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Thursday, November 18, 2010

(“One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do….”)…Three Dog Night…1971

Chapter Seventeen

UCLA, around midnight…

Ernie Namura was feeling pretty lucky tonight, so lucky in fact that he could hardly suppress the shit eating grin that wanted to spread across his face. This might be the end to a long dry spell he hoped. He wasn't exactly Don Juan, but the Prof seemed to be responding to his subtle advances. At least that was his story and he was sticking to it, and that was what he'd share around the poker table with his frat brothers later no matter how the night ended. Besides, you never know, maybe she really was warm for his form, it could happen. Glancing at his Timex he checked the time again. It was ten minutes later than the last time he had checked. Dr. Looney, Judy, was late. She had forgotten some notes she said and had run home to pick them up. She said she'd be right back, that was three hours ago? Maybe he'd come on too strong too quickly? That was probably an understatement, given the condition his condition was in (long dry spell). In any event he decided to give her another half hour before he gave up the ghost and resolved to take care of his own business later.
The horn dog lab tech stepped over to the SEM and removed the samples that Dr. Looney had been evaluating. They didn't look very sexy, just a few blue threads with various contaminants associated with wherever they had come from. You never know what sort of smegma, sap, or spooge clothing gets dragged over, under, or through in the course of a day. Ernie decided not to take any chances and transferred the glass slide to an airtight container then set it on the lab bench for Judy to collect when she returned, if she returned that is. That's when he remembered that she had taken the test results with her when she left, which meant she was likely in analysis mode by now, which also meant she wouldn't be back anytime soon. Ernie sighed audibly, realizing that he had been had. Typical he thought, women, can't live with em, can't shoot em!
"Why am I always getting played," he muttered, wondering aloud?
No use wasting time pondering that question, it was as old as the ages and unanswerable. Might as well ask why ducks quack, why, because they're ducks stupid! Ernie grabbed a cold slice from the pizza box and fished in his pocket for some change for the vending machine in the hall. He and Judy had finished the beer hours ago and he needed something to wash down the meat lover's special with anchovies. It was going to be a Mountain Dew night given all the time he wasted on zooming Dr. Feel-good, oh joy! Reaching the brightly colored soda dispenser he stuffed three quarters into the coin slot and punched the oversized back lit green, yellow, and red button. He listened as the aluminum can ran down the track to the bottom of the machine and landed with a loud thud. It was the last sound he ever heard as the business end of a 38 ounce framing hammer connected with soft fissure that separated his skull into left and right hemispheres. His head imploded like a smashed pumpkin and Ernie Namura was dead before he hit the ground. The death process began quickly, his bowels releasing, his blood cooling and coagulating, no longer running through his veins and arteries, while his eyes stared lifelessly at the baseboard behind the vending machine.

UCLA murder, postscript:

The lab doors shut softly behind me as I silently exited the building with the threads Judy Looney had carelessly left behind. The cops were already on the way, called from Ernie's own cell phone, a little stroke of genius that would send them down a few blind alleys. The CSI team wouldn't be far behind, but they would find nothing useful, they never do. Another work of art if you ask me. Satisfying this blood lust requires perfection; it is something that I deliver routinely. Too bad Dr. Looney was a no show; I had a something special in mind for her tonight. Pity that one cannot plan for every contingency, the world is rife with random elements. Not to worry though, her time was coming soon. I hope she isn't wasting her last moments with that rube of a private eye, but I suspect she is. Oh well, no accounting for taste. Whitey's time is coming as well.
Don't rush, savor every delicious moment. They are an amusing pair are they not? I think so. I am curious what they will do with what they know so far, or what they think they know. The threads will only lead them away from the truth they seek. Ah but Whitey is smarter than he looks; he'll figure that out, but will it be in time? I haven't decided yet. This is a new experience, the hunter being hunted, I like it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

(So she went down, down to Tangie town. People down there really like to get it on“”)…The Doors…1968

Chapter Sixteen

Carney's, Sunset Blvd. LA, midnight…

The joint was packed tonight! There was even a line to get into the small set of converted rail cars painted mustard yellow and caboose red. The tall black and white Carney's sign glowed overhead in sharp contrast to the brilliant colors of the Sunset Strip. Nevertheless the dull sign beckoned a hodgepodge Saturday night crowd to come on in and eat up, drink up or sober up with a combo meal from the diner's infamous menu of chili dogs, chili burgers, chili tacos, and chili fries, basically all things chili. Sure, there were less radioactive items to choose from but to do so labeled you either a Beverly Hills silver spooner or an uber eclectic Nancy boy from WeHo (West Hollywood) or San Fran-swish-co. I was driving past this place heading north on Sunset when I spotted him, Ray Ray. The same cop I saw with Jai the other day at the Shabu Shabu joint. There he was sitting at a window seat in Carney's right now. He looked to be in a heated discussion with some thug who was busy stuffing a chili and sauerkraut hotdog into his bearded beak. How did I know what kind of dog he was devouring you ask? If you knew me you wouldn't have to ask that. Hot dogs are my kryptonite.
Turning my car around I whipped into The Standard hotel just up the street from Carney's. They offered valet parking at an obscene price, but since I had no time to cruise around for a bargain they had me over a barrel. Oh well that's what expense reports are for, right? I tossed my keys to the valet in the red jacket and hot footed it across the street. I had to make sure I entered the joint on the opposite end of the car from where Officer Abernathy and his heavyset dinner companion sat. I wasn't sure what Ray Ray's role was in all of this, but I knew he would remember me from the old days and I wasn't ready to tip my hand just yet. I caught a break as a rowdy group of semi drunk twenty-something's pushed past me on their way up the street to The Skybar. The timing couldn't have been better and I rolled with the rowdy group right up to the end of the yellow box car. When they turned left to cross the street, I turned right and walked up the steps at Carney's ass end. Since the business side of the diner was on the end there wasn't a line of people to deal with. Side stepping a young couple on their way out I strolled in and slowly walked the length of the car. Ray Ray had his back to me but his date was facing my way. He eyed me from over a chili dog, his eyes narrowing slightly as he studied me. I nonchalantly pulled up a chair at a table nearby and pretended to waive to someone near the counter.
The heavyset fella looked over his shoulder while he chewed in time to see a pretty young thing with a nose ring waive back to me. Luckily for me Holly-weird has no shortage of willing role players. Satisfied he turned his attention back his meal and shrugged just a nanosecond before nose ring girl flipped me off and picked up her order. I grabbed a menu from the top of the napkin holder and covered my face while I strained to listen to Ray Ray continue his rant. It was loud in the small boxcar but I had cop ears and was able to filter out enough of the noise to pick up a word or two.
"That's right jackass, you fucked up! Look, I get that English ain't your mother tongue but your orders weren't exactly rocket science, am I right?"
The burly guy across the table just kept chewing his food, but even from where I sat I could see there was murder in is eyes. He glared at Ray Ray without blinking, not even once. That's not normal, and it should have been a warning to Officer Dumbass but it wasn't and he kept right on with his rant.
"How did you get this gig anyway? Scare her, rough her up a little if you need to, but we never said to kill the little bitch did we?" Ray Ray waited impatiently for a reply, none came.
"HEY, ABDUL, I'm talking to you rag-head!"
I shifted in my seat and got ready to hit the deck if the big fella made a sudden move for the piece that I knew hung from a shoulder holster under his right arm. The busy room was oblivious to what was unfolding, and even though the noise level was high, there was an uncomfortable silence emanating from the table six feet in front of me. Ray Ray's shoulders squared and I knew he sensed what I did. I cursed myself silently for leaving my piece at home. All I had on me was a blackjack in my coat pocket and a Swiss Army knife in my pants pocket. If lead started flying the best I could do was dodge it or catch it. Abdul suddenly reached into his lap and retrieved a napkin to wipe his mouth clean. Ray Ray's chair squeaked as he shifted in his seat. He leaned forward on his elbows and moved his right foot to the chair's back legs, preparing to spring into action if provoked. Abdul set his napkin down on the table in front of him, leaned back in his chair and relaxed. He stared across the table for a moment before speaking.
"She was exquisite, was she not?"
"Yeah, so what if she was? Is that your explanation? You killed her because she was pretty?"
"No my friend, I killed her because she was a whore."
"Look Abdul, we aren't friends, and this is strictly business here, get it?"
"As you wish my friend, and my name is Hassan, not Abdul. Please stop calling me that, it offends me deeply."
"Whatever HA-san, listen because you went all Taliban on us the two little homos are dead and I've gotta deal with my brothers in blue as well as figure out how to tell our Russian friend that his girlfriend is stone dead!"
"I am afraid it was unavoidable. The whore would not cooperate and she was too ignorant to frighten. She insisted she knew nothing. She insisted that I was mistaken. She became angry when I pressed further. She ordered me to leave and threatened to call the authorities. She left me with few alternatives."
"Did you find the flash drive?"
"No, and as you know she did not survive the interrogation."
"I'm aware of that ass wipe. I just can't believe we got nothing outta her."
"That is not necessarily true."
"What do you mean?"
"Not here, we are not alone," Hassan said staring directly at me.
Ray Ray spun around in his chair in time to see my backside fast walk toward the exit. I waited until I heard the chairs fly across the room before I broke into a run and sprinted out the door. I leaped passed the steps and hit the pavement at a full gallop. I hadn't moved that quickly since high school football. By the time Ray Ray and Hassan made it out of Carney's I had disappeared into the craziness that was Hollywood on a Saturday night. I was pretty sure that he hadn't seen my face, but was also pretty sure Hassan could give a fairly detailed description. Great! Now I was dodging the cops and these guys. I walked past The Standard Hotel and ducked into The Body Shop, one of LA's better strip clubs. Better to lay low for an hour or so before I got my car and beat it on home to think. A couple of beers with some Jack back sounded good right now. Like I said, I think better with booze.

Monday, November 1, 2010

(“You’re my blue sky you’re my sunny day. Lord you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way”)…Allman Brothers Band…1972

Chapter Fifteen

Nanjing, China, 2001

Rainy days are the same around world, wet. I happen to like them, they inspire me. They compel me to turn inward and embrace the true me. It’s not that way of the masses however, I am aware. Weaklings merely tolerate a rainy day. Everything must be so perfect for them, so, what is the word, oh yes, comfortable (weak). To my mind a chill breeze, some mid-day darkness courtesy a sky full of dark foreboding cumuli nimbus clouds is bliss. To the others those attributes are a recipe for gloom that drains the joy from even the cheeriest of souls. Still, we do share a common thread, the weaklings and I. That is to say that we all enjoy the peace of a warm fire and the comfort some hot soup or cocoa brings to either accentuate or compensate for such a day, like today.

The steam from my bowl of soup envelopes my face with warmth and an aroma from Nirvana itself. Through the pleasant mist I watch the rain fall steadily, the fat drops bouncing so hard off the pavement that they seem to race back to the cloud they came from. The little café is crowded with workers eating a morning meal before they trudge onto work in the downpour. It is loud with the chatter of people in a hurry but I am oblivious to it all as I watch the steady stream of people exiting the apartment complex across the street. I am waiting as has become my practice lately, for my charge to come out of that building and bounce down the steps on her way to school. She has grown so much since when last I saw her, almost two years ago. Since then her family has moved up in station thanks to their benefactor, an unknown uncle of means. Young Mai Li is beginning to blossom and is on a course toward a more proper future now, one that will eventually suit my needs.
She appears at the top of the steps and then walks down with a group of her mates. As they reach the bottom and turn to continue onto school Mai Li stops abruptly. She pauses a moment and tilts her head slightly as if she is listening hard for something? She turns suddenly and looks back across the street in my general direction. Her eyes search the crowd eating their meals. She isn’t sure what she is looking for, how does one look for a queer feeling anyway? It doesn’t matter, I could stand and waive to her and she would not notice me. That is my strength, it is why I am what I am and do what I do. I am always unnoticed, unrecognizable. Still, I am pleased to see this strong instinct for survival. It will be a future pleasure I think. I smile and return to my soup as she turns and runs to catch up with her friends as they splash their way to school in the pouring rain…like I said…bliss…

Beverly Arms Apartment Homes, Westwood, Ca. 2009

I parked my old wreck up the street from Judy’s place for a couple of reasons. Number one, the car was a beat up old wreck and I didn’t want to embarrass her or me. Number two, I figured I had a better chance of her opening the door if I snuck up stealth-like rather than announcing my arrival with a backfire or two from my old jalopy. I was already pushing my luck with a drop in visit, no use tempting fate. I reached the walkway that led to her front door about the same time as Judy did, how’s that for luck, huh?
“Hey, who says prayers aren’t answered,” I said, laying it on a little thick.
“What, oh, Whitey, sorry, you startled me,” Judy replied fumbling with her keys.
“No problem doll, you didn’t take a swing at me.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I should have? Actually I’m glad you’re here.”
“Really,” I said trying not to look to happy.
“Yeah, come on in, I’ve got something to show you,” she said, leading me up the walk to her ground floor apartment.
“Okay,” I replied, grinning like the Cheshire cat in Alice’s wonderland.
I followed Judy into the apartment and quickly surveyed her digs. It was a studio apartment so everything but the bathroom was open to inspection by anyone who walked inside. I was surprised how small it was and amazed how clean it was. Hell, my dinky place at the Alexandria is bigger which makes this place tiny! In fact, if it were any smaller she’d need to be a midget to live here! Probably should’ve said “little person,” sorry Wally. He’s my vertically challenged poker buddy…more about him later. Be that as it may her flat was squeaky clean, I mean spotless! I had originally pegged the woman as an absent minded professor and half expected to see a group of roaches playing hearts at her kitchen table. This spoke volumes of the girl because I know that she spends very little time here. Clearly there was a side of Judy Looney that I was unaware of? Be still my heart!
“Make yourself at home Whitey, do you want a drink?”
“Okay, um, sure, what do you have,” I asked sitting on the sofa that likely doubled as her bed?
“I’ve got scotch and I’ve got scotch, what’ll it be?”
“Tough choice, I’ll have the scotch,” I replied sarcastically.
“Good choice wise guy, I like a man with a sense of humor,” she said grinning.
“What can I say, when you’ve got it, flaunt it, right,” I said leaning back, lacing my fingers behind my head.
Judy walked over to the sofa-bed, handed me my drink and sat down beside me. She took a quick sip of her scotch then fumbled around in her bag looking for something. Setting her drink down on the table in front of us she buried her hands and arms up to her elbows into a large canvass bag on her lap.
“Ah, here it is! Okay, before I show you this I need to ask a couple of questions,” she said, removing a thick manila envelope and placing into her lap. She turned to look at me and waited for my reply.
“Alright,” I answered taking another sip.
“Can you remember exactly what time it was that you collected these threads?”
“Not exactly, no, but it was after midnight and before 2am, I certain of that.”
“Interesting, what do you say that?”
“Because I waited exactly 4 hours after the last of the cops left the crime scene, and, I made it to Casey’s for last call on my way home, how’s that for certainty?”
Really? That’s the best you can do? I thought you gumshoes were always writing stuff down in your mini steno pads? Let me guess, if you whip yours out right now all I’m going to find is a short grocery list, a phone number or two, one of which is likely t be mine you dreamer, and some less that tasteful doodles of the fairer sex, right?”
“Who’s the detective now? Maybe you missed your calling Judy. Oh, and if I whip “mine” out right now you may be pleasantly surprised!”
“Not likely ace, I know all your dirty little secrets, I’m dating your ex remember?”
“Sour grapes Judy, its all hearsay. First day in detective school they teach you to never listen to angry women.”
“Well Rhonda is Ronnie now so there goes the angry female angle. And by the way, the first day in common sense school is never listen to a bragging male, especially when they are on the hunt.”
She got me with that one and my pregnant pause seemed as if it were going to go full term. A bragging male, was I really that obvious? Judy just grinned and took another sip of scotch. Chuckling she put on her reading glasses and stared at the pages in front of her. I braced myself for a second salvo but it didn’t come.
“I’m kidding Whitey, don’t get defensive,” she said with a cheerful smile. I didn’t reply.
“Alright, I guess I can work with that time frame. Question two; did you handle the fibers with your fingers at any time?”
“Give me some credit Dr. Looney, I know how to work a crime scene.”
“I am giving you some credit Whitey, I’m asking and not assuming.”
“Oh, ah okay, in that case, no, I used a pair of tweezers.”
“Were they yours?”
“No, I got em off of the sink in the master bath, why?”
“I guess you missed that day in cop school, you know the one where they teach you about preserving the crime scene, sheesh!”
“Alright, are your asking questions here or just roasting me?”
“I’m just trying to make a theory stick but I need to know all the random elements.”
“Random elements?”
“Yeah, basically I need to allow for errors by CSI, which in your case stands for criminally sloppy investigator!”
“Are you gonna keep busting my balls here, cause if you are I’m gonna need more scotch!”
“No, I’m through unless you can think of anything else that may have touched those fibers once they were in your pocket? Thank goodness you had enough focus to place them in a baggie to minimize the contamination.”
“Finally, a little praise, thank you!”
“Don’t let it go to your head Whitey, I haven’t told you the bad news yet.”
“What do you mean?
“You were right; those threads were off a cop’s uniform, an LAPD cop specifically.”
“Outstanding! Any chance you can narrow it down through DNA mumbo jumbo?”
“Actually, I already did that, twice, at a cost that I’ll take to my grave thank you,” she replied leaning back and draining the scotch from her glass.
“Alright, spill it doll, who’s our worm,” I asked impatiently?
“You are Einstein; those threads came from a uniform worn by you. Congratulations, you caught yourself,” Judy answered with a shit eating grin!
“WHAT? That’s impossible, I haven’t been in uniform in years, there has to be a mistake,” I exclaimed.
“I thought about that, even asked your ex about it. Want to know what Ronnie said?”
“Not particularly.”
“She laughed herself silly and said she was going to have to find another poker game because you were going to the big house,” Judy said, hardly containing her amusement.
“What part of not particularly didn’t you understand,” said sarcastically.
“I’m sorry slick; I couldn’t resist rubbing your nose in it a little bit. If it’s any consolation, I did find one other interesting fact NOT tied to you personally,” she added.
“Ha-ha-ha, don’t tell me, you found Jimmy Hoffa’s DNA as well. Now I’ll have to dodge the LAPD and the Mob, right?”
“Good one Whitey, no, it’s nothing that dramatic. I found trace elements of your sweet little Asian friend, Jai Lai as well. I would have missed it except for the fact that I had done some support work for the Coroner on the Rong/Lai murder suicide investigation.”
That surprised me, Jai and I weren’t that close? Lu and I were friends, Jai and I were acquaintances at best, well, to be fair that was from my perspective only. He was always friendly toward me and he was definitely the more gregarious of the two, and, he was a notorious hugger. Could his cooties have rubbed off onto my patrol duds on one of my regular stops at the deli? I ran our history through my mind trying to remember when I first started hanging out at their place? I’d been in plain clothes as a detective for more years than I had been in uniform. But if memory served I was still walking a beat when I started hitting the SHO-M-U-LYKE-M for free corned beef on rye twice a week. Whatever the circumstances were I had a problem here. It wasn’t going to take Lt. Dingle-berry long to connect the same dots that Judy did. I figured I had about a two day head start on either clearing my name of clearing out of LA, Whichever it were to be I needed to get busy. There wasn’t any time to waste being cute with Dr. Looney.
“Thanks form going the extra mile Judy, I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome gumshoe; it’s the least I can do for the guy who introduced me to my intended.”
“Intended, what, are you talking about you and Rhonda?”
“It’s Ronnie now, and yes, that’s exactly who I’m talking about.”
“Yes, intended, well, as soon as the great State of California gets their priorities straight, no pun intended.”
“Oh brother!”
“No, we wouldn’t be siblings Whitey. Actually we were considering adopting you. Ronnie’s has been talking about getting a pet anyway,” Judy said getting up.
“Swell,” I replied draining my scotch glass and handing it too her.
“Thanks for the news and the booze doll,” I said as I walked out of her apartment.
Note to self, when this is all over I need to seriously evaluate my circle of friends. Suddenly hermitage was sounding pretty inviting! Maybe stir wouldn’t be so bad?

Through the looking glass…metaphorically speaking…

This is very much like watching mice in a maze. The silly rodents have no idea where they are going, only that they must get there. These two together are interesting if not amusing. Pity that they are not meant to be. I do so love being a fly on their wall so to speak, delicious…

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