THE DETECTIVE’S GARDEN
The Detective’s Garden A Love Story and Meditation on Murder is set in Brooklyn in 1995. Originally from Slovenia, ex-NYPD Homicide Detective Emil Milosec, a man with a past poised to reclaim him is perennially on the outside. Elena, his beauty of a wife, has died, but she has filled pages of letters to him—which he has so far refused to read. Elena always remained elusive to him, and she still is.
An ugly discovery among the leafy haven of their backyard garden unsettles the uneasy truce Emil has managed since Elena’s death. A lively cast of local characters, a dark history and an international mystery all inform the story. Underpinning events are a heat wave, the Brooklyn housing bubble underway, a gun that goes off, and a smattering of science. A little bit Sophocles, a dash of Shakespeare, and tablespoons of Old Testament go into a brew that is both contemplative and neo-noirish.
$18.00 | Paperback | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 384 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60953-133-1 | Carton Quantity: 24
Sunday night, June 18th, Emil Milosec sat alone in the dark. He felt secure among the leafy haven of his garden, an oasis he and Elena had created: a twenty by eighty-foot hedge against the surrounding urban decay.
He hadn’t yet fired his revolver. Hadn’t yet, his former partner Detective Mike Dunn might say, gotten pissed off at God. Sitting with a glass of a full-bodied Pinot Noir, he innocently thought about original sin: Adam and Eve, the first fornication; a garden, Eden, no zip code. It was a topic Emil rolled over like worry beads repeatedly massaged. He had his own ideas of Eve’s shape and Adam’s manhood. He had his own ideas about everything, his wife said, everything but himself.
Even his mother had warned against his arrogant questioning. “Only God can know,” she’d say, wagging a finger in his face. “Too many ideas fill that head of yours, my Emiloshka.” She’d threatened to drill a hole on top so all the questions would pass out of him. Young Emil imagined steam, like from a kettle, whistling out of the hole in his head, forming words in the air. He began to think anyone could read his mind and for a time tried to think in code.
Was that first coupling transcendent? He would like to know. Did Adam perform—not too fast, not too slow? Did Eve respond with all she had? First times are usually a disappointment, he reflected. His was, with a whore he paid twenty-five hard-earned dollars to break him in. The Bible is prudish on details; how the first sin went off that we’re supposed to regret for all time. No, he didn’t buy it, not one single word of the Genesis story. As for regrets, he figured each and every one of us did a good job creating our own.
Emil leaned forward, hearing a rustling sound toward the rear of the garden. He thought he’d seen a possum the other day by the back wall, and wondered if they were nocturnal and what they ate. Or it could be Mrs. Noily’s cat Sam nosing around. He took another sip of wine.
Why not make Eve the same way as Adam, out of dirt mixed with God’s spit? Or like the giraffes or strawberries or ice, the way they came about? Why take Eve out of Adam’s rib? That all but guaranteed a form of incest, didn’t it? Was that the snag in the story that led to the first calculated criminal, Cain? Was murder written into the DNA all that long time ago? Or was the chaos of humankind the result of a blurry law laid down in secret behind closed doors: No touching! Just to keep the demon semen in check? Then why not make the first couple neutered?
He remembered it was Father’s Day. Earlier he’d heard giggling children on the street, out front. Elena hadn’t wanted kids; she’d said not every woman did. She joked, said breeding was too Darwinian. Emil had wanted her; her body, her sex, her. The other cops on the force had families, but his life was not the same as theirs. He inhabited two separate worlds, one colored by violent death, the other by Elena, and he thought he’d kept the two carefully apart. Elena once said, “You can be a perfectly good mother without having children.”
Emil’s meandering thoughts were cut short by the noise of drunken rummaging from next door. The clash of cheap aluminum chairs, a swear word in Spanish, a belch. Emil tensed. Some nights his neighbor Franco called out, saying what the liquor made him say.
Tonight, very drunk, he jeered: “Amigo! You there? Sí, I can smell you! Digame, how do the peppers grow, hah?” He stopped to laugh. “Still barren like your wife?” He took a breath, changed his tone, “May she rest in peace.”
“What’s with you and the peppers, Franco?” Emil called over the fence between them. Since spring every time he saw him Franco brought them up.
“You don’t know hombre?”
The way Emil saw it, if his neighbor didn’t own his dump next door he’d be out on the street. He growled, “Go sleep it off, man.”
“What? You want to shoot me?” Franco called. “Pale-blooded blanco; go ahead, shoot me with your shiny pistola! If you have los cojones, Amigo.” He broke out in a raucous laugh repeating, “Los cojones.” In the morning he would have little recollection of his beer-soaked words.
Emil lingered after Franco finally retreated to his cave of a house. His mind wandered back to Adam and Eve and their short-lived joy. So, what was it, one blissful go next to the silvery stream, the peaceable animals hearing Eve cry out in earthly delight? The thought of them, prior to the hissing, whispering snake, a sexless, child-like pair wandering through a flawless setting for all eternity—whose idea of perfection was that?