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The Last Good Cop in Philly Started by: GavinAndTaraByrne on Oct 09, '18 02:53

As Tara rode around the area surrounding the Sewing Factory Lofts, she noted the streets and buildings ravaged by crime. Not her kind of crime- organized crime. That "organized" part was what the newspapers and politicians never seemed to respect or appreciate. With organized crime, the criminals handled themselves, and largely left civilians alone. But this area? This was unorganized crime at its worst. Men had been reduced to animals, scratching and clawing and killing for scraps of resources. 

And in this rough, there was at least one alleged diamond: Kacey Adams. Isabella had turned Tara on to the name, wanting more information about a cop who couldn't be bribed. 

What she'd found had intrigued her. An associate had gathered the information, which she handed to Isabella as soon as her future sister-in-law entered the car.

Kacey Adams. Thirty five years old. 6'2. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Two years of service in the United States Army, honorably discharged at the age of 20 due to a back injury that prevented him from lifting too much weight. The day after he'd been processed out of the army, he'd joined the police. He was married... no, a widower. His wife had been killed when he was 24- a victim of a drive by shooting. And then... nothing. He'd kept the same position, walking the same beat around 5th Street as younger, and more morally flexible, men were promoted above him.

Blinking, Tara handed the information to Isabella.

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Isabella looks over the information once, and then a second time to soak it in. 

"You'd think with so few prospects for advancement he might have taken the money.  After all, with no children, his only hope for comfort in his twilight years is a well-padded bank account."

She shakes her head.  "Maybe the shooting of his wife was tied up with the Cosa Nostra somehow?  He might be rejecting the cash on account of thinking it's blood-money?  If he's that sort he may be dead set on seeing us pack up shop... granted, I really didn't get that feeling when I spoke to him."

She narrows her eyes looking at the paper once more. 

"Former military... it's a good way out of poverty I suppose.  Certainly, enough people do go that route these days, but you wouldn't think he'd join the police force after if he was looking for financial security. Perhaps it's the only trade he felt he was qualified to work?"

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Tara nodded slowly, then frowned.

"Maybe he saw being a cop as the only thing he had left. Wannabe hero. Do some good in the world. Sad story, really."

She sighed.

"And why not get remarried? You said he was a fairly good looking guy, didn't you? Seems strange that he's stayed in the same place, working the same job... for what? A decade?"

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"He's not hard on the eyes, not my type, but far from ugly." She gave him a little more thought and said bluntly, "Beautiful eyes.  Not the sort of guy who goes unmarried long I think.  So... maybe he's buried himself in work or he really loved her and just doesn't know how to move past it?  In either case, it implies a lot of time to focus on his work as opposed to a social life."

She chuckled dryly,  "Maybe I should be playing matchmaker for him instead of you?"  She winked at her soon-to-be sister.  

"Seriously though, we could ask around the neighborhood about him.  The locals aren't all as rough around the edges as the street hoods.  I'm sure after all these years walking a beat here that folks know more about him than just this short dossier.  Granted, he'll probably find out we've been asking questions and who knows what state of mind that could put the guy in."

She shrugged.  "Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but something tells me after these many years, still in the position he's in, he's not going anywhere now.  So, either I have to find a way to work with him or get him out of the way.  This is my and Gavin's home.  Little Ciri plays in these streets.  I mean to bring this neighborhood to heel for Godfather Mezzo one way or another and I'd prefer to work with Adams if I could, to make that happen."

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Tara nodded. She admired Isabella's ambition, and having her and Gavin build their own little kingdom on 5th street would be beneficial- both for the soon to be newlyweds and the other business interests of JackMezzo and Spaceman.

"Okay... well, it's your home. So I'll tag along with you and let you do the talking, if you don't mind."

She smiled at stepped out of the car, glancing at the many businesses that looked like they'd endured at least a couple decades.

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Isabella walked down the street and actually got a few warm greetings from children as they passed them by. 

"Hey, Ms. Luciano."

"How's it going Ms. Luciano?"

She smiled at the group of boys in their peaky caps and dirty wool trousers and made her way over to them.  One of them was the paperboy from whom she picked up a copy of the Philidelphia Post-Gazette each morning.  

"Phillip, right?"

"She knows your name, Pips!"  One boy teased.

Phillip doffed his cap.  "Yes, Ms. Luciano?"  He tried to ignore his peers who were clearly implying the boy had something of a crush and by the smile on his face, Isabella was sure it was true.  This, of course, worked to her advantage.

"Why do your friends call you Pips?"

"Ah, it's just a thing they say." The boy tried to be modest.

"He's only the best guy at dice in all Philly!"  Another boy threw out.

"Well, if your friends call you Pips, would it be okay if I did too?"  Isabella asked.

The boy turned six shades of red as his friends went on mocking him and giggling.  

"You've been around 5th street your whole life, right Pips?"

He nodded.  "Thirteen years."  He said as if to make sure she knew he wasn't a 'little boy.'  

Isabella nodded and made her face up to appear impressed.  "Maybe you could help me out?  I notice we got a couple cops who take care of the neighborhood... there's that Macklebee guy, West, and... what's the other one's name?"

"Adams."  Pips threw out quickly.  "He's a good guy.  Came by my birthday once.  Gave me a quarter."

Isabella nodded.  "Was thinking I'd like to do something nice for the officers since they do so much for us.  Maybe you could tell me a bit more about him since he's the only one I haven't had much of a chance to get to know?"

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Tara stifled a smile as Isabella's erstwhile suitor responded to her, admiring her deft handling of the situation.

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"He goes to the Baptist Church with my Grandma."  Pips offered.  "And the park every Sunday."

"Every Sunday?"  Isabella asked.

The boy nodded.  "Even when there's like two feet of snow on the ground!"  A couple of the boys concurred with this story.  

"Any idea what he does there?"

Pips shrugged.  "Sits by the big oak near the pond.  Watches the ducks and stuff I suppose."

"He likes bowling!"  One of the other boys threw out.  "He's on the leagues in the winter time.  My dad knows him from there."

Isabella smiled.  The details were making the man out to be something more than a two-dimensional 'good cop' but it wasn't very telling really.  She didn't know why she thought the boys would be able to give her much more than this.

"Well, I appreciate your help boys.  Pips, I suppose I'll see you tomorrow morning for my paper."

He nodded eagerly, "Of course, Ms. Luciano!"

She was about to walk away when it hit her what she'd said.  "One more thing, does he live here on Fifth Street?"  She asked Pips.  If anyone would know that detail, it was the paper boy.

He shook his head. "Don't think so, but five blocks up from here, that the building on the left, he's there often enough to grab the paper from me on there a couple times a week.  He must have family in that place or something, you might talk with whoever lives there.  Maybe they can help more than we did Ms. Luciano."

Bella smiled and gave each of the boys a quarter and Pips a folded up dollar bill. 

The boys' eyes went wide,

"WOW!" 

"Gee Whiz, thanks Ms. Luciano!" 

"Thanks!"

Isabella chuckled, "See you around, gents."  She watched as the boys as they ran off down the street, likely going off to spend their good fortune.  She glanced to Tara.  

"Weekly visits to an oak in the park.  Frequent visits to unknown family in the neighborhood... well, there were a few details in that mix that could prove to be something; or nothing.  I wonder if there are illicit goings on at that location five blocks up?  Maybe our police officer friend isn't so squeaky clean after all?  Gambling?  Speakeasy?  What do you think?"

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Tara smirked.

"I'm betting he stays squeaky clean. Probably a home for orphans or something. Think he's dirty? Want to put some money on it?"

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"Probably a gambling den... or a hooker."  She says.  "Hooker would make sense.  You want to make a cash bet, or something more interesting?"  She laughed and began walking.  It was only five blocks after all.

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Tara sighed.

"No clue. I'm almost rooting for him to stay clean, even if it makes things a bit difficult."

They walked in silence for a block, both pondering.

"You know, it's too bad he's a cop. He's a good looking guy. Loyal. Just too likely to slap the handcuffs on me. And not in a fun way."

She smirked.

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"If he's clean, maybe I'll introduce you."  She smirked.  "If he's dirty... I'll definitely introduce you." 

She chuckled for a moment and then her mind wandered away, imagining for a moment what she might do with handcuffs in the bedroom.  She silently wondered if Gavin was into that sort of thing.  Well, that was one question she wouldn't be asking Tara!  Instead, she just smiled to herself, blushing ever so slightly.

The two of them made their way down the street lined with simple shops and run down homes coming at last to a two-story building right where Pips said it would be.  Isabella walked up the front walk and opened the mailbox.  Pulling out a letter she found inside she read the name aloud,  "Charles Ingram." 

She put the letter back and said,  "Looks personal... so, if this is a front, it's a good one.  And I doubt Charles is a working girl's name."  

Reaching out she knocked on the door and said to Tara, "Looks like you might get your wish."

The door opened just slightly.  A frail elderly man peaked out the still locked door.  Isabella smiled warmly, sure that Tara was doing the same beside her, trying to let the man know they didn't mean any harm.

"I'm sorry to bother you, sir, but I'm new to the neighborhood and I'm having a bit of trouble finding my way about... I can't recall how to get back to Oxford street."

The elderly man looked skeptical at her, but somewhere inside a warm elderly female voice called out, "Who is it, Pa?"  

"Just some lost young women, Mother.  I'll get them on their way and bring you your tea in a moment."

"Oh dear..."  A small commotion came from inside the house as if someone had knocked something over.  The old man sighed.  

"I said I'd bring your tea!"  He yelled a bit louder, leaving Isabella to think the older woman must be hard of hearing.

"It's been so long since we had a visitor besides Kacey..."  Isabella could see the woman dressed in a nightgown and curlers just over her husband's shoulders.  "Invite them in!"

The old man, who looked long-suffering of his wife's fancies, stepped back and unlocked the door chain.  Isabella glanced at Tara and shrugged. When the door came open the woman had inserted herself in front of her husband and offered a hand enthusiastically.  She was hunched over and clearly pained by arthritis.  Her fingers were terribly twisted things which Isabella felt a swell of pity over.

Isabella, ever so gently, shook the woman's offered hand.  

"I'm Helena, this is my husband Charles."

"I'm Isabella and this is my..." She hesitated only a second before saying, "sister, Tara.  It's love to meet you."

"Oh aren't you both the prettiest things?!?"  She acted the way some people did when they saw puppies.

"I'm new to the neighborhood and I think I got turned around trying to walk home... I was just asking your husband Charles here for some directions."

"Oh yes, and he'll help you out, but why don't you both come in for a moment?  We're just having tea.  Would you like tea?"

Isabella looked to Tara and then back to the old woman.  "We'd love some tea."  

Tara and Isabella stepped into the darkened foyer.  Isabella looked around.  This was certainly no gambling hall or den of prostitutes.  Instead, it looked like exactly what she expected after seeing Charles and Helena... a dusty home whose walls were spacely decorated with a picture of Christ in one place and a crucifix in another.  Across the way from the door was a very old wedding photo, one that was presumably the Ingrams.

"You have a lovely home."  Isabella said considering the place which might have been quite grand in its time, probably before the American Civil War.  

The Ingrams lead them down the hall to a small sitting room which was a bit homier.  Throw blankets and books were strewn about and a small radio played on a table near the two chairs by the window which the elderly couple obviously spent a lot of time in.  Tara and Bella took a seat on the couch across from them and sure enough, Helena sat in one of the chairs while her husband fetched the tea.

"So, you're new to town?"  Helena asked Bella.

"I moved here to marry Tara's brother actually."

"Oh, how lovely!  When's the wedding?"

"November 4th."  Isabella said brightly.  "We're very excited."

"I bet you are!  And what a lovely bride you'll make.  I do hope you have good weather for the wedding.  Most girls wait until summer to avoid the snow these days."

Isabella decided not to tell the woman that it wouldn't be an issue, better to not try and explain the logistics of an overseas wedding.  It would take them down a long path she didn't care to steer the conversation down.  Instead, she cast her eyes about the room until she finally found what she was looking for.

"Oh!  Speaking of... is this your son?"  She said pointing at a wedding photo, this one newer than the one in the entry room.  Of course she knew the man was Kacey Adams, and presumably, the woman was his late wife.

Helena smiled.  "My daughter Lillian... and her husband, Kacey.  He's a police officer here in this neighborhood."  She said that with no small amount of pride.  "I'm sure you'll meet him before too long.  Everyone knows our dear Kacey."

Isabella did her best not to show a reaction, but hearing that this was his dead wife's parents made her feel about two inches tall.  Adams really was every bit what he appeared.  Tending to his elderly in-laws several times a week, keeping a beat in their neighborhood to protect them, it was no wonder he was suspicious of her.  He just wanted to keep the last of his wife's family safe...

Charles brought out the tea and carefully handed one cup to Tara and one cup to Isabella.  Isabella glanced at Tara, measuring her reaction to all of this.

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Tara smiled authentically as she sat down in the sitting room. Well, this couple hardly seemed like they ran a brothel or a drug ring. You never know, but... nope. Even her imagination wouldn't believe that one. The pair of them were adorable together.

As she sat in the physical manifestation of the lives of these two people that had been intertwined over time, Tara couldn't entirely chase her own thoughts away. She didn't need a man... but what would she do, when was she old? Would she be forced to rely on Gavin and Isabella and their children- no, no children- to make decisions for her?

She sighed, focusing her attention as Isabella pointed out the wedding picture. There was Officer Adams- a handsome young man who looked like he'd conquered the world. Maybe he had, at least for a couple years.

Tara sipped the offered tea and smiled guilelessly.

"A police officer! How exciting! I bet he tells you lots of stories about his life, then?"

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Helena didn't disappoint.  A lonely woman, eager to talk to someone new, she ran on and on about her son-in-law.  She also spoke at length about her late daughter Lillian whose ashes, it turned out, were left at the base of an oak tree under which she and Kacey had met - the one Pip had spoke about.  A picture of Kacey's life came together that was altogether different than what Isabella had anticipated.  

He had been a young man with hopes and dreams of serving his country as his father and his father before him had done.  He was the sort of man who didn't give up when one door closed, instead sought a new path.  When he was injured in the military he came home and built a new dream: growing a family in the small Philly neighborhood on 5th Street. 

He probably should have become jaded after the death of his young wife and their unborn child, especially considering how brutal it was but instead he doubled down on his belief that one person could make a difference.  If he couldn't raise a family here, he wanted to make sure others could and that his elderly in-laws would be safe and happy here until they finally went on to be with their daughter.

Kacey, at least according to his mother-in-law, hadn't been passed over for promotions and transfers but he had refused them so that he could stay here with the people he knew so well.  The people of his neighborhood knew his name and he knew theirs... he truly cared about these people.  When other officers would have spent their time in cars driving only to places they were needed... Kacey kept his beat.  He walked up and down the streets every day, staying close to the people who he served.

Charles eventually added color to the stories telling tales about how Kacey was known to have actually stepped into the lives of young criminals and helped them to turn new leaves.  He helped get them into the military or police training - or introduced them to tradesmen who could teach them skills for a future.  In fact, no less than three young men from Fifth Street had gone from criminal to police officer thanks to Kacey.

By the time Isabella and Tara were standing up to leave, Isabella felt she'd well and truly come to understand that Kacey wasn't anything like the cops she'd dealt with before and if he had any core motivation it was really all about what he could do for others.  Either he had his in-laws completely snowed, or he was truly a good and selfless person ... the sort she hadn't ever really known before.

She thanked Helena and Charles for their hospitality and promised to come back and visit again soon - then she let them lead her and Tara to the door.

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Tara sighed as her feet hit the sidewalk and the door closed softly behind them.

"Well.. now I'm depressed as fuck. Want to grab a drink and talk about our next move?"

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"Yea, there's a hole in the wall place just down the street."

Isabella took Tara into a small lunch counter joint that on the quiet served drinks if you asked for them.  As soon as they entered Isabella nodded towards the bathroom, "I'll be right back... gonna powder my nose.  Save me a seat."  With that, she made a b-line for the restroom leaving Tara to get them a place to sit and order drinks.

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Tara grinned as they strolled into the corner restaurant. Nice enough little place. She slipped off her jacket, hanging it on a peg near the door before sliding onto a stool and browsing through the menu. Gods, she needed a drink. Whispering to the bartender, she arranged for an iced tea with a little extra kick. She was browsing the menu, trying to figure out how hungry she was, when a man slid onto a stool two spots down from her.

As she glanced up, she wished she had Gavin's poker face- but she didn't think her double-take was that noticeable as Kacey Adams sat down a few feet away from her.

Over six feet. Brown hair. Whisky colored eyes. Decent enough shape... maybe a few extra pounds. And serious looking, as he glanced her way.

Not wanting to say anything, Tara kept her mouth shut and glanced back down to the menu. Did he know who she was? He knew Isabella... well, if she saw him there, she'd have to decide between hiding in the bathroom or coming out and introducing them. Tara was quite content to let Isabella make that particular decision.​​​​​​​

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"The Reuben is good."  Adams offered, seemingly to no one, but in truth, Tara was the only one close enough to hear.  "If you like sauerkraut that is?"

He looked down the bar at Tara, not at her body really, but her face and in particular her eyes.  "If you're the sort of person who prefers something a bit sweeter, perhaps a dessert, I might recommend the chocolate mousse.  It's light, fluffy, and a fine comfort food if you've been having a long day."

His face hadn't smiled yet, but his serious eyes had changed abruptly.  Now they seemed to have the barest hint of a smile as if he was feeling something he wasn't yet trying to show.

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Tara flashed a smile.

"Honestly... never had a reuben. Always seemed... I don't know? Not "exotic". Just too much going on there. Chocolate mousse sounds better."

She took a long sip of her iced tea.

"Though it doesn't match this too well."

She paused and looked over the counter.

"I guess I'll try the Reuben. It might have too much going on... but then again... so do I. Thanks for the tip."

Tara smiled again and swallowed the question she was going to ask. They'd found out enough about this guy already... she didn't need to dig for dirt. More importantly, she didn't want to. 

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"Too much going on?"  He tried to repress his smile but failed.  "Well, unless I'm mistaken the sort of statement that begs to inquired into just a bit more."

He turned his barstool making it clear he was now attempting to converse with her, as opposed to offering unsolicited lunch advice. 

"My name's Kacey, Kacey Adams." He offered his hand to Tara.  "If I'm reading into that statement all wrong just say the word and I'll..."  he chuckled at himself nervously, "I'll order chocolate mousse to quietly drown my embarrassment in." 

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