Friday, May 30, 2003


“Everyone hates sprinkles. I like ‘em.”
The detectives sat in their unmarked sedan, across the street from where the score was going to take place. It was strictly surveillance—no busts, at least not yet.
“You sound like a fuckin’ stereotype of what a cop should be,” one detective, named Johansen, said to the other, who was named Hancock and who had a half-eaten donut between his fingers. “What’s next, a slice of watermelon, to make all your black ancestors feel proud?”
Hancock, an African-American, turned to face his partner. “You know what’s another stereotype? The cracker cop with a racist streak in him.” Hancock was in the driver’s seat, a pair of binoculars hanging around his neck.
“I’m not racist, “ Johansen said soberly.
“I said ‘racist streak’… I know you’re not a full-on racist, but you got traces of that shit in you. It’s from all that inbreeding your family’s been doing for centuries.” Hancock smiled and laughed.
“Now who’s the racist?” Johansen shouted, as humorless as it could get.
There was something about a stakeout, in Hancock’s mind, that was fun, in an odd way. It reminded him of his academy days, when he was spending most of his time traveling to and from school, always on the go, always ordering fast-food through a drive-thru window. There wasn’t time to go inside the restaurant and eat—it would have to be in the car. That ’76 Chevy Nova with the V6 accumulated many ketchup stains and mildew splotches from improperly lidded soda cups. He would just park in an alley or on a side street somewhere and spread his food out on the passenger seat. If someone was sitting shotgun, he unfolded the burger wrapper across his lap and supped from that. If he was really hungry, he’d park in the parking lot and grub. There was just something about sitting in a parked car, eating fast-food, that appealed to him.
Someday I’ll get paid to do this, he’d sometimes think to himself.
“God I hate this shit,” Johansen announced, bored and petulant. A career cop, he finally made detective two years ago, but along the way the grueling job and its many horrors exacted a toll on him. Johansen’s friends on the force could all attest to the change that took place in him over time. There wasn’t any one specific incident that made him the man he was today; most of the cops in his precinct felt that he was in the process of evolving (or devolving, depending on the perspective) into a complete and utter asshole. Some would argue that the day he made detective was the same day that he made it as a complete asshole also.
“Don’t be such an asshole,” Hancock said to his bitter friend. “It’s not like we’re supposed to like it, right?” Of course, Hancock kind of liked it, but would never let on that he did.
“We’re fucking Peeping Toms, man,” Johansen ranted. “Snitches. Tattletales. We’re narcs, for Christ’s sake! God… if my old self could see me now, he’d slash his wrists.”
“Twenty some-odd years on the force, and it just barely hit you right now what kind of job we have?” Hancock had no sympathy, especially when Johansen talked of his ‘old self’.
“I’m not lost on that, Hancock. I haven’t been living in a fucking fog, you know… but all I know is: there are certain codes of honor, you see. As cops, we protect our own. So do criminals. They have codes of honor also. You know, ‘honor among thieves’ and all that honor shit. It’s honor. That means, you have standards. And one of those standards is… ‘Never rat on anyone’. And you know what, Hancock? Before I did the whole 180-degree turn and became what I once hated, I NEVER EVER ratted anyone out, no matter how badly they burned me. And as a cop, I have NEVER EVER turned evidence on another boy in blue. Not even when IA was in my face about this and that. And now… well, now… Now we babysit for stool pigeons. We sit here and watch them take in another man’s trust, and we get to watch this every day until we get the goods to make the collar, and then we pat the rats on the back and say ‘Good job’ when really all I wanna do is kick the living shit out of ‘em…”
“Has it ever occurred to you that, without the help of some of these so-called rats, we wouldn’t be catching the bigger figures? And how about this: maybe some of these ‘rats’ got ratted on themselves, and decided to return the favor in kind. Ever thought of that?” Hancock just wanted Johansen to shut up for a moment-- he’d been whining all morning about everything under the sun.
“It’s the exception, not the rule.” One of Johansen’s favorite phrases.
Across the street, a car pulled up and parked in front of a slew of apartment buildings. It was a late-model Mustang convertible, and there were three men in the car.
“Gotta be them,” Hancock said. “They circled three times.”
“Is our rat-fink with them?” Johansen motioned to the binoculars.
“Hold on.” Hancock put the binoculars up to his eyes. “Yep. He’s the one in the red baseball cap, sitting in the back.”
“What a bastard… leading sheep to the slaughter. How the fuck could he sell his homeboys out like that?” Johansen put out his cigarette.
“Maybe these guys were never his homeboys in the first place,” Hancock said, still looking through the binoculars. “And if they can’t tell the difference, then maybe they deserve to get popped.” He paused, watching the men get out of the vehicle. “But of course, we aren’t going to bust these guys just yet. This is all just the warm-up to the real thing.”
“Fucking foreplay,” Johansen spat. “That must make us a bunch of fag jerk-offs.”
“Speak for yourself, Jo,” was all Hancock could say. Johansen reached in the back seat and switched on the monitor to the wire that their stoolie was wearing. As he fumbled clumsily with the equipment, he knocked over the open box of donuts that was precariously perched between the seats.
“GODAMMIT!” Johansen screamed, almost red. “I HATE DONUTS!”