The Wire
One Arrest

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Wing Chun: B+ | 2 USERS: C+
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"A Man Must Have A Code"

In the detail office, Lester and Prez are playing back a recording of a phone call for McNulty, Carver, and Herc. It's an incomprehensible mess of subculture-specific jargon, but Herc confidently says that he can decode it: "Yo's talking about some guy named Lohman, who's down with strep, like he's sick...And the last part is something about how he's gonna start up a Fashion Lady or some shit." Okay, I don't know what Fashion Lady is, but if it's anything like Spa Lady, the pre-Curves women-only health club my mom used to attend in the early '80s, it has a rad logo, like a mudflap chick doing yoga. Everyone chuckles dubiously at Herc's interpretation, and he defends that he's fluent in the dialects used in the Perkins Homes and Latrobe Tower, but that he hasn't cracked Franklin Terrace slang yet. Prez has been sitting next to the computer long enough to know that the call actually concerned a package being sold out in the low-rises, so they're going to start with a new package the next day. "That's what you hear?" squints McNulty. Lester tells him to listen again: "Low man scrapped, yo" -- "low man" meaning the low-rise Pit. "He all the way down" -- down to scraps on the last package. "But we going start fresh on the latest tomorrow, down from up north" -- he'll start the latest package the next day. Carver asks how Lester and Prez can "hear it so good." "'Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields, sold in a market down in New Orleans,'" Prez recites. "What the fuck is that?" spits Herc, sounding weirdly angry about it, like he's suspicious that Prez's strange knowledge might mean that he's a witch. "Rolling Stones," says Prez. "First to lines to 'Brown Sugar.' I bet you've heard that song five hundred times but you never knew, right?" Herc raises his eyebrows and contemplates punching nerdy Prez and taking his lunch money, as Prez adds that he used to put his head to the stereo speaker and play that record over and over. "That explains a lot, actually," deadpans Carver. Prez turns back to the recording and resumes play. "So, wait on black, yo?" says a voice on the phone. Carver wants to know what "white on black" is, but Herc corrects him: "Even I heard that shit." Prez says that "Black" is code for Stinkum, which they cottoned to when they got on his pager. Lester announces that there's going to be a re-up of four G-packs at the low-rises. Stinkum's on it, and it'll happen around noon. McNulty asks if he's sure, and Lester writes down the number on the screen: "5-21-07-1111." Prez proudly tells McNulty to turn it upside down: "Four hash marks in a row, one for each G-pack," Prez explains. "'LO' for low-rises," says McNulty. Herc gets that "12" is the time, and Carver takes it home: "S" is for Stinkum. McNulty asks how long it took to figure it out, and Prez admits that it was four or five hours. Carver intensely asks if Prez really sits there looking at beeper messages for five hours at a time. Dude, he's stuck at the office; what else is he going to do? Prez shrugs that it's fun figuring stuff out. But inside, you know he's doing cartwheels to be useful at last.

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The Wire

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