For Tuyet, Katrina, KaSandra, and Luc
LVMPD…Interrogation…Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009…9:00pm
There have only been few times in my life where I have been reduced to tears, I can count them on one hand. Not the whimper and a whiney kind but the full on crocodile tears variety, the kind of tears that flow when your heart is truly broken. I was standing on the observation side of a two way glass studying Judy Looney and Detective Rebecca Tran sitting together on the other side. Iggie was standing beside me watching me watch them out of the corner of his eye. Truth is he was kinda bugging me, but I let it go, we were all a little shaken after the scene back at the Union Plaza. Judy was resting her head on Becca's slender shoulder whimpering softly. The poor thing was cried out. She'd taken the news about Ronnie's death like most people do, going through the P-R-P process (pain, rage, panic). She was coming down from the pain part, regaining her composure with aid of young Detective Tran's compassion. Soon she'd begin the rage part of the process and start asking who, why, and what, who did this, why did they, and what are you (cops) doing about it!
All good questions and nobody would be able to answer them fast enough to satisfy her. I was sure that whoever did this was still out there and I was damn sure that this murderer wasn't finished. Wally had left out the grizzly details for her, and I wished he could have done the same for me but it fell to me to identify the body, what was left of it. The door behind me opened suddenly, startling me. Wally barged into the room with his usual bullish flair and handed me a cup of coffee. I turned to take it after tucking my face into the crook of my arm to wipe my face dry with the sleeve of my jacket.
"Thanks," I said sniffling.
"Still take it black, right?" he asked graciously ignoring my weakened demeanor.
"Yep, hot, black, and steaming, just like back in the day old buddy," I replied feeling normal after a big sip of the sludge he called coffee.
"If you're feeling better Nancy 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 over here. The son of a bitch has even called the Mayor's office, and his honor is less than pleased if you get my drift," Wally said sarcastically as he filled us in.
"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. There are prints from that homicide are all over Dr. Looney's room as well. Funny thing is we ran them through AFIS and got nothing. The lab boys are running dental records on the Cesar's stiff as well but I'm betting we'll find bupkis too. You know what that means," Wally said loading a fresh stick of gum into his mouth.
"Yep, it means the deceased is either a Fed or someone with diplomatic immunity," Iggie said, jumping into the conversation. .
"Probably, or maybe he's a merc, and a clever one at that," Wally suggested pointing a fat finger at Iggie.
"A Merc?" asked Iggie, puzzled.
"A mercenary dumbass, how long you been in this business? You were in the shit with us back in Nam. You remember those sneaky little rat bastards, the guys who didn't have to follow the rules of engagement," explained Wally, frustrated by Iggie's memory lapse.
"Oh, gottcha, you mean the CIA pricks. Yeah, I remember them," he replied, as the light came on.
"You're a cartoon Ingram! Stop talking to me man, you're giving me a headache," Wally said, instantly tuning him out.
"So, our guy kills Rhonda and tosses Judy's room, what was he looking for?" Wally began.
"Ronnie," I shouted, impulsively correcting him, out of respect I guess.
"Whatever! So the perp slices and dices Ronnie and then goes after Judy at over 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. So who popped the Arab? Much as I would have liked to it wasn't me."
"Arab?" I asked
"Yeah, Arab, I dunno, he looked like an Arab to me, you now, Saudi or Persian, whatever, he wasn't white, Mexican, or Chinese, why?"
"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?" Wally reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small envelope along with a few wadded up receipts, gum wrappers, and ticket stubs.
"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's on this thing. Must be pretty important shit because there are dead bodies strewn from LA to LV because of it," Wally said crushing the envelope in his big fist?
I cringed at the thought of him damaging the 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 buddy Hassan, but I was flummoxed at who else would be after this microchip if not him? The Russians he worked for were paying him to protect the thing and what it contained, so why would they murder their own hired gun? All this time I thought that Hassan was the one stalking Judy and me, so if not him then who? It was time to mentally revise my triple "K" 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 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
Wally snapped his finger loudly in front of my face, "Earth to Whitey, you in there sweet pea?"
"Sorry, how long was I out?"
"Long enough, it's a little scary when you trance out like that Roode, you really outta see a shrink," Wally replied waiving the crumpled envelope at me.
"You're right about that! So, the chip, well, it's like this…" I said, starting 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 told him everything I could remember, all the names, the dates, and the special notes beside each. To be fair I had only glanced at the list, but what I did see was significant. Judy had read it all though, and that was why she was scared, and with good reason as it turns out. It must also be why she's was still breathing. Whoever's stalking her wants to know what she knows and who she shared it with before she's eliminated. You don't get rid of ants by stepping on them one at a time, you exterminate the colony! I watched Wally chew on my answer then glanced back at Judy and Becca in the interrogation room. This kettle of fish was about to boil, and sooner than later.
Mentally I ran through my triple K list again. Something was missing but what? I'd repainted the Mona Lisa minus the smile. Her image stared back at me, taunting me. Mona knew the answer and her image was challenging me to think harder….