Hollenbeck Station, Los Angeles…December 5, 11:30am
Becca Tran sat at her gray metal desk across from her partner Detective 1st grade Bob Ingram, affectionately known around the stationhouse as ‘Iggie’. Secretly she referred to him as ‘piggy’ for reasons one could easily understand if one had ever spent any time confined with the man in a plain wrap car on stakeout. Given his steady diet of chilidogs and Fritos it was no wonder. They had come back to the house around 11am after wasting the morning running around town looking for Father Nicholas Quinn, hoping to pick his brain about the Malloy murder/suicide. Becca wanted to explore a possible connection to the murder in Echo Park the other night. She had a hunch that Father Quinn and Megan Malloy might somehow be linked to the victim, one Alex Whembly. It was a longshot, there wasn’t any obvious connection between them other than both Megan and Alex were parishioners of the good Father’s Church. But as they had nothing so far it was worth a look she thought. Becca hadn’t mentioned this to Iggie yet because she knew that he would just whine that she was too green to have hunches and that still had a lot to learn. “Well Iggie can go ’f’ himself,” Becca mumbled to herself as she thumbed through pages in her steno pad. She doodled in the margins as she studied her notes, a habit she started in High School. Suddenly she was startled by a loud thump from the desk across from hers. It was Iggie returning from his pre-lunch dump, the oaf was nothing if not regular. Becca glanced up and gave him the stink eye.
“Nice look doll-face, did I scare you junior?” Iggie said as he flopped into is squeaky chair spilling a little coffee onto his desk, which he wiped up with his tie.
“Really Iggie? Do you have to be an ass all of the time?” Becca said rolling her eyes as she returned to studying her notes.
Ignoring her sarcastic jab Iggie shuffled through some paperwork in front of him, then looked at his desk phone to see if the message light was on, it wasn’t. Leaning back he stretched and surveyed the squad room. Not much activity at the moment, just a few detectives eating sack lunches at their desks. A couple uniforms he knew were leading someone in cuffs to a small holding cell near the interrogation room. He gave them a head nod then knocked lightly on his desk to get Becca’s attention as he stood up and grabbed his coat. Uncharacteristically, Iggie decided to take the high road and invite Becca to lunch. “So me and Bax are going to ‘Show-Him-You like Him’ for some mile high pastrami. You wanna tag along?” he asked.
“No thanks, enjoy.” Becca declined quickly.
“Suit yourself. You want me to bring you back anything?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“Well alright then. Bax is gonna be sorry he missed you. I think he’s interested partner if you get my drift.” Iggie replied as he turned to leave, a wry grin on his face.
Hitting a nerve with the Bax revelation, Becca suddenly put down her pen and looked up. Not wanting to appear too obvious she quickly thought of a safe way to change her mind.
“Wait a sec Iggie, I thought that place closed down after the queer owners’ murder suicide. I mean they’ve been lights out for over a year.”
Iggie stopped and turned around. “It did but the innocent half of that couple, ‘Uncle Lou’ gave the restaurant and his estate including the swank penthouse apartment over the business to his nephew in his will. This guy is a real character, way over the top. Everyone calls him ‘Lil Steve-O’, it’s an oxymoron because little he ain’t,” Iggie replied grinning.
“The innocent half?” asked Becca.
“Yeah, if you recall the other half, Uncle Jai, was shot and killed by half naked you in the airshaft upstairs.” Iggie answered rolling his eyes.
Blushing in humiliation she replayed the incident in her minds’ eye, remembering the entire scene with LA private investigator Whitey Roode and then detective Sgt. Wally Price out of Las Vegas. It was a painful memory she had buried, it was the first and only time she had ever puller her weapon as well as the first and only time she had taken a life. Didn’t matter that it was a righteous shoot as the Department determined, it didn’t matter that the perp was a dangerous serial killer, the man was a human being and she killed him. Her ears rang for weeks after the shooting and she hid from everyone that she was still trying to wash the blood off her hands. Of course the Bax comment didn’t help either as the attraction there was mutual. That part was none of Iggie’s business so she ignored and it.
Hoping that she didn’t reveal anything she replied quickly. “Of course I remember Iggie, don’t read anything into that, my mind was elsewhere. We’re working a pretty big case right now, remember!”
Iggie raised his arms in a mocked surrender, “Alright partner, nuff said, everyone reacts differently to their first time. So you coming or not?”
Becca replied, relieved that her partner had not pressed her further about that day or about Officer Bax, “No I’m; going to work through lunch, I’ve got some thoughts about the case that I want to explore. You go ahead and give my apologies to Bax and his partner. And if it’s not too much trouble bring me back a corned beef on rye.”
“Okay young-un I’ll comp you a sandwich, but you owe me one. And as for Bax the rookie, for what it’s worth he seems like a good guy. Hell. I’d date him if I swung that way,” Iggie replied chuckling as he exited the squad room.
Becca went back to work with a secret sigh. So, she had caught the rookie’s eye. She had suspected that all along. A girl can tell these things, it’s their DNA. She went back to work with a renewed enthusiasm. She continued reviewing her notes, cross checking with data from the Echo Park murder book. There weren’t any obvious connections between Megan Mallory and the victim, Alex Whembley. She kept digging adding the priest, Father Quinn into her calculus. Slowly her thought bubbles started to overlap. While there was no threads directly linking the three individuals, there was a foundation for potential coincidences. That foundation was the church. That’s where Becca would start tomorrow, after she presented her train of thought to her partner. Whether she liked it or not, Iggie was the ranking team member and she had to get him on board before explored the church angle. She knew it would be a difficult sell, but she had strong hunch. All she needed to do now was convince Iggie it was a good hunch. That meant she had to cleverly lead him down a path that allowed him to draw the same conclusions.
She figured that if she approached this like building a puzzle it would be easier to draw Iggie into her way of thinking. Basically seasoned puzzle builders knew that the best way to start was to connect together all of the boarder pieces. And the most important pieces were the four corners. All she had to do was convince her partner that Megan, Alex, and Father Quinn were three of the four corners. And that the missing fourth corner might be found by exploring a potential connection at the church. Becca laced her fingers behind her head and leaned back in her chair. She stared up at the ceiling and counted the tiles. She multiplied the number of tiles in the length and width of the room to arrive at a base number. Then applied some algebra to factor the several tile abutments to arrive at a credible estimate of how many tiles were used to complete the room. To her mind math and detective work relied on the same basic principle, logic. Unfortunately, Detective Ingram was not Mr. Spock, so the logic angle was going to be a hard sell. Shit!