Harold Harper - Undercover Cop

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Harold Harper has a grubby life, he is trying to make some impact. His hero is Inspector Callaghan in the movies. He just wants to be someone.

Submitted: February 26, 2011

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Submitted: February 26, 2011

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Harold Harper had worked a lifetime in the Police Department and tonight, he left the train station, as usual and turned up East Wesley Street, heading for home. He lived alone, except for his cats. Eight cats, all rescued, and he loved them. He loved them all. These days, the guys from the Precinct, never called round. It wasn't that Harold didn't care about the ever present odour of ammonia. It was just that nowadays, he was totally oblivious to it.
Every day, he headed off to the Bronx, to Precinct 40. Here he changed into his uniform, the uniform of a police clerk II. Harold had entered the precinct 25 years ago, as a police clerk I, and soon progressed to the more complex and difficult role of police clerk II. Surprisingly, he had made the transition in under a year.
Harold liked to tell the folks around his Hackensack home, that he was a Detective-Specialist, over in the 40th Precinct. Mostly, his neighbours simply didn't care. Sure, he was no greyhound, he was pushing 220lbs. But heh! There were some pretty slobby guys working the Bronx. Nobody ever challenged him, but then again, hardly anyone spoke to him.
The spiteful, pustular boils, that populated his face and even his neck, did not exactly encourage close contact and neither did his alopecia. His brown hair, now greying, would fall out in clumps. None of these things exactly endeared him to his workmates.
Harold would probably be the last to figure, that the Chief had 'sold' him the earliest retirement date that the city's pay system would allow. The collection for his leaving present, which represented all his years in the Precinct, raised only $47.00, plus a few gaming tokens. It had stood solidly at a mere $17.00 until someone thoughtfully repatriated the balance from Lost Property.
Fortunately, Bernice who had had the distinction of working alongside Harold, for the last three years, had a cat herself. She was, at least, a little more tolerant than the others, and undertook to source his leaving present. The Chief was extremely grateful for her offer, and allowed her an extended lunch break, to find something, in budget. A triumphant, Bernice Livovich, had returned with a 12 inch goldfish bowl, adorned with a porcelain figure of a cat looking through the glass. The cat's paw was poised over the top, ready to strike. With the remaining spare change, she had bought wrapping paper, and a blank card. Thoughtfully, she had found a card adorned with a kitten, wearing a blue bow.
The shift finished, and the Chief had to go visit with the Mayor. This gave Senior Detective, Micky Mulroon the dubious honour of 'acting-up' for the Chief. It also meant that he would have to issue Harold with, not only his Long Service Award, but also his discharge papers and 'the present'.
Harold, with a hint of pride, delivered the customary speech, and seemed genuinely pleased with his cat ornament. He promised them all, that it would have pride of place on his coffee table. He cheerfully embraced the opportunity to reminisce on the 'highlights' of his career, even feeling confident enough to extend an open invitation to a barbeque, at his, on Sunday. When the fire alarm mysteriously activated, the whole gathering, collectively breathed a sigh of relief, as they hurried out onto the sidewalk.
Eventually, he reached the previously, black painted, front door of his shabby two bedroom Hackensack house. The little house was almost completely engulfed by the vast span of the Bergen Passaic Expressway. He had, over the years, grown used to its incessant rumble, almost directly, overhead. Nowadays, even the strident tones of the emergency services, that punctuated day and night, seldom disturbed him.
Harold went out onto the porch again and unlocked his mailbox. A mountain of junk mail covered credit card and utility bills. But there in the middle, lay a neat white envelope. Further scrutiny revealed the telling logo. The logo, that brought joy to his heart. There in the bottom right corner, was the triumphant inscription, “MTA”. He clawed at its edge, before plunging inside and ripping out the letter, nearly destroying it, in the process.
'Dear Mr. Harper we are pleased to offer you the position of Security Officer on alternating shifts 0600-1400 and 1400-2200, with the possibility of overtime, on our Wakefield, Eastchester and Pelham services. Kindly confirm your start date, on November, 02, 2006.'
Harold, had opened four tins of cat food, and scraped it onto the rusty casserole, that had grown a culture along one side. Then, simultaneously, the cats had descended from the red backed couch. The cushions, also once red, were now darkening, in shades of green and black. The solitary, disdainful Siamese, came all the way down the brown and red tapestry curtain head-first. Gemima still managed to display a certain poise, and dignity, which the alley-cats lacked. Harold served-up the yellowing milk he had put by for them, and opened a silver sachet, just for Gemima, before heading out again.
He dived under the expressway and down Vreeland, before turning onto Hudson. Reaching “Hobos Liquor & Convenience Store” he waited whilst the owner, Dilip Patel, served the three old ladies. They had all contrived to arrive at the till at the same moment, but the short, wizened one, managed to swing her basket up alongside Dilip's till, just a fraction ahead, of the others. The three baskets jinked together, but only one could occupy pole position. Mrs. Jenner remained composed, and looking directly ahead, waited for the nice Dilip, to check out her bagels and the condensed milk, that she so urgently needed. When Mr. Patel called her by her name, Mrs. Jenner, glanced either side of her, simply savouring the satisfaction of being first in the queue. Harold held back. He had already grabbed two slabs of cat food and as the ladies departed, he eagerly placed them in front of his 'dear friend' Dilip.
“Guess what? I got the job!” Dilip looked blank.
“The MTA that’s what! Only the Mass Transit Authority!”
“Oh, I am so pleased for you. Oh yes, this is good I think. Yes, yes.”
Over Harold’s shoulder, Dilip had spotted his next customer.
“Oh, jolly, jolly good. Here Mr. Harper, take this bag, please.”
Simultaneously Dilip slid the cat food down the counter. Harold grabbed the tins and shot a smile back at the studious shopkeeper, who was now busy at the till again. This was the special smile that Harold reserved for friends like Dilip. Harold headed home. He was barely able to suppress the urge to jump off the ground, but instead, gravity worked silently, on his behalf.
The letter had invited him for a medical. At his induction, he was pleased to learn that his previous service at the precinct, had pre-qualified him, in many respects. He would start the following Monday.
This he did, starting with a dull trip out of 135th, to an even duller, Wakefield. Getting up at 4.30am was not an issue. Over the next two weeks, and over the two shifts, he had already covered the whole network. He had encountered some crack-heads, on a number of occasions, but his confidence was building all the time. When two had tried to join, at Morris Park, he had boldly repelled them. But their response, of untargeted flailing arms, had sounded a note of caution in his head. He made himself a mental note. He would build up to this level.
Spotting some school-aged graffiti artists, 'decorating' the station walls at Pelham, he decided to 'hang tough'. Two ran off, but the third played right into his hands. Harold's action was decisive. He took a firm grip of the comb, set amongst the mass of curly hair, and yanked on it, for all he was worth. The abundant, matted black hair, came obligingly right out of the scalp, to the accompaniment of loudly accentuated screams.
The kid now broke free, and easily managed to deliver an authentic karate kick to Harold’s groin. Harold, in the prone position, was unable to raise himself off the ground. Like a crumpled sack, he took the next kick in his kidneys. This time Harold stayed down, he was unable to move. Harold was now obliged to go sick. By the fourth day, he felt well enough to do a little Internet shopping. He had by this point, reached several key decisions.
He would not be beaten.
He would not be humiliated.
He was going 'undercover'.
Yes. They would suffer.
The two tazar guns, that he had ordered, arrived within 48 hours, 'express'. They now sat, occupying pride of place on top of his refrigerator, being charged. He stood in his bedroom, trying to view his other key purchase, an Italian full length, black leather coat. He twisted from side to side, trying without success, to get an all round view. He tried stepping either side of the narrow mirror on the door, until finally, he was satisfied. The oversized coat, would adequately conceal his tazar holsters, one under each arm.
Now, he was only too aware that once he 'broke cover' on the subway, he was out on his own. He reminded himself, he could get 'seriously killed' by some of these punks.
When he ran out of insurance, he psyched himself up to make the journey down to the medical centre. He knew that they would have no option but to send him back to work. His route home, took him past the Rutherford Sports Store. He had never been in there. He had never really looked through the steel bars in the window. Something, caught his eye, and he backed-up to look. Suddenly, he was in no hurry. His final purchase, would make him 'bomb-proof'.
His strategy, if under threat, would be to fire off a tazar from either hand. By this means, he could take on two of the perps, at the same time. But for now he would watch, just watch. Undercover, he would wait for the bad guys to show themselves. He was ready for terrorists, fair dodgers, rapists, petty thieves, but most of all, he could handle drunks. Over the next six weeks, Harold had the distinction of apprehending twelve drunks, and a fair dodger. He did however, manage to terminate the activities of a couple having sex, in an otherwise vacant, end compartment. Harold had felt justly entitled. It was after all a Sunday night, and the last trip out to Wakefield. They had taken no notice, until he had pointed a tazar at the guy’s butt. The lady in question wanted no fuss, otherwise, her partner would surely have killed Harold.
Taking the 4.02pm out through Zerega Avenue, Harold had enjoyed a nap, with only the company of a couple of sedate passengers in the car. That is, until they rolled into Westchester, and half a class, of teenagers burst in. The train pulled out. From his vantage point, in a seat, way-up back of the car, Harold watched one of the youths, bobbing up and down, rhythmically. He watched intently, but he could still not figure what the kid was doing.
Harold broke cover. He swung heavily down the gangway, the rubber soles of his old black uniform shoes, squeaking from just a little too much traction. He slowed his pace, as he forced himself to think about where he planted his feet. Finally, he could see over the kid’s shoulder. The perp had the 'real deal', an eight inch Bowie knife. He was intently carving out the horse hair stuffing, from inside the seat. Harold was incensed, at this wilful destruction. With his right hand, he unleashed a tazar, and inserted it right into the neck of the young hoodlum.
“Drop the knife, unless you want 90,000 volts through your head, Sonny.”
Luckily his buddy, seated opposite, saw the tazar. He had seen them in Harlem. He screamed for Danni to drop the knife. Danni did. This early success encouraged Harold, and he added with some panache, “kick it over to me, now!”
Danni Esposito obliged and Harold shepherded them to the far end of the car. Feeling rather special, he called it in. He savoured the moment. Back-up would be there for him, further up the line. They bumped and rattled their way out to Middletown Road, where the train rolled to a noisy halt, and the doors opened automatically. Too late, they were out and away and Harold was pissed. But he had, after all, stopped them. He had made his point. In future, they would think twice. His carotid was pulsing and his chest was tight, as the emotional high, of the 'collar' had subsided. They had got away, and now he just felt exhausted. He moved two cars down, so that he would step out right by the exit for Pelham. Harold found a seat by the doors and flopped down heavily. His shoulder dragged down the divider beside him, and as he sat, he could still feel the discomfort in his groin.
But he had won his battle. He had proved to the world that he could do the job. Sure, they never appreciated him down at the precinct, but here he was a Security Officer with the MTA; sweet! It was though, even so, a bitter sweet moment. He had proved it, proved it to the world, but now he had gotta go on proving it. Facing up to these punks, every day, that was the rub. Some of these kids had real attitude.
The last stops out to Pelham were uneventful, and he had started to breathe normally again. He had regained his composure. He would use the landline there, to file a full report. He was, in fact, heading for the office, when he caught sight of his least favourite 'graffiti artists' again, and he felt physically sick. Wisely, he decided that he 'could not' see them, after all. Harold focused on the ground just ahead of him. But the tall 'karate king' had already spotted Harold.
He called out, “Hey fat man, you wanna piece of me?”
Harold now strongly felt the urge to use the bathroom and consciously, didn’t look. He winced, as he heard him continue.
“You is getting a beatin, if you comes over here.”
Harold now had no choice but to look. Then as he did so, the kid gave him the finger. The other two stood by the wall, just looking over their shoulders. They were laughing at Harold.
“You is just a tub o' lard!" The karate king continued. For some reason, this last remark just seemed to tip Harold over the edge.
He ran, or rolled, from side to side, towards the perps. A plan seemed to be unfolding. Dramatically, he stopped 20 ft away, and undid the leather coat. Like a Dodge City shoot-out, he unleashed the tazars, one in each hand. The two that had laughed at him, dropped immediately, sliding face-down, against the wall. The karate king was mystified, as Harold, with great deliberation, laid the tazars down, beside him.
“OK punk, make my day!” he said, reaching for the dark object tucked even further under his left shoulder. “Do you know what this is? The 44 Magnum. The most powerful hand gun in the world.”
Harold drew-up on the karate king, and loosed off a single shot. He wasn't ready for the weapon's massive recoil, and the bullet shattered a window, way up above them. Harold now pulled the weapon down, this time, using both hands. Precisely at that moment, the kid decided to run for it, heading for the steps onto Wolf's Lane. The gate though, was locked, and as the kid tried to vault the wall, Harold's second bullet somehow found the target. It blew a hole clean through the kid's right shoulder, taking him down. Out on 1st Street a siren sounded. The karate king lay on the floor, squirming and screaming, but mostly, pumping blood. The blood had pooled on the tarred surface, already shading to crimson.
Harold's blood was coursing, he could feel the veins in his eyes, but in any event he could no longer focus, his legs were trembling and his hands were shaking. His third shot ricocheted off the kerb behind the kid.
Harold shuffled forward and reached down, until he was at point-blank range, but still unable to hold the huge gun steady. “You have the right to remain silent. Forever!”
Harold didn’t see the bullet that killed him, but Senior Detective, Micky Mulroon didn’t miss from this distance.
Ref. : Dirty Harry, 1971 Dir. Don Siegel. Malpaso Productions / Warner Bros.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Harold Harper – Undercover Cop


© Copyright 2020 Phil Gilmore. All rights reserved.

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