Adya by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Adya by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Okay, that’s my partner, Adya, over at the corner desk. The woman with the silver hair and the pageboy haircut. She is an odd duck. That hairstyle is from the 30s, 40s, or maybe 50s. She’s 33 years old, and her hair color is as natural as her tan skin.
Look at her sidearm. That is a 22-caliber target pistol – a Hämmerli 208s, to be exact. Everyone else in the Department carries a standard 9 mm. My partner has a special exemption that allows her to wear this gun and use it as a duty weapon. Why? Because she is an Olympic caliber marksman and is by far the best shooter this Department has ever seen. When you are that good, you get to set your own rules – sometimes.
Here’s something else about her that is different. She is a homicide detective, and she excels at this job just as she does in firearms competitions. But, unlike every other police person here, she never spent a single day on patrol or undercover. She came directly from the academy into a detective position.
She started with the Department as a civilian criminal data analyst three years ago. She used her expertise to identify two serial killers operating in our city for over a decade, of which we were completely unaware. Her research led to the capture of these murderers. She went to the academy but kept her higher pay as a criminal justice analyst and stepped out of the academy into her first detective assignment.
In the two years, she has been a detective, and she has had eight different partners. No partner lasted more than three weeks. Adya made it clear from day one that she didn’t want a partner that she operates most efficiently alone. Her obstinance led the Department to believe that she is a loose cannon, which is why the Chief of Detectives keeps insisting that she has a partner.
I’m her current partner. I have set a record by remaining her partner for five weeks. Why have I lasted more than previous partners? I believe that it is because we are opposites in so many ways. For example, Adya’s pistols are a natural extension of her arm.
Me. I’m very uncomfortable with firearms and would prefer not to wear one on the job or be around others carrying handguns. I think that having deadly force at our disposal warps our thinking and distorts our relationship with others.
Adya is more contented working with data than with others. I prefer the animated companionship of others to sterile statistics.
Adya will shoot you dead and have no regrets or remorse. I don’t know of anyone she has shot yet. But I know she will sooner than later. My partner scares the shit out of me.
On the other hand, she told me, “Faizal Freeman, your distaste for firearms puts my life at risk. I prefer any of my prior partners to you.”
Okay, I see you wondering how the hell do these polar opposites keep us together as partners?
So, here is an actual example.
Adya and I were the first responding officers to a situation where two patrol officers were threatened by a crowd of about thirty in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Southside.
I gave Adya my gun and told her to keep the backup cops away from the scene. It took me about an hour of listening and talking to disperse the crowd. Not a shot was fired. No one was arrested. And no one was injured.
Adya agreed with me and most of the other cops that that was the best possible outcome of a volatile situation.
I got the third letter of reprimand in my file for violating the Department Firearms Policy. I also received my third outstanding performance commendation for my handling of this event. That was cool with me
So, you see, even though we are as different as night and day in some things, we do have things in common. We both try to do the job in our own unique ways that conflict with the Department’s policies and procedures.
Sometimes our partnership results in astonishing unforeseen consequences.
Adya and I were investigating a drive-by shooting in the Southside projects. Residents of Callahan Homes were all too familiar with the sounds of automatic weapon fire and the resulting physical and psychological injuries.
On May 3, at about 3:05 p.m., a black SUV crawled slowly down Chancellor Way in the Callahan Homes. Two windows on the passenger side rolled down; automatic rifles spit several bursts of gunfire. The apparent intended targets escaped harm.
Ash Tatum, age 34, was wounded in the lower right leg and right hand. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Reba Pham, age six, was shot in the left shoulder and was expected to make a full recovery.
Dr. Mallory Morgan, age sixty-five, was making a house call when he was shot once in the chest. He died two days later at Westminster Hospital.
On May 6, Adya was interviewing Mr. Tatum and his wife, Sonya, in the living room of their home.
I was being interrogated at the kitchen table by Tatum’s seven-year-old daughter, Lavender.
Lavender whispered across the table, “Is that her real hair? I bet it’s a wig. Does she have cancer or something? Why did she get a white wig?”
“Lavender, I can’t put my partner’s business in the street. You—”
“Is she Black? She don’t look real Black? You know? Is she your girlfriend?”
“Call me Spy. My friends call me Spy. I like math. Do you?”
“Lave—Spy, why do they call you, Spy?”
“Because I see everything – even stuff that’s supposed to be a secret. My Moms hates me being a spy.”
“Did you see who shot your dad or Reba?”
“No, I was in school at band practice. I play trumpet, flute, and drums. I like the flute the best.”
“Okay, that’s outstanding. I have to help—”
“The shooters were Herringbone and Stink from the Pleasure Gardens projects. They banging for FCG. They’re punks.”
“How do you know—”
“I listened to three people who saw the shooters. All three said Herringbone was riding shotgun, and two recognized Stink. Stink and Herringbone are like salt and pepper – they always together.”
“Who did you overhear—”
“My lips is zipped. I ain’t no snitch. I’m just giving you the word on the block. Your partner’s name is Adya. What kind of name is that?”
“It’s Indian from India.”
Adya summoned me. We shook hands with the Tatums and walked back to our car.
Adya grumbled, “You were useless back there.”
“I was being interviewed. What did you learn?”
“That it hurts being shot and hurts even more that we rarely solve crimes in the projects.”
“Good for you, Adya. That was time well spent.”
“Fuck you, Freeman.”
I waited until we are pulling into the station parking lot to tell her, “The word on the block is the shooters are Herringbone, aka, William Boykins, and Stink of the First Class Gangsters, aka FCG.”
“Freeman, you are a truly unlikeable person.”
“Adya, don’t be jealous. You can’t always be the star.”
She gives me the finger as she slams the car door.
We can’t use Lavender’s hearsay in court or as a reason to arrest Herringbone and Stink. However, it is a starting point. We can bring them in and shake them up and see what happens. That’s what my partner wants to do. I have other thoughts.
My mind is on six-year-old Reba Pham, who is now afraid to leave her apartment.
My mind is on Dr. Mallory Morgan. Dr. Morgan was a US citizen and a Jamaican immigrant by way of the free medical school in Cuba. His patients called him Dr. Mallory. Doctor Mallory spent the last thirty years administering to the needs of the poor and immigrant populations in our three major public housing units.
Dr. Mallory was a fucking saint to many, including me. I could, with just a little pressure and a few promises, rid the world of his killers tonight.
Or I could do it myself. That is the best way to take care of that kind of business.
But you can’t kill evil with a firearm. You can’t kill to stop killers. You just add yourself to the list of slayers.
“Adya, I want to meet with Herringbone and Handyman, his right hand, and the brains of the FCG on neutral ground. I need you to back me up.”
Adya has a permanent squint like she’s looking into a bright light. I call it her Clint Eastwood look.
She squints harder as she replies, “Why do you want to meet with them?”
“To slow the bloodshed.”
“A truce. A treaty. A ban on automatic weapons. I’m not sure.”
“Why would these gangsters listen to you?”
“Because their stock in the projects is sinking. Right now, they are the stench on shit in those neighborhoods. I lived in Hamer Homes. Dr. Mallory treated us. Right now, a lot of project people want the gangs gone for good. They killed Dr. Saint Mallory, and they wounded a six-year-old. FCG may be in the mood to listen.”
“Sounds like a job for the Gang Unit.”
“True that. GU might get it done in weeks. I will get it done before the funeral.”
“Have you got our bosses’ sign off?”
Adya gives me a hint of a smile.
“Freeman — set up the meet.
We meet at the New Hyde Park near my old home, the Fannie Lou Hamer Metropolitan Homes project.
The meeting starts as a disaster and goes downhill from there.
“Fuck you, Freeman. Fuck you and all the other motherfuckers laying that drive-by on me. I should fuck you and that skank, bullet-head bitch, up for even suggesting—”
“Herringbone, I’m not accusing you—”
“Then why you meeting with me, motherfucker? Why don’t you meet with the Snipers or the Westside Boys—”
“Because the word on the street is that you and Stink,” I point to Stink leaning against a fancy sports car. “were the shooters. That’s why.”
“Nigger, when I aim at someone that motherfucker is dead. I don’t, miss, man – never.”
I look at Handyman. He bites his lip and looks away.
“Don’t look at him, motherfucker. He can’t help your sorry Black ass. We’re out. And you two lucky to be still above ground.”
I look to Adya. She’s studying her fingernails.
Herringbone and Handyman start to their rides.
I take a deep breath before I speak, “Willie Boykins, word on the street is you shoot like a blind man with the shakes. They say you couldn’t hit a wall two feet in front of you.”
Herringbone comes storming back, silver forty-five in his hand. Sweat is flying from his face, and death is in his eyes. He stops about ten feet away, aims at me.
I’m sweating more than he is. “My partner can outshoot you any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The Blackbird Shooting Club is just on the other side of the park. If you outshoot her, I apologize, and we walk away, and you enjoy your day. If she wins, you call a truce meeting tomorrow. And Adya and I will be the moderators. Deal.”
“Fuck you, man. I’m not—”
Handyman steps in, “Freeman, you want to put the pink slip on your pimped-out ‘67 GTO on the line we have a match. I’ll shoot against anybody you got.”
I laugh. “What you putting up, man?”
Herringbone replies, “My Lamborghini Urus. That’s a $220,000 ride, Freeman. And I’ll shoot.”
And that’s how we end up on the Black-owned shooting range.
I’ll be the first to say it’s not a fair contest. Herringbone insists on shooting with his Army style 45. I fired that gun in the service. It’s about as far from a target pistol as you can get.
Herringbone shoots first and actually places one of his shots on the edge of the Black. The rest of his shots are scattered.
I have never seen Adya shoot before, but the range master has and tells me I’m in for a treat. He says, “Watch close, son, and see how it’s done.”
I have seen shooting matches before. I’m ready for slow, careful shots in near-perfect silence between each shot.
Adya is not that at all. She aims and, “Bam!Bam!Bam!Bam!Bam!” There is no pause between shots. She shoots the center out of the target.
The victors and the vanquished are sitting in the shade outside the shooting club.
Handyman is talking to Adya, “You don’t say shit, do you. But, the way you shoot, you ain’t ever got to say shit.”
Herringbone adds, “Yeah, you can shoot paper targets at fifty feet, but have you ever shot a person? Could you even do that?”
We all laugh except Adya.
There is an awkward silence.
Handyman asks Adya, “Look, I may be way wrong and don’t take no offense, please, but you are Black and what? You’re not Black and white.”
“My mother is Indian from Hyderabad, India. My father was Black from Arizona.”
I’m astonished. Adya has been my partner for five weeks, and she has never shared this kind of personal information with me. I’m confused and a little jealous.
Handyman has a follow-up question, “Was? Is your father—”
“My father died in prison when I was twelve.”
Adya stands and walks to our car.
I explained to Handyman and Herringbone that I don’t want his expensive Italian car. What I want is to establish a clinic in the projects and name it for Dr. Mallory and dedicate it to Reba and all the victims of violence in public housing. I ask him to hold on to the car until I can get some groundwork done and find a way to build an organization to make this idea a reality.
All three of us agree that this would be an excellent memorial for Dr. Mallory.
On the ride home with Adya, I mentioned her uncharacteristic talkativeness. She nods and waits until we pull into the station parking lot to say, “I did research. Handyman’s father died in prison when Handyman was a teenager. After we put Herringbone and Stink away, we are going to need a connection with Handyman. That is if we are going to keep your truce going.
I’m stunned. I’m speechless. I end up saying, “Wow!”
Adya really smiles, “Freeman; you can’t be the star all the time.”
Copyright Frederick K. Foote, Jr. 2020