If you haven't already, please read the first chapters of the story before you move on.
Chapter 1: Prologue: The Briefing
Chapter 2: Pride and Extreme Prejudice
Chapter 3: The Monk
Chapter 4: Sagittarius
Chapter 5: A Misplaced Identity
Chapter 6: Shit Happens
Chapter 7: Family Ties
Chapter 8: Tartuffe
Chapter 9: Non, Je Regrette Rien
Epilogue (Part 1)
Epilogue (Part 2)
Epilogue (Part 3)
Image by porbital
“Holy shit!” Mercedes turns to Chase as he sets down the two suitcases and lifts the strap of a smaller bag from his shoulder. “Did you see this?”
She waves him over to the sitting room window. She has pulled back the sheer drapes.
She’s looking down on the Grand Concourse below where people are hurrying about their business, oblivious to the couple watching them from far above.
“What is this place?”
“It’s called The Campbell Apartment,” Chase replies. “Though he never actually lived here, an early 20th century financier named John Campbell built an office here in Grand Central. This suite was added after his death.”
He gives her bare bottom a gentle slap, and says “Come on. Let’s get dressed. I’ll show you his office. We can get a drink and I’ll tell you about the rest of your surprise.”
After a shower, accompanied by more fun and games, Chase leads Mercedes to a door in the sitting room she had taken for a coat closet. He opens it and Mercedes is surprised to see a staircase in front of her. Soft music drifts up to greet them. Chase offers his arm, and the couple descends to a small space below, a balcony set up with several small bistro tables and chairs. Below is a handsome wood-paneled lounge with a bar and several comfortable looking couches.
“This is where Campbell had his office,” he tells the astonished woman at his side.
“Pretty nice digs,” Mercedes comments as she takes in the space, her eyes wide.
“Let’s go down and get that drink,” Chase says. “There’s no dart board, for which I’m grateful since I’m a lousy player. But you can get your beer if you like. I recommend you forego the brew for a martini, though. They make an excellent one.”
After their drinks are delivered to table in front of the small couch where they sit side-by-side, Chase tells Mercedes about the schedule for the following day.
They make a stop at Saks on Fifth to buy some suitable clothing for the day’s events – neither Mercedes nor Chase had taken much to Marrakech – then the limo heads downtown.
“After you drop us off, please take our garment bags back to Grand Central,” Chase tells the driver. “You can leave them with the bartender in The Campbell Apartment. ”
Chase and Mercedes are dressed in the conservative summer-weight business suits they bought at Saks. The bags contain the clothing they wore to the store, as well as evening wear for the gala that night.
When Chase told her about the ceremony they were attending as they had dinner the previous night, Mercedes was overjoyed.
“Oh, Ed! That’s a great surprise! How did you pull it off?”
“I wish I could take credit,” he responds, “but I had nothing to do with it. I didn't know anything about it until I got the invitations for you and me to attend.”
He leans over and kisses her. “But I knew you would be thrilled, and since I had every intention of jumping your bones…”
“You were going to bribe me?” Mercedes pulls away and looks at him with almost credible indignation, but the smile hovering at the corner of her mouth gives her away.
“I would never have done that. I didn’t tell you until after I had my way with you, did I?”
“No. No, you didn’t.” The smile bursts into full bloom. “But I think you are mistaken. Who had whose way with whom?”
Chase thinks to himself that he hasn’t ever seen Mercedes smile so much. He decides to take that as a good sign.
After the limo drops them at the entrance to the beige stone building, they pause on the sidewalk and look at the words carved into the mantle above the double wooden doors.
Tears spring to Mercedes eyes. Though he worked in this building only a short time before the precinct moved to new digs, nearly all her father’s career with the NYPD was spent in the 1st Precinct. How appropriate, she thinks, that the ceremony they are about to attend is being held in the New York Police Museum, now housed in the original 1st Precinct headquarters.
Chase takes her hand and leads her inside. They board the elevator and ride to the third floor.
When the doors open, the hallway to the left is filled with members of the NYPD, all in full dress blues. The sea of blue parts as Chase and Mercedes walk to the doors to the Hall of Heroes. The exhibit is closed, its renovation due to begin in the near future. But today, the exhibit room portal is open wide in welcome to its community of cops, gathered to honor one of their own.
The 1st Precinct captain, a man Mercedes has known for years, steps forward and kisses her cheek.
“Mercedes. I’m so pleased you could be here. This is a day too long in coming.”
“You know I wouldn’t have missed it.” Mercedes smiles through tears at the grey-haired man and accepts the arm he holds out to her.
“Come, both of you. We have seats for you up front.”
He and Mercedes walk to the front of the room, where a photograph of Grigori Karpov, aka Phil Brin, rests on an easel. Chase follows, and takes the chair beside Mercedes.
As they wait for the ceremony to begin, Chase looks around the room. The walls are filled with brass plates bearing the names – too many names -- of the NYPD fallen.
The room falls silent as Captain McInerny takes the podium.
“There is no space in this building, indeed in all of New York City, more sacred to the New York Police Department. As the plaque on the door says, this exhibit is ‘a memorial that commemorates those officers who have given the last full measure of devotion beyond the call of duty while fulfilling their sworn obligation to protect and serve their city’.”
The captain pauses for a moment to look over at Mercedes.
“Today, we are here to honor a man who did just that. It is an honor that is long overdue. Until now, the man we knew as Sergeant Phil Brin went unrecognized as the hero he was. The reason that could happen is because very few knew the risks he took to help clean our house.
“Thanks to Phil Brin, we learned just how dirty the NYPD house had gotten. As most of you know by now, the force was infiltrated by an element of the Russian mafia known as Zodiac. Given the events in New York over the past decade, I think it’s safe to say that Zodiac contributed to the death of many of the people whose names are on these walls.
“Sgt. Brin, whose real name was Grigori Karpov, was a member of Zodiac, not as a criminal infiltrator of the NYPD but as an undercover agent of the Russian government. Because of his Russian heritage and the fact that he was already a member of the NYPD, he was recruited by Russian intelligence to help identify and stop Zodiac.
“The information he’d gathered was turned over to us. It was through his efforts that we were able to arrest and prosecute the criminal element that had insinuated its way into the NYPD. Those efforts cost Phil Brin his life.”
McInerny walks to one of the walls filled with name plates, and uncovers the latest addition. The small brass plate says:
Grigori Alexei Karpov
(aka Sergeant Phil Brin)
As those gathered in the room applaud, McInerny goes over to stand before Mercedes. He hands her a small velvet box. Inside, she finds a green bar covered with a field of tiny gold stars.
“Mercedes Karpov, I’m pleased to give you your father’s Medal of Honor. This is the highest award the New York Police Department has. I only wish I were able to present it to him. As you’ll see on this Certificate of Commendation,” McInerny opens a leather folder and hands it to her, “this medal is ‘awarded for acts of gallantry and valor performed with knowledge of the risk involved, above and beyond the call of duty’.”
Chase watches Mercedes accept the medal and citation, tears streaming down her smiling cheeks. He can’t help but remember the first time he saw her, standing dry-eyed at the edge of her father’s grave. He knows that this is the final element of what she committed herself to achieving on her father’s behalf that day.
Mercedes shakes Captain McInerny’s hand and thanks him. Then she turns to Chase and wraps her arms around him in a hug.
“And thank you, Ed,” she whispers in his ear. “This was a wonderful surprise.”
As Chase returns the hug, he thinks about the ring in his pocket. He'd slipped down to the first floor jewelry department in Saks while Mercedes tried on evening gowns.
“Oh, I’m not done yet,” he whispers in reply.
The End (the real one)