Larry Cole (Volume 10)

Hugh Holton

Forge Books

June 16, 2006 11: 17 A. M.
The Chicago Police Department Training Academy is located at 1300 West Jackson Boulevard, virtually in the shadow of the massive Sears Tower. For over a quarter of a century, this facility had educated and conditioned all entry-level police officers, as well as conducted periodic training classes for veteran cops and preservice sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. The two-story facility is equipped with state-of-the-art classrooms, a TV studio, library, computer lab, and a gymnasium. The one complaint that the officers using the academy continuously voice is that the building was not equipped with a swimming pool.
During the late twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first century, there had been an aggressive building program aimed at replacing all outdated police facilities in the city. Police stations, including the old police headquarters building, which had been built before 1969, were demolished and replaced with modern structures. However, despite updated conference rooms and modern meeting facilities being in place, there were certain department traditions that remained in place. One of those traditions was having all CPD graduation ceremonies held at the police academy. Despite limited parking and the general congestion in the near-Loop area, the families, friends, and colleagues of new officers and those being promoted attended the events. On this warm June afternoon, a cadet graduation was scheduled.
Superintendent Orlando W. Wilson originally conceived the cadet program in the early 1960s during a top-to-bottom reorganization of the Chicago Police Department. The objective was to attract young people between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one to careers in law enforcement. Due to budget cuts in the mid-1970s, the program was abandoned. Now, due to the low numbers of entry-level police applicants, the police cadet program had been resurrected as the Windy City's attempt to compete with apprentice programs in the private sector and the U. S. military.
Following a six-week familiarization curriculum, 150 police cadets--eighty males and seventy females--were graduating prior to receiving assignments throughout the department. They would work as clerks and in other minor administrative positions while being paid an adequate wage. As a condition of their employment, the cadets were also required to carry a minimum of six credit hours toward a degree at an accredited college in the city. The cadets could pursue any academic course of study they desired, so long as they maintaineda B average. The overall objective was to interest college-level people in law enforcement careers through direct contact with cops.
Besides the mixed gender of the graduating class, the cadets were a multiracial group with blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians forming a melting pot in microcosm of the city's diverse population. They were all required to wear a modified police uniform minus firearms. This uniform consisted of a dark blue saucer cap with the distinctive blue-and-white checkered border adorned with a gold cap shield inscribed with the words POLICE CADET; a robin's egg blue uniform shirt with navy blue epaulets and pocket flaps; dark blue wool trousers; and black leather shoes, garrison belts, and socks. As it was approaching the warmer months of the year in Chicago, the uniform's outer garment consisted of a short-sleeve shirt without tie.
The 150 new cadets looked quite impressive as they stood in ranks for inspection in the corridor outside the police academy gymnasium. The resurrection of the cadet program was being extensively covered by the news media, because it was touted by the current police superintendent and the CPD's director of news affairs as the beginning of a new era in American law enforcement.
Prior to the late-morning graduation, the assembled print-and electronic-media types were aggressively looking for particular cadets to interview following the ceremony. These cadets would serve as spokespersons for the city's new crime-fighting initiative. They selected a white male who had been a star high school football running back but opted for an entry-level job with the police department, a Korean-American female with an IQ of 162, and a black male who joined the police department in order to follow in his father's footsteps. That young man was Larry Cole Jr. , and his father was the current chief of detectives.
Larry "Butch" Cole Jr. had been appointed cadet group commanderby the director of the Training Division. Such an appointment was not arbitrary, but based on a combination of the cadet's grades, on-duty decorum, and overall physical-training test scores. Success breeds jealousy, and there were those inside as well as outside the cadet program who had made groundless allegations that Butch Cole received the cadet group commander appointment because of "who" he was as opposed to "what" he had accomplished. The only possible advantage the cadet commander had over his fellow cadets was that his lifelong role model had been his father, one of the best law enforcement officers in the world.
The cadet commander was allowed to wear a pair of silver stars on the collars of his blue uniform shirt. He had called the cadet company to attention for the pregraduation inspection and had accompanied the director of the academy as she passed through the assembled ranks.
The cadet commander stood six feet two inches tall and weighed a muscular 195 pounds. He was well put together without appearing bulky, and moved with the graceful athlete's economy of motion. He was matinee-idol handsome, clean-shaven, and wore his hair cut short, which was a police academy requirement. One of the things both Butch Cole's friends and detractors agreed upon was that he looked so much like his father, it was uncanny.
On that past Father's Day, the Chicago Times-Herald newspaper ran a "Like Father, Like Son" contest. Fathers and sons who had a marked resemblance could enter the contest by submitting a photograph of the two of them together along with a short essay detailing the traits that also made them alike, in addition to the physical resemblance. Larry Cole Sr. and Larry Cole Jr. won the contest. Now those similarities were becoming even more pronounced as the son was following in his father's career footsteps.
The inspection concluded, the cadet company was marched into the academy gymnasium and directed to take seats on folding chairsin front of a dais, where the mayor, the superintendent, and a host of dignitaries waited.
The Chicago Police Department's command staff was assembled in a reserved section of the gymnasium next to the dais. They were arranged by rank from the highest position of division, chief to that of unit commander. There were three chiefs in charge of the patrol division, the organized crime division, and the detective division. Despite having a civilian dress assignment, Larry Cole was clad in the spring field uniform. It consisted of a white short-sleeved shirt, adorned with the CPD patch and City of Chicago flag; a gold badge inscribed with the rank CHIEF OF DETECTIVES; the silver stars of his rank on his shoulders; and a cap with the gold braid and scrambled eggs ornamentation of command rank. It was a mere coincidence that Cole's insignia of rank was the same as that of the cadet commander's. There had been a lot of highs in Larry Cole's life, but today, seeing his seventeen-year-old son become a member of the department put him on top of the world.
The visitors' section was located directly behind the cadet company. The cadet commander's mother was seated on the aisle in the second row of this section. The former Lisa Cole was a tall, beautiful, exquisitely built woman. She and her ex-husband had been divorced for ten years. She had initiated the legal proceeding to end her marriage after she developed an overwhelming fear for her son's safety. That fear began taking hold after serial killer Margo DeWitt kidnapped Butch and threatened to dismember him. After obtaining custody of their son, she had moved to Detroit. There she had remarried, but her son would never accept a substitute for his real father back in Chicago. After Butch graduated from Little Flower High School, Lisa had grudgingly allowed him to move back to Chicago to live with Larry Cole. Now she was forced to watch her son enter the profession that had brought about her divorce.
Although terrified by the sight of Butch in his police uniform, Lisa was making a valiant effort to keep up a presentable front. In addition to the stress she was under, she was also forced to deal with the fact that her former husband was still a damnably handsome, extremely sexy man. As she sat in the air-conditioned police gym waiting for the ceremony to begin, her eyes constantly strayed to his place in the front row of the command section. She found herself remembering what it had been like with him in bed. She forced herself to think of other things, but unwanted images kept intruding, and she felt a hot flash sear through her body from head to toe. To calm down, Lisa studied her surroundings.
Dressed in a sleeveless summer dress that made the most of her figure, Lisa sat next to her old friend Maria Silvestri and Maria's husband, Blackie, who was Larry Sr. 's best friend. Blackie had always reminded Lisa of a Mafia hit man, which he had come very close to becoming before he joined the force. Despite Blackie's tough outer appearance, when he saw Butch in a police uniform, his eyes filled with tears.
Seated beside Blackie were Lauren and Manny Sherlock, whom Lisa remembered from her years with Cole. As Lisa had arrived late and was forced to sit at the end of the row, she didn't get the opportunity to meet the women seated on the other side of the Sherlocks. One was wearing dark glasses and sported an enormous dark-brown French roll hairdo along with heavy pancake makeup and carmine lipstick. She was dressed in a loud flower-patterned print dress and a pair of spiked-heel shoes. Lisa speculated that this was Judy Daniels, whom Butch often talked about, but as always she couldn't be sure if it really was the woman known in Chicago as the Mistress of Disguise and High Priestess of Mayhem.
The other woman was of medium height, nicely built, and had blond hair and blue eyes. Lisa had heard that her ex-husband wasinvolved in an on-again, off-again relationship with an investigative journalist and part-time jazz singer named Kate Ford. The former Mrs. Cole strongly believed that this blond woman was Kate Ford.
Lisa scolded herself for being jealous over the woman's presence. An ex-wife was not supposed to be concerned at all over whom her husband was sleeping with. Lisa was looking forward to this day being over so that she could go back to Detroit, where life was tame and a bit boring, but safe.
The formal graduation ceremony was anticlimactic. The mayor's speech was a rehash of clichés about the honor of public service. The superintendent of police rephrased his own press release about the police cadet program ushering in a new era in American law enforcement. One of Cole's old nemeses, the chairman of the city council police and fire committee, Sherman Ellison Edwards, lived up to his nickname of Alderman Foghorn Leghorn by giving a rambling, incomprehensible fifteen-minute speech about nothing. Finally, the speeches were over and the cadet group was lined up to march onto the dais, where they rendered a sharp salute to the superintendent and received their official police badges. The cadet badge was a modified version of a CPD police officer's star, and Butch Cole's bore number 102. A short time later, the ceremony ended.
There was a reception held in the cafeteria across the hall from the gymnasium. Punch, coffee, and cookies were served, while a trio of department photographers recorded the event. The cadet commander and the chief of detectives were asked to pose for photos with a number of graduates. Even Lisa Cole managed a smile for the camera when she stood between the two men in uniform who had played such an important part in her life.
The reception was coming to a conclusion when a female cadet came over to Butch and his extended cop family. She was a thin young woman with startling green eyes and short dark brown hair visible underher uniform cap, which appeared a shade large for her. "I wonder if I could take a picture with you and your father, Commander?"
Butch squinted momentarily at the cadet before saying, "Sure."
They stepped away from the group, and a photographer snapped the shot. At that moment, the heavily made-up woman in the flower-print dress--whom Lisa Cole had assumed was Judy Daniels--walked over and said, "Can I get a picture with you, too, Butch?"
The tall, handsome cadet grinned, which made him look more like his father than would seem humanly possible. "If you're trying to make me believe that you're Judy Daniels, you'll have to do a better job of it."
The woman returned his smile. "Do you remember the ice cream vendor named Mary Anne, who you thought was Judy Daniels when you were a little boy?"
Butch's grin faded a bit. "That was some kind of trick that Judy played on me, but she hasn't been able to fool me since then."
"As they say," said the green-eyed female cadet he'd just taken a picture with, "there's a second time for everything."
Chief Cole, Lisa, Blackie, Maria, Kate Ford, and Lauren and Manny Sherlock were stunned by the change in the female cadet's voice. But no one was more shocked than Butch Cole, because it was Judy Daniels who had spoken.
Pointing to the name tag that read DANIELS over her right breast, Judy Daniels added, "I tried to talk the director of training into letting me sit next to you during the ceremony, Butch, but she wouldn't have it. So I guess the photo that we took together and the witnesses"--she pointed to the group that was still staring at her in stunned shock--"will just have to do."
Butch looked at his father, and then the two of them began a laugh that infected everyone who had come to the Chicago Police Academy to attend Larry Cole Jr. 's graduation. The Mistress of Disguise and High Priestess of Mayhem had struck again.
"Why don't we go over to Mama Mancini's on Taylor Street for some beer and pizza?" Blackie said. "Just soda for you, kid," he said to Butch.
"We can't tonight, Blackie," Cole said. "Butch and I have got to rush home and change. Barbara Zorin's play Murder at the Opera is opening tonight at the Goodman Theater, and we promised to attend."
Blackie shook his head in dismay. "What is this police department coming to? We have a cop graduation and then everyone rushes off to see a play."
Again the group broke out in collective laughter.
Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Cook