The Gardaí Serious Crime Squad occupied a corner of the open detective pit. The section consisted of a number of desks and one small office. From inside his office, Superintendent Jimmy Costello leaned back in his chair and surveyed his kingdom. The office chair protested the movement with a series of screeches and pops. The cramped office, just big enough for the scratched metal desk and visitor chair, appeared cluttered. To get to his chair, Jimmy turned sideways and squeezed past the desk. Scattered papers and file folders covered most of the desktop. Buried under desk clutter lay an assortment of items, such as a model of the Eiffel Tower, a lava lamp, a dead plant, and framed pictures of his wife and children. The warped wood-paneled wall resembled Costello’s desk with a mish-mash of items hung or taped, such as a framed photograph of Costello and Gardaí Commission Brian McGuiness, several photographs of famous rugby teams and players, and numerous newspaper articles related to famous cases handled by the Serious Crime Squad.
The warped plastic windows that faced the squad room made distorted everything like a fun house mirror. The department replaced the smashed original glass on the windows several years back after a nasty brawl broke out in the squad room. The stink of the fight arose because it involved not criminals or suspects, but started between three detectives who argued over the World Cup. Today the window reminded Costello of how things went wrong from innocent circumstances. Scratches and dents covered the plastic windows, which now displayed a hazy grey color. Rumors placed Jimmy Costello as the fourth member of the famous brawl. Being the political mastermind, Jimmy managed to purge his name of all involvement. Instead of a reprimand for the brawl, Jimmy Costello ascended to the top of the Serious Crime Squad and straightened up his act. He managed the unit with efficiency and steered the fine line to handle cases in the face of corruption in the greater Gardaí that grew every day.
Costello leaned back in his chair. He squinted as he read the sheet of paper in his hand, his glasses no longer strong enough for his aged eyes. He propped his feet on the desk and exposed a timeworn pair of shoes with holes on the soles. In recent months, he noticed his hair started to show streaks of silver fibers in his once auburn mop. A new goatee adorned his face, much greyer than his hair. Unused to the beard, he often stroked the hair on his chin, too aware of how wicked itchy the beard was. Jimmy Costello’s appearance sent a message he was lax in his job and life overall. The mistake many people made is when they missed the sharp glint in his eye under interrogation. Adversaries who made this error found themselves in trouble. Those who knew Jimmy Costello knew of his razor sharp mind. He commanded the respect of the squad and his peers for as a nimble politician who did not compromise his soul in the process.
Liam Malone slipped into Costello’s office and mumbled the obligatory “sorry” for no reason as he sat in the visitor chair. The newest detective in the Serious Crime Squad, Liam Malone caught Jimmy’s attention while at the Academy. Liam continued to impress after graduation with stellar performance in his first year as a Garda uniformed patrol officer. He added to his CV when he worked undercover in drug and crime cases, and excelled as his work dismantled of one of the most violent gangs in Dublin. He adapted to his new life as a married man, he wished to spend time with his young wife and son. Liam sat for the Inspector’s exam, which qualified him for the Interview Boards.
He skipped the rank of Sergeant, a supervisory level in the uniformed Gardaí. Liam spent his compulsory one-year stint on the OCU (Organized Crime Unit), and applied for a position in the Flying Squad, which dealt with armed robbery, and spent two years the unit. A patient man, Jimmy monitored the career progression of the young star on the rise. He took Liam to the club often. When Liam racked up enough service time under his belt, Jimmy invited him to join the Serious Crime Squad.
Once under Jimmy’s wing, Liam did not disappoint with his work in the SCS. Liam approached every case with enthusiasm. Jimmy loved his attitude and honesty.
However, honesty led to a problem in the Gardaí climate.
Back in the Stone Age, young Garda Jimmy Costello noticed a disturbing trend in its infancy. Any organization dealt with a certain amount of corruption along the fringes, a given when wealthy criminals, low-paid law enforcement, and ambitious bureaucrats come together in the same brew. This trend, however, became more prevalent with each passing year of the country’s depression. Today, an officer not on the take was uncommon. Crime, business, and politics infiltrated the Gardaí. In Jimmy’s opinion, the Gardaí was no longer on the up and up and corruption no longer the exception but the norm. Many corporations expanded into organized crime, as sin took the lead as the only profitable business left in Ireland. These corporations found if they influenced decisions at Phoenix Park, their ride smoothed. The days when the Gardaí valued an honest detective were over. Reprimands slapped the wrist for those exceptional detectives who arrested the wrong criminals. An honest detective was a liability.
Jimmy’s distasteful duty on this day consisted of reining in his finest young detective. This job tested Jimmy’s skills with people. He did not want to break Liam’s spirit. Deep down, Jimmy respected an honest Garda, although the politics made it no longer prudent to advertise the fact.
Jimmy returned his attention to the piece of paper in his hand. He re-read the header, an interoffice memo from Brian McGuiness, the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Assistant Commissioner and the Big Cheese in Dublin. The memo addressed one of Liam’s cases that investigated an efficient and organized loan shark operation. Liam deftly worked his way up the hierarchy of the organization and, not only identified the boss, but also the corporate connections. The mistake Liam made no secret as to the identity of the corporate executive involved.
There lay the first plank in Liam Malone’s coffin.
The young detective sat across the desk from Jimmy. He looked so eager and naïve. In his eyes, he showed no realization of the circumstances he found himself. Liam became a dangerous man to the Gardaí establishment. The boyish hair, the gleam of his blue eyes, and the near skip in his step betrayed a juvenile nature in Liam Malone. Jimmy Costello knew Liam would not take the request to step down from this case well.
“Let’s talk about your loan-shark,” Jimmy offered, unable to look his detective in the eye.
“Yeah, sir, funny you should bring that up, I wanted to talk to about this,” Liam said and opened his file folder on the desk. “I’m not certain just how to proceed. Sorry I haven’t come to you sooner. I thought I had the case in hand, but now I’m a little over my head. I’ve found the boss, but he has ties to KOD.”
Jimmy sighed. He dreaded this task. So much energy and talent, and no idea what he walked into.
As the largest corporation in Ireland, KOD, Inc. Founder Kieran O’Dowd acted as both Chairman of the Board and CEO. O’Dowd, as ruthless as he was charismatic, ruled business in Ireland with a quirky media personality and sense of humor. KOD had a hand in so many industries and ventures in Ireland and Europe that a conversation about what the conglomerate did not touch proved easier.
In addition, it was an unwritten rule not to touch anything associated with KOD or Kieran O’Dowd. Liam did not know this yet.
“Liam, I’m sorry to tell you this, now,” Jimmy said. He sat up and smoothed his hands on the rough surface of his desk. “Kieran O’Dowd is a generous benefactor of the Gardaí, and a critical individual to Ireland. KOD carries the Irish economy on its own. We exercise caution in how we use his name and his company’s name in conjunction with any alleged crime.”
“Sorry, sir, I understand he is well-respected,” Liam said. “And that is why I’ve come to you first about this.”
“Fabulous work, Liam. You are heads and shoulders above any of other inspector in the department. This lesson should come in time, but we don’t have that luxury. As detectives in the Gardaí, we need wisdom on how far to push a case. You were right to alert me, but it should have been much sooner, lad, and been quieter about the task. You need to understand the people to not mess with. Now, I’m sorry to be telling you this, but it’s for your own good.”
“Are you’re saying I should back off because of Kieran O’Dowd?” Liam asked. “If he’s involved in a crime, doesn’t he need to investigate and punish him? Or even if he’s wrongly connected, we need to investigate so we can clear him. Or least we need to advise him to choose his allies better or stop people who leached off of him.”
“Lad, I understand the desire to save people and bring the wicked to justice,” Jimmy said. “As inspectors, we use discretion and wisdom. You can no longer work like a beat Garda. Remember what Assistant Commissioner McGuiness said just a few weeks ago at our luncheon? If we enforced every health code, there wouldn’t be a restaurant in all Dublin still open. Well, the same goes here. Kieran is a public figure, and he takes a lot of criticism and is under a great deal of pressure as a visionary person. However, what he does is critical to the country and we have to be careful of what we do with information. We live in times when our country needs the top employer to put as many Irish to work as possible and continue to fulfill the vision to make Ireland a better country. What is more beneficial to Ireland? Is it Kieran in jail or in court over what someone in his organization may have done without his knowledge, or would we rather have KOD move full-force to advance Ireland? It is not about liking or disliking Kieran, which is not our job. Sometimes we have to help and protect loathsome people if they help the greater good. We must trust the bigger picture beyond what we can see from our positions.”
“This is nothing personal against Kieran or KOD,” Liam protested.
“Good, you’ve learned another lesson about detective work: Be impartial,” Jimmy said. “Let’s run this up and see what action they want us to take.”
“Sir, I’m going to proceed with this in the way you think best, please understand,” Liam stated. “I just would like to know, for the sake of my wisdom and how I should handle myself in the future. Is the Gardaí under the control of Kieran O’Dowd and KOD? I see their executives in here all the time, I hear references to agreements made with them, and Kieran often speaks at and attends our meetings. But, I also see crime bosses roam the street unrestricted and that drives me crazy. Now I have found a link between the two, which disturbs me.”
Jimmy Costello raised his voice and his eyes narrowed into slits. “Son, I am not on the payroll of KOD and I don’t take orders from them, nor am I in the pocket of organized crime,” Jimmy stood up and his metal chair hit the wall. “I can’t attest for all the Gardaí. I am simply giving advice to help your Gardaí career.”
“Yes, sir, I apologize if I said anything to offend you,” Liam said.
Jimmy snorted a quick breath and stretched his neck. When he spoke again, his voice softened. “I would be disappointed if you did not ask these questions and many men here in this department would not have asked such questions,” Jimmy said. He inhaled a breath and sat down. “Tell me, now. Does what I have just said sour you on the Gardaí?”
“Sir, I would be lying if I told you the idea of looking the other way while someone commits a crime isn’t distasteful,” Liam said. “But, I trust enough to believe you are looking out for my best interest.”
A pang of guilt hit Jimmy as he lied to his detective. “My bosses will react less benignly than I, so I would suggest you forget any information that connects Kieran,” Jimmy said. “I will tell them you came to me with this information and asked for advice, which you have, and that will make them happy.”
“And the gang boss I have in custody downstairs?”
Jimmy looked down at his desk. He spoke with pain in his voice. “Release him.”
Liam sunk in his chair. He appeared to deflate at the statement.
“Sorry, son, I know how you feel,” Jimmy said. “Each day gets harder to stomach, but this is of vital importance to your career. Don’t get too upset about the thug downstairs. Someone else will let him out if you don’t.”
“He’s just so arrogant,” Liam said. He stood up, opened the door, and shook his head. “Apparently, he has reason. He has more pull here than either you or I.”
Liam looked like a puppy with his tail between his legs as he left the office. Jimmy knew Liam was immature to assume no corruption in the Gardaí existed. Jimmy imagined how the lad must feel when his boss requested he turn his back on the people he wanted to help.
The boy would take the edict in one of two ways. He would accept the decision or fight the decision.
Deep down, Jimmy knew Liam Malone would not ignore his conscious for long.
Jimmy Costello knew he had to plan on how to protect his prodigy.
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Table of Contents
Go to Chapter 6
Go back to Chapter 5a
Table of Contents
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