I read this story in the 1980s in an anthology, I think. I thought it was by Laumer, but I don't see a familiar title in his ISFDB page. The story is about a new member being initiated into a gang. The new member swears an oath to treat every other member as a brother, to keep away from their wives, etc. and there's some chatter in between parts of the ceremony about how the gang had gone through rough times in the moderately distant past, but had learned how to better survive and thrive. At the end of the ceremony the new initiate is a full member of

The New York Police Department

1 Answer 1


"The Initiation" a short story by Barry Longyear, first published (as by "Mark Ringdalh") in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, July 1979, available at the Internet Archive. You may have read it in Longyear's 1984 collection It Came from Schenectady which can be borrowed (for free but registration required) from the Internet Archive.

"Cup your hands." Dino put his hands together and held them over the weapons. The Chief crumpled up a sheet of paper, placed it into Dino's cupped hands, then struck a match and ignited the paper. "Say this: This is the way I will burn if I ever betray our secret."

Dino looked up from the burning paper with unblinking eyes. "This is the way I shall burn if I ever betray our secret."

The flame died and the Chief nodded. "Never forget what I now tell you. Burn it into your mind. Betraying our secret means death without trial. Violating any member's wife means death without trial. Look at them, admire them, and behave with them."

[. . . .]

"The Irishman" reached out and handed a small leather case to the Chief. Don Salvatore opened it and pinned the badge on Dino's left shirt pocket. "Welcome to the ranks of the finest, Dino Gitaglia. Welcome to the New York City Police Department."

  • Yep. I guess I read Schenectady around the same time as I read Laumer's Chrestomathy
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 12 at 1:40

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