The team is anchored by Sam but each member has contributions to make. Calvin is the brains and the best dresser, not that that matters to anyone except Calvin. His devotion to the work is second only to the friendship with his partner, most of the time.
From the Sam Deland Crime Novel SINK RATE, due to be released next month:
Johnny Bonner flew through the door from the back office area and grabbed Calvin by the arm and dragged him toward the door. “Let’s move, partner!” Calvin gave radio operator Santiago his best puppy dog eye shot and mouthed “I love you” silently toward her as he spun in Johnny’s grip and broke into a run to the parking lot. Calvin was figuring the angle to his next meeting with her and trying to remember where Bonner parked the car at the same time. He kept moving with Johnny and they split side to side when they came to the unmarked burgundy Crown Vic. Straus Valley barracks was about fifteen miles from the Bethlehem barracks and Porter was another twelve or thirteen beyond that, depending on which narrow back road you took. No matter how you looked at it, Calvin was in for an ass pucker ride.
Johnny Bonner had been a cop in Georgia for a couple of years before moving to Pennsylvania to drive tractor trailers and wait for an opening on the state police. When Calvin arrived his first day at the state police academy in Hershey, he thought he’d really fucked up good. In the middle of nowhere, trees, grass, and not another black face to be seen. Calvin lived in a ten block area in Norristown all of his twenty-one years with the exception of a rare trip to Philadelphia to visit some aunts and cousins, and recently, college classes two nights a week up the road in Gwynned.
Norristown looks and smells like dirty work clothes. Calvin lived under the grip of a grandmother, two older sisters, and his mom, who had a heart as big as a mountain, but high expectations of Calvin and fists of iron. Calvin needed a break, and when he was approached by a trooper taking classes with him at Montgomery County Community College, he was easily convinced. Join the state police and see the…well, see something besides Norristown. He and Johnny were roommates at the academy and they both thrived. They watched each other’s back. Johnny’s slow drawl singled him out for special attention by some of the instructors, but it slowly went away and Calvin learned that even southern white guys have a sense of humor.
Calvin also learned that he wasn’t going to get any free ride there. The barracks life seemed like a vacation after living at home, but the class work and study took its toll. He worked hard and Calvin graduated number one in his class. No one was prouder of him than Johnny. Johnny had no family to speak of. His brother was a drug addict in Atlanta and both parents were dead. Calvin’s grandmother, mother, and sisters all came to Hershey for graduation. They’d unofficially adopted Johnny. Johnny had a beat up pickup truck and drove Calvin home on the few weekends they were allowed to leave Hershey. Grandma fed him greens and cornbread and Johnny kissed her on the cheek each visit. After graduation they were split up, but somehow both ended up at Troop M in Bethlehem years later and now were working for Sam at Straus Valley.
“God damn you, cracker peckerhead, motherfucker!” Calvin screamed as Johnny horsed the big Ford out onto Route 22, just missing the biggest Peterbuilt Calvin had ever seen. “You are the worst driver I have ever…Shit!” Calvin prayed. Johnny wound up every drop of power he could force into that engine and hurtled through both packed lanes of traffic on the narrow four lane. He ran the shoulder and squeezed and swerved through six minutes of nightmare. Just as they finally broke free in the left lane, Calvin’s cell phone sang out. Calvin almost pissed himself. If he hadn’t been holding the armrest so tight with his hand he would have, but the muscles in his arms, legs, and ass had locked up. Calvin knew who was calling him when Johnny’s phone went off not fifteen seconds later. Just long enough for Ozzie to punch in the second set of numbers. Johnny reached over and grabbed the microphone to call in on the radio. Calvin was dumbfounded.
“Drive the fucking car, JB, I’ll talk on the radio,” Johnny shot him a “suit yourself” look and turned his head back forward just in time to slam the anti-lock brakes to the floor to keep from hitting a minivan in front of him. “That’s it, I’m resigning as of now, stop the motherfucking car, I want out!”
Johnny tried flattery, “Calvin Livingston, you are the most beautiful brown man I know and it would be a terrible, terrible loss to the citizens of this here commonwealth for you to do something like that. Especially with all those women out there who depend on your health benefits to keep your many children in cough syrup and tetanus shots,” Johnny grinned.
“Racist shithead. Straus Valley 17, Straus Valley.”
“Go 17,” it was Ozzie.
“We copied the situation in Porter, en route. ETA thirty,” Calvin glanced over at the speedometer in front of Johnny, who now had his window down and his arm draped over the rear view mirror like he was taking Betty Ann to the hoedown.
“A hundred five! Jesus H. Christ slow down!” with that, Johnny grinned again and drove even faster. Calvin almost keyed the mic to revise their ETA but then thought he would probably die before they got there anyway, so what the fuck, over?