What happened after I saved Max’s life is kind of a blur.
The warehouse by the docks smelled like spilled motor oil and spoiled seafood. A big, blue moon reflected off black water. I walked fast, late for a meeting. My partner, Max, and I had been undercover two months by then, trying to bust a guy importing illegal drugs from Canada. We were close.
Max was already inside, talking. That was his strong suit. He was the brains; I was the brawn. He looked the part, too: medium height; marathon runner thin; ginger hair that he insisted was “auburn;” and non-prescription glasses he wore only when undercover to add to his smart, Brooklyn mouth.
Then, me: I looked like an ex-con who’d forgotten to shave. Over six feet with muscles built by Crossfit. Dark hair, dark eyes, and I kept my mouth shut, let Max do the talking. No one would ever suspect us for cops, not the way we looked, the way we acted: hung-over frat boys, picking at each other, pushing at each other. That was Max and me.
So just imagine my genuine fucking surprise when I walked into the warehouse to find Max on his knees with a gun in his face. The smart guy glasses were gone, replaced by a bloody nose and bruised cheek. His hands were tied behind his back. When he saw my dumbstruck ass, he didn’t break character. He looked scared; maybe he was.
“Tony,” he said, “tell them I’m not a cop.”