LVMPD…Interrogation…Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009…9:00pm
There have been few times in my life where I have been reduced to tears, and not the whimper and a whine kind, but the full on crocodile tears variety, the kind that only flow when your heart is truly broken. Iggie was watching me uncomfortably from the other side of the small anti-room that cops use to watch suspects sweat out questioning from behind the relative safety of thick one way glass. On the other side of that glass was Judy Looney, my friend. She was resting her head on the shoulder of Detective Tran. Rebecca was surprising me, I had a new respect for that young lady and put all my previous carnal thoughts back into the vault and locked it tight. There was real compassion in the way she held my friend, stroking her hair gently, as she helped her regain her composure.
Judy was physically spent after wailing over the news about her Ronnie, my Rhonda. The poor kid sobbed for an over an hour, half out of grief and half in anger at not being allowed to go to her mate. Wally had left the details out for her but unfortunately hadn't done the same for me because on top of the responsibility to help to break the news to Judy, I was tasked with identifying the body, such as it was. The door behind me opened suddenly, startling me out of my blue funk. Wally walked in with his usual casual flair and handed me a cup of coffee. I turned to take it after tucking my face into the crook of my arm and wiped my face dry with the sleeve of my jacket.
"Thanks," I said through a sniffle.
"Still take it black, right," he asked graciously ignoring my weakened demeanor.
"Yep, hot, black, and steaming, just like back in the day," I replied feeling normal again after a big gulp of the sludge he brought me.
"You're feeling better I see, good because we got work to do! That piece of work that you used to work for, Celaya, he's been bending ears all the way up the chain of command. He's even got the Mayor's office running point for him," Wally said filling us in on what happened behind the scenes over the last sixty minutes.
"Who's Mayor? Yours or ours," Iggie asked?
"Both, you know politicians, they run in packs," Wally answered.
"Anyway, we've linked the scene at The Plaza with a stiff over at Cesar's. The guy's prints are all over Dr. Looney's room. Funny thing is we ran them through AFIS and got nothing. The lab boys are running dental records as well but I'm betting we'll find bupkis there as well. You know what that means," Wally said, loading a fresh stick of gum into his gob.
"Yeah I do, it means either a Fed or someone with diplomatic immunity," Iggie replied walking over to join our coffee clutch.
"Probably, or, this guy's a merc, and a clever one at that," Wally suggested pointing a fat finger at Iggie.
"Merc," Iggie asked puzzled?
"Mercenaries dumbass, how long you been in this business? You were in the Nam with us, don't you remember those sneaky rat bastards, the one's who didn't have to follow the rules of engagement," explained Wally, frustrated with Iggie's absent mindedness.
"Oh yeah, the CIA dicks, I do remember," he replied, the imaginary light bulb over his head almost visible to the naked eye.
"You're a cartoon Ingram, stop talking to me, just listen to the real cops kick this around," Wally said tuning Iggie out and turning to face me directly.
"So, this guy tossed Judy's room and killed Rhonda…," Wally began.
"Ronnie," I said interrupting, impulsively correcting him out of respect I guess.
"Whatever! So this rag-head slices and dices Ronnie and then goes after Judy at Cesar's Palace. Funny thing is only she and I knew that she would be there. He couldn't have followed her because he was busy in room 3023 while she was in route. Which reminds me, we still don't know who popped the Arab, because it sure wasn't me?"
"Arab? Why did you say Arab," I asked, my brain suddenly firing on all cylinders?
"I dunno, he looked like an Arab to me, you now, Saudi or Persian, whatever, he wasn't white, Mexican, or Chinese, why do you want to know?"
"Is the stiff in the morgue right now?"
"Yeah, I guess so. What's your angle Roode?"
"Give me a minute, I'm working on it. Where is the microchip that Judy brought you," I asked? He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small envelope along with half a dozen receipts and some wadded up gum wrappers.
"Right here, she gave it to me on the ride back from Cesar's," he answered waiving it at me.
"Let me have it," I said reaching for the envelope.
"Not so fast Whitey, first tell me what the hell is on this thing. Must be pretty important shit because there are bodies strewn from LA to LV because of it," Wally said crumpling the envelope in his enormous fist?
I cringed at the thought of him damaging the freaking thing, and wondered how much I should tell him. My mind was racing trying to figure out this latest development. I was positive that the stiff from Cesar's would turn out to be my Arab buddy Hassan, but I was flummoxed at who would be after this microchip if not him? The Russians he worked for were paying him to protect that thing and what was on it, so why would they murder their own hired gun? All this time I thought that Hassan was the shadow stalking Judy and me at work, and at home, if not him then who? It was time to mentally revise my KKK notes because things had changed dramatically:
What do I know?
1. Sally November was still dead, murdered by Hassan
2. Jai Lai and Lu Rong were dead, not murdered by Hassan
3. Ray Ray Abernathy was dead, murdered by Hassan
4. My ex Rhonda was dead, murdered by Hassan
5. And now Hassan the Arab assassin was dead too, but by who
What do I think I know?
1. SN and Jai Lai were partners supplying escorts for the high and mighty
2. SN’s death really was a surprise for Jai
3. SN had a silent partner that Jai didn't know about
4. SN and Jai's death were related but it wasn't business related
5. SN wasn’t meant to die, that fact cost Jai and Lu their lives
What do I want to know?
1. Why did Rhonda have to die
2. Why did Hassan follow Judy instead of me
3. Why did the shooter let Judy and Wally walk
4. Why did Jai kill himself or did he
5. Why did I have the heebie-jeebies surrounded by a sea of cops
"Earth to Whitey, you in there sweet pea" Wally said snapping his finger in my face?
"Sorry, how long was I out," I asked?
"Long enough, it's a little scary when you trance out like that Roode, you really outta see a shrink about that," Wally replied opening his fist and showing me the crumpled envelope.
"Yeah, I'll think about that. So, right, the chip. Well, it's like this…" I started and I proceeded to fill him in on the chip contents.
It had only been 24 hours or so since Judy had shared that information with me back at her apartment in LA, and I gave it all to Wally, all the names, the dates, and the special notes beside each that I could remember. To be fair I only had a glance at the list the other day, but what I saw was plenty and Judy had read it all, I know she had. That must be why she was still breathing. Whoever's stalking her wants to know what she knows, and just who she shared it with. When one exterminates pests one wants to make sure one doesn't miss any lest they are fruitful and multiply. I watched Wally chew on this and glanced back at Judy and Becca, suddenly wishing I was the meat in that huggie sandwich.