Excerpts from my Novels and Works in Progress
The Adventures of Super Trick - A Vice Cop's Memoir
It was my first day in Wilshire Division Vice. Although I was a little naïve, I knew that vice crimes were those that offended the morals of the community, like pornography and prostitution.
As an undercover Vice Cop, it would be my duty to enforce the laws against all vice crimes which included, but were not limited to pimping, pandering, prostitution, lewd public sex acts, adult entertainment, and gambling, just to name a few. It was these types of crimes that often brought out illicit drugs and violent crimes, like assault and robbery. Vice, as it turned out, was not a victimless crime after all.
I walked up the stairs and approached the door labeled VICE. I could hear a commotion and a lot of laughter behind the door and I felt a little apprehensive. I slowly opened the door and stepped inside to a cloud of cigarette smoke, which made me cough and gag.
“Yea, Preacher’s here! Woohoo!” someone yelled from the back of the room. “Y’all better watch your language now. No cussin’.”
“Hey, Bobby Boy! Come over here, sit next to me,” said officer Scott, who resembled a taller, thinner Ichabod Crane, protruding Adam’s apple and all.
Cheers and a round of applause from the vice squad echoed in the room. I raised both arms above my head like Mohammed Ali and acknowledged their accolades. I found an empty chair towards the front, across from Lt. Jones, the head of the Vice Unit. He was flanked by two sergeants, Sgt. Farr and Sgt. Doyle.
“Okay, okay. Simmer down. I see you all know Brunelle,” said Lt. Jones, in an attempt to quiet the raucous bunch. Lt. Jones was tall, medium build, dark hair, and had a short, black mustache. “Listen up. Before we get on with roll call, I want to officially welcome Officer Brunelle to the Vice Unit. Brunelle, you will be working with Sergeants Farr and Doyle. They will act as your training officers for a couple of weeks, then we will team you up with one of the veteran vice officers.”
A wadded-up piece of paper bounced off my head as someone yelled from behind me, “I’ll work with him.”
“All right! Let’s get on with roll call. Here’s the assignments for tonight: Fernandez and Robinson, 7 Victor 3,” stated the lieutenant.
Fernandez was a roly-poly Hispanic officer with long black hair and a sparse black mustache. Robinson was a middle-aged black man with a receding hairline. They swiveled in their chairs and gave each other a high five. “Right on!” they said in unison.
“Scott and Deveroux, 7 Victor 4,” announced Lt. Jones. “Everyone else has the same assignments as yesterday.”
Officer Scott gave a “thumbs up” gesture to Officer Deveroux. Deveroux laughed and toasted Scott with his coffee mug.
“Sergeants Farr and Doyle, as I said earlier…you’ll be showing Brunelle the ropes.”
The two sergeants looked at each other and both smiled rather sinisterly, and nodded their heads in approval. They looked in my direction and I suddenly felt like I was…prey. “Sgt. Farr, why don’t you take over roll call and give everybody an update on what’s going on in the division. Oh, and pass out those flyers on the Hillside Strangler. You know, the guy that’s been going around killing all of those prostitutes. I’ve got some paperwork to take care of in my office.”
Sgt. Farr waited for the lieutenant to leave the room. He took out a comb and combed his long brown hair. His clean-shaven, fine featured face added to the aristocratic air that possessed him. He considered himself to be a ladies’ man. “Okay, you dorks, listen up! I’m only gonna say this once…we got numerous complaints from businessmen up on Western. Seems like a few hookers are chasing away their customers by peddling their wares in front of their stores. The whores are also soliciting prospective patrons. So, get your butts down there and see if you can make some arrests! Uh, 7 Victor 4, Scott and Deveroux, that’s on Western between Wilshire and 9th Street. You know, where Scott got his butt kicked by that drag queen last month.”
“No way! No way! That drag queen hit me with her…with his purse…and I decked him!” said Scott.
Deveroux laughed hysterically at his partner’s protest. “That’s not the way I saw it, man. That queen hit you upside the head with his purse and you went down like a sack of potatoes. Funniest thing I ever saw in my whole life,” laughed Deveroux as he started to choke on an unlit cigar that had been sticking out of the corner of his mouth.
Everyone’s laughter made it sound like a cackle of hyenas. Sgt. Farr quickly gained his composure. “Okay, okay. Let’s settle down and get back to business. Fernandez and Robinson…we’ve been having problems again with that Mexican bar, the Tolteca, down on Olympic. They’ve been serving minors, and my snitch tells me that the bartender’s selling drugs. Check it out. If you need assistance get ahold of me on tact 2. Now, we’ve got reports of hookers workin’ Olympic, Wilshire and Western, and down on La Cienega. So, let me make myself perfectly clear…I want to see some arrests tonight. No excuses! Let’s make a good example for Brunelle here.”
Sgt. Doyle was a big, middle-aged, Irishman with dark brown hair and green eyes. He was the former LAPD Heavyweight Boxing Champion and with that title, came a cocky attitude. Although he was rather quiet, with a sly sense of humor. Those around him never knew if he was joking or serious. Doyle grabbed a handful of wanted bulletins and passed them out to the officers that were still seated at the table. “Here’s the info on the Hillside Strangler suspect. He’s already killed five hookers up in Hollywood, so keep any eye out for strange or suspicious looking tricks out there. Remember, this guy is dangerous!” said Sgt. Doyle. “There are some rumors floating around that this Strangler may be posing as a cop. So, be on the alert.”
“Tricks? Robinson, what does he mean by tricks?” I whispered.
“You know, man. Johns, Clients…horny mothers,” laughed Robinson.
Sgt. Doyle appeared to be agitated by Robinson’s laughter and glared at him menacingly. “You got something you want to share with the rest of us, Robinson?”
“No, Sarge. I was just tellin’ Brunelle here…”
Doyle leaned across the table, now just inches away from Robinson’s face, which caused Robinson to finish speaking in mid-sentence. “Sgt. Farr and I will be training Brunelle, so don’t worry about him. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Robinson sheepishly. He was used to Doyle’s wise cracks and intimidation, but he was determined not to react.
The room was eerily silent, and the tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Sgt. Farr jumped up and slapped Sgt. Doyle on the back. “Okay! Let’s get out there and do some police work,” laughed Farr nervously.
Everyone quickly rose from their chairs and grabbed their notebooks and paperwork. I walked over to the two sergeants and didn’t know what to expect. “I guess you are my training officers?”
“Yeah, since Otis got fired we’re short a training officer. So, Doyle and I are going to train you instead, to make sure you don’t pick up any bad habits.”
Doyle walked in between us and poked his finger into my stomach. “You’re a little out of shape, aren’t you? You don’t look much like a cop, but I hear you were pretty good out there in patrol. Best stats for just about everything. So, maybe we can turn you into a good vice cop. Just remember, dufus, that if you screw up you’ll be back walkin’ a beat. Got it?”
“Got it, Sarge.” I replied. This guy has a weird way to supervise people…insults, fear, and intimidation, I thought.
The three of us got into an unmarked vice vehicle. I sat in the backseat as Sgt. Farr drove slowly up Western Avenue towards Hollywood. After about 10 minutes, we stopped directly in front of a bar with a red neon sign that flashed “Joe’s Place”. Farr leaned over the front seat and stared at me for a few seconds. “Are you familiar with Joe’s?”
“No, not really, but I must have driven past it a hundred times,” I replied.
“We’ve got a real serious problem with hookers in this place. Whores are runnin’ wild in there. They always hit on the customers, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting a violation. Now, remember, all you need to do is get them to offer you sex for money. Don’t go tryin’ to bust them on your own. Come out here and get me and Doyle. We’ll all go back inside and make the arrest. Okay? Any questions?”
I was a little nervous about going into a bar as an undercover cop for the first time. “Uh, well, I …just go in and…”
“Look, these ladies of the evening are always sitting at a table in the back of this place. Just go in there like you’re one of the crowd, work your way to the back. You’ll see them there. I’m sure they’ll hit on you. Okay?” said Farr with a frustrating look.
“Just get in there...and don’t come out until you make an arrest!” said Doyle forcefully.
I exited the car and briskly walked into the bar. The music was blasting from a live band at the back of the dimly lit nightclub. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself, so I kept my head down and didn’t look around and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was a long bar on my right with a few empty stools, so I quickly sat in the first empty one I came across. The bartender, dressed in a white, long sleeved shirt, a black velvet vest and a black bowtie leaned across the bar. “Hi there. What will it be tonight?” he asked.
I still hadn’t surveyed my surroundings, but looked straight ahead at the bartender. “Uh, you got Bud in a bottle?”
“One Bud in a bottle coming up,” he said and turned to open the refrigerator.
I stared into the large mirror across from me and tried to make out the people behind me, but it was too distorted. Suddenly, a large, muscular black man with a shaved head slid silently into the barstool next to me. I did not acknowledge his presence and continued to look straight ahead. However, I could sense that he was staring at me. The bartender returned and slammed a bottle of Budweiser down on the bar in front of me, which broke my concentration. I took a sip of the beer, turned to my left and was nose to nose with the black musclebound hulk. His facial expression seemed to morph from stern to romantic.
“I just love big, strong white boys,” he crooned in a soft, low voice.
I was stunned and shocked. I ignored him and swiveled around on my barstool, and faced the dance floor. For the first time I could see around the bar. Men danced together, cheek to cheek, some even kissed each other on the lips. “Oh my…gawd,” I said under my breath. “There are no female prostitutes in this place. This is a gay bar.”
“Want to dance?” chimed the big black guy.
“Uh, no thanks,” I replied as I felt more than a little apprehensive.
“Playin’ hard to get, huh?”
As I jumped up, I intentionally knocked my bottle of beer over and it spilled onto his lap. That should cool him down a bit. I figured it was a good time to make my escape from the bar, but a chubby Hispanic guy grabbed me by the arm and tried to lead me to the dance floor. “You Cha Cha?” he asked as a white middle-aged guy wearing a gaudy Hawaiian shirt and tight white pants tried to cut in. I jerked my arm away, broke free, and bolted out the front door.
I tried to keep a straight face and pretend everything was cool as I made my way to the car. Farr and Doyle were laughing hysterically as I approached. Doyle was laughing so hard he was almost down on the car’s floorboard. I was a little ticked off as I jumped into the back seat, but had figured out that I had been pranked. “Very funny. Very funny. Hookers, huh? I wanna tell ya, there ain’t no hookers in that place!”
Farr and Doyle once again burst into laughter like a couple of hyenas. “Welcome to the Vice Squad. We do this to every new fish. You should have seen your face,” said Farr as he once again burst into laughter.