Robert Knightly: Bodies in Winter

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Robert Knightly Bodies in Winter
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    Bodies in Winter
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    Полицейский детектив / на английском языке
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Robert Knightly

Bodies in Winter


Officer David Lodge stumbles when he attempts to enter the blue and white patrol car double-parked in front of the 83rd Precinct, dropping first to one knee, then to the seat of his pants. His nightstick, which he failed to pull from the ring attached to his belt, is the most immediate cause of his fall. When it jams between the door and the frame, Lodge has one leg in the vehicle with the other just coming up. From that point, there’s nowhere to go but down.

Lodge ignores his colleague’s hearty chuckle. For a moment, as he struggles to gather himself, he stares at a full moon hanging over Wilson Avenue. He wonders if the moon’s bloated appearance is due to the brown haze and drenching humidity trapped in the atmosphere. Or if it’s just that his eyes won’t focus because he passed the hours prior to his tour at the local cop bar, the B amp;G on Stockholm Street. Lodge has reached that stage of inebriation characterized by powerful emotions and he stares at the moon as if prepared to cradle it in his arms, to embrace a truth he is certain it embodies.

‘Yo, spaceman, you comin’ or what?’

The voice belongs to David Lodge’s partner, Dante Russo. He who must be obeyed. Lodge works his way to his feet, then yanks his nightstick free before getting into the car. He is about to address his partner, to offer some sort of half-hearted apology, when the radio crackles to life.

Eighty-three George, K.

Russo starts the vehicle, shifts into gear and pulls away from the curb. ‘That’s us, Dave,’ he reminds his partner.

Lodge brings the microphone to his mouth. ‘Eighty-three George.’

George, we have a 10:54 at four-three-seven Wyckoff Avenue. A woman unconscious in the lobby.

‘That’s in Boy’s sector, Central.’

Eighty-three Boy is on a job, K.


Russo proceeds along Wilson Avenue, passing beneath the Myrtle Avenue El before turning onto Himrod Street. The job on Wyckoff Avenue is now behind them.

‘Where we goin’, Dante?’ Lodge suddenly asks, the fog having lifted from his brain momentarily. He adjusts the louvers on the air-conditioning vents, directing the flow to his crotch. ‘The job’s in the other direction,’ he says, craning his neck to peer out the window at the street signs slipping by.

‘We’re goin’ where we always go.’

‘For coffee? You serious?’

Lodge steals a glance at his partner when his questions go unanswered. Dante’s thin nose is in the air, his jaw thrust forward, his lips pinched into a thin disapproving line. Not for the first time, Lodge feels an urge to drive his fist into that chin, to flatten that nose, bloody that mouth. Instead, he settles his weight against the backrest and faces the truth. Without Dante Russo, David Lodge wouldn’t make it through his tours, not since he started having blackouts. Plus, nobody else wants to work with him. ‘Shitkicker’ is what his peers call him. As in, ‘You hear what the Shitkicker did last night?’

‘What about the job?’ he finally says. ‘What do I tell Central if they wanna know where we are?’

Russo sighs, another irritating habit. ‘C’mon, Dave, wise up. We both know it’s gonna be some junkie so overdosed her buddies dumped her in the lobby like yesterday’s garbage. Now maybe you wanna go mouth-to-mouth, suck up that good HIV spit, but me, I’m gonna let the paramedics worry about catchin’ a dreaded disease. They got a better health plan.’

When Lodge and Russo finally roll up on the scene twenty minutes later, two Fire Department paramedics are loading a gurney into an ambulance. A woman strapped to the gurney attempts to sit up, despite the restraints.

‘You see what I’m saying?’ Dante Russo washes down the last of a frosted doughnut with the last of his coffee. ‘Things worked out alright. No harm, no foul.’

Three hours later, Russo breaks a long silence with an appreciative whistle. ‘Well, lookee here, just the man I wanna see.’

Lodge brings a soda bottle to his mouth and takes a quick sip. The one-to-one mix of 7-UP and vodka lifts his spirits. He is on the verge of a blackout now, and predictably reckless.

‘What’s up?’

‘The Beemer.’ Russo jerks his chin at a white BMW trimmed with gold chrome.

‘What about it?’

‘That’s our boy.’

‘Which boy?’

‘David, that there car belongs to Mr Clarence Spott.’


‘Spott’s picture is hangin’ in the muster room. He’s one of the bad guys.’ Dante’s mouth expands into a humorless smile. ‘Whatta ya say we bust his balls a little?’

‘Fine with me.’

When Russo momentarily lights up the roof rack and the BMW pulls to the curb, both cops immediately exit their patrol car. They are on Knickerbocker Avenue, the main commercial drag in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. The small retail stores lining both sides of the avenue are long closed, their graffiti-covered shutters drawn and padlocked.

After a quick glance in both directions, Lodge joins Russo who stands a few feet from the BMW’s open window. Lodge knows he should approach the vehicle from the passenger side, that his job here is to cover his partner. But David Lodge has never been a by-the-book police officer, far from it, and when his partner doesn’t object, he settles down to enjoy the show.

‘Why you stoppin’ me, man?’ Clarence Spott’s full mouth is twisted into a pained grimace. ‘I ain’t done nothin’.’

‘Step outta the car,’ Russo orders. ‘And that’s officer, not man.’

‘I ain’ goin’ no place till I find out why you stopped me. This here is racial profilin’. It’s unconstitutional.’

Russo slaps his nightstick against the palm of his hand. ‘Clarence, you don’t come out, and I mean right this fuckin’ minute, I’m gonna crack your windshield.’

The door opens and Spott emerges. A short, heavily muscled black man, his expression — eyes wide, brows raised, big mouth already moving — reeks of outrage. Lodge can smell the stink from where he stands. And it’s not as if Spott, who keeps his hands in view at all times, isn’t familiar with the rules of the game. There’s just something in him that doesn’t know when to shut up.

‘Ah’m still axin’ the same question. Why you pull me over when I’m drivin’ down a public street, mindin’ my own damn business?’

Russo ignores the inquiry. ‘I want you to put your hands on top of the vehicle and spread your legs. I want you to do it right now.’

Spott finally crosses the line, as Lodge knew he would, by adding the word pig to his next sentence. Lodge slaps him in the face, a mild reprimand from Lodge’s point of view, but Spott sees it differently. His eyes close for a moment as he draws a long breath through his nose. Then he uncoils, quick as a snake, and drives his fist into the left side of David Lodge’s face.

Taken by surprise, Lodge staggers backward, leaving Spott to Dante Russo, who assumes a two-handed grip on his nightstick before cracking it into Spott’s unprotected shins. When Spott drops to his knees on the pavement, Russo slides the nightstick beneath his throat and pulls back, choking off a howl of pain.

‘How you wanna do this, Clarence? Easy or hard?’

As Spott cannot speak, he indicates compliance by going limp and crossing his hands behind his back.

Russo eases up slightly, then pushes Spott forward onto his chest. ‘You alright?’ he asks his partner.

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