“Hey Hawk, I need a few minutes of your valuable time now!”
“Let me call you back, the captain wants to talk to me.” My name is William Hawkowski; I am a Detective Sergeant First Grade with the New York Police Department currently assigned to Robbery Homicide. I got the nickname ‘Hawk’ in the police academy for an obvious reason and it stuck. A lot of cops have nicknames so I couldn’t tell you the real name of guys I have worked with for years.
I walked in to Captain John O’Donnell’s office and sat down. The captain was a fifth generation New York Police Detective who also had a nickname that was used by almost everyone behind his back. As is usual many men named John, especially Irish ones are called Jack by those who know him well.
When the captain first made Sergeant he was assigned to a neighborhood watch program and was given a secretary. I don’t remember her name but I do remember that she was very attractive. When she slowly walked in to the office in the morning she would always say “HI Jack” in a real sexy voice so the cops started calling him ‘Hijack’ as in “Hijack wants to see you before you leave.”
“Where is your douche bag partner?”
“Was he scheduled to work today Captain?” I knew he was but tried to cover for him, that’s what partners did.
“Yes he is scheduled to work today; you ever check the duty roster?”
“Well I know he took a few days off and wasn’t sure when he was coming back.”
“Whatever, he is probably in bed sleeping off a three day drunk. Get your ass over to his place, roust him out of bed, I want to see you both after lunch. Is that simple enough for you, and make sure he is sober!”
“Got it Captain, make sure he is here after lunch, sober.” Pardon me, I am sure you are wondering whom we are talking about. That would be Robert Basalone, a third generation New York City Police Detective Sergeant. When guys wanted to bust on Bob they called him ‘Bobby Bullshit’ because he is, shall we say persuasive. His official nickname is ‘Smoothie’ as in ‘that’s some smooth bullshit’.
I got to Bob’s apartment about 10:00 and knocked on the door, no answer of course. I have a key to his door so I opened it and walked in. His apartment was neat and clean as usual, the first place to look of course was his bedroom. Bob was technically a bachelor but is in a long term relationship with a wonderful girl who tolerates a lot of his, ah…bullshit.
When I walked in to his room I couldn’t wait to hear the latest story. Bob was lying in bed handcuffed to a 5th Avenue dress manikin. The young lady was wearing a French Maid outfit and had an adult toy in her hand. Bob was only wearing a tiger striped banana hammock. I took two pictures with my cell phone for blackmail purposes and tried to wake him up.
I started to shake him and that didn’t work, we didn’t time for this. I got ice cubes out of the freezer and put a few in his banana hammock.
Bobby bolted straight up like somebody put CPR paddles on his chest and was looking around trying to get oriented to his location. “You no good rotten bastard, where is my gun?”
“Good morning cupcake, you were supposed to be at role call two hours ago. Hijack personally sent me over here and said if I didn’t have you in his office by 1:00 we were going to be working booty patrol dressed up as hookers.”
Bobby was staggering around his apartment and scratching in a manner that men do, the manikin still cuffed to him. “Where are my pants”?
“You’re a detective figure it out.”
“Let me have your handcuff key you dumb Pollack. Is that redundant, calling you a dumb Pollack?”
“No it isn’t you dumb Dago.”
Nothing was off limits with partners; it was kind of like a marriage, “here is my handcuff key. I found your pants, shirt, shoes and boxer shorts in the hall closet. Your wallet and .45 are in the dresser next to the bed. By the way, the bottom of your bath tub is covered with cat litter; there is also a beach ball and a pair sunglass. You had a theme party and didn’t invite me?”
Bobby was now sitting on his couch with a cup of coffee in one hand and his forehead in the other. “I ran in to a girl I knew from college, she is a flight attendant and was with two other girls. I remember them telling me how much fun they had in Miami and wished I was with them on South Beach.”
I nodded my head up and down, “Yeah ok, it all makes perfect sense to me now. I found your dust pan and a garbage bag; let’s scoop out the ‘sand’ from your beach so you can take a shower, get dressed and be at the captain’s office by 1:00!”
Bobby took a shower and had some more coffee; we stopped at our favorite deli for two breakfast sandwiches to go and made it to Hijacks office right on time.
The Captain was happy to see us as usual “Well if it isn’t my favorite man whore and his partner “dumb ski’”
We just kind of looked at each other and then the captain. I started to say to Hijack, “Sorry about missing role call Captain, I ran in to a college classmate and…”
I got cut of quick “ok this is a shut your mouth and listen to me meeting, is that clear?”
I know your MO Smoothie, it was a female college classmate, am I right so far?”
“You started your reunion with a few drinks, after which you were woken up by dumb ski somewhere, having done something, with someone the previous evening.”
Nodding my head I responded, “Ah…that’s exactly what happened.”
“Oh really well what a good guess. I don’t give a shit what you were doing or who you were doing it to, all I care about is you not being at role call! As much as I enjoying talking to you shit birds you weren’t called in for casual conversation, you got it?”
We both said, “Yes sir.”
“As human beings I consider you both to be mentally challenged and emotionally deficient, however you are both two of the best detectives I have ever worked with. We caught a case with international connections. The Chief of Detectives personally came in to see me yesterday and wants answers immediately.”
I said, “Ok, fill us in and we’ll get right on it.”
“A young man named Trevor Kent, a British citizen was found passed out drunk in bed with a thousand dollar a night hooker at the Plaza yesterday.”
The Hawk and I just kind of looked at each other as usual and I asked “what type of crime was committed?”
“Murder, the hooker was strangled to death with her own silk stocking. Trevor’s uncle Sir William Kent is a British Attaché assigned to the British Embassy here in New York. He does a lot of work at the United Nations with the International Monetary Fund.
Hawk asked “Does it look like the uncle might be involved somehow?”
Captain O’Donnell explained “we’re not looking at him for the murder but there might be some type of connection. He is the chairman of the committee which oversees an aid fund that has hundreds of millions of dollars going in and out of it monthly.
“Where is the kid now?”
“Staying with the uncle but he had to surrender his passport. Go over to the Eleventh Precinct and talk with the two detectives that did the initial investigation. Then talk to the kid and his uncle.”
Hawk said “alright, we are going over there now.”
“Now that’s what I want to hear, at least one of you can act like a mature adult.”
Bobby and I went to the Park Avenue apartment where Trevor and his uncle lived and of course it is a million dollar address. We were immediately greeted when we walked in to the lobby Mr. Stenard the manager. “Can I assist you gentlemen?”
“Yes, we need to talk to Trevor Kent.”
“Whom should I say is calling?”
Bobby flashed his tin and said “You should tell him Detective Basalone, New York City Police.”
Mr. Stenard briefly spoke to Trevor and told us, “Trevor is expecting you, he is in suite 1500.”
Trevor’s suite was just across from the elevator and he was standing in the doorway and invited us in. “I’m Detective Basalone and this is my partner Detective Hawkowski. We are following up on the murder of Katja Lakova.”
“Yes, of course. I will help you anyway I can.”
“We spoke to your uncle and his lawyer about talking to you.”
“My uncle told me and I have been anticipating your visit, I didn’t kill her and told my Uncle not to send our lawyer.”
“We talked to the Detectives who responded to your 911 call and the crime scene technicians that collected the evidence.”
Trevor asked “What was the result of your initial inquirer?”
“The evidence has cleared you. The toxicology report showed you were both given the same drug that made you sleep and the epithelium, skin cells found on the silk stocking that was used to strangle Katja did not match yours.”
“How did you meet Katja, Hawk asked?”
“At a deli I go to a lot in the East Village, the Eastern Star.”
“Let me guess, she spoke to you first and was very friendly?”
Trevor looked a little startled and quickly asked “yes, how did you know that?”
“You were being setup; the Eastern Star is a front for the Russian Mob. Someone told her to hook up with you. Have you ever seen her anywhere before, think carefully?”
“I’m sure I have not, a beautiful woman like that I would remember.”
Bobby was just looking at the kid and said “We need your help solving this crime; I’ll bet you somehow feel a responsibility for finding out who killed Katja.”
“You’re very insightful Detective Basalone I do feel that I owe her something.”
“Where did you go after leaving the deli?’
“Katja told me she was visiting New York City for the first time and wanted to see some of the famous dance clubs she has heard about, we went to a few clubs and had some drinks.”
“Ok, where did you go after that?”
“Katja said she was staying at the Plaza Hotel and asked me if I wanted to go back there, of course I said yes.”
“That part I understand, explain to me what happened when you got up to her room.”
“We played some music; Katja changed in to casual clothes and made some drinks for us. She asked me if I was hungry I said yes so she ordered room service. She became…ah very friendly if you understand what I mean and I was a bit surprised.”
“Yeah, I understand. So while she was getting friendly with you when room service arrived?”
“Yes, a man in a hotel uniform came in with a cart. He served our food, poured some drinks and left.”
“Ok, then what?”
“Well I was fine but after a few minutes I felt sleepy and so did Katja, we thought it was from the drinks. We finished eating sat on the bed and that’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the morning. I couldn’t wake up Katja and became very concerned. I called hotel security and my uncle.”
Hawk Asked Trevor “what do you remember about the guy who brought up the room service, be specific.”
“He was probably middle-aged, dark hair and a dark complexion. About five foot eighth inches tall and a bit on the heavy side. Have you found him yet?”
“No, we haven’t but we have very good pictures from the security cameras so we will eventually find out who it is. The hotel manager looked at the pictures and said he could not recognize the person and didn’t think he was an employee.
“That is rather disturbing, if he wasn’t an employee then who is he and why did he pretend to work for the hotel?”
I said, “That’s what we want to know. If you think of anything you haven’t all ready told us call this number anytime.” It became certain that this was a professional job, exactly who did it and why is what we need to find out, fast.
We went over to Sir William Kent’s office. I had the crime scene photographer print some pictures of our suspect to show Uncle William. We got to his office in less than a half an hour. After showing our identifications we were escorted up to his office suite.
We were quickly admitted in to his office. “Good afternoon gentlemen, please have a seat. I have been expecting you.” Mr. Kent instructed his secretary, “Please hold all my calls until I have finished my meeting with the detectives.”
“Yes sir, I understand.”
Hawk observed, “This is a very good setup you have here.”
“Well thank you, it has taken me many years to get an office like this” and laughed. He seemed like a nice a guy. Mr. Kent appeared to be nervous but that is to be expected when the police come to see you.
I was direct with Mr. Kent “I was told your agency controls a lot of money.”
“That’s correct, hundreds of millions of US dollars a year.”
“Has anything unusual occurred recently at work or home, something that didn’t seem right?”
Mr. Kent became even more anxious, “Ah no, nothing I can think of I’m certain. Things have been moving along as usual.”
“That’s good, oh one more thing.” The best way to introduce a picture to people involved in a crime is by surprise. “Have you ever seen this man before?”
Mr. Kent took a good look at it, “no I don’t know who that is.” He was being honest.
Hawk and I looked at each other in a way where we both knew Mr. Kent wasn’t telling the whole truth. We had to be careful with how we conducted this investigation because of the political complications. Hawk reached out to shake Mr. Kent’s hand and said, “Thank you for taking the time to see us, we may need to speak with you again.”
“Of course Detectives, I will make myself available.”
As we walked out to the car Hawk said “What do you think Bobby?”
“I don’t think he or the kid was involved in the murder but Uncle William isn’t telling us everything he knows.”
That’s what I am thinking too.”
“Where are we going now Bobby?”
“To the village so I can talk to my favorite ‘street person’ Jingles.”
Twenty minutes later we parked a block away from the Eastern Star. We stopped on the corner across from the deli; a panhandler came over to us shaking his tin can so it made the coins jingle and held it out asking “Can you help out an independent American?”
Hawk said “panhandling is against the law.”
“I’m not a panhandler; I’m an agent for change.”
The Hawk bit, “you’re trying to make the city a better place?”
“Not that kind of change, I just want to collect enough quarters, dimes and nickels to buy a bottle of wine.”
“You’re a funny guy; maybe the dirt bags in lockup will appreciate your humor.”
I started laughing, “Hawk, let me introduce you to Detective Jimmy ‘Jingles’ Hagerty, we worked together in the Street Crimes Unit for a while.”
Hawk gave us the ‘look’ and said “You were acting like such a smart ass; I should have guessed you were a cop.”
“Sometimes I can’t help myself Hawk. Ok Smoothie what’s up?”
“Meet us in the alley behind the ‘Beer Mug’ on Willow Ave and I will fill in the details.”
Fifteen minutes later we were having a private conversation in the alley. I took out the picture of our suspect and showed it to Jimmy “you ever see this guy?’
“Yeah, he was hanging around the deli for a week or so. Anti-crime identified him as a small time hood Sal ‘Weasel’ Lamana.”
“Since when did the mob and the Russians become friends?”
Jimmy filled us in “they aren’t, our boy freelances. He does jobs anybody with brains wouldn’t. He runs with a few ‘made’ guys, usually Tommy ‘Tomatoes” Dante. What did the Weasel do?”
“He murdered a high price hooker in the Plaza. She was with a kid connect to the British Government. He wasn’t touched; I think the murder was a message to somebody. If they weren’t scared before they are now.”
Another piece of the puzzle, our next move was to pick up the Weasel unfortunately we couldn’t find him; we figured he would show up somewhere and he did. Tommy Dante and the Weasel had a late night dinner at their favorite restaurant. When they walked out back to the parking lot somebody was waiting for them.
Sal opened the door of the BMW and Tommy said, “That was a great meal Sal every time we…”
Three large figures walked out of the dark “Sal how are you, I’ve been looking for you.”
Tommy Tomatoes gives them a hard look and asks “who are you?”“This is Mr. Sidorova Tommy; I occasionally do some work him.”