The informant surfaces
One more in our series of chapters that didn't make THE NIGHT POLICE final cut. This may have been round filed, but like all the rest, it's a true account fictionalized, only names and places have been changed to protect identities. Sometimes these excerpts aren't "publish-ready" as they were drafts, but you'll get the drift.
In Part One you'll meet the informant in this case, not what you might expect. Neither were his motivations.
This is a three-part blog post; you can link to the Parts Two and Three here:
“Let Me Make This Right” Part 1
In the early 80s in this part of the country, coke was king. Not crack or any other permutation since then, just good old-fashioned powdered form, cocaine. If you were leaning towards young and you weren’t cloistered away in the Tengboche Buddhist monastery in Nepal, it was damn near impossible not to bang into it. You would see it everywhere, be it the tight bodied blonde clubber in a crotch high mini, a “Got Milk?” mustache quickly wiped away. It was likely the Jack and Jill hunched over the center console of their Toyota Corolla, desperately trying to get the last taste out of a half gram bindle. Maybe the racquetball queen, in those smokin’ spandex shorts, snorting a line off the gym sink. On her way to peak wellness. Hell, it could just as easily be the “lost in the 60s” hippie grandma and her moon child sharing a bullet of blow. Trust me, it was everywhere and anywhere.
To the dope dealers of the day, that meant substantial commercial opportunity. Who gives a fuck what it meant to the street level consumer, right? It was a victimless crime, right? It was so easy for our useless politicians and the press to ignore the death spiral caused up the food chain. The privileged Hollywood machine was right there with its righteous indignation about any attack on their drug of choice.
It is and never was a victimless crime, and the politicos, the press and Hollywood were and are so ignorant and complicit in the effects of this and any other popular drug they glamorize or excuse. Fuck them.
Now if you happened to be a narc, it meant that a good portion of your time would be spent interdicting this illicit El Dorado. Agents up and down the narco ecosystem, street buyers in Bogalusa, Louisiana, or Fairbanks, Alaska to the gritty, sweaty DEA in Bolivia; we all shared this one thing in common. Narcotics enforcement was one mitigation that kept drugs from being the catalyst for exponential deterioration of the American way of life. I know that may sound overly dramatic, but I believed it then and I believe it now.
My partners and I put our ass on the line every day, and for what? It sure as shit wasn’t for the pay or the glamour. It wasn’t for the support of our management and our city fathers, that was almost non-existent. It was for an ideal. We believed that’s what it was all about. I don’t give a shit what all of our detractors think; I didn’t then and I sure as shit don’t care now.
Ok, I’m off the soapbox, at least for now.
Mid-American University, known for an affluent and erudite student body, was the last place I expected to come across a best-in-class, thoroughbred snitch. But in this business, being surprised is commonplace.
Bristol City patrol officers arrested a young man for deuce one very late Friday night. Interestingly enough, they found a package containing three ounces of cocaine that had slid out from under the passenger front seat. Not sure how they persuaded the young fella to allow them to open it, but somehow that happened. Patrol, against their usual instincts (which said process fast and get back on the street) listened when Timothy Thomas Thick told them he had the information they might care about.
I know because my gawd damned beeper announced their intention at 0440 hours. That would be 4:40 A fucking M. I guess I shouldn’t bitch because that’s almost exactly the time that snitch fun seemed to occur, at least most of the time. Sometimes I slept at 0440 hours, maybe not all that often, but sometimes. This was not going to be one of those nights.
Now I realize that a lot of dopers are up all night, after all, they have drugs to ingest and assorted mayhem to arrange, but don’t you think some self-respecting felon might consider, just for a moment, that narcotics agents need their sleep too? For the most part, narcs don’t finish work until way after midnight and then there’s the drinking. We’ve got a lot to get in and limited time to do it. Jesus Christ folks, this is simple math.
Back to the young Thick. He was the poster boy for the yuppie collegiate. A trim, achromatically white dude with perfectly coiffed chestnut brown hair, just a quarter-inch over the ears. The morning I met him he was dressed in pressed Levis and a button-down shirt with lovely turquoise stripes. Oh, and tasseled loafers. He sickened me.
I first saw TripleThick, I called him that because it annoyed him, sitting in a holding cell on the same metal bench that thousands of other miscreants had parked their ass on. He was different at first sight, aloof and disconnected from his circumstances. I can’t say I thought he looked like confidential informant material, I really thought he looked more like douche bag material. Jim Hartman, a journeyman street monster, intercepted me in the hall outside of the holding pen.
“Jesus, you look like shit. Not that you normally don’t.”
“Thanks, I feel like it too,”. I said.
“Can’t you round up some rat at three in the afternoon so I can have my beauty sleep?”
Jim just smiled, “We’re the night police brother,”.
Hartman, who had the distinction of being both a competitive weightlifter and ballroom dancer (and yes, he took shit for that ALL the time) was also a terrific lawman. He had a rep you could bounce bullets off of. He’s one of the few guys that could drag me out of the rack in the wee hours with an offer of a potential snitch who was going to MAU and majoring in macroeconomics. Damn good thing I didn’t see TripleThick before I crawled out of bed.
Although TripleThick had three “oh-zees” in his possession, I still found it hard to believe this pretty boy could give up a pound player or others who could do “kilos”. In the early 80s, a pound of dope was a lot of dope.
It just seemed so out of his league he’d have these connections, and they were well established enough that he could duke us in. Our boy made the case that he was initially connected through another MU student whose father was the CEO of a major software company you and I would know well. According to TripleThick, his dope network was made up primarily of children of privilege and trust fund babies. To them, it was exciting, straight out of the movies.
If it was true, it was unusual, but it was also a potential gold mine for us. I guess money and privilege do open doors. I’d also make the guess this naive fraternity never watched the part in the movies where the nexus between drugs and money was often death or, on a more positive note, prison. It was just another intramural sport for them, but sexier and more lucrative.
Before we could trust TripleThick, at least as much as you could trust any CI, we wanted to see how he worked under pressure. We wanted to gain an understanding of his genuine connections and his ability to make them work in our favor. We wanted to know if we could bet on the little fuck. Occasionally lives depended on these judgments.
To that end, we decided to do a deal with an associate of TripleThick whom he described as one of his best buddies, a guy he used to room with. TripleThick suggested he could do this standing on his head, it’d be simple, his pal Mitch would trust him with his life. When I asked him if he was so close to Mitch, why would he give him up? The answer was simple, “I have no intention of going to jail”.
If true, this would be a simple way to work out some operational details of buying drugs with TripleThick. We asked him to set it up.
The very next day TripleThick, my partner, one bad Mookie Chefster, and I met Mitch Laughler at a well-known fern bar on Tremain Avenue. TripleThick introduced us as “a couple of buds” that owned an auto parts store in his hometown of Franklin, and we were looking to expand in the Bristol City area. He explained since we were spending so much time locally, we planned to take in the MU Arcadia ‘Big Game” if we could get tickets and to do a little general-purpose partying.
TripleThick called the next day to tell us Mitch had gotten all four of us tickets to the ‘Big Game’. We made that game, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t get hammered and have a hell of a time. Mitch liked us and we liked him.
As we’d pre-arranged, we allowed Mitch to overhear us asking TripleThick about getting a significant quantity of cocaine. He replied, again as pre-arranged, that he could probably set that up depending on how much we wanted. Hopefully, Mitch heard us discussing a range of ounces.
The third time we met with Mitch was at his on-campus apartment. TripleThick had taken on himself to set this up, which met with our general disapproval, but it was furthering the case so we made it work. He also took it on himself to tell Mitch that Mookie and I used our auto parts stores to further our side business of dealing a little cocaine. Even though we wanted to chastise TripleThick for that lie before we’d approved of it, it was a fairly smart move on his part. To this point, for a snitch, he was doing pretty good work and was accumulating a shred of credibility.
While we sat around Mitch’s cramped little apartment, he plied us with pre-made Margaritas and Jimmy Buffett tunes. He was an unusually fun crook with a good time always at the forefront. At one point, and almost completely out of the blue, he said, “Hey, if you guys are still looking, I can hook you up with some blow.” Mookie and I shared looks to which Mitch added, “I heard you talking with Tim, I can hook you up.”
END Part One
To pull this story together, here are links to the full three-part series:
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