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EXCERPT – Drawer 67
Antonio thought he was clever, but was in truth foolish, gullible and vain. He left Trenton and Bear for the bright lights of the Big Apple. Six months later, Bear received a call from the Sixth Precinct of the NYPD to come to the city and identify the body. The police found Bear’s address clutched in the hand of a boy dumped in an alleyway off Seventh Avenue behind Weng-Feng Wok, a local Chinese restaurant. The owners, Misters Weng and Feng, discovered the body when they took the kitchen garbage out to the dumpster after a 3:00 a.m. closing. Bear vividly remembered the scene.
A Detective Sergeant by the name of Patrick O’Malley, a wiry Irishman from Homicide, brought Bear into the squad room.
“Take a seat, Mr. Drummond. As I explained to you on the telephone, we found your address clutched in the victim’s hand.
“Have you ever seen this before Sergeant O’Malley?”
“Unfortunately, this young man is not the first found in that condition in this precinct.” O’Malley responded. The Detective Sergeant laconically pointed to the pictures of young men pinned to a corkboard on a wall of the room, visible from every desk.
“All of their faces were beaten and cut to a point beyond recognition.” O’Malley continued.
“You can make the ID from a photo.” O’Malley suggested sympathetically.
“No, I’d rather see him and be certain.” Bear said as he silently prayed the man in the photo was not his former sub.
They took a Squad Car for the silent ride to the City Offices of the Chief Medical Examiner. Bear was in a fog of guilt and remorse. O’Malley ushered him into the cold room followed by one of the assistant coroners.
Bear shivered. The bodies of the victims were stacked in drawers that were piled four high and consumed the entire back wall of the room.
O’Malley spoke, “Drawer sixty-seven.”
The assistant opened the drawer and slowly drew the sheet from the body.
Bear gasped, and then gagged. O’Malley grabbed his arm.
“Do you recognize the victim?”
“Yes, it is Antonio Rialto.” It was Antonio, but an Antonio Bear would not have been able to identify save for a birthmark on his lower left abdomen.
O’Malley spoke again, “You’re sure.”
“Yes I am sure, I remember the crescent shaped birthmark, it was unique.” Bear gazed at his former sub. The dark Botticelli angel’s face was riddled with deep cuts made by a serrated knife. Both eyes were black and even after time in the cold drawer, swollen shut.”
The assistant coroner spoke, “The autopsy showed every rib was broken and the lung perforated. They shot out his kneecaps and his whole body is covered in welts. He was whipped.”
Bear was lost in thought, tears coursed down his face; more poignant for his silence. He did not notice his wet cheeks. The beautiful boy in drawer sixty-seven was provocative, mischievous and so very alive in his memory. He was just twenty-six. The toy had failed to please.
O’Malley grabbed Bear’s arm and ushered him out of the room handing Bear his handkerchief. Bear was thirty-two years old and had not cried since he was sixteen. He made a silent vow, I will never cry again.
Bear turned to O’Malley, “You’ll get this bastard?”
“With your cooperation…” O’Malley countered.
“Anything you need,” Bear replied between clenched teeth.
On the ride back to Trenton, the tears coursed down his cheeks as he repeated his mantra, I will never cry again, I will never cry again, I will never…
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