When I get to the office, the Director is annoyed that I did an unauthorized handle on my own. She doesn’t care that the fool got dealt, but the clean up with the metro cops meant I was late to another sector meeting. The woman lives for deskwork and can’t for the life of her figure out why I keep getting my “hands muddy” with fieldwork. Yeah, she’s probably right, but you can only ride a desk so long before it rides you back. This glorified chief of staff shit is for the birds. I’m a cop, not a stapler. I don’t belong on a goddamned desk.
At eleven-thirty, instead of being at lunch, I’m in the Director’s office. Her name is Durante, like that comedian with the big nose. She doesn’t look anything like him, though. She’s quite a looker, with brown hair streaked with blond, a nice figure that’s gone from bowling pin to hourglass since she took up running, and a face that my grandpa would have called “handsome.” Hell, she’s kind of hot, to be honest.
“Pyle,” she says, “you got lucky.” “Turns out your little improv at Grosvenor was quite a piece of work. Seven arrests for assault, all but one on his wife, the charges dropped every time.”
“He was a piece of something. Who was the other assault?”
“His fifteen-year-old daughter. The wife convinced her to say she made it all up. Cops didn’t buy it, but they had no proof, so they dropped the charges.”
“Wasn’t the girl being banged up proof enough?” I’m starting to like my impulsiveness about now.
“The mother sent the girl to stay with relatives in West Virginia for a week. By the time they tracked her down, no evidence.” A look flashes across her face that could kill a lesser man. “When I read between the lines, I got the impression there was more than assault going on with the daughter.”
She looks hard at me, and I get exactly what she means.
“Nice,” I say. I feel like spitting. “Maybe we add the mother to the list?”
Durante shook her head. “No. For one thing, this is small-time, Pyle. We don’t have the resources to take out every single fool in the country.”
“That’s kind of our mission, chief.”
“Yeah, but it isn’t our budget.”
I had no answer for her there. I know some guys who would happily do the work pro bono, but most of them I wouldn’t trust.
“Besides,” she says, “That’s why I wanted to meet with you. I have a different assignment for you – big time, highest authority.”
“You mean your cousin,” I say. I am being a jerk, but she deserves it.
Durante sits up, making herself look as tall in her seat as she can. “My relationship to the President is professional, Jim, not personal. I resent the implication. It’s a delicate relationship, given she’s the first POTUS we briefed on our agency.”
“Dammit, Jim, I’m a Director, not a Nepotist,” I say. I’m cracking myself up by now.
“If you don’t want the field ops, I can find somebody else,” she says. She turns her chair and faces the computer. I think I hurt her feelings. Girls are tough to figure.
“Come on, boss. You know I’m just teasing.”
“You’re a real jerk, you know that?” she says. “No wonder they call you Pyle of Shit behind your back.” I get a frown.
“You’re making that up.” I know I’m frowning too, but I can’t help it.
“Maybe,” she says, with just a hint of a smile. She and I go way back – we irritate each other, but she’s the boss, and I’m a good company man. I know when the room is getting cold and it’s time to turn the charm back on.
“So, what’s this exciting new adventure that’s going to finally unglue me from my chair?”
“Understood.” That’s her way of saying the joking is over.
“You’re up to speed with the conflict between the Oval Office and Congress?”
“Yeah, it’s been going on for decades, but this is worst it’s ever been. Jesus, fucking fist fights in the Capitol building.”
“Right. The President has set an all-time record for vetoes. Nothing is getting done, because Congress keeps sending over bills the President says violate the mandate the people gave her when she took office.”
“Hard to argue – she did have almost two-thirds of the popular vote.”
“Yeah, but she won as an Independent. The Left and the Right have a lot of power to lose if she’s successful.”
“Not if she’d just play ball.”
“She’s an idealist, Jim. I’ve tried talking to her. She’s determined to do what the people need, come hell or high water.”
“Or impeachment. Meanwhile, they step on her agenda, and nothing gets done. In three more years, someone else gets elected President.”
“That seems to be the plan. It may be the first time in fifty years that the two major parties ever worked together on anything. It’s the President against Congress, and the country’s at a stalemate.”
Durante sat back in her chair, folded her arms, and stared at me. It took a while to sink in, but then I got it. That was the operation. “Holy hell, Sarah, you want us to do the President?”
“God no! Congress.” I stare at her, but don’t say a word. “She’s my favorite cousin, Jim. What the hell’s wrong with you?”
By now, I’m thinking she’s nuts. She is sitting at her desk, just as calm as you please, in a creased white blouse, black skirt, and one of those little woman ties no one else but her on the planet still wears. She’s talking high treason and asking what’s wrong with me.