PJ left the editor’s office with the other reporters feeling a tad dejected. His first assignment for the day was to retrieve the police log from Headquarters. It was a menial task, someone had to do. Usually, one of the junior reporters did it. He knew GiGi had done it a few times.
But PJ liked to turn this ordeal in his favor.
He parked the Camaro on the street; yes, found a spot near police headquarters and walked inside. The sergeant behind the desk wore his grey hair well along with the bulbous red nose and blood shot eyes. If it weren’t for the sheet of plexi-glass between him and the desk sergeant, PJ was certain he would smell the booze reeking off the guy. The man’s size was quite large too; nothing like the physical fitness standards he had to deal with in the military. This man looked like he was 60 and on death’s door. Probably more like 48 or 50.
“May I have a copy of the log please? I am with the Times,” PJ spoke through the handset on the outer side of the glass.
“Let me see your ID,” Sergeant Bauer responded from his side.
Philip dug out his wallet, pulled out his Times Identification and held it up to the glass.
The sergeant nodded, then pulled out a stapled document containing three pages of typed text detailing every incident the Delta City Police Department dealt with in the past 24 hours. Most of the items were brief blurbs, but did contain names, addresses, complaints, and crimes committed. “Thanks,” Philip spoke, hung up the handset, grabbed the document and left, returning to his car.
When he was safely inside the Z28, he flipped through the pages to see if there were any noteworthy stories in the log.2330 hours – man at Trader Jon’s complained of rowdy patrons starting a fight in their establishment. Officers dispatched. Perpetrators gone upon arrival. Description taken.
0015 hours – Female, 39, arrested for OUI on Pace Island driving her 1988 Mercedes Benz 560 SL black convertible. Same held on bail at Seminole Precinct Station.
0135 Hours – Security guard at Bayou Manufacturing reports a Break in at their facility in Industry East. Detectives Sherbrooke and Colon initiated investigation.
0210 Hours – DCFD responded to a three-alarm fire at Jennings Brothers in Industrial East. Officers dispatched. Reported three fatalities and two firefighters sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Detectives Martin and Brown initiated investigation.
With that last item found, Philip knew this was another one of the arson cases he had been writing about. He planned to phone his editor once he arrived at the Industry East Police Precinct. He figured the two detectives working the case would be asleep by now, but someone at the station would know something. There were plenty of other items on the document, but Philip only cared about the factory fire on the east side of town.
He started the car and headed to the police precinct. PJ popped his mix cassette into the slot above the radio. The first song playing was Microphone Fiend
by Eric B. & Rakim. After passing the railroad yard, the song changed to Rock the Bells
by LL Cool J. PJ was in the groove by the time he arrived at the Police station.
Upon entering the precinct, he headed to the payphone in the corner to call his editor.
“Hey Chief, it’s PJ,” he spoke into the phone.
“What’s up kid?” the fifty something year old newspaper man queried.
“I got the log. There was a fire in Industry East last night. I’m at the police precinct to get some more info.”
“yea, yea. Good call, kid. Keep me posted. Don’t be too long. I need that log here on my desk by 10.”
“Yes sir,” PJ said to his boss. He hung up the phone and turned to the desk sergeant. This one was black, bald with a thick furry black and grey mustache over his lip. The man had bloodshot eyes and was overweight. Undoubtedly this one was just as hungover as the last police sergeant he spoke with. ‘These guys really need some exercise,’
PJ thought to himself. ‘And to leave the booze alone.’
This time PJ pulled his Times ID out of his billfold and presented it to the African American police sergeant. “My name is Philip Mason, I am a reporter with the Delta City Times. Is there a detective I could speak with about the fire at Jennings last night?”
PJ got a solitary finger indicating he wait a minute. The man picked up the phone and called the detective bureau. “Detective Martin will be with you shortly. Please take a seat.”
“Thanks,” PJ responded and took a seat on the hard wooden bench against the far wall. The bulletin board behind his back was covered with images of wanted fugitives, individuals with arrest warrants and missing children. PJ took a cursory glance at the board filled with pictures, seeing no one appearing familiar to him. He sat looking around the lobby area. There was an elderly man, unshaven wearing a wool hat and heavy overcoat…in Florida?
His eyes were just as ruddy as the cop’s, but sadder. A young woman wearing a black blouse and jeans sat about ten feet away. Her big black hair was tousled, and her mascara had run down her cheeks. She had a terribly grim look on her face too.
“Rosita Enriquez?” a female police officer announced from an open door.
The dark-haired woman looked up and stood. “I am Rosita,” she responded.
“Please come with me. You can see your husband now.”
PJ looked at his wristwatch. A full ten minutes went by since he entered the station. ‘Obviously reporters were not police officer’s favorite people.’ Twenty minutes later the door opened. A thirty-something year old Hispanic police detective in short sleeve shirt and necktie stepped out. “Philip Mason?”
PJ looked up just as Rosita had. He jumped to his feet and uttered. “I am Philip Mason.”
“Come with me, Mr. Mason. We can talk in one of the rooms down the hall.” The man allowed PJ to enter the hall. He closed the door and then spoke to Philip in his native language, “¿De donde es tu familia?”
PJ understood the language and responded curtly, “Cuba.” Spanish had been an easy A in High School; both his mother and grandmother spoke the language at home. He grew up knowing both English and Spanish.
On the drive back to the Delta City Times, the cassette player blared Parents Just Don’t Understand
by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and then before reaching downtown, the song changed to Express Yourself
He dropped the log off with his editor and gave him a rundown on what he learned from Detective Martin at the Industry East precinct. He left the Times, jumped into his Chevy and headed to the Chef for lunch. He wanted to tell GiGi about what he learned this morning.@almalthia