Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 11

The cop was six feet four and pot-bellied, but even so his uniform looked as if it had been handed down to him by an older brother who had quit the force ten years before. He spent a good five seconds contemplating the lanky black teenager who had just passed him going in the opposite direction wearing drum-majorette shoes and carrying a cello, and then he called out, 'Hey, kid!'

Leroy paused, and then turned to look back. 'Me?'

The cop nodded. 'Where you going with the big fiddle?'

Leroy looked down at the cello, thinking, and then with his most winning smile he looked back to the cop. 'I'm on my way to my cello lesson,' he said.

The cop walked over, and stood facing Leroy. 'Son,' he said, 'I'll tell you what. You play me a song on that thing, and I'll apologise for having any doubts as to how you come by it. Okay?'

Leroy's smile wavered for an instant, but he wasn't one to throw in the towel so easily. 'Okay,' he said. 'What do you want to hear?'

'Oh,' the cop said, 'I don't know. How about Flow Gently, Sweet Afton?'

'I don't know it.'

'Danny Boy.'

Leroy started to shake his head, but the cop was quick.

'Happy Birthday.'

The cop rocked confidently back and forth on his crepe soles as Leroy began looking around, apparently searching for something. Like a back door that would offer him a fast exit from the street.

'Lose something?' the cop said.

'Music chair,' Leroy explained. 'You can't play these things standing up. You have to sit.'

The cop pointed to the nearest fire hydrant. 'How about that?' he said. 'Looks about the right height.'

Leroy walked over to the fire hydrant, and wouldn't you know it, the damned thing was the right height. He took the bow in his right hand, assumed the position, and stroked a string. Wrong pitch. He tightened up a little, tried again. Leroy had now reached the limit of his practical orchestral knowledge. Why couldn't Julie Miller have played the harmonica? Leroy could just about limp his way through Orange Blossom Special on the harmonica.

The cop was waiting. From Leroy's position he looked more like ten feet tall than six.

'Well?' the cop said.

Leroy looked up, in innocence. 'You're not talking about the white Happy Birthday, are you?'

There had been a time when Leroy had been no stranger to the back seat of a NYPD blue-and-white. Five minutes later, he was given the chance to get re-acquainted.

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