Detective Doyle Carrick and Nola Watkins (Volume 1)

Jon McGoran

Forge Books


The surveillance van smelled of old cheeseburgers, coffee, and me. Parked in front of a vacant storefront in North Philly, I was watching on a little screen as my partner, Danny Tennison, made a buy from a scumbag named Dwayne Rowan just around the corner.
We’d been trying to nab Rowan’s supplier, see if we could swim upstream and get the next guy up the chain or the guy above him.
Rowan was almost out of stock, and Danny was trying to find out about the re-up. Rowan didn’t have the faintest idea Danny was a cop, and he wasn’t trying to be discreet, either. He was just a dumbass.
“So, you getting any more of this?” Danny asked him.
“Yeah, this stuff or something else.”
“Same guy, or you got somebody new?”
“Nah, always the same guy.”
“Oh yeah? When’s that going to be?” Danny asked, keeping it casual.
That’s when my phone rang. The whole thing was being recorded, but I still needed to be paying attention. No chance in hell a guy like Rowan was going to start trouble, but I was still Danny’s backup.
The call was from Frank, my mom’s husband. She was pretty sick by then, between the cancer and the chemo and the infections. I’d been trying to wrap up the case so I could visit her, but things were conspiring to keep me in Philly. Things like this asshole Rowan.
I’d only seen her twice since the diagnosis, but my guilt was tinged with annoyance at her and Frank for moving so far out in the sticks.
“Oh, you know, like, in a couple days,” Rowan told Danny.
“So what, you mean like Tuesday?” Danny asked, without a trace of the exasperation I was feeling. “Or like Wednesday?”
“Yeah, that’s it,” Rowan replied.
“What is it, Frank?” I said, answering the phone in an exaggerated whisper so he’d know this was not a good time.
“Well, which is it?” Danny asked. “Tuesday or Wednesday?”
“Wait,” Rowan said. “What day is it today?”
“Monday,” Danny told him.
“Right … so probably later, then.”
“It’s your mother,” Frank said, his voice strained.
“You mean, like Wednesday or like Thursday?” Danny said, finally revealing a hint of aggravation.
“What about her, Frank?”
“It’s another infection. A bad one. She’s back in the hospital.… I think this is it.” His voice cracked, and I thought I heard him sob. He cleared his throat. “If you’re going to come up, you need to come up now.”
Rowan was babbling on in the background, sounding suddenly far away. “Could still be Tuesday, man. I forget. What night is the wrestling on?”
As the phone fell away from my face, I thought: My mom is going to die while this fuck-head tries to get his days straight. I don’t remember thinking much after that. I got out of the van, a cardinal sin in the middle of surveillance, and I walked around the corner, straight up to where Danny and Rowan were standing.
Danny’s eyes widened, then his face fell back into the same heavy-lidded suspicious gaze as Rowan’s. We’d been working pretty hard the past few days, so I looked rough enough to pass for someone making a buy. As Rowan looked over at me, ready to take my order, Danny flashed me one last glare to remind me how much time and energy he’d invested in his cover.
The first thing I did when I came up to them, I planted a left in Danny’s face. I didn’t pull it, either—I popped him and dropped him. If I was going to pull something, it had to look real.
Rowan yelped like I’d stepped on his tail. He tugged a gun from the back of his pants, but he couldn’t seem to get a grip on it, bobbling it like some half-assed juggler until I snatched it out of the air between his hands and pressed it against his temple.
“When’s the re-up?” I asked quietly.
“Tuesday,” he said with great certainty. “Um … six o’clock.”
I was about to ask him where when he said, “In the parking lot behind Charlie B’s.”
I figured, what the fuck: “Who’s your supplier?”
He didn’t even pause. “Marcus Draper.”
First chance he got, Danny Tennison drilled a right to the side of my head that left my ears ringing. But he was okay after that. Danny was cool that way. He didn’t always approve, but he understood.
I got a couple of uniforms to take Rowan in, then I got in my car and drove.
Twenty minutes later, I got a call from Lieutenant Suarez, screaming at me that I was on admin duty, pending an investigation. Normally, I would have screamed back, but I just said, “Whatever.”
Ten minutes after that, I got another call from Frank. I could barely hear him, but it wasn’t the phone breaking up, it was him.
“We lost her, Doyle,” he said when he could speak. “Your mother’s dead.”

Copyright © 2013 by Jon McGoran