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By Patrick J Lambe


The first time I heard my native state called New Joisey was by some guy who didn’t know the difference between the Dome at Rahway and the Dome of the Rock. I tried to explain it to him, but realized I didn’t know the difference myself. The ten people who can handle their r’s in the state call it New Jersey. I’ve lived here most of my life; busted my hump as a restaurant worker, lumber yard dog, truck driver, dispatcher, college scam artist, construction drone etc. I’m currently working as a telephone technician while writing crime stories. I've had fiction and non-fiction published or soon to be published at Allan Guthrie's Noir Originals, Plots with Guns, Shred of Evidence, Shots Magazine Crime Scene and Hardluck Stories. Check out my web site or e-mail me at

" The blast shredded both of the double tires. Mickey dove behind a trash can. I walked to the front of the truck, blasted the front ones, and continued around the back"

" We had been separated after an internal affairs investigation. They had nothing on us, but our supervisor thought it would be better if we had different partners."


"I want you find out what this war is all about "


"We’re not supposed to smoke in the conference room, but rules are made to be broken."


The kid must have spotted me the second I walked into the pizza joint. He got up when he was halfway done with his slice and headed toward the hallway leading to the back.

I flashed my badge at the organ grinder behind the counter and asked him if there was anyone else back there. He nodded no. I told him to take off.

I pulled my Glock, stood just to the right of the hallway, said into the microphone attached to my jacket, “got him yet Darnell?”

“He didn’t come through the back door yet.”

“Shit.” I glanced around the corner down the hall. The back door was straight ahead, right under the exit sign. The men’s room was on the right, a couple of feet down the hall, the woman’s room next, another door beyond the bathrooms on the same side.

“You’d better get in here.”

He came through the door, his Glock pointed in the ready position. I motioned for him to hold, walked down the hall, crouched low, and shouldered the men’s room door opened. It had one urinal and one stall, the door opened. I repeated the routine with the ladies room, same thing, a stall in place of the urinal, the door also opened. We each took positions on either side of the remaining door. I knocked on it. “You’d better come on out Terence, there’s nowhere to go.”


Darnell saved me some knuckle skin and knocked, harder. “We know you’re in there Terry, you’d better come on out son.”

“Plenty of food in here mon. Think I’ll stay a while.”

I cocked the slide on my gun, nodded towards Darnell. He did the same. It made a most beautiful metallic sound that I was sure carried clear through the hollow storeroom door.

“We’re assuming you’re armed Terence. You know how we test those assumptions,” I said.

“Come on mon, you know I’m not carrying.”

“I believe you Terence, but I’ve got an unregistered .38 strapped to my ankle in case I’m wrong.”

Darnell looked at me, muttered under his breath.

“Do you want to kick the fucking door down?” I whispered.

“I can’t wait till my transfer comes through,” he hissed back at me.

“I’m coming out mon. Don’t shoot.”

Terence came through the door, his hands locked behind his dread locks. I frisked him and put the cuffs on. “I’ll check the storeroom to see if he ditched anything,” Darnell said as he put his gun away.

I led Terence out the back door into the ally behind the pizza place. I stopped dead when I saw what was happening to my car.

“Unhook it Mickey,” I said. I didn’t have to flash my badge; he knew I was a cop.

Mickey straightened up from the back tire, walked over to the rear end of the tow truck; put his hand on one of the levers that controlled the hydraulics.

“I told you to unhook it Mickey.”

“You’re parked illegally in a loading zone.”

“I’m on police business. I’ve got a suspect right here.” I pushed Terence in front of me.

“This isn’t a cop car,” he said, pausing on the lever.

“I had to use my own ride. Our perp would have spotted an unmarked.”

Mickey thought about it for a few seconds. “I have my orders. It’ll mean my job if anyone sees me unhook you.”

I looked around the cramped, abandoned alley. “No one here to see you.”

“I don’t know Tolland.”

“Just because our bosses are feuding doesn’t mean we have to make trouble for each other.”

It was the wrong thing to say. He put his hand back on the lever. “Sorry, you’re going to have to call a patrol car to pick your guy up.”

Terence started to laugh. I twisted his arm till he stopped. “Come on Mickey, I’ve already paid so much to the Parking Authority I’m falling behind on my alimony.”

“There’s nothing I can do until this mess is done.” The back of the car began to levitate with the whirring of the winch. “Stay put,” I said to Terence as I unlocked his handcuffs, placed his arms around a telephone pole and relocked them.

“Cut me a break Mickey, at least let me get something out of the trunk.”

He paused the levitation act. “Sure Tolland, you know it’s not personal.” He walked to the cab of the truck and picked up a clipboard.

I took my keys out, opened up the trunk and removed my shotgun. I pumped a round into the chamber, pointed at the back right rear tires of the tow truck. The blast shredded both of the double tires. Mickey dove behind a trash can. I walked to the front of the truck, blasted the front ones, and continued around the back. This time I had to use an individual round on each sidewall.

“I’ll call a tow truck for you when I call for a black and white to pick up Terence here.”

I picked up the clipboard Mickey had dropped after the first blast. I looked down at the top paper on the pile of documents. It was a list of numbers. One of the numbers had a fresh coat of yellow highlighting it. It matched the one on my license plate.

“How could you Mickey?” I said.

Darnell walked up to me and said, “I guess I don’t have to wait for a transfer to get a normal partner.”

I held the list in front of his face. “See your license plate number here?”

He gave Mickey a hard look. I could hear incoming sirens.

The first two uniforms came around the corner of the ally, guns drawn. Darnell handed the paper to the first one. He cursed when he found his number. “I’ve paid almost a grand to the parking authority in the last three months.” He handed the paper to his partner.

“You saw what that psycho cop did to my truck,” Mickey said to Terence.

“Got a touch of the glaucoma,” Terence said as I re-arranged the handcuffs. Darnell went over the controls on the back of the tow truck, lowered my car.

“What am I going to tell my boss?” Mickey said.

Darnell pulled a Swiss Army Knife out of his pocket, walked over to the spare tire attached to the side of the tow truck, stuck it in. “Tell him to start ordering tires in bulk.” ********************

“We’ve go the proof, but we can’t do anything about it. The Parking Authority doesn’t own most of the tow-trucks. The driver whose truck you used for target practice was a sub-contractor. There’s no way we can link the list to the Parking Authority,” the Captain said after he had reviewed the list.

“They own a couple of them though, right?”

“Yeah they have three I think. They use them for patronage jobs for big contributor’s retarded brothers. They park them out in the municipal parking lot out on Joyce Kilmer.”

“Do they run them at night?”

“No, they do most of their work during the day. I think they rely on contractors for most of the night work.”

The jimmy I had made in my high school shop class was too short to reach the latch on the tow trucks, so I had to break out my lock pick set. It had been a while since I used them, so it took longer than I expected.

“Hurry it up Tolland, I’m starting to get nervous,” Reese said.

“Got it, that’s the last one. We’ll use this one to tow the third truck. Help me hook it up.” Darnell was a good partner, but he was too strait laced for work of this type, so I had called in Resse, who had been my first partner on the force. We had been separated after an internal affairs investigation. They had nothing on us, but our supervisor thought it would be better if we had different partners. He owed more to the parking authority than I did.

I don’t know about this Tolland,” Reese said as we hooked the chains around the front tires of the third truck. “It’s not like we’re stealing them, we’ll have them back here in their parking spaces in a couple of hours.”

“How do you know the guy who’s going to help us with this?”

“I went to high school with him. I became a cop, he went into waste management.”


Zabar, the Parking commissioner, slammed the Captain’s door so hard I was surprised the glass didn’t break. The Captain came out after him, a smile on his face.
“What was that all about?” one of the uniforms asked.

“Someone took his tow trucks out for a little spin last night.” He looked at me. “They returned them after running them through a car compactor.” He motioned me into his office. I sat down across from him. “Ever think about your salary Tolland?”

“Not as much as my ex-wife.” “I know your salary is not your main source of income, but a lot of guys out there,” he pointed out into the bullpen, “aren’t as resourceful as you and Reese. The Parking Bureau brings in a lot of revenue for this city.”

“They also take a lot of revenue out of our pockets.”

“You’ve seen all the construction that’s going on. What are they building?”

“Parking decks.”

“Yeah; parking decks. I don’t like it, but that’s the way this city is headed. The only things that are gonna to be left standing is the Johnson and Johnson corporate headquarters, Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, and they’ll be surrounded by parking decks. The parking authority is gonna to be running this town. If you keep affecting their revenue, there’ll be cuts. And it won’t be in their budget.”

“It’s not our fault they didn’t plan for enough parking when they designed the new police headquarters.”

“It’s not about the lack of parking. There’s something between Zabar and the Chief.”

“Any idea what it’s all about?”

“What are you working on Tolland?”

“The Verenichi murder.”

“I’m reassigning it to McCarthy. I’m going to partner him up with Darnel. I’ve got something you and Reese might be better suited for. We’ve got to put an end to this before more city equipment gets fucked up. I want you find out what this war is all about.”


Zabar lived in the neighborhood right across from Buccleuch park, along with half the other members of the democratic machine that ran New Brunswick in a manner that would bring a smile to Boss Tweed’s eyes if he were still alive.

Reese read from the papers the Captain had compiled for us. “Jim Zabar, 54. Parking Commissioner. Makes over 200 grand a year. First marriage ended in divorce. Two kids, girl 24, boy 18. Second marriage to a woman twenty years younger than him. Ten years older than his daughter. Hobbies, busting the humps of New Brunswick’s finest.”
“There he is. Lets roll.”

Zabar was dressed in Chinos and a button down shirt. I hadn’t been to the parking authority building in a while. I guess they had gone to business casual. His hair once black, was now streaked with white. He was still pretty trim. Somewhere in the pile of papers on Reese’s lap it said he jogged and played tennis. Zabar unlocked his Saab and backed out of his driveway. We gave him a half block lead, followed him.

“I don’t see how following Zabar to work is gonna help us find out why he’s feuding with the Chief.”

“Who cares why he’s feuding with the Chief? The way I see it, that fuck owes every cop in New Brunswick. I want to get his routine down so we can get some action, maybe a little revenge.”

“The captain’s not gonna like it.”

“Of course the Captains gonna like it. Why do you think he put our act back together?”

“Fucking A, lets get this fuck.”

Zabar stopped at a bagel place on Easton Avenue on his way into work. We parked a couple of spaces behind him. Reese nudged my arm, pointed to guy pushing a small three-wheeled cart in front of him. “What do you think they do with all those quarters?”

The guy positioned the cart under a parking meter, turned a cover in the back with a specialized tool, and watched the coins pour down into the metal container. He held his hand into the quarter waterfall and took a handful for himself.

Zabar walked out of the bagel shop with a brown bag in one hand and a Home News in the other. He parked in his private space at the train station parking lot and jogged across the street to Ferren Deck Mall where the Parking Authority has their office.

“Want to have a little fun Reese?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“See those black kids leaning against the column outside Zabar’s office. There has to be an APB out for two black kids in their early twenties somewhere. Follow my lead.”

I bounced the car up on the curb, hopped out with my Gock drawn, yelled, “on the ground, everyone on the ground, police.” I pointed my gun at Zabar, made eye contact. He dropped the bag and paper and fell to the red brick sidewalk next to the kids, his hands behind his head. I stepped on the bag, put my whole weight on it when I walked over toward them.

I held my gun on the kids while Reese put a set of handcuffs on the two closest to us. I helped Zabar to his feet, brushed him off after I put my gun away. “I wasn’t talking to you when I said get down.” He picked up this paper. I handed him the bag. “You can call the Chief if you want to recommend me for a distinguished service medal. I hear you two are pretty tight.”

He turned around without saying anything, walked into the mall’s entrance toward his office.

Reese was sitting on the hood of our unmarked, his elbows on his knees; his face in his hands. The two kids leaned up against the car, looked like Reese had just frisked them.

“What do we have on the coon brothers over here?” I said.

“I heard that asshole,” from one of the kids.I went over to him, grabbed his arm right above the elbow at a pressure point. “What did you call me punk?”

I felt a hand surround the arm I was using to hold the kid, turned around. Reese handed me a driver’s license. I recognized the last name next to the kid’s face. It matched the name etched into the door leading to the chief’s office.


“I had this great idea, but my supervisor wouldn’t go for it,” Officer Stillwell from Internal Affairs said. He shook out a cigarette from the pack in his hand, shimmied one out, handed it to me. “We’re not supposed to smoke in the conference room, but rules are made to be broken. If they weren’t we wouldn’t be chatting here, right Tolland?”

He lit it for me.

“Your idea?” I asked.

“I suggested we transfer you and Reese into the Internal Affairs Unit so we can keep a closer eye on you.”

The Captain walked into the conference room without knocking, grabbed the cigarette out my mouth, threw it into the trashcan. “My office.”

I followed him, closed the door behind me.

“I actually like having a guy or two like you on my shift Tolland. I recognize there are some assignments that require a man with your temperament. I hope some of you rubbed off on Darnell when you two were partners. I’d call your union rep if I was you. Badge. Gun.”

I placed them on his desk.

“Throw down piece too. I don’t want you going Columbine on us.”

I took the .38 out of my ankle holster, placed it next to my Glock.

“I’ll drop the .38 by your house after work. You’re in enough trouble without it showing up in the evidence room. This is the biggest screw up since that asshole Donne fucked up the Narcotics Squad. I’ve heard of some stupid things in my life Tolland, but making racial epithets against the Chief’s son after nearly running him over… “

I walked towards the door, turned the handle.

“At least the feud between Zabar and the Chief seems to be over now
that they’re united together in ending your career.”


I hit the brakes hard, stopping the van around an inch from the entrance. Reese jumped out the back, pointed the shotgun at the bulletproof windshield of the armored car parked in the loading zone outside the store.

The driver didn’t look too concerned, probably didn’t realize Terrence had padlocked the back door of the jewelry store shut a little before I blocked the front entrance with the stolen van, locking his partner in with the kikes running the place.

I had spent my new found excess of free time shadowing the guys who collected the money out of the parking meters. The Parking Authority used to have the city cops ferry the coins to the bank, but with the bad blood recently, they had begun to use a private armored car service. I learned their route better than the paper route I had as a kid.

I put the brick of modeling clay on the hood of the armored car, stuck a pointed plastic pole in, unrolled a wire from a spool, walked backwards towards an ally. I heard tires screech as Terence pulled his stolen van directly behind the armored car.

Reese, still holding his gun on the guard, placed the sheet of paper on the windshield so the driver could read: ‘C2 Charges, I used half this amount to blow up an Iraqi tank in 91’.

The driver threw his piece on the sidewalk before he came out. I ran out of the alley and zip tied his hands behind him. We opened the back door, transferred the bags of cash and coins into Terence’s van. The weight of the coins caused the body of the van to scrape against the wheel wells when we pulled away.


“Sure you don’t mind drinking with a coon?” Darnell asked, but he was smiling.

“That was taken out of context. You’re a scotch drinker right? I had the bar owner order a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, just for us.”

The Captain walked through the door of the Court Tavern, sat down next to us in the seat held together with the least amount of duct tape. The bartender put the bottle on the bar along with three rocks glasses filled with ice. I poured all around.

“To tell you the truth it doesn’t look good for you Tolland. They’ll probably take Reese back after his suspension but with your record…”

“I had to put cash up for the bottle Tolland, $135. You’re developing expensive tastes,” the bartender said.

I brought my backpack up to the bar with effort, took the jar out, placed it on the bar.
“You’ve go to be fucking kidding me,” the bartender said.

“It’s all there, I even put in a thirty dollar tip.” The bartender picked up the jar, shook it in his hands, listening to the clink of the quarters.
“You’re gonna have to get used to it, I had to break into my piggy bank now that I’m unemployed.”

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(c) Patrick J Lambe, 2005