The Civella Recording


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Scene Title The Civella Recording
Synopsis MacKenzie arrives at Crown Heights Police Station with an interesting piece of evidence against Frankie Civella, suspected mobster.
Date August 12, 2008

Crown Heights Police Station

Nearly a third of New York's finest are stationed in North Brooklyn. Despite that, the precint in Crown Heights is a gritty place. During peak hours, the lobby is packed with whores, pimps, pushers, drug dealers, and every other sort imaginable. The reception desk is protected by a wall of impact-resistant glass set with a grille for communication and a slot for paperwork. One side of the room is lined with benches, the other with doors leading to offices and interrogation rooms.

Early evening finds Judah Demsky working the lobby of the Crown Heights police station in Brooklyn. It's not often that he's called upon to make an arrest, but here he is, leading a young man in handcuffs through the front doors and to one of the wooden benches reserved for people waiting to be booked. One side of the detective's face is smeared with what looks like engine grease while the other side sports a long, smooth cut that spans from the corner of his mouth to the middle of his cheek. There's also a smattering of blood on the front of his jacket, but the only person who seems to notice it in the lobby's dim lighting is the police intern that he bumps into a long the way. No apology is offered — only a muffled grunt as he pushes the youth down onto the bench and forces him to take a seat. That done, he begins making his way back across the room, presumably to get a head start on his paperwork.

MacKenzie walks briskly into the lobby, carrying nothing with her but a black purse. Her pace slows considerably when Judah's face comes into view and she sees him push the young man down. She looks away, turns to face the first police officer she sees who doesn't have grease or blood on him and asks, "Could I speak to the detective on duty?"

The police officer gives MacKenzie a slightly bewildered look. Either he's new to the force, or MacKenzie's question must not get asked much around here. "That'd be Detective Demsky," he says, reaching up with one hand to adjust his glasses while he points somewhere behind MacKenzie with the other. "He's, ah, right over there."

MacKenzie stifles a wince and thanks the bespectacled police officer. She looks over in Judah's direction, and assuming he's heard the exchange she just had, says, "I'm sorry. I can see I've come at a really bad time." She turns to look back at the front door.

Judah, apparently having at least caught the tail-end of the MacKenzie's exchange with the officer, moves toward her. He must not be a very big fan of paperwork because he says, "It's no trouble at all, ma'am. Is there something Officer Ramos and I can help you with?"

MacKenzie turns to face Judah again, looks at whom she presumes to be Officer Ramos, and then looks back at Judah. Looking away from Judah's gash she says, "I have something. It might be nothing, but it's a recording I have of somebody who sounds like Frankie Civella — you know, the suspected mobster who's always in the news. The conversation is rather suspicious, and the recording was made the night of the jewelry store burglary." She unzips her purse and withdraws a small tape recorder with a tape inside.

Officer Ramos and Judah exchange glances, and the former of the two raises both his eyebrows so high that a distinctive series of furrows appears on his brow. "That's quite a claim," murmurs Judah, which is exactly what Ramos must be thinking. He doesn't take the recorder, though — not yet. "Do you mind if we move somewhere a little more… private?"

MacKenzie , who has been talking quietly all this time, says, "No, of course not." She sighs, perhaps relieved that she's found a sympathetic audience. She glances around the police station before looking back at Judah.

"This way, please." Judah gestures for MacKenzie to follow him, leaving Officer Ramos to bring up the rear. He walks past the front desk, flashing his badge as a courtesy, and continues through a second set of doors that lead down a hallway labeled: INTERROGATION. There are only so many places in Crown Heights that offer a quiet environment in which to listen to something as delicate as the tape.

MacKenzie puts the recorder back in her purse and clutches it close to her body. She steps in line with Judah and follows him down the hallway. She looks back and warily eyes Officer Ramos before turning back to see where Judah is taking her.

Judah stops in front of an unmarked door toward the end of the hallway and, rapping his knuckles against the reinforced wood, knocks once to ensure that the room is unoccupied. When he receives no answer, he goes fishing in his jacket for a set of keys. "If you don't mind me asking, ma'am," Ramos says in a whisper while the detective is distracted, "how'd you get your hands on such a nice piece of evidence?"

MacKenzie looks Officer Ramos in the eye and without a hint of trembling asks, "Is there any particular reason you think I should share that information with you but not with the detective?"

"Er—" Ramos starts, but before he can get any further he's interrupted by a mild "Shut up, Carl." Judah has the door open. Inside, the room is outfitted with a heavy-looking table and two metal chairs that are bolted to the floor to prevent anyone from moving them around. "I just realized that I forgot to ask you your name," he tells MacKenzie, though his tone isn't particularly apologetic. "I'm sorry."

Undaunted by Judah's demeanor, MacKenzie takes a card from her purse, steps forward, and presents him with a card before offering her hand to shake. "MacKenzie," she says. "MacKenzie Myers." If Judah cares to take a look, he'll note that the card says she's the Vice President of Marketing of a tanning salon chain and provides contact information.

Judah gives the card a cursory glance, skimming over MacKenzies contact information before he pockets it along with the keys. "Thank you," he says as he takes the woman’s hand and gives it a firm, if unenthusiastic, shake. "Would you please have a seat?" Ramos, meanwhile, disappears into an adjacent room, though he can clearly be heard fumbling around with whatever equipment is inside.

MacKenzie says, "Not at all," and sits in one of the chairs. She looks intently in Ramos's direction, perhaps trying to discern what he's up to.

"Don’t worry about him. He's just making sure that the cameras are off." No sooner has Judah said this than Ramos gives a loud shout, followed by an even louder clatter. A thin, aggravated smile appears on the detective's face. If there was ever any doubt that Officer Ramos was a new recruit… "Before we go any further, I'd like to know how you came by the recording." Judah takes a seat opposite MacKenzie, folding his hands on top of the table. "Do you know Mr. Civella personally?"

Looking Judah in the eye, MacKenzie says, "No, I don't know him at all." Looking askance she adds, "I happened to be making a recording in an alley, when I heard two men talking. One of them sounded like Civella."

Judah is silent for several moments, his facial expression unchanging. When he speaks again, his voice is lower than it was before. “And just what were you doing, making a recording in an alley?”

Looking Judah in the eye again, MacKenzie says with all severity, "I record marketing ideas for my company when I have them, but I have to be discreet. My life depends on my company, and my company depends on the preservation of its trade secrets. So when I had an idea that night, I decided to step away from the hustle and bustle of the street to the alley — only to discover that I wasn't alone there either."

Whether or not Judah finds any flaws in MacKenzie's explanation isn't immediately apparent. He simply nods and waits for Officer Ramos to return from the other room. When he does, he gives Judah the thumbs-up; either the cameras were off to begin with, or he's taken the necessary steps to disable them. "The tape recorder, Ms. Myers? If you could?"

MacKenzie unzips her purse and removes the tape recorder once more. Trembling she hands it to Judah.

Judah turns the recorder over in his hands a few time, inspecting its weight and make. Satisfied, he leans back in his seat and presses firmly down on the play button with his thumb.

At first all that can be heard is someone, presumably MacKenzie, talking about television advertisements with models under the age of 25. There is then a click. What apparently follows is a recording of the following: Frankie Civella is exchanging words with someone he calls Skinny Albert. Their conversation doesn't make much literal sense, but someone with a knowledge of crime would recognize it as a coded reference to a burglary. The tape ends in the middle of one of Civella's sentences.

Judah taps the edge of the tape recorder against his palm a few times, saying nothing. Officer Ramos, on the other hand, has plenty he wants to contribute. "That's Frankie Civella, all right," he says with a sharp, affirming nod. "But who's this Skinny Albert guy? Did you get a good look at him, Ms. Myers? Or was it too dark?"

MacKenzie pauses to look at Judah and then turns to Ramos. "It was dark," she says, "but not too dark for me to see that the other man was white, that he had dark hair, and that he was about 6'1". He didn't exactly live up to his name — he had a bit of a beer gut."

"It can be difficult to use tape recordings as evidence in a courtroom," Judah reminds Ramos, "even when we put wires on people, it's never definitive." To MacKenzie, he offers a placid expression that isn't quite a smile but can't really be called anything else either. "Commissioner Lau will be very interested to hear this, I'm sure."

MacKenzie smiles and says, "I'd be interested in hearing what Commissioner Lau has to say about it." Contemplating, she then asks, "Will you be doing anything else? Will you be looking around for … more evidence?"

"That's not for me to say. I want to run this by my partner, Detective Damaris, before submitting it to Lau for formal review — but you should receive a phone call sometime during the next few days." Judah looks from the MacKenzie, to the tape recorder, and then back again. "I understand that you use this device for your business, Ms. Myers, and while I'm sure the tape contains sensitive information unrelated to Frankie Civella, it needs to remain in police custody."

Looking down, MacKenzie sighs but says, "I understand."

"The New York Police Department appreciates you coming forward with this information." Judah has a vague inkling that this news has upset MacKenzie in some way, but it's only in part due to her body language. More telling is the unhappy look that he's getting from Officer Ramos. "If I can, I'll have one of our people make you a copy so you don't have to sacrifice what's yours. The recorder you can keep." As he speaks, he ejects the tape from the recorder, hands it to Ramos, and then slides the recorder itself across the table to MacKenzie.

MacKenzie smiles at Judah and says, "Thank you. That would mean a lot to me." When the recorder is returned, she thanks him again and thanks Ramos as well.

"Let me show you to the door, Ms. Myers," Officer Ramos offers. "I wouldn't want you to get lost on the way out."

MacKenzie nods and follows Officer Ramos but not without looking back one more time at Judah.

Maybe it's that last glance MacKenzie gives him, or maybe it's another cause entirely, but something prompts Judah to turn his head and catch a glimpse of his reflection in the interrogation room's reflective glass panel. For the first time, he notices the gash on his cheek and, frowning, uses his sleeve to wipe the crusted blood out of his stubble just before Ramos closes the door behind them. "Sorry about him," he says when he's sure they won't be overheard. "Demsky's kind of a jerk."

MacKenzie looks at Ramos and says, "Sometimes when you learn a jerk's history, they don't seem like such a jerk anymore."

"Good luck." Ramos gives a short, barking laugh. "Trying to get Demsky to talk about himself is like trying to pry open a submarine hatch with a crowbar." He walks MacKenzie back down the hall, through the set of double doors and into the lobby which is quieter than they left it. "It was a pleasure meeting you, ma'am, but maybe you should bring a flash light the next time you decide to visit strange alleys after dark."

MacKenzie smiles and only says, "Have a good evening, Officer Ramos," before walking out the building's front door.

August 11th: Sandwiches and Streets
This is the beginning of the storyline "Frankie Civella Sings".

Next in this storyline…
Consequences Over Coffee

August 13th: It Starts with a Flower
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