Passages from Circle of Six

We, the rank and file, were sandbagged by our own — the hierarchy of the NYPD. One of our brother cops, Phil Cardillo, was murdered and subsequentl bastardized, then hurried into the ground in a cloak of mystery and dishonor, all in an effort to cover up a purposeful negligence of duty so blatant it defies belief.~~

~~I looked around the triage, then up and down the hallway. It was filled with cops as helpless as me. I was suddenly transported back in time--Korea. My platoon was pinned down trying to take a key position on the side of a hill, Pork Chop Hill. We were out-gunned and out-manned, surrounded by nests of machine-gunning snipers. We could do one of two things: roll over and die, or fight the hopeless fight and just maybe come out on the other side. One thing was for sure: if we didn't fight, we would be slaughtered. I was an eighteen-year-old corporal paratrooper running and gunning up that hill. Twenty-four hours later, I was carried down a sergeant with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. General Eisenhower's words guided me up that hill, and now those powerful words resounded in my head once again: "Failure is not an option."~~

~~Every Wednesday night, agents from the FBI and cops from the NYPD played each other in a high-tension game of basketball at Manhattan’s Regis High School. Bragging rights were on the line so the games were nice and spirited. Through all the wins, defeats, unpaid bets, and barbs, though all the trash talk-somehow-lifetime friendships were made. That’s how I'd come friends with a field agent named Joe Pistone. He was only six foot, but he could rebound better than anyone. Joe Pistone would go on to a lot of success within the bureau, and in the public eye, most notably as undercover agent, Donnie Braso where he single-handedly tore apart the hierarchy of the Bonanno crime family. He was also portrayed in the film Donnie Brasco by actor Johnny Depp.~~

~~When I awoke, I was four doors down from Phil Cardillo. There was one uniformed officer guarding my door. His name was Ray Kelly. He was a young cop, but would go on one day to become chief and then police commissioner under two mayors. At my bedside two people were keeping vigil: my old partner and closest friend Jimmy Aurichio, and my girlfriend, Lynn. It was comforting to open my eyes and find them there. I knew Jimmy would have found a way to get Lynn in the room. There was an immediately-family-only restriction to any visitors and with just cause- The BLA had me in their sights and there was also that little fifty thousand dollar lifetime contract put on my head by Albert Victory and company. Victory and his accomplice, Robert Bernholdt, were two vicious mob associates who committed the cold-blooded murder of a young patrolman, John Verecha, on 3rd Ave outside Author's, an upscale disco four years earlier. I had put them away for life by arresting them and testifying at the trial.~~

~~While I and the rest of the NYPD absorbed all the duplicity, all the king's men were high atop Manhattan, strategizing. They were the power brokers of the job. But they weren't sitting down with detectives, pouring over suspect photos, deciding who was going to be arrested. No, these super chiefs and commissioners were deciphering what their press statement was going to be and how best to pacify the racial tensions that had developed over the years under Lindsey's tenure. And the injured cops and their families? Well, who really gives a fuck?~~

~~We dropped our heads like fullbacks, squared our shoulders, and surged forward. I led and my men followed. A corridor of people opened as we ran through. Men, women and children started to spit at us. This was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I was a New York City police detective, paid to protect the very citizens who were spitting on me.~~

~~The press was close by, and so were the rank and file; everything that these super-chiefs did was being clocked. If there seemed to be dissention and disorganization amongst the hierarchy, then that would play out on the evening news and in the papers. From there, it would distill down to the voting public and patrol. Those men riding in those patrol cars in over eight hundred sectors of New York, walking thousands of foot posts, had to feel the ship they sailed had dominion, command, and was on course. Chief of Detectives Al Seedman knew different. It was adrift, rudderless, and heading for an iceberg.~~

~~I had met Lynn Bucci one year prior at an oldies concert. There was an immediate mutual attraction, and from that night forward we were inseparable. I'd come to learn that Lynn- though born in very rural surroundings- had much the same upbringing as my own. Her fundamental family values were critical in her life, which molded the way she lived; the Bucci's were close-knit. I'd also come to understand that no one really could compare to her father, and I respected this, as no one could compare to mine either. We were a match.
It became customary for Lynn to take in a movie with her girlfriends if I worked a Friday night. She was with a lifelong friend, Susan Grande, as they approached a newsstand that particular Friday. Lynn bought the evening edition for her father every night- he liked the horses, numbers and sports finals. Susan screamed as she first noticed the front page of the Daily News. I appeared to have been shot, with a head wound, unconscious. The headline read: Five Cops Hurt in Harlem.~~

~~Both the mayor and the commissioner were adamant that the Black Liberation Army didn't exist. Their statements to the public said they were a "loosely gathered band of thugs," not an organized group committing premeditated assassinations of the NYPD cops. They refused to admit that cops in New York City were being systematically targeted for death. Why? Because it would be detrimental in winning the voters. Lindsey couldn't look like he had no control over the city. If there were coordinated cop killers out there doing their job- killing cops- then Lindsey and Murphy weren't doing their jobs. I guess we didn't have to uproot my mother and father from their home after all, because according to the mayor and the number one crime fighter in New York, the likes of Twyman Myers and the BLA didn't exist.~~

~~The hospital that had never lost a cop couldn't say that anymore. I felt my throat seize up. I knew Phil and I liked Phil. I knew his Uncle Frank and Aunt Tessie, who were florists in the same area, and who also lived in the confines of the 2-5 Precinct. I'd met his first love and wife, Joy, at rackets thrown by cops of the 2-8. I knew they had just had their third baby and named him Todd. Phil was a good man, husband and father, and now his children were going to be devoid of all that. I felt some of the loss that they were going to feel for the rest of their lives. I felt the tears in my eyes welling into pools.~~

~~Louie Delessio appeared next to me, out of breath, shirt ripped almost off his back. He had deep scratches down his soot-covered faced. I asked, "Louie, is it bad? Am I hit bad?" I felt his hand on my shoulder. Almost in a whisper he said, "No Rand, it's not that bad." I was reassured by that. Or maybe I was simply comforted by the fact that there was another one of us who'd made it out alive. I was back on Pork Chop Hill with some of the lucky surviving platoon members. Except the sad reality was that Pork Chop Hill was 116th Street and Lenox Avenue, a neighborhood street in the richest and most powerful country in the world. The very same country I almost died for eighteen years earlier- in pursuit of the very freedom that allowed these confused protestors their right to assemble and rebel- almost killed me eighteen years later.~~