Excerpt from BOYLE

Still rough, but just felt like sharing:

Detective Hardy Boyle threw his badge and gun down on the desk and quit, becoming just Hardy Boyle.

The office was large enough for the big, wooden desk, a few file cabinets, a small TV and VCR, and a little table with a coffee machine on it. The blinds to the double-windows behind the desk were opened only slightly, letting a little light slip in.

Captain James O’Neill eyed the items and then looked up at him and asked, “What is this, Boyle?”

Hardy, who was average height but stout with thick arms and broad shoulders, squinted his eyes under his brown wide-brim fedora and said, “I’m done with this circus.”

His face was mean and rugged, slim in the cheeks but thick in the nose and forehead. His dark eyes looked almost black under the shade of his hat. The captain, who was blond and balding with a matching mustache, peered up at him with glassy blue eyes.

“What do you mean you’re done?”

“I mean I quit.”

James O’Neill could tell Hardy was upset about something. He had seen the look enough. He didn’t much care for the mouthy homicide investigator, but he was one of the best on the team.

“Don’t be ridiculous, detective. Pick up your badge and gun and get back to work.”

“Nah, I mean it. I’m through. What you call work, I call a sideshow. Whenever I get close to something, you close me down.”

“That’s ridiculous, Boyle. You’ve solved many cases.”

“Damn right I have. But not enough. I’m tired of your deadlines and impatience; justice has no time limit. This place is a joke. Find someone else to close the door on.”

Now, O’Neill got mad. “Look, Boyle, I don’t like what you’re saying. You’d better watch your tongue.”

“Or else what? You’re not my boss anymore, Jimbo. I don’t have to take your shit. You get up out of that chair and I’ll put you right back in it.”

“I don’t think that would be wise.”

Hardy rolled up his white shirt sleeves as he spoke. “Why not? What would you do about it? I’m the big war hero, remember? You always liked spouting that one off. You’re nothing but a bureaucratic slob who sits behind a desk all the time. Nobody’s going to care what you got to say.”

Captain James O’Neill, twenty-four years of service to the Louisville Homicide Division, was anything but a slob, and Hardy knew it. Sure, age had put some pounds on him, but his shoulders were still thick and his arms were still strong. Hardy wasn’t even sure he could deliver on his threat, especially with the bad hip he got in Iraq, but he wasn’t going to let O’Neill dominate him, anymore. It was over; he was done with the homicide division. He imagined that when O’Neill was thirty-four like him, he could probably have taken Hardy. He might still be able to now. At least, if there was anyone on the force capable of shutting his mouth, it was the captain, and he knew it. But, it didn’t stop him from talking.

O’Neill’s face was red, but he kept his calm. “Is this about the Carver case?”

The Carver case: five long, lonely months of dark alleys and dimly lit hallways on the seedy side of town. All Hardy did was chase prostitutes, heroin addicts, and knuckle-men around searching for the man who put the blade in Cole Carver’s neck. Nothing about it was pretty. Anyone who thought the detective life was glamorous would just have to spend one night on the Carver case to realize what a joke that idea was. O’Neill had pulled the plug on that one, too, just as Hardy made a real crack. Some pimp named Wiley Jones had spilled about some street gang that was looking for Cole to collect a debt. The very next day, Hardy was taken off the case, He begged and pleaded and presented all the evidence–good hard stuff–but O’Neill didn’t budge. That was three days ago. Now, he was standing before the captain with his letter of resignation well in place.

“Not just the Carver case,” Hardy said. “That broke the camel’s back. But, it was the other cases before that: Shiloh, Freeman, Green, and Novak. People who had all died without justice; three men and one woman who were all victims with murderers who would go free.”

“My hands were tied, Boyle. I have my orders, too. You know that. Besides, Shiloh and Green were more than two years ago.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Hardy said in his clear, deep voice. “It’s all bureaucratic bullshit and I got no stomach for it. You and all your pencil-pushing pals can stuff it. I’m outta here.”

Boyle turned his back and O’Neill stood up. “Wait, Boyle. Let’s talk about it.”

“I’m done talking,” Hardy said and slammed the office door behind him.

He knew the Captain would try to talk to him. He was the best man he had. Nobody on the squad solved more cases than him, or collard more killers. His reputation was long-reaching and his expertise had been requested in surrounding cities. People knew he was good.

The door swung open behind him. He heard O’Neill’s heavy steps in his shiny little leather business shoes tap the floor quickly in pursuit.

“I don’t know what you’re planning to do, Boyle, but it better not be around here. You better not show your face in any of my circles.”

Hardy turned and smirked. “What if I do?”

“I’ll run you out.”

Hardy scoffed and said, “Please. The only people who’ll back you are your corporate lackey detectives. I got more respect than you on the squad. The only men who’ll do what you say are the ones who’d rather stand around and kiss your ass than get their feet dirty out in the field.”

“Oh, is that right?”

“Sure is. You think the real detectives like O’Day will back you?”

Mallory O’Day was a real deal investigator with grit. Rarely, did she ever come up short on a case. She had one superior–Hardy–and one equal–a  man named Cyrus Shelton. Between the three of them, they solved about eighty-percent of the resolved cases.

Mallory carried nearly the same amount of disdain for the Captain as Hardy, but she always expressed it more openly. That was the perk of being the only woman on the force; she got away with a lot of wisecracking. O’Neill couldn’t really do much to her for that. As long as she didn’t disobey a direct order or ignore imperative protocols, she pretty much had a free pass for backtalk. Don’t mistake her, though. That has nothing to do with why she solved a lot of cases. She did that on her own merit, for she was bright, determined, and tough–the three things that are paramount in the line of duty.

“Mallory O’Day values her job,” O’Neill said.

“Yes she does. But, as good as she is, with her kind of record, she could get another one anywhere she wanted.”

O’Neill breathed deep and sighed.

“Good day, Captain,” Hardy said and continued on down the hall.

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