An excerpt from A Bitter Winter (2017)

Hey gang,

Just wanted to wish you all a safe and happy holiday and also a happy new year. For those of you following the progress of my book, I’m still doing a lot of polish on it. The goal is to have the book in tip top shape before I begin line editing starting in mid to late February. If all goes well, the book should be ready to publish by April or May (I hope.) Anyway, I have an excerpt to share with you all. I’m still working on it, but I think it’s cleaned up enough to share with you all.



Washed Up

Alone on a bench made of steel with no cushion or sheets, Cindy stared at a stone ceiling, shivering in a cold cell. She lived among the faceless wretches she used to put away: the poor, the wicked, the ignorant, the greedy, the hopeless, the fallen. The corridors thundered with the clash of barred doors, rattled with the jingle of keys, and trembled from the wails of raging inmates.

The rats squeaked between cells while roaches skittered along the brick walls. They called this place the Manhattan Detention Complex, but everyone called it the Tombs. She considered herself lucky to have been given her own cell and not to have been transferred to Riker’s where her position as a former police officer would have been a death sentence.

She had become one of them, one of the bad guys. Piece by piece her identity fell apart and melted in the palms of her hands. She remained on her back, rubbing her cold arms with her hands. She closed her eyes and thought about what Commissioner Gates had said. It was your fault Dan died. Your fault. Her mind rewound two and half years to the event which would be the start of her undoing.

The whole reason she wanted to become a cop was because she wanted work her way up to undercover status. She had fantasized about going deep undercover where she could infiltrate a gang and bring down a kingpin from the inside. Her partner, Dan, the commissioner’s son, did not share the same sentiment and was content with his patrol officer position. When she told him why she wanted to become detective, Dan laughed so hard he choked on his own spit.

“Why are you laughing at me?”

“Do you really think a small, pale, white girl like you is gonna go undercover as a smuggler? An enforcer? Not in this town. You’re either going to be the girlfriend, the meth addict, or the hooker. Even I can’t get in unless it’s an Irish gang, maybe Italian. Also, you ain’t got it in you to do what it takes.”

“Yes I do.”

“So you’re saying if a drug lieutenant asked you to do a line of coke, you’re gonna go through with it?”

“I won’t have to do that.”

She remembered Dan pressing two fingers into her temple. “Say he’s got a gun to your head and he wants you to prove you’re not a cop. You gonna do it?” When she didn’t reply he took his hand away. “That’s what I thought. So unless you want to open your legs to a bunch of John’s with STD’s, you ain’t ever gonna go undercover.”

The worst thing anyone could have told her was that she couldn’t do something. Dan’s ridicule only made her more determined to prove him wrong. And this was where she had made her greatest mistake. She had succeeded in helping execute one of the biggest drug busts in the city’s history. She discovered a meth lab hidden in Chelsea valued at around thirteen million dollars.

She was proud of what she did and bragged to anyone who would listen. Her fellow officers, Dan, even random strangers. She wanted everyone to know that she was the one responsible for shutting down the lab and everyone knew. Everyone, including the owner of said lab. If she had kept her hubris in check, Dan would still be alive.

The clanging of a cell door pulled Cindy out of her memory. She wiped the tears from her cheek and sat up on the bench. She assumed the guest to be her husband but who it turned out to be was much more surprising. Assistant Chief Mohammad Hasan. He joined her on the bench and leaned forward with his hands clasped between his legs.

“What are you doing here,” he asked.

“That’s a rhetorical question, right?”

“I know why you’re here, but I don’t know why you’re here. The Officer Brynfire I knew would have never spat on the commissioner’s face.”

“It’s pronounced Brannifer. Not Brin-fire.”

“Don’t get smart with me, Brannifer. You’re neck deep in shit and I’m the only one willing to throw you a life saver.”

Cindy swallowed hard. Losing Chief Hasan’s respect would ruin the entire legacy of her career. “I was intoxicated, still am, a little.”

“Oh I’m aware. But why? Why are you doing this to yourself?”

She shrugged.

“Thing is, Cindy. When I was Deputy Chief of Midtown South, you were a huge pain in my ass. You didn’t want to meet your quotas for the stop and frisk campaign and didn’t arrest perps under the broken windows strategy issued by the commissioner. You helped contribute to my precinct missing its target goals which in turn, made me look incompetent in front of the executives.

“Granted, I did recognize that those policies were . . . how should I say this . . . unfair to certain ethnic demographics. So I respected your conviction, but I couldn’t let your fellow officers think they could do the same without punishment. So I had your commanding officer reassign you to the most dangerous precincts and put you on vertical patrol to make an example out of you. Little did I know that you would reach out your hand to the disenfranchised communities and show those people that the police were not something to be afraid of. People in Brownsville, who never in a million years called the police, asked for you by name. And to add even more insult to injury, you earned a medal during one of your vertical patrols.

“You left such a good impression in those other precincts that the commanding officers asked for you to be permanently reassigned to them. So in retrospect, transferring you to another precinct was a useless form of punishment.”

Cindy quirked her brow. “They asked for me?”

“Of course. You see what makes a good cop is not how many people they arrest or how many violent offenders they put behind bars. A good officer, a great officer, makes the people they protect feel safe. They wanted you because you made them believe you cared.”

“I did care about them, I still do.”

Chief Hasan smiled. “My favorite story to tell is one of an officer and a knife wielding man in a hospital. The man had been threatening to kill the staff and patients with his long butcher knife. You arrive on the scene and the man points his weapon at you and says he’s going to kill you. You had every right to use deadly force but you never reached for your weapon. Instead you sat on a desk, put your gun on the floor, and talked to him.

“The man paced back and forth waving his knife while you talked, and suddenly, he flips the knife around with tears in his eyes, and he gives it to you. You throw the knife aside and hug him as if he were your family. I always wondered how you convinced him to do that.”

“I told him that I didn’t believe he wanted to hurt anybody. I asked him why he was so upset and he said that he lost his job and couldn’t afford the medical bills. I told him that if he gave me the knife, I’d make sure he’d get the help he needed and I guess he believed me.”

“Because he knew you were telling the truth. If it were Dan or another officer, that man would have been killed.”

Anguish pinched Cindy’s face. Listening to the retelling of her story resurfaced feelings of regret and shame. “Why are you telling me this?”

“I bent the commissioner’s ear and convinced him not to press charges against you. If he hadn’t done what he did in front of all those cell phone cameras, you’d be going to prison. But because no one recorded you spitting at him, it’s going to be our word versus the footage of him dumping beer over your head after you were already restrained.”

“Why do you care,” she said. “I’m not a police officer.”

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re police or not. You don’t belong here. I didn’t suffer all those headaches you caused me just so you could turn into a drunk. I know you feel guilty for what happened to Dan, but you have to let it go. You both knew the risks of the job and it could have happened to anyone. Don’t let his passing ruin your life.”

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Wilmar Luna

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games. Buy his books here: