PROFILED

By James R. Winter


Whoever invented the Monorail should lie in front of one.

That's what Eddie Soroya thought when he climbed aboard the Airport Monorail in Harbortown. Business people spilling across the river from downtown Port Ontario crowded the glorified Disneyworld ride. All of them, at least in Eddie's car, gave him the evil eye.

It wasn't like the regular subway lines that serviced the rest of the city. There, commuters sneered at the wetback at first, then ignored him. Occasionally, they dumped change in his cup. Unless it was the Holland Island Line. A man in shabby clothes holding a styrofoam cup on that train said only one thing: Cop.

On the Airport Line, the Monorail, though, the shabby clothes said nothing. The passengers looked at only one thing, Eddie's brown skin. Nobody thought “wetback,” despite his best efforts, when they saw him. No, this train went to the airport. Their eyes all told Eddie they had the same thought.

You're not taking over my flight, are you?

Some of them, Eddie knew, had visions of their plane flying into one of the three towers in downtown Cleveland, only forty miles away. The paranoia made Eddie stand out. It made him vulnerable. He wished he'd ridden a different train that morning.

The Monorail made four stops on its way to the airport, one for transfers out of Vodrey Heights, the city's eastern borough, and one each in Midtown and Huron. Not too many people climbed aboard at the first two stops. It made the blonde girl noticeable, not that anyone could miss her. Her denim skirt rode much too high – and too tight – on her ample thighs.

She barged aboard the Monorail at Midtown and shoved Eddie out of her way as she grabbed the last sliver of seat.

“Out of my way, sand nigger,” she said as she pushed him aside.

Eddie couldn't resist testing his Spanish on her. “Chingate, perra.”

The girl ignored him and shoved her duffle bag under her seat. The train started moving again, barely rocking. Eddie watch I-73 below slide by as they rolled into Huron, the city's southern borough. The train crossed the freeway and floated into a wonderland of franchise food, big box stores, and cookie-cutter office developments. Eddie hated this part of town. It came to a stop at Huron Station, surrounded entirely by Gates Technical Park. Featureless glass buildings dotted the landscape with names like “Microsoft” and “Cisco” and “Motorola” slapped near the roofs. The big blonde disappeared.

Leaving her duffle bag behind.

As a crowd of golf-shirted geeks dragging suitcases behind them started to pile into the car, Eddie dived for the girl's seat and pushed his feet back against the bag.

“Sorry,” he said to the guy sitting next to him, a tall white guy with his nose poked in the morning's Herald Star. The man gave Eddie a dirty look and went back to reading Dilbert.

The train started again, next stop, Glenn-Armstrong Airport.

“Gates one through fourteen,” said the muffled transit worker's voice over the intercom.

“Continental, Delta, United, and Air Canada. Please stand clear of the doors and debark quickly when they open.”

Eddie didn't actually hear the words, but he knew them. He'd worked for PORTA years before. What he really heard sounded like that cartoon where the adults all sounded like muted trumpets. It convinced Eddie PORTA workers trained on the New York subway system.

He looked around. The man didn't move, even though a third of the car had emptied. This gate, Eddie knew, serviced international flights or connections to JFK and LAX to international flights. So his seat mate wasn't flying out of the country.

At the next stop, he heard that muted trumpet call again, this time for Northwest, American, and ComAir flights, all domestic routes. All but about a dozen people got off the train. Still the man didn't move.

As they started for the third stop, the man started eyeing the duffle bag. Eddie thought for a moment. The man dressed well, definitely not the type to take the next set of gates, which serviced the low-cost airlines: Jet Blue, Southwest, and AirTran. Which meant he was headed for the final drop-off point along the Monorail, charter flights.

As the train slid to a stop, Eddie grabbed the bag and dived through the opening doors.

“Hey,” the man behind him yelled. “Come back here!”

Eddie sprinted through the corridors. He was in the wrong section of the airport, he knew, but he could make it if he ran.

“Stop him,” the man shouted behind him. “Thief! Terrorist!”

Eddie fell to the ground, an electric current coursing through his body. He could feel himself convulse but could do nothing about it. By the time it stopped, a pair of strong hands held his arms. The cuffs clicked as they locked his wrists.

“I'm a little confused,” said the cop, a black guy named Parker. “See, you come tear-assing off the Monorail with a dufflebag under your arm. That guy seemed a bit upset about that, but now he's screaming lawyer. Why do you think that is?”

“I dunno,” said Eddie. “You put fifty thousand volts through me before I could find out.”

Parker smiled. “Did you even know what was in the bag?”

“Laundry?”

“You stole someone's laundry?”

“I'm too lazy to do my own.”

“Try heroin.”

“No, thanks. Trying to cut back.” Eddie ran his tongue over the cut in his lip. Parker's report would probably say Eddie hurt himself while being tazed, no mention of the uniforms cracking him across the mouth. And never, no, never a mention anyone calling Eddie “raghead.”

“You grabbed a dufflebag full of heroin,” said Parker. “Something tells me you knew.”

“You look in my wallet? You guys frisked me well enough.”

"We looked, Ahmed. Calling yourself 'Eddie.' That's cute, by the way.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“You are Ahmed Soroya. As near as we can tell, you're a US citizen born in Tehran.”

“And my employer?”

“You don't have one.”

Eddie laughed. “Do you know a Sergeant Montomore?”

“Of course. Major Crimes. Why? You want to confess?”

“That's one way of putting it.”

Parker blew out his breath, then took a picture out of his pocket. “Who's the blonde?”

“It's her dufflebag.”

“Good. That's good. Now who is she?”

Eddie would have folded his arms if he could, but they'd cuffed him. “You really want to know?”

“No, asshole, I just have a hard-on for fat ass white chicks. Now who is she?”

“It ever occur to you I haven't asked to see my lawyer yet?”

“According to Patriot, I don't need to call him.”

“According to your union, you need to call Montomore.”

“Why?”

Eddie just smiled. “So, will your partner play the good cop, and do us ragheads get the bad cop/bad cop routine?”

Parker leaned across the table and backhanded him. “I'll get you Montomore, raghead. You can talk to him while we fuel up the plane for Gitmo.”

The big man slammed the badge down on the table. “What were you thinking?”

Eddie sat with his hands folded on the table. Montomore had ordered him uncuffed. “You saw the picture from my wallet. Right?”

“Yeah, I did,” said Montomore. “That any reason to shut the airport down?”

“She got on at the Vodrey Heights transfer.”

Montomore sank into his seat, nodding. “Parker know that dufflebag was hers?”

“Figures he didn't tell you. Parker thinks I wanna slam the first LA-bound flight into the Ebersole Tower.”

“I see.” The big man took a cigar out of his jacket, cut it, and lit it.

“May I remind you that Glenn-Armstrong Airport is a non-smoking facility?” said Eddie.

“So arrest me.” He puffed on the cigar, a Cuban, until the tip glowed. “You just grabbed a gymbag full of heroin right off the Monorail in front of a dozen or so travelers.”

Eddie laughed. “When he didn't move at the cheap airline gates, I knew he was headed for the charter flight stop.”

“Well, it's ten million dollars worth, in case you're wondering.”

“And with Joey Tran found dead in Holland Bay last week. Tell me, Sarge, what do you think’s happening?”

He shoved the badge at Eddie. “I think the War on Drugs just took precedence over the War on Terror in this town.” He got up and knocked on the window. When Parker entered, he said, “Officer, did you warn this man you were tasing him?”

“Yes, sir,” said Parker. “Absolutely.”

“And if I ask any eyewitnesses, will they confirm this?”

Parker swallowed hard.

Eddie stood and clipped the badge to his belt. “An honest mistake, Sarge.” He looked at Parker. “Next time, give a cop a chance to identify himself.”

“But...” Parker pointed at Eddie, then Montomore. “Why didn't he tell us when he got in here?”

“I dunno,” said Montomore. “Maybe your Taser scrambled his brains? The point is you didn't warn him first, and you didn't give him a chance to identify himself.” He glared at Eddie. “Though Officer Soroya here needs to start carrying his badge on transit duty if he's going to pull stunts like this everyday. Right, Eddie?”

Eddie shrugged and patted Parker on the shoulder as he walked out. “You do know profiling is considered a civil rights violation. Don't you?”

“Fuck you,” said Parker. “I was doing my job.”

“So was I. We'll take this up with the FOP later.”

Out in the corridor, the airport was slowly returning to normal. Eddie fell in step with Montomore as they made their way over to short-term parking.

“Profiling?” said Montomore. “You're accusing Parker of profiling?”

“He called me a 'raghead,'” said Eddie. “Tazed me without warning. Made a point of reminding me I was born in Iran. What'd he do with that white guy who was chasing me?”

“Bought him a cup of coffee and asked if he wanted his lawyer.”

Eddie grinned. “And now you know,” he said in a passable Latino accent, “why I sound like this undercover. No one fears Eduardo, only Ahmed.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James R. Winter avoids work at an insurance company by surfing the web and making up stories about nasty people. He is the author of 2005's NORTHCOAST SHAKEDOWN, now an out-of-print classic. His stories have appeared in PLOTS WITH GUNS, THRILLING DETECTIVE, THUG LIT, FLASHING IN THE GUTTERS, and CRIMESCENE SCOTLAND. He is also a regular reviewer for the PWA newsletter and a contributor to CRIMESPREE. He lives in Cincinnati, but is trying desperately to leave. Look for his inane ramblings at http://jamesrwinter.typepad.com.


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