We sat in traffic. Rosie was on the phone with her mom, asking how her son, Jeremy, was. I didn’t hear the other end, but I could tell the gist of the conversation was that the elder Mrs. Quan was displeased that Rosie had been working all night, since the straw law division was supposed to be an easy job. Damn it. No one respected the danger of straws. Still, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for Rosie’s family strife.
I stared at the bumper of a fancy little hybrid. The driver looked like a typical poser douche. Balding head with a pony tail. Probably blew himself every night just to thank himself for saving the earth, never once giving any thought into how replacing gas with electricity to power a car is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. What a dingus.
Rosie hanged up her phone. She joined me in staring at the hybrid’s bumper.
“What you did back there was stupid,” I said. “Appreciated, but stupid.”
Rosie fiddled with the radio dial. “Like I said, I’ve never abandoned a partner yet. I came close to recommending you be put on sick leave for a psych eval, but now that it seems you were right…”
“Seems?” I asked.
“OK,” Rosie said. “You were right.”
“I accept your apology,” I said.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Rosie replied. “Your methods still leave something to be desired.”
“My methods get the job done,” I said.
“Good, old-fashioned police work gets the job done slower but with less media scrutiny,” Rosie said. “And with more of a chance of a successful conviction. Subpoenas. Warrants. Due process. Ever hear of these things, Smasher?”
“Vaguely,” I said. “Maybe I heard about them on some dumb cop show, but I’ll tell you, jamming Thunder in a guy’s face until he talks is a lot faster.”
“And a surefire way to get us both fired,” Rosie replied.
“Listen,” I said. “I admire your loyalty but why don’t you take a walk, kid?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Split,” I said. “Take a hike. Scram.”
“What are you getting at?” Rosie asked.
“Go to the library and check out a book about straws,” I said. “Go to city hall and review the permits for every restaurant. Hell, just go home and spend some time with your kid. Anyone asks, I’ll cover for you. I’ll say you were out doing important straw related research while I was doing the next thing that will get my mug all over the news.”
“Maybe don’t do things that will get you all over the news?” Rosie asked.
“Don’t try to change me baby,” I said. “Mack Smasher will always be Mack Smasher.”
“Whatever,” Rosie said.
“It’ll be the best of both worlds,” I said. “At the end of all this, you’ll be able to say you didn’t quit on a partner and you’ll still be out of the fray when shit goes down.”
“I’ve never been afraid of shit going down, Smasher,” Rosie said. “I’d just rather not get my head blown off or my ass fired by the captain because you can’t keep your cool.”
I dropped my shades over my eyes. “Oh, I’m cool baby. I’m ice cold. It’s the world that’s way too hot.”
“Ugh,” Rosie said. “Please stop doing that.”
“Doing what?” I asked.
My phone rang. I looked at the screen. Jeffries.
I answered the phone. “Fat Freddy’s Handjob Parlor. How many can I put you down for?”
“Hilarious, Smasher,” Jeffries replied.
“You want them with lube or extra dry?” I inquired.
“Save it,” Jeffries said. “Smasher, I loathe calling you.”
“Then you probably shouldn’t have,” I said.
“There’s a situation,” Jeffries said. “It calls for…well, a man such as yourself, who is willing to uh…”
I groaned. “My unconventional methods that everyone bitches about until they are needed and then they would like to ask me to use my unconventional methods?”
“Go jerk yourself off, Jeffries,” I said. “After the crap you gave me about Mo-Mo the Clam? No thanks.”
“That was entirely different,” Jeffries said.
“Was it?” I asked.
“Time is of the essence,” Jeffries said. “A man’s life is at stake and I can’t believe I’m saying this but uh…”
“What?” I asked.
I could tell the lieutenant was using the word “expertise” in a sarcastic manner. “Your expertise when it comes to straws may, God help me, be useful here.
I laughed. “So, I’m not the straw nut anymore?”
“Oh, you still are,” Jeffries said. “Most definitely. I heard Braddock began filling out your walking papers and I’ve got a bottle of champagne on ice, ready to pop the cork when he’s done but until then, are you in or out on this?”
I grumbled. “Fine. For whoever’s life is at stake, though. Not for you, prick.”
“I’ll text you the address.”
I looked the hybrid bumper. “Screw this.” I turned on my lights and siren. I had installed into my sweet ride myself. I nudged myself out into the breakdown lane and hit the gas.
“What’s up?” Rosie asked.
“Jeffries,” I said. “Suddenly my unconventional methods and knowledge of straws are in vogue.”