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Chapter 6-

The Queen

Bell's Groove -

ROME HIT THE STREETS hard to look for the man who assaulted her rape victim. Finding him would be difficult. He was faceless, formless and nameless—a ghost. To catch him, she needed resources and street intelligence, a snitch. She had cultivated many informers over the years. She gave them breaks on minor offenses or helped them get into programs for whatever they needed. She was fair but tough. On the street they knew her as Queen. Nobody crossed the Queen, not even the pimps and gangsters who strolled her beat. For those who stepped to her the wrong way, she came on strong, quick and hard with the beat down. When the johns, pimps, gangsters and hustlers saw that black or red convertible tear down the street, they knew a bad way was coming for them. They made themselves as scarce as possible.

This day, however, Rome was looking for answers, not trouble. She returned to the crime scene. It looked nicer at night. The wheels of the  

black Corvette squealed outside the Tri-City Pawn. Moments later, the doors to the cluttered shop flew open, letting in a gust of wind. The souls milling about turned to face a charging Detective Olga Rome.

“Skinner,” she called to the owner. “Get your ass out here. I saw you running.” Rome scanned the space, crammed with everything imaginable.

She looked to a picture that hung on the wall, one of a UFO that hovered over a city. She lowered her eyes to see a sorry-looking figure emerge from behind a door. His shoulders slumped. His feet dragged. “What you scared for? You still running numbers out of here? ‘Cause I’ll shut you down if I have to.”

Skinner braced his wiry body against the counter, shoving a large, brown paper bag to the side.

“Now come on, Queen, you know the Jamaicans took over the game. Ain’t no honor in it now. They pay or don’t pay. That shit’s bad for


“Save the drama for y’momma. You know anything about what happened here last night?”

“What, the fire? All I know is I’m glad they stopped it before it got to me. I ain’t got no insurance. Can’t get it ‘round here no more, at least not

for cheap.”

“Did you get the stolen property report this morning?”

“I haven’t checked…I’ll do it now.”

Skinner stuttered and fumbled his way over to his fax machine. He thumbed through a stack of papers piled next to it. Rome waited. He placed

a paper on the counter in front of her and rummaged through a drawer. The noise irritated her. Skinner pulled out a pair of glasses. He slipped them on over his bug eyes and read the paper.

“If you see that ,” Rome pointed to the description of the ring, “I need to be the first call you make.”

Skinner nodded, trembling. “Is this good stuff?” he asked. “Cause if so, your man will likely take it to Cisneros on Ponce. He handles all the

good stuff now.”

“Cisneros on Ponce,” she confirmed. “How come you’re so free with the information? What happened to the Ten Commandments of thievery

all you crooks follow?”


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