Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Thirty-Eight
13th April 1972
It was just an address and a phone number, but Kat had let her know that it had turned out to be an extremely expensive gift, so she had better make the most of it. There had been a handful of banknotes that Kat encouraged Sophie to spend frivolously included, so that was really saying something.
Screwing up the courage to dial the number had taken a couple days but Sophie had found herself talking on the phone in a terse conversation with a Gabriele that had only resulted in a promise to meet the next day in a neutral setting. The benches near the Beethoven–Haydn–Mozart Memorial looking over the Venus Basin had been the place that they had agreed upon.
That was how Sophie found herself sitting on a park bench, looking at trees which were only just starting to get their leaves. Kat had told her that she used to spend a great deal of time here when she had suggested it. The working-class neighborhood Kat had grown up in had nothing like the artificial forest that had been cultivated in the City Center for centuries and it was a short train ride away. Coming here from Tempelhof had been coming pretty far out of her way for Sophie though. Most of what she knew about the Tiergarten involved the controversies surrounding how two roads which ran through the park had recently been closed to automobile traffic to restore the peaceful environment of the park. Not everyone had been thrilled with that development.
It had been raining earlier, but the sun had broken though the clouds and the sky was filled with puffy clouds. The air smelled of earth and damp. It was the perfect day to have her birthday fall on, though the party wouldn’t be until Saturday. Kat had said that…
“Are you Sophie?” A voice asked.
For a second, Sophie felt a bit of embarrassment. She had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she had not been paying attention to what was going on around her. She had totally missed the approach of Gabriele. Again, she was struck by how similar they were in appearance but the look on the face of the woman who was walking a few paces behind Gabriele suggested that might not necessarily be a good thing. She was the same woman who had dragged Gabriele off when they had first run into each other.
“Yes” Sophie replied, “Is that your mother?”
“She doesn’t think this is good idea” Gabriele said, “Our father took advantage of your mother and that means you are not exactly family.”
“Kat says that he isn’t my father, just the sperm donor” Sophie said.
Gabriele put her hand over her mouth as if Sophie had just said something completely outrageous. She had heard that Kat’s extremely direct approach on certain matters was out of the ordinary, that must be one of those things. The nervous giggle that Sophie heard from Gabriele just confirmed that.
“Kat’s husband, Doug, he is what someone like a father should be like” Sophie said, “He taught me how to take quality pictures, even how to develop the film.”
“Is that for real?” Gabriele asked.
“What is?” Sophie asked in reply, “Taking photographs.”
“No, Kat and Doug” Gabriele said, “How that sounds in English, cat and dog.”
Sophie did realize how silly that was and it seemed like the sort of coincidence that would annoy Kat if anyone ever brought it up. She was surprised that she had never noticed it before.
Standing up from the bench, Sophie started to say, “I was thinking that we should…” And Gabriele hugged her, crushing the air from her lungs.
“I can’t believe you are real” Gabriele said.
Looking over Gabriele’s shoulder, Sophie saw that there seemed to be a look of relief on the face of Gabriele’s mother.
“You know what they say about shit rolling downhill?” Big Mike asked as Ritchie pulled the patrol car into a parking spot across the street from a liquor store whose owner was convinced was being cased by a robbery crew from up north. It seemed that he had been hit a couple years earlier and remembered the way that one of the men who had stuck up the store had walked.
“Army Veteran” Ritchie said raising his right hand, “I’ve seen it play out a million times.”
“So, Tricky Dick lands on the Mayor, then the Mayor chews out Chief of Police, then the Chief reams the Captains and then so on” Mike said.
“That wasn’t the terms and Doyle used, but that sounds about right” Ritchie replied. Doyle was a Sergeant who worked in Parker Center and after he had witnessed what had happened, he just couldn’t wait to get that bit of juicy gossip into circulation. He had used various terms that involved State and City Officials getting fucked up the ass as this thing had worked its way down through the ranks. Personally, Ritchie felt that Doyle talked about anal sex a bit too much and wondered if he would end up getting busted in a sweep out at Sunset one of these days.
It was all because of that stupid comment that Ritchie had made weeks earlier about working Counterterrorism. Somehow, word of that had reached the Office of Governor Nixon and he had brought it up to the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Chief of Police. The Chief had said that the LAPD didn’t have anyone in Counterterrorism and that as it had turned out was precisely the wrong thing to have said. Nixon had demanded to know why that was. At the State level they had been preparing for widescale civil disturbances and natural disasters for years. Shouldn’t the Police Department of the largest city in the State be in on that?
The City was making moves to belatedly comply with that. In the meantime, they were actively looking for whoever it was who had spoken out of turn. Ritchie was keeping very quiet knowing that Bobby Weir and Owsley Stanly were not likely to cooperate with Department Brass.
“Will you look at that” Mike said as he spotted a guy getting out of a car in front of the liquor store with a shotgun poorly concealed under a coat that was not suited to this climate. They had not spotted the patrol car and that was their tough luck. Mike radioed in what was happening. These robbery crews practiced being in and out in less than two minutes. In far less than that time this street would be blocked off by four or five additional patrol cars.