She had a full, pouty upper lip, and butterscotch blonde hair so luxurious it fanned across her shoulder when she turned to look at a glass figurine and then fell back perfectly into place when she continued walking. Her amazing hair gleamed when spangled sunlight pierced the covered patio and provided honey-colored highlights. The codgers sighed and snuffled and did everything but drool before resuming their conversations.
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Nate watched her walk out toward the parking lot. By then, Nate was ready to go back to work. Nate figured they all just went home to sit and stare at phones that never rang. It gave him a chill to think that he might be looking at Nathan Weiss a few decades from now. Nate strolled to the parking lot thirty yards behind the beauty with the butterscotch hair, wanting to see what she drove. He figured her for a Beverly Hills hottie in an Aston Martin with a vanity license plate, compliments of a bucks-up husband or sugar daddy who drove a stately Rolls Phantom.
It was almost disappointing when she got into a red BMW sedan instead of something really expensive and exotic. Impulsively, he jotted down her license number, and when he got back to his black-and-white, ran a DMV check and saw that she lived in the Hollywood Hills, off Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the development called Mt.
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Olympus, where realtors claimed there were more Italian cypress trees per acre than anywhere else on earth. Her address surprised him a bit. There were lots of well-to-do foreign nationals on Mt. Olympus: Israelis, Iranians, Arabs, Russians, and Armenians, and others from former Soviet bloc countries, some of whom had been suspects or victims in major crimes. A few of the residents reportedly owned banks in Moscow, and it was not uncommon to see young adults driving Bentleys, and teenagers in BMWs and Porsches.
Around the LAPD it was said that mobbed-up former Soviets were more dangerous and cruel than the Sicilian gangsters ever were back in the day. Just five months earlier, two Russians had been sentenced to death in Los Angeles Superior Court for kidnapping and murder.
He figured it was unlikely that this Hills bunny would ever need a cop, but after finally getting his SAG card, Hollywood Nate Weiss was starting to believe that maybe anything was possible. Six-X-Seventy-six, handle code three. He saw the crowd of tourists gathering, looking up at a building twelve stories high, with an imposing green cupola. Superman was there, of course, and the Hulk, but not Spider-Man, who was in jail. Porky Pig waddled across the street, followed by Barney the dinosaur and three of the Beatles, the fourth staying behind to guard the karaoke equipment.
In the responding unit were Veronica Sinclair and Catherine Song, both women in their early thirties who, as far as Nate was concerned, happened to be among the better cops on midwatch. Cat was a sultry Korean American whose hobby was volleyball and whose feline grace made her name a perfect fit.
Cat was a divorced mother of a two-year-old boy. She was a high-energy brunette with a very short haircut that worked, given her small, tight ears and well-shaped head.
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She had pale blue eyes, great cheekbones, and a bustline that made all the male cops pretend they were admiring the shooting medals hanging on her shirt flap. The remarkable thing about her was that her childless marriages had been to two police officers named Sinclair who were distant cousins, so Flotsam and Jetsam called her Sinclair Squared.
Most of the midwatch officers over the age of thirty were single but had been divorced at least once, including the surfer cops and Hollywood Nate. Probably broke a window in the back. The elevator still works. Ronnie and Cat hurried inside to the elevators, Nate right behind them. And all three stood waiting for the elevator, trying to be chatty to relieve the gathering tension. And who needs starlets when I have such talent surrounding me?
The three cops were trying their best not to take it too seriously. Until they climbed to the observation deck encircling the cupola and saw him, shirtless now, straddling a railing with arms outstretched, tennis shoes pressed together, head slightly bowed in the crucifixion pose. This, as tourists, hustlers, tweakers, pickpockets, cartoon characters, and various Hollywood crazies were standing down below, yelling at him to stop being a chickenshit and jump for Jesus. The three cops walked very slowly toward him and he turned around on the railing to face them, wobbling precariously, making onlookers down below either scream or cheer.
In fact, she thought he looked a lot like her cousin Bob, a drummer in a rock band. Maybe it was that, but she took the lead and the others let her have it. But how about coming down now? I wanna help you.
I have a cousin who looks just like you. To talk to you. Tell me about your family. Who do you live with? An emotional burden. After six long minutes of talking, Ronnie Sinclair was fairly certain that the young man was ready to surrender. She found out that he was nineteen years old and had been treated for mental illness most of his life.
Ronnie believed that she had him now, that she could talk him down from the railing. Still no crisis negotiator from Metropolitan Division had arrived. Then he looked at the bag of burgers next to him, turned on his light bar, and sped to the location of the jumper call. The crisis negotiator had gotten her photo in the L.
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Times and had done several TV interviews. Wait, please. Go back, please! The anguished moan from Randolph Bronson made her spin around. He was staring at the uniformed sergeant with the condescending smile and the bulging paper bag in his hand, into which he was reaching. She saw him bounce once on the pavement. Several bluesuits immediately began holding back the most morbid of the boulevard onlookers. And now that kid is just plain dead. He had not blown apart, as some of them do, but there was a massive pool of blood. Let me drive us to the station. Compassionate Charlie Gilford, who never missed a newsworthy incident, especially with carnage involved, arrived in time to observe them picking up the body, and he offered his usual on-scene commentary.
Man, this is fucking Hollywood! But what does our ass-wipe sergeant do to cheer up a depressed wack job? He brings the dude a fucking Big Mac! No wonder the fruitloop jumped. Later that night, Compassionate Charlie Gilford saw Ronnie Sinclair in the report room massaging her temples, waiting for the interrogation from Force Investigation Division, knowing that this one would be handled just like an officer-involved shooting. Way to go, girl! It had surprised Hollywood Nate to learn that Ronnie Sinclair was seeking the job that had opened up at the Community Relations Office, a job that Nate coveted.
The CRO was composed of eighteen cops and two civilian workers led by a twenty-two-year sergeant. Five were Hispanics and could translate Spanish as needed, and three others were foreign born and could communicate in half a dozen other tongues, but that was only a fraction of the languages spoken in Hollywood. The coppers called their bailiwick Babelwood Division. The Community Relations Office was housed in a one-story rambling old structure just a wedge shot across the police parking lot. It was dubbed Hollywood South by the troops in the main station, to which the Crows referred as Hollywood North, and which, like all LAPD police facilities, had the architectural charm of a parking garage in Watts.
Among other duties, Crows handled calls from chronic complainers and Hollywood loons, and they could pretty well set their own ten-hour duty tours in their four-day work week. The major efforts of these cops were directed at quality-of-life issues: chronic-noise complaints, graffiti, homeless encampments, abandoned shopping carts, unauthorized yard sales, and aggressive panhandlers. African Americans were the only ethnic group underrepresented in Hollywood demographics, but young black males arrived on the boulevards in large numbers every night, traveling on the subway or in cars from South L.
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In short, they were doing jobs that caused salty old-timers to shake their heads and refer to the CRO as the sissy beat. Crows were often called teddy bears in blue. They were also called much worse, but there was some envy involved in all of the pejoratives aimed at the Crows, because these officers of Hollywood South had relative freedom and the choice of wearing uniforms or street clothes depending upon the assignment, and they almost always did safe, clean work.
Crows generally chose to stay in the job for a long time. Ronnie had beaten out Hollywood Nate for the first opening in the Community Relations Office and was sent to senior lead officer training at the recruit training center near LAX. An unexpected retirement occurred a month later, and Nate Weiss ended up following Ronnie to the CRO, thinking he had found the spot where he might remain happily until retirement or until he attained show business success, whichever came first.
By early summer, he had worked on two more TV movies, with a line of dialogue in each, the plots being for people who watch daytime TV.
By July , all of the Crows were future millionaires-in theory. One of them had been born in Iraq and had come to the U. So two other Crows bought a million dinars.
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Three bought half a million each. Another bought one and a half million, figuring to buy a yacht when he retired. Ronnie Sinclair was very hesitant, but thinking of her aging parents, she bought half a million dinars. After the workout and a mirror examination of his impressive pecs, lats, and biceps, Nate entered the CRO office, sat down at a desk, and carefully studied an Iraqi dinar that one of the others had given to him.
Looking at it under a glass and holding it against a lamp, he examined the horse in the watermark as though he knew what he was doing. How about you? Anyone can sell them a bill of goods. Later, after the new commanding general in Iraq gave a major TV interview and said that the troop surge had a very good chance of success, Hollywood Nate Weiss secretly made a transfer from his savings account, called the currency broker, and bought two million dinars without telling any of the others.
They were just trying to cope with young Sergeant Treakle, whose administrative spanking for bringing the Big Macs to the rooftop standoff had not dampened his zeal or ambition. They knew that Hollywood Division was as shorthanded as the rest of the beleaguered LAPD, so before a supervisor like Sergeant Treakle could get a suspension without pay, he would have to do something really terrible.
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