The Case of the Rape-rape Patrol: a 17th precinct mini-mystery

We last met Officer Hannigan and Sergeant Fitzgerald in The Case of the Missing Global Warming and The Age of Stupid

“Sarge, we got a call.” Officer Hannigan motioned to Sergeant Fitzgerald who was paying for two coffees at a Second Avenue bodega. “Disturbance up at Forty-ninth.”

Fitzgerald wrapped a napkin around his cup, peeled back the tab on the lid and locked it in place. He took a sip, sighed and said, “Where then?”

“Forty-ninth. Fiorenzo’s—that Italian place.” Hannigan took his cup and held it as his side without opening it. “Walk?”

Fitzgerald nodded and they made their way across the avenue, then up two blocks where there was a small group of people gathered on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. A large man in a dark suit with slick black hair was yelling at slight man dressed all in black and wearing glasses with microscopically sized lenses. The smaller man was surrounded by a giggling retinue. The larger man had his mitts on the chest of an aproned man who was holding a knife.

“Come up with the money now or I loose Cisco!” The crowd sniggered in reply.

“Now what’s this all about?” asked Sergeant Fitzgerald.

“This…this imbecille has tried to leave without paying his bill!” As he was speaking, Hannigan was coaxing the knife from the cook’s hand.

“Is that true, then?”

“He charged over $800! And he just got up and walked out!”

“Officer, I can explain. I am Francois Jaworski, the sculptor.”

Hannigan said, “The one the Akron, Ohio Beacon Journal called ‘Our city’s pride’?”

“The very one.” Hannigan told Fitzgerald how an abstract statue placed in front of the municipal library created by Jaworski had won ‘Honourable Mention’ in a South African art contest.

“Ah, sure. A Class D Celebrity. And how much did you say the bill was?” After hearing, “Well, then, there’s nothing we can do. Not unless it was over a thousand. You’re free to go.” The throng was still laughing as they entered cabs and drove off.

As Fitzgerald was explaining the law to the restaurant manager, Hannigan was talking on his radio.

“Sarge. Another call. Right over on First. Hit and run.”

They hustled, as fast as the older Sergeant’s bulk allowed, east on Forty-eighth street. When they arrived on scene, an ambulance was placing the body of a thirty-something woman on a stretcher.

A witness said that the car that ran over the woman kept going but then hit a cab that was coming out of the street tunnel. The driver of the car was leaning against the door of his car and was lighting a cigarette.

“Hold out your hands and turn around.” Hannigan was removing his cuffs from his belt when a woman extracted herself from the passenger side. Fitzgerald was asking the man, “Had a few tonight, did we? Smells like more than three swallows of Three Swallows1.”

“Just a minute, policeman,” said the woman. “I’m Chloe Wintertop, Mr Stepanski’s publicist.”

“Stepanski?” asked Fitzgerald.

“The assistant to the Assistant Director to Mike Nichols, the noted Hollywood filmmaker.”

“Ah, I see. I’ll have to call this in.” Hannigan replaced his cuffs and Sergeant Fitzgerald radioed in the particulars. Several people were milling about and Hannigan had to clear a path for the ambulance.

“OK. It appears that this is only his second infraction, so he’s free to go, Miss Wintertop. But if it happens again, I warn you he might have to pay a fine.”

The officers saw to the dispersal of the crowd when their last call of the night came in. A street fight on Fifty-first just west of Second. Again, they rushed on foot and Sergeant Fitzgerald was by now deeply regretting his initial decision to leave the car for their first call. Not for the first time, he swore off donuts.

The crowd surrounded a man on the street and was worrying him severely. Several people kicked him; threats and imprecations came from all sides.

“Hold it!” yelled Fitzgerald. He and Hannigan had their guns out and were pushing the crowd back. “What’s going on!”

“He beat up that little girl!” came several shouts. “He raped her!” It was then Fitzgerald noticed they were in front of St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage for Girls. Fitzgerald turned the gun on the man who was just rising. “Let me see some identification and fast.”

“There’s been a serious misunderstanding, officer. My name is Latin Nowakowski.” Electric whispers shot through the crowd. Fitzgerald read the I.D. “Nowakowski, Latin. Male, 44. Class A Celebrity.”

Someone blurted, “He won two Oscars®!” Others said, “The New York Times called him a cultural treasure. He creates art!” Soon, murmurs of “Youthful indiscretion”, “So-called crime”, and “Not really rape-rape” began.

“Are we sure it was two Oscars®, Hannigan?” Fitzgerald asked. Hannigan nodded. “OK, Mr Nowakowski. You can go.”

Several people clamored for Nowakowski’s autograph as he walked away.

Can you solve the mystery?


1“Three Swallows” is the nickname for Powers’ best-selling Irish whiskey, which has three birds printed on its label.


  1. Rich

    “It is an awful thing to kill a king”. With the cult of celebrity confusing important celebrities (politicians) with unimportant celebrities (actors) it is a matter of policy that the mob should not be alerted to the possibility of removing celebrities by whatever means. Once the idea that a king may be killed takes root no king is safe.

    So, the solution to the mystery is, ruling elite self-preservation.

  2. DAV

    For some reason, I think they were wearing ties.

  3. Joy

    Hannigan and Fitzgerald have run into a film set – the wallys!

  4. Noblesse Oblige

    Sounds like the decline and fall of the Roman empire.

  5. DAV

    They have polished names and, since charges don’t stick, skins of Teflon®. Coincidence?

    Reminds me somewhat of a Dirty Ditty one of the frats passed around at school called “Three Prominent Bastards” ending with a fighting declaration from Everyman of self-appointed bastardness. Declaration missing from the above story though.

  6. a jones

    You all forget Mr. Briggs cut his teeth on codes. And cryptographers pick their words carefully. Did like the ….ski though.

    Kindest Regards.

  7. a jones

    Oh and I should have added to the above whilst the use of the R in a circle does denote in the US a registered trade mark under US patent law it does not do so elsewhere.

    Unlike the copyright C in a circle which applies in all territories which are signatories to the Copyright conventions.

    And please further note the inernational symbol for copyright is specified as a C enclosed in a circle: some people seem to imagine that a C in brackets or such like amounts to the same thing. It might but does not necessarily do so, as the courts of several countries have determined. The international symbol is a C enclosed in a circle.

    That is because whilst in most signatory territories copyright does not necessarily have to to be asserted but if it is it can only be done in the proper form, the C in a circle: and the failure to do that can lead to considerable difficulties in enforcing it.

    You can simply assert your copyright by the use of the copyright C with your name and the date of publication.

    Uniquely in the UK you can also assert a moral right provided you state that you do.

    Kindest Regards

  8. Joy

    This had occurred to me about hidden codes and I do believe Briggs makes a habbit of writing hidden text into his posts. Either that or he doesn’t reread his text as there is often a jarring lack of flow that makes one wonder if it is deliberate. However, not well hidden if it is. For example the ‘radiohead, Jillian Anderson’ in the previous post.

    ‘He charged over …’ surely he means ‘he owes..or the bill came to…’ If he was the one charging then he had every right to walk out as it wasn’t his position to pay!

    Sidewalk was written twice in quick succession along with a typo that maybe marks something else in the code.

    However, with Briggs preponderence to mistype it wouldn’t be easy to pick the code from the typos, a waist of time. I’m a very busy lady!

    Second oddity about Cisco. This scene is maybe set in Sanfrancisco and there were other reasons for thinking this that I can’t be bothered going back to look for now. I wonder if this is the set for the film that was mentioned in the previous article.

  9. Doug M

    Couldn’t be San Francisco. No 51st and 2nd intersection. The numbered streets and avenues only go as high as 48th.

  10. Briggs

    “The 17th Precinct is located in midtown Manhattan and comprised of the following communities: Sutton Area, Beekman Place, Kipps Bay, Turtle Bay, Murray Hill, Manhattan East and the Rose Hill Community. The Precinct serves three main constituents – residential, business and diplomatic communities.”

  11. a jones

    Yes I agree.

    I think the term charged, the $800, can be potentially misunderstood because of the difference between British English and American English usage and idiom.

    Although essentially the same, in the UK you might usually deal on account with a supplier, that is use your credit, in the US they would say you charged it to your account. As we sometimes if seldom say in the UK.

    Again fifty years ago in the UK if you had an account with your grocer, tailor, butcher or whatever in the USA they usually called it a charge account: and perhaps still do for all I know.

    So here I assume that in a dining establishment in the US you end up charging various items to what in the UK we would call the bill.

    The sense is fairly clear it just jars and so reads oddly to British English users.

    Kindest Regards

  12. Scotty

    Metaphor for Polanski – immunity from prosecution due to celeb status

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