“You MS13?” asked Under Sheriff Bob Garrity.
He knew it was so based on the Latino suspect’s ‘MS13′ tattoo inked into his forehead. This qualified Joe Joe as a dumbass as well as a potential bonanza of information regarding all the recent kidnappings and unsolved murders taking place in the County. The bleeding hearts blamed the brazen lawlessness on the economy. Garrity knew better. He wanted leads. Leads led to arrests. Arrests led to newspaper clippings and public adulation. Public adulation filled the void of loneliness consuming his soul.
Joe Joe answered. “Fock you, Fatman.”
Garrity’s polyester uniform stretched taut between the buttons. He didn’t like being reminded of his pudginess as it made him self-conscious. He also didn’t appreciate being insulted during an interrogation. ‘Contempt of cop’ was a challenge to his status as a law enforcer and he didn’t have a lot of tolerance for disrespect.
Garrity’s tense energy manifested itself in his hands which fidgeted and made their way to the top of his head feeling the balding spot where his hair was thinning out. After realizing it, he unnaturally yanked his arm down, resting it on the table across from his interrogee. That unnatural act, too, was a sign of weakness and vulnerability. Damnit, he thought.
“Who are you with, Joe Joe?” Garrity asked him, catatonically boiling.
“I say fock you,” replied the diminutive suspect with the ridiculous tattoos, puffing up his five foot tall frame. He smiled mockingly as he replied, revealing a mouthful of silvery dental work.
Captain Garrity sighed. His chubby cheeks blushed with building rage.
“What gang are you with?”
“I no habla Engleis.”
Garrity’s hand found its way back to his bald patch again. Damnit, he thought as he yanked it down.
“You ‘habla Engleis’ just fine, Joe Joe. I know who you are. Who do you run with, these days? Romero?”
Joe Joe just grinned a silvery grin.
“Why weren’t you packin’ heat?”
“‘Cause shootin’ gringos’ll get you the ‘lectric chair.”
“You’re right on that, Joe Joe,” Garrity answered as he leaned back, interlocking his chunky fingers behind his head so they wouldn’t meander. The armpits of his polyester uniform were marked with patches of sweat. “So, he continued, “you break into this guy’s house solo, no gun, you knew he was home…what the hell? Other than tattooing your gang onto your face, you MS13 ain’t usually that stupid. You been sniffin’ that spray paint again?”
Joe Joe leaned back and tried to stretch his hands up behind his head, aping Garrity, but the handcuff chains snapped tight.
“I’ma no talk to you. I wan’ my lawyer.”
“You’ll get your lawyer when you tell me who you’re workin’ with these days. Give me some names.”
Joe Joe’s eyes scowled for a brief second but his face re-brightened with his silver-toothed grin. “Fock you, fatman. You get my lawyer. I have my Right.”
“I’ll get you something allright,” Garrity answered, his cheeks continuing to redden. As far as he was concerned the Constitution was just a god damn piece of paper when it came to illegal alien gangbangers.
“You get my lawyer right now. I no talk to you.”
“C’mon, Joe Joe. Don’t make this more difficult for yourself.”
“You get my lawyer. You get my lawyer, now. I no ‘fraid a you, fatman. Fock you. You get my lawyer.”
“No, I’m afraid not yet, Joe Joe,” Garrity explained, suppressing his rage. “You’re gonna answer some of my questions, first.”
“You no fock with me, cop. You fock with me, we fock with you back. I have my Right.”
“Who’s ‘we’, Joe Joe?”
“You fock with me, we fock with you. Comprende?”
“You better watch it, Joe Joe. I’m the Sheriff ’round here. Sheriff’s don’t like being threatened, especially by pissant, illegal alien, gangbangers who are in custody. Do you comprende?”
Joe Joe rolled his dark brown eyes.
Garrity glanced up into the corner of the interrogation room where a camera was tucked. He conspicuously did the kill-it slash with an index finger across his throat. The camera turned off. Garrity laid his hands flat down on the table.
“I’m giving you one last chance, Joe Joe. Who do you run with? Who’s you boss? What were you looking for in that house? I want to warn you. If you don’t cooperate, we’re going to use another form of interrogation— a more aggressive form. You comprende that?”
“You no fock with me,” Joe Joe replied. “We know everytheeng ’bout you, Robert Garrity.”
Garrity had had enough. He briskly pushed his bloated body up from his chair, took a moment to straighten and calm himself, then leisurely walked around the table to Joe Joe’s right side.
“You makin’ a big mistake,” Joe Joe warned. “We know where you live… Mr. Robert Garrity, 7700 McKinley Dr.”
Garrity snatched Joe’s right hand and in one motion, braced the elbow onto his hip bending Joe Joe’s hand down at the wrist at a 90 degree angle. This created a spectacular, physiological sensation of imminent wrist fracture. Joe Joe howled fearing the pending snap of bones.
“You listen to me you little turd,” Garrity growled. “You don’t threaten the Sheriff. You threaten me, I’ll bust your damn huevos. Understand?”
Joe Joe yelped at the pain.
Garrity held it at the precarious angle with his left arm and with his right, he removed his baton from his belt.
Joe Joe groaned.
“Now,” continued Garrity as he bent Joe Joe’s wrist even closer to the snapping point, “we’re gonna have a conversation which involves me asking questions and you answering them. Okay? Now you’re gonna tell me what gang you’re with. You’re gonna tell me who your boss is. You’re gonna give me names and addresses and anything else you might know about the kidnappings going on around here lately. Then you’re gonna tell me why you were in that house.”
Joe Joe screamed.
Garrity swung the baton down across his body and jabbed Joe Joe squarely in the groin with the blunt end, not so hard as to cause permanent injury, but with enough force to cause Joe Joe to squeal.
“Who’s your boss, Joe Joe?”
Joe Joe held back. Garrity swung the baton down again and Joe Joe let out a croaking noise like the sound someone makes while vomitting.
Garrity prided himself in being an efficient torture-master. He had a reputation with the deputies for willingness to go the extra mile, and although most of them personally disliked and avoided the uninhibited Under Sheriff, many sought out his talents in especially tough cases. The recent rash of kidnappings and unusually violent crimes in the rural county had opened the Sheriff Department’s minds to
He maintained Joe Joe’s handcuffed wrist at the precarious brink of fracture with one arm, and with the elegance of a symphonic conductor, he hammered Joe Joe in the groin twice more. Joe Joe wretched and convulsed. He pulled his cuffed left hand up reflexively but the chain snapped taut preventing him from shielding himself.
“What was that, Joe Joe? Are you resisting?” Garrity asked, mockingly. He released Joe Joe’s wrist, reached over and grabbed his other hand, pulled it forward and slammed it on the table. With fingers splayed apart, he rapped them with the baton twice so hard that it sounded like he was pounding nails into plywood. It wasn’t quite hard enough to break the bones— Garrity knew the limits of prisoner physiology. This was a man fascinated by how the Romans could calculate, within minutes, the estimated time of death of a convict by the viciousness of the pre-crucifixion flogging. How scientifically sadistic the Romans were, he often pondered admiringly. Meanwhile, Joe Joe screamed and ground his silver teeth together in agony.
“You’re an illegal alien, Joe Joe. That means you don’t exist. You have no rights in this County. And that means I can do whatever I want to you. I can even make you disappear if I want. There?s lots of places back in the woods to bury someone that no one would ever find.”
“I kno’ understan’,” Joe Joe replied.
“You’re a tough little bastard, eh? I know you understand just fine. Here… let me see if this jiggles your memory loose.”
Garrity took out his revolver and set it on the table. He was the only officer in the County that still used a revolver but Garrity believed that his .357 hand-cannon added to his mystique. At one point, he had nicknamed himself ‘Dirty Garrity’.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cartridge, showing it first to Joe Joe. He picked up the pistol and placed the bullet into a chamber and spun the cylinder. He didn’t actually put the bullet in the gun. He was only borderline psychotic. Unbeknownst to Joe Joe, he deftly dropped the cartridge into his sleeve. Garrity had employed the
Garrity put the gun into Joe Joe’s mouth, way in, way in to the point of triggering a gag reflex. Although in great pain, Joe Joe had not shown any fear… until this moment. He had that doe-eyed look, that look of terror you see in the eyes of a Thompson’s gazelle when a lion has just latched onto his neck and dug his teeth in— Garrity liked to watch predatory behavior on the Discovery Channel, too.
The interrogation was now way beyond anything Joe Joe had experienced or expected, even back home. Spanish prayers consumed his mind as he choked on the barrel of the revolver jammed down his throat.
“Now, Joe Joe, are you gonna cooperate?”
Russian Roulette interrogation technique many times, coaxing out many a confession. 57
Joe Joe said nothing. He would rather die there and then, by gunshot, than by a slow torturous death at the hands of his gang.
“I’m gonna count to three…
“Joe Joe said nothing.”
Joe Joe closed his eyes.
Joe Joe held his breath and prayed.
Garrity growled as he squeezed the trigger.
Garrity removed the .357 in disappointment.
Joe Joe kept his eyes closed and continued praying. His left hand was beginning to swell. He was hyperventilating. His lower abdomen ached.
“Joe Joe,” Garrity whispered in his ear, “I’ve got something to show you. Open your eyes. Yeah, that’s it.” Garrity went back to his side of the table and took his seat. “Don’t worry about your hand. I didn’t break anything. Look here. Look what I’ve brought for you.” Garrity reached under the table and produced a gray, hard shell briefcase and set it on the table before him. “Do you know what I’ve got in here, Joe Joe? Huh? Do you know? Can you guess? Why don’t you guess for me, Joe Joe. Take a wild guess…”
Joe Joe sat in trembling agony, eyes flitting about, sweating, his shaved head and tattoos and patchy beard no longer gave him any mystique of toughness. He looked less like an MS13 thug and more like some schizophrenic in a psych ward.
“Joe Joe, I want to tell you all you about this little present I have for you in this briefcase. You see, when I worked for vice in DC, we used to bust these porn outfits all the time. Well, I came across this one day and I decided that I just had to hang on to it. You never know when something might come in handy, know what I mean? Then it dawned on me one day. Yeah, it dawned on me that what I have in this briefcase would make a very persuasive tool for interrogation…”
Joe Joe stared helplessly at the case.
“Joe Joe, have you ever heard of Steely Dan?”
Joe Joe had no idea what the ‘fock’ Garrity was talking about.
“No, you probably haven’t, have you. All you Mexicans (Joe Joe was actually from El Salvador) listen to that damn ranchera music, don’t ya.” Garrity went on for a few moments impersonating a trumpet player and humming La Cucka Racha. He continued, “Steely Dan is a rock and roll band, Joe Joe. Not one of my personal favorites as they are a little artsy for my tastes, but Steely Dan had a hit song back in the seventies called ‘Black Friday’. Ever hear it? No? Well, Joe Joe, I’m here to let you know that today is Joe Joe’s personal Black Friday…”
Garrity took out his baton again and rapped it on the table three times. The door opened and in burst two officers in black polyester. They had an SS aura about them.
“Uncuff him,” Garrity ordered.
The two troopers uncuffed Joe Joe from the chair but held his arms.
“Let me tell you something, Joe Joe. Steely Dan is not just a rock and roll band,” Garrity explained as he clicked the briefcase open. “The name Steely Dan has an origin. Do you know what it is? No, of course you don’t.” He opened the lid of the case. Sweat rolled down Joe Joe’s forehead and into his eyes. Garrity spun the case around on the table. Joe Joe looked inside but whatever was there was covered with black felt. He felt his swollen hand starting to throb.
“Can we get this on video?” Garrity asked. “I think maybe Joe Joe’s friends and fellow gangbangers would like to see this. Who’s got the best camera phone?”
One of the nazis took his phone out of his pocket and began to record the scene.
“Go ahead, Joe Joe,” Garrity continued. “Take a look under that felt. Check it out.”
Joe Joe remained frozen in terror.
Everyone jumped as Garrity rapped his baton on the table again.
“Look inside!” He shouted.
Joe Joe extended his good hand, reaching into the case, he pulled off the felt cloth. He instantly recoiled back into his chair.
“No! No! No!” He shouted as he tried to break loose of the officers holding him.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Garrity replied with a sinister grin. “Now you know all about the Steely Dan! It’s time to assume the position.”
The officers bent Joe Joe over the table. Garrity came around to his side again and leaned down into Joe Joe’s face which was smashed flat against the surface.
“Isn’t this how they do it way down in Meh-hee-coe?” Garrity asked.
Joe Joe’s eyes filled with tears.
“Well? Is it?”
“I tell you! I tell you! I tell you everything,” Joe Joe sobbed.
“Too late, Joe Joe. I wonder what your gangbanger buddies will think…”
“No! No! I tell you! I tell you! Please. (prayers in Spanish). I tell you. I even tell you what I stealing.”
“He didn’t ask you about that,” barked one of the officers but Joe Joe’s comment touched some synapse in Garrity’s mind, stinging him as if he were chewing on tinfoil. As a lifetime civil servant, Garrity had evolved into a finely tuned opportunist. He simply could not proceed with the
“What are you talking about, Joe Joe?”
“I tell you what I steal. I tell you. Good news for you. I tell if you stop. Okay?”
Garrity let Joe Joe grovel for a few moments more.
“Go!” he finally ordered.
“Okay. I go. Here…here it is. I hear from some dealer friend of mine that he got these coin…a whole lot a them.”
“Coins? Since when are you Mexicans into stealing coin collections. The only things I’ve ever seen you guys collect are those velvet bull fighter paintings.”
“I know. It soun’ funny. I hear from dealer. We’re no talkin’ cheap coin. We’re talkin’ ‘bout gold coin… Krugerrands. The man I rob, he buy from my dealer friend I know and he tell me so I go to that man’s house to get them. Fifty thousand dollars, he said.”
“Bullshit. You were goin’ in there to get his daughter.”
“No! No! I no kidnap. I no kidnap no kid. I no pedofilo. I kill them pedofilo.” Joe Joe spat. “I no lie. He have fifty thousand. Price go up every day. Monday up. Tuesday up. Wednesday up. Price go up every day.”
“He’s full of it,” interjected one of the nazis.
“Shut up!” Garrity snapped as he leaned back in his chair in contemplation. He pondered what could he do with this knowledge. It was probably bullshit; then again, fifty thousand in gold? What to do?
“Why’d you go there when he was home? Why not wait?”
“‘Cause I leaving for home that morning. I get out of gang. I no wanna kill no one. I just need money.”
“Cuff him, again,” Garrity ordered.
“So that’s it?” whined the other nazi with flaring nostrils and flexing triceps.
“If you’re all geared up for it, perhaps we could practice on you?” Garrity replied.
The two officers cuffed Joe Joe conventionally behind his back.
“You gonna tell me who your dealer friend is?”
“Yes. It all check out.”
“Get him out of here, then. And get him some ice for his hand.”
“Should we have it x-rayed?”
“It ain’t broke. I know what I’m doin’.”
The two nazis hustled Joe Joe out of the interview room and into a private cell.
Chapter 6 Chapters 8 and 9 will be available next weekend
Indivisible can be purchased here from Amazon: