Here is the eleventh droplet of my novel Biotime. Today we take forward Part 2, Pax Vobiscum. What happened in New York – and Harlem specifically – to cause Biotime to be prohibited? And did prohibition work? Does it ever?
I’m also publishing a “story so far” post for infrequent readers, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.
Guggenheim Museum, New York City – Photo Robert Pimm
Biotime. The future, today. Excerpt 11
[Part 2, Pax Vobiscum, continues]
I’d just pulled into the precinct that day at the end of my shift when I saw Roland coming. He was a huge guy – sure, the movies big him up a little, but he did play college football, and he worked out, and he moved like a panther. When I saw him walking my way, swinging those big shoulders with his jaw set, I felt like backing right on out again. It’s the truth.
He pulled open the passenger door and climbed in.
‘Dev Ray,’ he said, ‘I want you to take this piece of shit up to St Nicholas.’ He patted the dashboard of the squad car, his voice low and slow. ‘We need to talk.’
That was it. It wasn’t until I’d parked up outside the old Arts High School and we struck off on foot across the park that he opened his mouth again.
‘You ever notice that? Automobiles look and steer worse each year? Ten years ago no New York City cop would have been seen dead in that junker.’
‘It’s the safety features,’ I said. ‘I got this year’s model.’
‘It’s not the safety features, Dev. It’s the system. The whole country is going to crap.’
I never had heard Roland talk that way. I laid my hand on his arm. ‘What is it, man? What happened?’
Roland took a little glance around us, like he was checking for a tail, before he answered. ‘I’ve quit Morningside,’ he said. ‘I’ve asked for Traffic.’ His eyes were burning.
‘You quit Morningside? But that’s a goldmine. What the hell happened?’
‘It’s a goldmine, is what happened. NYPD set up Morningside because we knew someone had figured how to make a killing in Biotime. The bad guys had too much cash to launder. Nothing added up. We put together a team of New York’s finest. But have we ID’d the scam? No way.’
Roland leaned in close as he continued. ‘But I did ID something. What I see after six months is that half the cops on the Morningside team look younger than they should. And the only two guys I trust in the squad both tell me they’re quitting. It’s like the bad guys ain’t winning the game no more. They’re playing in a different league.’
‘Someone offer you something?’
I looked at Roland. Right there, on a path winding through St Nicholas Park, with kids playing ball and the sun shining, I saw tears well up in his eyes. Man, in Roland Nelson, that was the scariest thing I seen, before or since.
I didn’t speak. I stared at him and waited.
‘Dev. It’s Rocky,’ Roland said at last.
The tears were flowing now, but he started walking faster, with these big strides.
‘Yeah, I had offers,’ he said. ‘First it was cash. Then ‘Time. Cents at first. Then whole grams. The final offer was five G to lay off of them.’
‘They offered you five grams of ‘Time? That’s – ‘ I did the math ‘ – that’s one hundred and fifty gross salaries, man. Twice the budget of Morningside. All for you.’
‘So I figured we must be closing in on something. I told them to go to hell.’
‘Too right.’ While I was saying this, I was figuring that whatever Roland Nelson had gone and got mixed up in, it was way over my pay-grade, and the best thing I could do was to climb back in my junker and make haste back to the precinct. But Roland had this way of looking at you that kind of reached out and grabbed your soul, so I held off while he finished his story. He hadn’t done grabbing yet.
[Excerpt ends][Next episode]
I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from my novel “Biotime”. If you’re interested in hearing about further episodes, follow this blog by e-mail (top right, “click here”); or follow me on Twitter @RobertPimm (left hand side). I can promise you a fun ride.
If you’d like to read some complete fiction by me, see what you think of my “wonderful, feminist and dark” Hotel Stories.