Extra Kill

Dell Shannon


And then he drew a dial from his poke,

And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,

Says very wisely, 'It is ten o'clock.

Thus may we see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags.

'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine;

And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,

And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;

And thereby hangs a tale.'

- As You Like It, Act II, sc. 7


That he was making history was an idea that didn't enter the head of the rookie cop Frank Walsh. He was riding a squad car alone for the first time, which made him more conscientious than usual. He saw this car first when they pulled up at a stop light alongside each other on Avalon Boulevard; he'd never seen one like it and was still looking for some identification when the light changed and it took off like a rocket. He was going the same way, and it was still in sight when they passed a twenty-five-mile zone sign; it didn't slow down, and Walsh happily opened up and started after it.

The bad old days of quotas for tickets, all that kind of thing, were long gone-and Frank Walsh was twenty- six, no starry-eyed adolescent; nevertheless, there was a kind of gratification, a kind of glamour, about the first piece of business one got alone on the job. In time to come, he would have kept an eye on that car for a while, clocked it as only a little over the legit allowance and obviously being handled by a competent driver, and let it go. As it was, a mile down Avalon he pulled alongside and motioned it into the curb.

It was quite some car, he thought as he got out and walked round the squad car: a long, low, gun-metal- colored job, a two-door hardtop. This close he made out the name, a strange one to him-Facel-Vega, what the hell was that? One of these twenty-thousand-buck foreigners, probably with a TV director or a movie actor or something like that driving it, just to be different and show he had the money. Walsh stopped at the driver's window. 'May I see your operator's license, please?' he asked politely.

The driver was a slim dark fellow with a black hairline moustache, a sleek thick cap of black hair, a long straight nose, and a long jaw. He said just as politely, 'Certainly, officer,' and got out his wallet, correctly slid his license out of its plastic envelope himself, and passed it over.

There was a woman beside him, a good-looking redhead who seemed to be having a fit of giggles for some reason.

Walsh checked the license righteously, comparing it with the driver. A Mex, he was, and quite a mouthful of name like they mostly had: Luis Rodolfo Vicente Mendoza. The license had been renewed within six months and matched him all right: five-ten, a hundred and fifty-five, age thirty-nine, eyes brown, hair- Walsh said, 'You know, Mr. Mendoza, you were exceeding the limit by about fifteen miles an hour.' He said it courteously because that was part of your training, you were supposed to start out anyway being polite; but he felt a little indignant about these fellows who thought just because they had money and a hot-looking expensive car the laws weren't made for them.

The driver said, 'You're perfectly right, I was.' He didn't even point out that practically everybody exceeded the limit in these slow zones; he accepted the ticket Walsh wrote out and put his license back in its slot, and Walsh, getting back in the squad car, was the least bit disappointed that he hadn't made the expected fuss.

It wasn't until his tour was over and he reported back to his precinct station that he found out what he'd done. It was the car that had stayed in his mind, and he was describing it to Sergeant Simon when Lieutenant Slaney came in.

'… something called a Facel-Vega, ever hear of it?'

The sergeant said it sounded like one of those Italians, and the lieutenant said no, it was a French job, and what brought it up? When he heard about the ticket, a strangely eager expression came over his face.

'The only Facel-Vega I know of around here-what was the driver like, Walsh?'

'He was a Mex, sir-why? I mean, his license was all in order, and the plate number wasn't on the hot list. Shouldn't I-?'

'And his name,' asked Slaney in something like awe, 'was maybe Luis Mendoza?'

'Why, yes, sir, how-'

'Oh, God,' said Slaney rapturously, 'oh, brother, this really makes my day! Walsh, if I could christen you a captain right now I would! You gave Luis Mendoza a ticket for speeding? You don't know it, but you just made history, my boy-that's the first moving-violation ticket he's ever had, to my knowledge.'

'You know him, Lieutenant?'

'Do I know him,' said Slaney. 'Do I-? I suppose he had a woman with him?'

'Why, yes, there was a redhead-a pretty one-'

'I needn't have asked,' said Slaney. 'There always is-a woman, that is, he's not particular about whether it's a blonde or what. He looks at them and they fall, God Almighty knows why. Do I know him, Says you. For my sins I went through the training course with him, eighteen years back, and we worked out of the same precinct together as rookies. And before we both got transferred, the bastard got a hundred and sixty-three dollars of my hard-earned money at poker, and two girls away from me besides. That's how well I-'

'He's a cop?' said Walsh, aghast. He had a horrid vision of riding squad cars the rest of his life, all applications for promotion tabled from above. 'My God, I never-but, Lieutenant, that car-'

'He's headquarters-Homicide lieutenant. The car-wel1, he came into the hell of a lot of money a couple of years after he joined the force-his grandfather turned out to've been one of those misers with millions tucked away, you know? Oh, boy, am I goin' to rub his nose in this!' chortled Slaney. 'His first ticket, and from one of my rookies!'

'But, Lieutenant, if I'd known-'

'If you'd known he was the Chief you'd still have given him the ticket, I hope,' said Slaney. “Nobody's got privileges, you know that.'

Which theoretically speaking was true, but in practice things weren't always so righteous, as Walsh knew. He went on having gloomy visions for several days of a career stopped before it started, until he came off duty one afternoon to be called into Slaney's office and introduced to Mendoza, who'd dropped by on some headquarters business. Slaney was facetious, and Walsh tried to balance that with nervous apology. Lieutenant Mendoza grinned at him.

'Cut that out, Walsh, no need. Always a first time for everything. The only thing I'm surprised at is that it was one of Bill Slaney's boys-I wouldn't expect such zealous attention to duty out of this precinct.'

'Why, you bastard,” said Slaney. 'Half your reputation you got on the work of your two senior sergeants, and I trained both of 'em for you as you damn well know.'

'Yes, Art Hackett's often told me how glad he was to be transferred out from under you,' said Mendoza amiably.

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