Flashback: Chapter 9: James “Sonny” Crockett

Chapter 9: James “Sonny” Crockett
by MJ

November 6, 1984: 1100

No one in the OCB office seemed to care that IAD officer Charles Schroeder was studying a ream of paperwork he had lifted from Sonny Crockett’s desk. That is, no one except Miami Vice officer, Larry Zito.

“So, Lieutenant! Sticky fingers here just gets to molest our files, or what?”

Suddenly, the office doors swung open and Sonny strode in, dark sunglasses hiding his tired, bloodshot eyes.

“Find anything interesting, Schroeder?”

“Leave him alone,” Castillo piped up. “The man’s doing his job.”

“Terrific!” Sonny muttered disgustedly.

Enjoying the moment, Schroeder leaned toward Sonny, taunting him with his sarcasm. “If you don’t own a coat and tie, Crockett, buy one. Standard dress for a Board of Rights preliminary hearing and ya got one of those tomorrow.”

Schroeder held out the summons and Sonny’s forehead creased with lines of worry.

“Forensics thinks the Carroll woman was in the water 10 hours, which makes her time of death
around 8:30pm.” Gina announced. She sat down on the edge of Sonny’s desk and continued. “Absence of bruising, hematomas and low hormone levels indicates there was no struggle. At least she didn’t know it was coming, Sonny.”

Somehow that didn’t make him feel any less guilty. “The lights just went out, huh?” he said softly.

“Trudy traced her movements to about six when she gassed up on Miami Avenue.”

“No prints?”

“Nope. Not much of anything else to tie this to DeMarco. I wish there was more Sonny.”

Crockett put his face in his hands and sighed.

“How’s THIS going?” Gina nodded toward Schroeder standing by the coffee maker pouring himself some of Stan’s “jet fuel” coffee.

“I don’t know, Gina.” Sonny’s head hung dejectedly. “They’ve really dropped me in the trick bag this time.”

The hand she placed on his shoulder was warm and comforting, but the smile he gave her back was full of pain.

By eight that evening, the office was quiet. Stan had gone home, Gina and Trudy were meeting with the porn ring’s supplier and the only one left was the janitor sweeping the floors and emptying wastepaper baskets into a large pail he dragged along behind him.

Now was the time to go over the files. Castillo took off his jacket and was preparing to get to work when a gentle knock at the door broke his train of thought.

“Come in!” he growled.

It was Ricardo Tubbs. “Lieutenant, sorry to disturb you. Can I talk to you a minute?”

Marty nodded wearily and Rico entered, his eyes centered on Marty as if he were expecting some sort of reprimand. Marty nodded toward the couch that rested against the far wall.

Rico began with a sigh.

“First of all, I want you to understand I was sticking up for my partner this morning at the river. But Crockett said I was outta line, so I guess I’d better apologize.”

“Accepted.”

Rico squirmed uncomfortably. “Okay, since we got that outta the way, I’ll get right to the point of the other reason I’m here. My partner, Sonny Crockett, is in trouble. The charges against him are full of holes and I have a plan to clear his name.”

Castillo said nothing.

“Lombard and DeMarco seem to think they hold the winning hand with this set up against Crockett, so I thought I’d get set up a little sting of my own. I got myself into a poker game Switek told me they have going at the Trident every night at two am.”

Rico’s plan was a good one and Castillo found his initial impression of the cocky detective beginning to change for the better.

“Poker’s something I can handle, Lieutenant! Grew up on the streets of New York, so I know how to hustle and I know how to play cards. I did pretty damn good, too! Won a bundle. But best of all, I managed to get DeMarco’s attention. Got him to believe I was a dude from up north, facing charges for racketeering and some other nasty crimes. He liked what he heard and suggested there might be a place for me in the Lombard organization. Next thing I know, I’m havin’ lunch on Lombard’s yacht, swapping jokes with the main man and impressing him with my Italian accent.”

“You’re not home free yet. Lombard’s going to do some checking.”

“Sonny and I discussed this. He has contacts that vouched for me and my references passed with flying colors. Now that I got a foot in the door, I can set things in motion. Shouldn’t be all that hard to find a chink in Lombard’s armor.”

“Take the preliminary steps and keep me informed,” Castillo stood.

“Yeah,” Rico answered, not sure whether he had gotten his superior’s blessing or not. He headed
for the door.

“And Detective?”

“Yes, sir?”

“No cowboy stuff.”

Rico tried not to laugh. “Our reputations precede us, I see,” he said with a wide grin.

“Just make sure your reputation doesn’t bury you, Detective. Watch your back.”

“Will do.”

The interview was over.

A few lights had been left on toward the back so that the outer office would not be in total darkness. Castillo made his way quickly to one of the file cabinets across from his office and retrieved the records he wanted to review. On his way back, he passed Sonny Crockett’s desk and something he noticed there made him stop.

A professional photograph of a blonde woman and young boy was in a gold frame off to the side. The child bore a strong resemblance to Crockett… obviously his son. The woman in the picture held the child close to her, her arm encircling him protectively. She seemed, happy, content. He stared.

A blonde with a million dollar smile.

His eyes widened with recognition. Picture in hand, he rushed back into his office and fanned out the files he had pulled on the desk in front of him. The first three names he saw jumped out.

Bennett, Richard
Calabrese, Gina
Crockett, J

It was the last one he wanted. He opened Crockett’s file and saw the name James
‘Sonny’ Crockett

“James?”

He remembered Rico calling his partner that name earlier in the day, but it hadn’t registered in his mind until now. He peered at the small photograph of Sonny in his file and thought back to that day in Viet Nam when he and Jack had gone to the army base hospital looking for the soldier they had carried out of the jungle.

“His name was James. Sandy hair. Approximately five foot eleven… burns on his face; wounded leg… no way was he discharged…”

Castillo blinked.

Crockett’s hair was sandy blonde… and his height was probably a shade under six feet.

He glanced at Crockett’s military record located on the second page:

1972: Age 22 – Served in Viet Nam
Service: Army
Rank: Lieutenant
Tour: Active Duty, Viet Nam two-year tour.
Unit: First Calvary, Special Unit, “Chimney Sweeps”
Skill: Expert marksmanship.

1973: Wounded in action. Awarded Purple Heart

1974: Age 24 – Re-enlisted.
Unit: Army Intelligence.

1975: Awarded Silver Star for bravery and valor earned by rescuing a wounded pilot stranded in enemy territory.

1975: Age 25, honorably discharged.

The years were matching! His eyes raced through the file scanning the highlights of his history with the force:

1975 – June: Entered Metro Dade Police Academy
1975 – Sept: Assigned to Robbery Division – Miami
1976 – Oct: Suffered bullet wound to shoulder while attempting to apprehend robbery suspect. Recovered sufficiently to return to active duty.
1978 – Sept: Reassigned to Organized Crime Branch – Vice Division, undercover

Finally, he checked on one last piece of vital information:

Married: 1975 – Caroline Lambert

The small photo in the file jumped up at him. “I’ll be damned!” he whispered, sitting down hard. “Caroline Lambert!”

It was a name he’d never forget, scrawled on the back of a photograph that a wounded soldier had entrusted to him eleven long years ago. The name Martin had committed to memory just in case… just in case he would have to find a girl back in the States and tell her that James would not be coming home.

Stunned, Castillo read the record through again and again, refusing to believe that such an incredible coincidence could ever be possible. But there it was, in black and white.

“James ‘Sonny’ Crockett”

There could be no doubt that Crockett and the young soldier he and Jack had rescued were one and
the same.

So, now what?

Should he introduce himself to Crockett? Remind him of their history together? Have the pleasure of
watching the shine of recognition come into the cool green eyes?

It was tempting,but Castillo hesitated. Each veteran reacted differently to the aftermath of their experiences in ‘Nam. Some were unable to stop talking about them. Others like Castillo himself found them too painful to relive. Maybe Crockett was like that, too, burying the memories so deeply that he’d be unwilling to drag them back to the surface no matter who had come back into his life.

He sat back in the chair and closed his eyes.

There was a bigger problem to consider: Sonny might think Martin expected his gratitude. It was Crockett’s unconditional loyalty he wanted, not his thanks. The man’s respect for him should be based on the here and now instead of half forgotten memories of long ago.

The course of action was clear. Maybe someday they would be able to sit down together, have a talk about the past, maybe even heal a little in the process. But for now, Martin would be content to be silent and allow the passage of time to be his guide.