Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Two
29th August 1975
Los Angeles, California
“A goddamned nuclear bomb hanging from an oak tree in Franklin Canyon Park, and you just happen to be one of the first Officers on the scene” Bill Wilkinson remarked over the phone. “That is a bit much, even for you, and to think, they sent you out to the West Bureau to keep you out of trouble. Fat lot of good that did.”
“I guess everyone has heard by now” Ritchie replied as he had the phone wedged between his shoulder and ear as he tried to keep from dropping Kristie, who was doing her best to squirm out of his arms.
“If that thing had gone off, taking out Laurel Canyon and Bel Air would have done us all a favor” Wilkinson said, “I doubt that they would even notice in West Hollywood though, too many mutants there already.”
“I talked to the Wing Wipers who showed up to collect the bomb” Ritchie replied, “They said that there was never any danger of it going boom.”
“And you believe them?” Wilkinson asked.
“Beats the alternative” Ritchie replied as he carefully set Kristy into her crib. “Everyone knows that if there was the slightest chance of a detonation, the Air Force, the Joint Chiefs, the Department of Defense, and everyone on down to the guy who mops the floors, would all deny it until the end of time.”
“All about politics and reputations?”
“Of course, I saw it plenty in the Army, CYA you know” Ritchie replied as Kristy realized that she was about to be left alone in her crib so her father could get a bit of sleep. Though he was not going to be more than a few feet away, she was having none of it.
“No shit” Wilkinson said, totally ignoring Kristy’s squalling. “I seem to recall that I warned you about reputations around the department, good or bad. While you were not seen as a gun fighter, you had gotten yourself known to be wherever the action is. That kind of changed when you decided to do the Gang Taskforce’s job for them. Think that it is an accident that you haven’t had a partner in months? The Brass in the Glasshouse are scared that whoever they stick with you won’t have your ability to walk between raindrops.”
“I hadn’t heard that” Ritchie replied as he debated picking Kristy back up. She wanted attention, but she would keep him awake all day if he let her.
“You also got some of the members of the hat squad shitting bricks because they remember their dealings with you back in the day. They had no idea you had the balls to do some of these things” Wilkinson said, “They really hated you, didn’t they.”
“They hated Bobby” Ritchie replied, “But he was nowhere to be found, so they came looking for me.”
“That sounds about how those bigoted pricks go about doing things, every Mexican looked the same” Wilkinson said, “No one bothered to tell them that it ain’t the 30’s or 40’s anymore.”
“You were around back then” Ritchie said, “Was it really the Wild West?”
“You don’t know the half of it” Wilkinson said, “Movie stars and Mobsters, the glamour of the Golden Age, naturally that was a complete load of horseshit. Like a fresh coat of paint on a house infested with termites. Half the Department was on the take and the rest didn’t say shit unless they wanted to get themselves killed. They would have laughed themselves silly at then idea of Blacks and Mexicans on the Force in those days.”
That was delving into some uncomfortable areas for Ritchie. The shootout in South-Central had been orchestrated by someone high up and they had to be pissed that their plan had gone sideways.
“Any word in the Glasshouse about the investigation into what happened in January?” Ritchie asked. Wilkinson had a large number of connections in Parker Center, if anyone had a clue as to what was happening it would be him.
“Professional Standards is off the case” Wilkinson replied, “The Feds are on it now, and you know what happens when they get involved.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation moved at a glacial pace, but like a glacier they crushed everything before them. They had you dead to rights before they even bothered to speak to you. Of course, the FBI had taken a hit or two over the last few years. If there was a major victory to be had by nailing someone in the LAPD then by God, they were going to take it.
“I understand” Ritchie replied.
“Be glad you are out of Central Bureau” Wilkinson said, “Trust is in short supply these days.”
To think that Ritchie had been listening to Tony complaining about being sent to public relations in Van Nuys. Apparently, telling school children about the dangers of narcotics wasn’t much fun, or at least not in a way which didn’t invite the disapproval of their teachers.
“I’ll need to take your word for it” Ritchie said. There were worse things to do while on duty than to drive around the canyons and mountains in West Los Angeles.
“Whatever” Wilkinson said, “Try not to get yourself killed.”
“Yeah, whatever” Ritchie replied, before he hung up the phone.
Ritchie looked at Kristie who had fallen asleep but would probably be awake at any second. That was when the phone rang, causing Kristie to wake up and start screaming.
“What!” Ritchie demanded as he answered the phone.
“Is this Richard Valenzuela?” A bland voice asked.
“Yes” Ritchie replied.
“Please hold for the President of the United States” The voice said before elevator music started playing over the phone.
“Wait, what?” Ritchie asked.