“You wanna keep your streets safe, you gotta be on those streets—days, nights, weekends, holidays, whatever it takes, and your wives, they knew what they signed up for, and your kids, they learn to understand that’s what Daddy does, he puts the bad guys behind bars.”
“Malone is six two and solid. Thirty-eight now, he knows he has a hard look to him. It’s the tats on the broad forearms, the heavy stubble even when he shaves, the short-cropped black hair, the don’t-fuck-with-me blue eyes. It’s the broken nose, the small scar over the left side of his lip. What can’t be seen are the bigger scars on his right leg—his Medal of Valor scars for being stupid enough to get himself shot. That’s the NYPD, though, he thinks. They give you a medal for being stupid, take your badge for being smart. Maybe the badass look helps him stay out of the physical confrontations, which he does try to avoid. For one thing, it’s more professional to talk your way through. For another, any fight is going to get you hurt—even if it’s just your knuckles—and he doesn’t like getting his clothes messed up rolling around in God only knows what nasty shit is down there on the concrete. He’s not so much on the weights, so he hits the heavy bag and does the running, usually early morning or late afternoon depending on work, through Riverside Park because he likes the open view of the Hudson, Jersey across the river and the George Washington Bridge.”
“Malone grew up there, his wife and his kids still live there, and if you’re Irish or Italian from Staten Island, your career choices are basically cop, fireman or crook. Malone took door number one, although he has a brother and two cousins who are firefighters.”
“The St. Nicholas Houses, a baker’s dozen of fourteen-story buildings straddled by Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass Boulevards from 127th to 131st, make up a good part of Malone’s working life. Yeah, Harlem has changed, Harlem has gentrified, but the projects are still the projects. They sit like desert islands in a sea of new prosperity and what makes the projects is what’s always made the projects—poverty, unemployment, drug slinging and gangs. Mostly good people inhabit St. Nick’s, Malone believes, trying to live their lives, raise their kids against tough odds, do their day-to-day, but you also have the hard-core thugs and the gangs.”
“The poets, the artists, the dreamers.
He just loved the f****’ city, man.”
“It’s what he loves about New York—you want it, it’s there.
The sweet, fetid richness of this city. He never really got it until he left his Irish-Italian blue-collar, cop-fireman Staten Island ghetto and moved to the city. You hear five languages walking a single street, smell six cultures, hear seven kinds of music, see a hundred kinds of people, a thousand stories and it’s all New York.
New York’s the world.
Malone’s world, anyway.
He’ll never leave it.
No reason to.”
“You spend your whole f***g life trying to keep this shit out of people’s arms and no matter how much you seize, how many dealers you bust, it just keeps coming anyway, right up the line from the opium fields, to the labs, to the trailer trucks, to the needles and into the veins.
One smooth, ever-flowing river.”
“You’ve been breathing corruption since you put on the shield, Malone thinks. Like you breathed in death that day in September. Corruption isn’t just in the city’s air, it’s in its DNA, yours, too.
Yeah, blame it on the city, blame it on New York.
Blame it on the Job. It’s too easy, it stops you from asking yourself the hard question. How did you get here?
Like anyplace else.
A step at a time.”