TS. We are sitting in an interview room. It is windowless, small and claustrophobic. Some kind of foam soundproofing covers the walls and there are bare spots where nervous suspects have picked at it. In the far corner, at the ceiling, there is a camera. Why do I feel guilty of something?
Sargent Detective O’Roarke is well…no other word for it…big! He seems to take up most of the room’s space and more than his fair share of air. Handsome, tough and his Irish heritage is mapped on his features. Detective Stella Garcia, sitting next to him, is a lily amidst the stones. Refined features, with cheekbones that could cut steak. Clear, sharp hazel eyes and streaky light brown hair cut in an effortless pageboy.
TS. Tell me, have you always wanted to be in law enforcement?
O’R. I was raised in Hell’s Kitchen before it was gentrified. I had my share of brushes with the law and I saw some of my friends go to jail or get dead. The writing was on the wall. Did I want to end up in prison or worse? As a juvie; I think I was fifteen, a cop picked me up for shoplifting. It was my sister’s birthday and I didn’t have any money for a present for her. First he put the fear of hell in me.
Kept me handcuffed and stuffed me in a room just like this one. Left me alone there for two hours. When he came back he had a sandwich and a soda for me. He moved the cuffs to the front and I had to eat like that. He told me I was damn close to the age where he could charge me as an adult. What was I going to do with my life? He confirmed what I already knew, prison or dead.
Then he asked me if I’d like to ride along with him some night? I remember feeling like an anvil had fallen on me. Be a cop? Really? Was this guy joking? I rode with him and his partner a couple of nights later and that was all it took. The old cop started mentoring me and helped me get a partial scholarship to NYU.
TS. And you, Detective Garcia? (O’Roarke snorted and barked out a laugh)
SG. Cut it out O’Roarke. (She turned back to me) I grew up on a horse farm, upper Connecticut. Lived atop a horse or in the barn until I was eighteen, when I went to UC. The first year I had no idea what I wanted to do, didn’t declare a major until the middle of my sophomore year. Some sonority sisters and I went to Manhattan to see a show one weekend. When we left the theatre, a half a block down, three cop cars suddenly converged on the street, lights and sirens. Six cops jumped out of their cars and grabbed what we heard later were three armed perps.
One broke away and ran up the street toward us waving a gun. People scattered but my friends and I were frozen to the pavement. A female cop chased after him and, as luck would have it, tackled him right in front of us. It was a flying tackle; she landed on his back and they both went down. She disarmed him and had him in cuffs by the time her partner got to them. The cop stood up; she’d lost her hat and she had a split lip but she was grinning like crazy at her partner. From that moment on I was toast. Monday morning I went in to school and declared my major in criminal justice. I made Detective two years ago.
TS. And you’re in NYPD’s Homicide Unit.
O’R. Yeah, I was in Vice for a few years and then moved to Homicide.
SG. Domestic Violence and Kids at Risk Unit and then I went over to Homicide. So many deaths result from domestic violence but once the Homicide detectives arrived we’re done. I wanted to be able to follow my cases to the end. O’Roarke and I have been partners since my transfer.
O’R. (Grinning at his partner) Yeah, I had to train the rookie, here. A dirty job but somebody’s got to do it.
TS. You get some pretty high profile cases assigned to you. That famous Broadway director, the celebrity chef on the Food Network Do those kinds of cases require anything different?
O’R. No. Because under all that wealth and glitter they’re just people like you and me.
TS. Wasn’t Chef Jeff Kirikos the mayor’s brother-in-law? That had to add some pressure on the NYPD. (O’Roarke snorted again, this time in disgust.
I had the distinct impression he didn’t suffer fools or politicians, in this case.)
SG. That was a cold case. The mayor requested that we take another look at it. We were happy to get it solved.
TS. Are either of you married? Have children?
SG: I am, with two boys. R.J.’s eleven and Robbie is seven.
SG. Nickname. He’s Raul Garcia, Jr., for his father.
TS. And you, Detective O’Roarke? (Now it was Garcia’s turn to snort.)
O’R. Single. No further comment.
SG. I have high hopes for O’Roarke here. (She poked him in the ribs.) Someday some woman will gob-smack him into marriage.
O’R. Cut it out, Garcia! Right now! (The rough detective was blushing.)
TS. Must be tough on home life.
SG. Yes. At times very much so. But I have an amazing husband. He teaches high school and coaches the swim team. He can be home when my boys get there and they’re amazing too. They always tell me how proud they are their mom’s a cop.
TS. Why so?
SG. The children. (Her eyes were suddenly bright with tears.)
O’R. We just closed a case where two little kids, toddlers, were hiding behind a chair while their father beat their mother to death.
SG. Those cases stay with you for the rest of your life.
TS. What do you do for fun? Do you have time for a personal life?
O’R. I work out, watch soccer on the tube. Meet with friends for dinner occasionally. But we’re on call 24/7 so when the mobile lights up we go.
TS. And you Detective Garcia?
SG. Still riding horses. Our family tries to get up to my parents’ farm at least once a month. We ride, help around the barn and visit with my folks. (She beams with pride.) My boys are naturals.
O’Roarke’s mobile lights up and the theme from ‘Dragnet’ comes from his jacket pocket. Garcia’s starts playing the theme from Star Wars and vibrates across the table. O’Roarke opens his text.
O’R. Speak of the devil. We got a body.
Sample of the audio-book: TasteOfMurder.Audio.Sample.
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