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
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
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,
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
Star. The man gave Eddie a dirty look and went back to reading
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
Eddie sprinted through the corridors. He was in the wrong
section of the airport, he knew, but he could make it if
“Stop him,” the man shouted behind him. “Thief!
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
“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
“You stole someone's laundry?”
“I'm too lazy to do my own.”
“No, thanks. Trying to cut back.” Eddie ran
his tongue over the cut in his lip. Parker's report would
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
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
“According to Patriot, I don't need to call him.”
“According to your union, you need to call Montomore.”
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
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
“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
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
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
“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
“Bought him a cup of coffee and asked if he wanted
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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