Reserves with a year deployment to Iraq. NY County Coroner.

He is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #80 spot on the rankings.

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
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Chapter 3 of the book A work in Progress
the investigation continues
"Manny" by John Bourges
a love story of sorts set in NYC

Manny looked at both Detectives and wondered how he was going to do this without getting in trouble, or looking like a rat, the result of either in this area could mean a sudden shortening of your life expectancy. The reality of that observation almost made him walk away. He had saved enough money to open the bodega he wanted back in his hometown of San Francisco de Marcoris in the DR, but that all could end abruptly. Still, Marcello didn’t deserve to have his head cut off. He was a nice old man, from the same hometown as Manny, but he had a drinking problem. So rather than let him sell on the streets and work the stash houses, Manny let him bring food and coffee to those that did. Easy money, no worry of committing a crime or being turned and he made enough to keep him happy with his rum. But now he was dead and so was ‘junior’. They were just another transplant from the Dominican Republic to the Heights trying to make their fortune and return home.

‘How do you know him? Morgan asked.
‘From around here’ Manny replied, using both English and Spanish, ‘mostly running errands for anyone. The kid just arrived here from the
D.R. about 6 months ago.’
‘You know how we can find family? Tommy asked.
‘Already being looked into is my guess’ Manny said. 'I’m sure someone will show up at the precinct soon enough.’
‘So, what makes you think you know the people who did this? Was there more than one, do you know them? From here? A problem? What?' Morgan began asking in rapid succession.

Tommy indicated Morgan to slow down and looking at Manny said, ‘tell us what you know.’

Manny started to explain about a group 3 people; always together; that would come from Jersey to buy their drugs, at least once maybe twice a week for months. They were good customers, always pleasant, never any issues. When asked to describe them, he gave a brief rundown, all white, two guys, one girl; and the girl was cute and was either the sister of one, girlfriend of one or something. He thought there was a relationship between them that was beyond friends who did drugs together. All in their late 20’s, at least that’s how they looked, ‘coke can age you’ he added.
‘About a month or two ago, only the girl and one of the guys comes. In speaking to them they said that the other kid had just killed himself, hung himself somewhere. Nothing really more until today when that one guy comes back to the block, he had someone else with him. I never saw him before, but people on the block get to know you, so they let him walk in and upstairs without an issue, then this.’
Slowly and with the rehearsed method they had practiced over years of working together Tommy and Morgan began to elicit more and more information, what they wore, how they arrived, who the girl was what did she look like and every detail they could obtain standing out in the street with every eye upon them. Both Detectives handed him one of their business cards.

‘Listen’ Morgan continued…. ‘What happened to Marcello and Junior is wrong and we will do everything to find the people who did this, but you have to remember a couple of things. We are not going to find these guys just to let them go. That means I need a witness…a witness who can stand up in court and tell me what they saw. What you just told us is fantastic, but you have to decide if YOU can stand up in court and tell a jury that. And always tell us the truth, you don’t want to or can’t answer…fine, but don’t lie to us.Understood?’

‘Yes’ Manny replied, and they shook hands and started to walk away with Tommy and Morgan heading to return upstairs to the apartment. Canvases needed to be done.

Morgan stopped and turned calling back to Manny. When they approached he leaned over and spoke in his ear, covering his mouth as he spoke. Manny shook his head in agreement, put his hand out and after shaking Morgan’s turned and walked away.

‘Whad’ya’ say? Tommy asked.
‘Beware the Narco Ranger.’  Morgan said, ‘You and I both know that some dimwitted inside fag pudd knocker at One PP is going to think it’s a great idea to send every narcotics unit up here to make arrests, street crime, everybody and their mother. Fuck getting information or a witness right now, let’s shake some branches and see what falls. So I suggested he lay low for a while and let us find the guys that did this.’

The Crime Scene Detectives had arrived, as their Department station wagon was noticed parked downstairs. When they reached the floor of the murders as they approached they could hear one the Detectives say: ‘Would you fucking look at that? He looks like a fucking Pez dispenser…un- fucking-believable’.
Both Tommy and Morgan smiled and said together ‘Detective Johnston! Always a pleasure.’

True to his word several family members of both Junior and Marcello appeared at the precinct. None could supply further details, and no one had a passport or any ID for the victims, or themselves. But such was life. They would wait till the autopsy in the morning and the prints from the morgue unit, hand deliver those to BCI and latent prints and see if there was a hit. Then get pictures, rap sheets and anything else they could find. The prints lifted from the crime scene would be compared but that too could be an issue. They had hoped for a blood print that did not match either of the victims. Prints could have been left in the apartment at any time, especially one being used to sell drugs, but if the print had blood, it would have gotten there at the time of the death or after. Again, the ‘or after’ part could mean, EMS, responding patrol or anyone else that was there later could have left it. They would have to wait and see. A hit was a hit and right now they had nothing except the vague description of a young man who had hung himself somewhere in New Jersey sometime in the past 2 months. And that’s what Morgan began to concentrate on. It was what he and Tristan did well, run down leads, they were after all Detectives.
Tommy and his partner Paul Coyo left the squad room heading downtown to the ME’s Office or the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner which was on 30th Street and 1st Avenue. No matter how you went during rush hour, it was going to take forever to get there. Traffic down the Harlem River Parkway to the FDR on the east side may have been the most direct but was also the worst. Taking the Henry Hudson, West Side Highway was no better. The traffic may move better down the west side but then cutting across town was in and of itself another nightmare. Everyone and their mother were trying to get from someplace north and east or west of the city to lower Manhattan, and everyone was doing it at the same time. So, no one looked to rush out the door to go anywhere south when their shift started. All had stayed overnight in the Detectives dorm in the precinct anyway finishing after midnight. Well, almost everyone stayed there. Some…well they knew where they laid their hat if needed.

The Heights was a unique place, covering everything east and west from 155th street north to the end of Manhattan. At one point there is no ‘eastside’ everything was considered ‘west’. It had at one time been a completely different area. It was the country where people in the 'City' fled to. Cubans, Jews and Irish all lived in little enclaves separated by winding streets and in some places a real railroad track which was the elevated subway. Coogan’s Bluff, carriage racings for the wealthy along the ‘speedway’ back in the 1800’s, the Morris-Jumel Mansion where Washington actually slept and fought the British, to more current times and where Malcolm X, known as Shabazz, then; was shot and killed. He was shot in the Audubon Ballroom, and taken by some patrol officers; who were now Detectives in the same precinct; across to Doctors Hospital part of the sprawling Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Center.
In the back of one of the hospital buildings was a plaque indicating where home plate was when the Highlanders, the for-runners of the NY Yankees played there. Their interlocking N Y logo part of a medal designed by Tiffany and awarded to a Police Officer for bravery.

Slowly the community changed. Many could point to the block of 163rd street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue where it was believed crack cocaine was invented. The area easily accessible by train and car boomed in the drug trade. All roads led to Rome as they said, and all roads led to the heights. The Major Deegan, Cross Bronx Expressway, George Washington Bridge, 181st street bridge, West Side Highway, Henry Hudson and Saw Mill River Parkway on one side and the Harlem River Drive, FDR Drive on the other where you could take the Tri-borough bridge. You could drive down a major highway, get off and go only a few blocks and buy anything from grams, to kilos of anything you wanted, and be gone in minutes. During the drug wars that now plagued the city it was mostly cocaine. The only thing more popular than selling drugs was robbing drug dealers it seemed.

Some drug dealers took the precaution of being very heavily armed. Others used ‘stash houses’ where the majority of their drugs were held until needed. Some needed to know you before they sold to you. In this sea of drugs and drug dealers were the predators looking to rob, the buyers looking to score and the police looking to bust either of them. Once when Morgan was an investigator in ‘plain clothes’ the precursor to the narcotics, public morals and auto crime units, he went to buy powdered cocaine. The undercover that went in earlier had said it was like a wholesale market, everyone was selling. So, to try and get two search warrants for the next day instead of the one they planned, he left his gun and ID back in the ghost car and went to buy.

While the seller was willing to sell the gram he asked for, the guy at the door with the gun was having none of it. He put the gun to Morgan’s head and said he thought Morgan was a cop and that he was going to kill him. A few back and forth of: ‘you are, I’m not’ ended when the dealer said then ‘well use some of the junk and we’ll know’. With that Morgan asked if it was coming out of his pile or the dealers pile. If it was coming out of the dealer’s pile then could he go get his girlfriend and they could come back and sample all day long. That seemed to satisfy everyone and as Morgan left, he memorized their faces.

The next night when they executed the search warrants, Morgan sought out the dealer with the gun. After a brief struggle that Morgan said was the subjects attempt to flee and the perps subsequent falling down an air-shaft, they arrested everyone involved. He hated being an undercover and couldn’t understand why cops did it. The path to glory and the all mighty Detective shield couldn’t mean that much. But back then it did. If it wasn’t for the fact that Morgan was fundamentally cheap and not really a quick thinker on his feet, he may have ended up dead, and all for a few decks of heroin or grams of coke. What a life.
Robbing dealers was the next most lucrative game in town to selling drugs and there were many ways to play that game. Some already on the PD’s radar or on their own would ‘buy up’ a dealer looking to rob them of a kilo or two that they never could have purchased in the first place. In one case a dealer would place good quality cocaine in the middle of what looked like a packaged kilo of coke. The majority of the powder was baby soap or something else but when the seller and dealer cut into a ‘marked’ place it would come up as coke. But then they get busted because the dealer gave them up to the police in return for less time or as a CI or confidential informant. When the buyer was caught, they soon found out it was not the ‘quality' of cocaine that counted only quantity. So, for a gram of coke hidden in the middle, they were doing time for a kilo. At that time 4 ounces or 4 pounds it didn’t make a difference, there was a war on drugs now and that was life. What came around went around and one dealer was subsequently killed for 3 kilos of coke, having been bought up by the robber. The bad guy was now doing time for 3 kilos which was really 3 grams…and a murder.

If the drugs were hidden in traps, either in an apartment like in Morgans or a car, another enterprising business offspring of the drug trade; they would simply torture them till they talked. In one case Tommy had, the husband was slowly cut to pieces on top of his wife; while both were lying bound and tied in a bathtub. As parts were cut off him and he screamed and bled, they would simply keep asking where the drugs and money were. Eventually someone spoke and both ended up with their throats cut. Another had laundry iron marks all over the body including the face and genitalia and that was only a family member, not the dealer. Both had gunshot wounds to the head when the robbers learned what they wanted.

Being caught in a robbery but surviving meant you knew what was coming. Another one of Tommy’s cases had a woman jumping out a 3rd story window getting impaled in the wrought iron fence below. Finding two screws that held the deadbolt in place were the only clues that showed to Tommy that this was a push in. Rather than being tortured again, she took her chances and jumped. When they were caught off a latent print hit, Tommy was less than polite with them, sending both to the hospital and one to intensive care. Suspended for a week, he thought it was only fair. They got twenty years.

Now Morgan and Tristan were heading to New Jersey and the Montville Township PD. Hours of calls to local police departments and county clerks looking for a suicide by hanging had given them one hit. Using I-80 and going west from the George Washington Bridge as a meridian from which to branch off led to a possible suicide of a young man in Montville. The township was between I-287 to the north which cut across to the Tappan-Zee Bridge and I-80 to the south which led directly to the George Washington Bridge and the Heights. In talking with the Detectives, just about 2 months prior a young man was found hanged outside his car with his seatbelt wrapped around his neck. Not exactly a common way of killing yourself but who knew.

Walking into the Detectives office in New Jersey was like walking into a Detectives Squad room anywhere. Mostly men, wearing suits in varying levels of quality between polyester and cotton or wool, in many different colors, with jackets either hanging up or on the back of chairs, ties almost all universally undone, guns in different holsters but mostly revolvers and cigarette smoke filled the cluttered room.

The desks; some facing each other some facing the walls; with typewriters of different makes, some electric, some manual; across the top of each one with stacks of paper files. Photographs and wanted posters, an old copier that looked as if it came out of a cave someplace completed the image. Against the far wall was the required coffee maker. Stopping at the counter by the open door to the squad room Morgan and Tristan stopped and showed their shields.

‘Can I help you?’ Someone asked…

‘here to see …

’you Morgan?’ A voiced asked from another desk.


‘Over here’ and with that one of the roundest and largest people he had ever seen stood up. The suit was that of a 1970’s B movie, multiple colors in an ugly plaid print, with a tag that probably said keep away from open flame. The tie matched nothing, brown shoes worn everywhere exposed and a holster on his belt that held a very large revolver with Pachmayr grips. But what stood out was that he was round. He had a round bald head, round shoulders, largely overweight with a belt that looked as if it would break any second, with equal amounts of him both above and below the belt, while filling the shirt and pants to capacity. If ‘Fatty Arbuckle’ was still alive, Morgan thought he just found him. They shook hands and Tristan and Morgan sat along his desk in two very worn chairs.

‘Hey, I’m John Hannon, nice to meet you, Coffee?’
‘No thank you, I’m all coffee’d out, but tell us what you have.’ Morgan asked.

‘Actually, from what I remember you telling me, this is looking a lot more like the guy you want.’

Pulling the case file Hannon showed them crime scene pictures and a mug shot of the victim, ‘His name was John Unger’ the Detective said
'26 years old.'

The picture was of a male white, average build and height hanging outside his driver side car door with the shoulder seatbelt strap around his neck. The body was in a seated position with about 3 inches of clearance between the bottom of the body at his hips and the ground. His feet were stretched out in front of him, with his left leg folded slightly under the right. It looked as if he had looped the strap around his neck and then simply sat down and strangled himself. Morgan looked up as did Tristan, both looking at each other and then to the Jersey Detective.
'I know what you’re thinking…like what the fuck…who could do this to themselves. He left a note which simply said, ‘I’m sorry but I can’t live like this anymore’. It’s his handwriting according to friends, toxicology came back, and he was stoned, cocaine AND heroin, but not enough of either to kill him. We searched high and low for anyone that would have helped him wrap the belt around his neck and found nada, nothing, zip, zilch. Everyone liked him, for a drug addict. We even sent the belt to the FBI hoping they would find something out of the ordinary that would make us look at this harder and again came up with nothing. No trace fibers out of the ordinary, no cleaning fluid, no latex traces, just human sweat stains where he reached over again and again to put on the belt when he sat in the car. No signs of struggle. Normal stuff in the car belonging to him, wooden toolbox, clothes, sneakers, nothing unusual. Prints came back to everyone who had access to the car, girlfriend, mom, and a friend. Cause of death was asphyxia with no other trauma noted.

‘What makes you think this is our guy?
‘Because he had a girlfriend, and she is cute too. That’s her’ as he slid over a Polaroid, ‘Tiffany Moore.’

Looking down at the picture and then handing it to Tristan Morgan thought she looked like a young Natalie Wood, after Natalie worked in a whore house and became addicted to drugs.

‘And then there is this…our dead guy took one collar, one month before he killed himself. He was stopped going over the George Washington Bridge with two others. One his girlfriend and the other identified as Tom Jones. No prior on Jones except that arrest but here is his pedigree. He’s the friend.  If you need to, we can find him, he lives over in Parsippany. I took the liberty of calling Port Authority and they said they have a picture of him from that arrest, but you’ll need to stop there on your way back to get a copy.’

Morgan smiled; Tristan smiled. ‘If there is a hit, I owe you a dinner my brother’. Morgan said.

‘No dinner but I would like to take my wife to a Broadway show.’

‘Done’, they shook hands again and Tristan and Morgan left. ‘The game
is afoot’ Morgan said to no one but himself, 'this case may just get legs' he said to Tristan.

As they left heading to the Port Authority Police Station this side of the George Washington Bridge, Morgan looked at Tristan. ‘What do you think? Morgan asked.

‘About that guy killing himself like that.' Tristan replied. ‘We’ve seen every which way a person can off themselves…and that guy was murdered, in my humble opinion. But fuck it; it’s their problem, not ours. Besides it’s not like we haven’t shit-canned a case or two before. Let’s go ID a murderer, something tells me this is going to be beaucoup OT partner.’

‘Ah overtime, the thing that makes the world go round.’ Morgan followed.

After getting the photograph from the Port Authority Police, they prepared a photo-array back in their office of six subjects who all appeared similar. They were then placed in a folder with 6 cut outs, three on top three on the bottom. The subject was placed in the number two spot, top dead center. The girl and the dead guy they left as single photographs; they were not subjects of this crime as far as they knew; and their ID would just be confirmatory. Photo-array and photographs in hand, Morgan and Tommy left in search of Manny.

The book continues with the search continues. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
the investigation continues of the double
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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