A Personal Investigation

by Charles C. Cole


Cabby Harvey Dolan sat alone in a police interview room just big enough for two chairs and a steel table. He was shocked at the number of colorful expressions carved into the table, though they made for interesting reading.

Two bright fluorescent bulbs glared down from the ceiling. There was no two-way mirror, just white walls and a security camera mounted near the ceiling.

Detective Grace Stratton entered, cheek bandaged from a recent scrap. She carried a stenographer’s notebook, with color-coded Post-It notes sticking out on both sides. As she sat, she clucked maternally. “Dolan,” she said.

“Detective.”

“How long’s it been?”

“You want that in human years or dog years? It’s been a long time in dog years.”

“Didn’t you promise to stay away from trouble?” she asked.

“I was minding my own business when business—”

“Got personal,” said Stratton, finishing Dolan’s sentence for him. “We know everything.”

“Not everything. I don’t kiss and tell.” He looked deep into her eyes, meaningfully. She opened her notebook to a blank page.

“Give us your version. You were driving your taxi. And?”

“I got the late-night munchies,” said Dolan. “Do you ever get the late-night munchies? Not a skinny thing like you. No way you’d fit that suit the way you do.”

“Let’s keep it polite,” she said, “or I’ll get someone who won’t ask so nicely.”

“There’s a mom-and-pop fast-food joint on Pike and Fiorello. It’s a dying breed, so I feel good giving them my money. In high school I hung out there with my girl, who looked a lot like you. So I get sentimental when the Korean grandmother asks for my order in broken English. Your guy Flynn was there, abandoned, I think, and yelling up a storm. He asked for a lift. You want my opinion? I think he wanted to move on before the cops arrived.”

“Flynn was your last fare for the night. Describe what happened.”

“He was a sloppy eater and a lousy tipper,” said Dolan.

“Did you know him?” she asked. “What did he mean to you?”

“Nothing,” said Dolan. “But I knew the name. People talk when they don’t think you’re listening.”

“You left him on the side of the road.”

“He was coughing up his dinner on the upholstery; I had to take action.”

“Was he drunk?” asked the detective.

“Like a committed bachelor on his wedding day, if you get me. He smelled bad and he had someone’s blood on his knuckles. But I try not to judge people by their lack of social skills, unlike others. I was just thinking of the cleaning bill.”

“It was a busy highway, even at that hour, not a safe place for someone unable to stand on his own two feet.”

“If he’d stayed down, I’m guessing we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Dolan.

“But he didn’t,” Stratton explained. “A motorist reported seeing him stumbling down the middle of the highway, cursing, waving a gun. You didn’t notice that?”

“I was distracted, on the phone calling for the cavalry, what you call backup. Ask my dispatch.”

“We did,” she said.

Dolan shook his head, grabbing his chest dramatically. “He had a gun? Loaded? Ouch!”

“And recently fired.”

“Maybe I should check my car for holes. Sounds like a bad guy. Should I be afraid for my life? Is this a warning?”

“Why would you think that?” asked the detective.

“I embarrassed him in public. Probably not a smart idea.”

“Not smart at all,” said Detective Stratton. “But you’re safe. He’s dead. Hit by a car.”

“It wasn’t mine,” said Dolan.

“You don’t sound contrite. You had a hand in this.”

“Not me, your ladyship.”

“Someone might argue your actions put him in harm’s way.”

“If the cops had gotten to Benny’s five minutes earlier, maybe things wouldn’t have gone down the way they did. They asked for help.”

“You’re blaming the police,” said Stratton.

Dolan yelled toward the camera. “I’m saying, if it’d been a donut shop, things would have gone down differently. You know Benny’s Burgers.”

“I haven’t been there in ages.”

“The Double-B deserves as much protection as any sweets-n-eats bakery. It used to be the kind of place where kids hung out with their dates and planned for a better world: marriage, kids, a better life. You got dreams, detective?”

“Sorry if someone misled you,” said Stratton. “Some things aren’t meant to be.”

“I’ve got no hard feelings. I’m always going to be there for my first love. Sure, she broke my heart, but it wasn’t mine at the time, if you get me.”

“Say,” asked Stratton, “were you mad at Flynn for the way he treated the things that were important to you? Mad enough to put him in a life-threatening situation?”

“You got it wrong. I’m not the kind of guy who takes action. You, if anyone, know that. If I was that guy, I’d have tossed him head-first into the nearest dumpster. Instead, I offered to chauffeur the getaway car, and I didn’t even do that right. No, his final destiny was his own doing.”

Detective Stratton shrugged at the camera. She made a gesture that suggested they stop recording.

“You can go,” she said, “but play where we can find you. If you recall any details, no matter how trivial, call me.” She handed him a business card.

He sniffed it. “Someone’s been promoted. It smells like you.”

“Get lost before my stomach starts growling; you men and your talk of food.”

“I’ve got a question,” said Dolan, placing his hand over the microphone. “Did it hurt when Flynn smacked you in the face? Did he convince you it was your fault for being in the way of his fist? Does anybody but me know you two were an item?”

She glanced at the camera. “That’s what I thought. Sometimes you pick the wrong guy and sometimes the wrong guy picks you.”

He removed his hand. “Ain’t karma a bitch, officer?”


Copyright © 2015 by Charles C. Cole

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