For my family
THE GUMSHOE DIARIES:
Hollenbeck Station, LAPD…Dec 2, 10:30pm
Detective Rebecca Tran sat at her desk staring at the yellow legal pad containing her notes from a long day of interviews. She ignored the computer screen that was flashing on and off as it put itself to sleep and then woke itself up intermittently. The squad room was busy but not chaotic so the noise level wasn’t too distracting, in fact it was helping her to keep from dozing off her own self. Becca gnawed on her #2 pencil as she flipped the five or six pages of notes back into place and then removed the pencil from her mouth and laid it gently onto the pad of yellow lined paper. She reached across the desk for a thick crimson colored ceramic mug with bright yellow letters announcing to the room that she was a USC graduate, or at the very least a Trojan fan.
Leaning back in her chair she raised the mug to her lips but did not sip at the cold coffee inside. Instead she fixated on the square faced clock on the wall across the room. She watched the second hand jump from mark to mark and even though she was too far away to hear the mechanical ticks she imagined she could. Lost in thought she didn’t notice the uniformed officer that had walked up to her desk.
“Everything alright detective?” asked the officer.
Becca didn’t answer straight away, and the officer waived a hand in front of her face and repeated the question. “Are you okay detective?”
Becca snapped out of her trance, startled by the officer’s hand breaking the connection between the clock and her subconscious. She involuntarily completed the hand to mouth motion that she had started with her mug and banged it against her two front teeth, splashing a small amount of cold coffee onto her desktop in the process. “Son of a ….!”
The male officer stepped back quickly to avoid getting splashed himself as Becca slammed the mug back onto her desk, further soaking the notes she had just spent that couple of hours studying. “Oh brother! Was that really necessary Bix?” she asked looking for something to clean up the small puddle of mud covering her work. The officer stifled a grin and apologized. “Sorry Becca, I was just making sure that you were alright, you looked like you were going to hurl or something,” he replied.
Detective Tran scolded the officer sarcastically as she worked at cleaning up the mess he had caused her to make. “I was thinking Officer Kingman! That was my thinking face not my puking face. Geez!”
“Let me help,” offered Officer Kingman, grabbing a box of tissue from her neighbor’s desk.
“Thanks,” Becca replied, flashing an embarrassed smile.
She watched him clear away items from her desktop as he methodically went about restoring order to the spill zone. The man had an organized approach to the task at hand, she liked that, neatness was an endearing quality in a man in her book. Maybe this guy had a future career with CSI and forensics? Officer grinned at her sheepishly as he worked, slightly embarrassed himself for the mess he’d caused. Like they say, no good deed goes unpunished he thought. Becca smiled back and girlishly regarded him for a moment. She knew him from her early days as a patrol officer, just before her promotion to Detective. He was a rookie then, young and dumb as the veterans say. That wasn’t a derogatory term, it’s just the way it is, everyone comes to the job that way. They had never worked together but were cordial in passing and until this very moment she had never really noticed him.
He was a handsome enough fella, big and tall and let’s just say that the uniform fit him well. Of course everyone seemed big and tall to Becca compared to her small Asian stature. Bartholomew Bixby Kingman was a six foot three inch African American who came from a family of five (two brothers, a mom and a dad). The entire family was involved with the law in one form or another. His parents were both attorneys and devout Baptists. They raised their boys to think right and to do right, the road to perdition was never an option for them. Their mother would tell them often that it was the straight and narrow or face the slings and arrows. And in keeping with their faith, Ronald and Margret Kingman named each of their son’s Bartholomew after the Apostle. They used their middle names to differentiate between the three of them, naming them after various family members. The boys were in descending order, Bartholomew Bertrand Kingman, Bartholomew Baxter Kingman, and Bartholomew Bixby Kingman. Naturally they each went by their middle names or shortened versions thereof and referred to themselves as Bert, Bax, and Bix. And in further keeping with the family tradition they followed their parents into the law. Bert was an ADA (assistant district attorney in New York). Bax was a Deputy Sherriff in of all places Kingman, Arizona. And Bix, who chose the LAPD was standing right in front of her with a puzzled look on his face.
“What? Do I have something on my face?” Bix asked, brushing at his mouth and nose.
“Huh? Oh, no, you’re okay. I wasn’t staring at you, I was thinking. Remember, this is my thinking face,” Becca stammered trying not to look guilty.
“Right. Well, how’s that, better?” Bix replied, motioning to her clean desktop.
Becca scanned the area and answered quickly. “Yeah, much better, thank you.”
Bix tossed the wet tissues into the waste basket next to her desk and turned to walk away. “Well, glad you’re okay, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Forget it, not your fault. I was just chewing on some facts on this case I’m working with Iggie is all,” replied Becca.
“”Oh yeah? What case?”
“We’re working on that apparent suicide by fire at the Egyptian Theater a while back.”
“Really? I remember that, it was a pretty gruesome scene. What are you investigating, I thought it was a closed case, an obvious suicide.”
“Nothing is ever as obvious as it looks Bix, remember that.”
“I see, well I gotta run, my shift’s starting and Ray is over there tapping his wrist watch and giving me the stink eye. Say hey to Iggie for me and good luck with the case,” Bix said as he trotted toward the exit.
“Okay, be safe out there!” replied Becca as she watched Bix and Ray leave the squad room.
She raised her two arms high overhead and did a big girl stretch, time to go home and get some rest. It was too late to go out and eat and the vending machines had nothing to offer her ‘my body is my temple’ diet. She’d just settle for a bowl of Corn Flakes with an Ovaltine kicker when she got back to her apartment. Becca gave the yellow legal pad one more blotting with some tissue before she stuffed it into her briefcase. She locked her desk with the keys that she pulled from her purse then got up and pushed her chair neatly into its space under the center drawer. She reached over and turned off the small desk lamp left the room. As she walked out of the building and headed for her car in the parking lot she thought about the day’s events. She and Iggie had canvassed the rescue mission and the girl’s high school, but nothing really useful was discovered during those interviews beyond her name and age. The mission people had described Megan Malloy as quiet and polite and otherwise unassuming. The high school did not have much more insight to share. Megan’s time there was uneventful, in fact she a ghost by all accounts, a shadow graduate. She literally passed through the halls of education unnoticed.
Megan belonged to no clubs or ran with any cliques and from anyone could remember had no real friends. She was loner and to Becca’s mind that wasn’t normal. The only teacher who actually remembered her was her homeroom teacher, Mr. Garvey who also had her in his math class for a couple of years (algebra and geometry). He recalled her as a solid “C” student, unremarkable academically or socially. He recalled thinking that she could probably use a session or two with the school psychologist. But when he was asked why all he said was that she just gave off a weird vibe. However when Becca followed up on that she found that no such session ever took place. After graduation Megan just disappeared into the world, remaining unnoticed until that night at the Egyptian Theater. Weird? Becca decided that she and Iggie would pay a visit to the priest, Father Quinn tomorrow. He had to know something more than what was in the file from the night of the suicide. No offence to the officers on the scene, but patrol cops don’t always dig for more than the facts. And as everyone knows, the devil is always in the details (no pun intended). Besides, the man had just made a movie about her life. Yeah, he knew more than he gave up at the scene and she was going find out what.
Becca pushed the button on her keychain and her car beeped and flashed the headlights in response. She climbed into the driver’s side and tossed her briefcase onto the passenger seat. Unconsciously she locked all of the doors, a reflex she’d acquired after long driving lesson session with her over protective father. Good daughter! The BMW’s engine came to life with a twist of her wrist as she backed out of her space and drove out of the lot onto 1st Street to start her commute back to Pasadena. She thought some more about Father Quinn and wondered how she would approach the interview. She was a good Catholic and respected the collar but she was a good cop as well and knew that she may have to press him in spite of her devotion to her faith. In the end she would do what she was trained to do and discover whatever needed to be discovered. Under her breath in a very small voice she prayed for guidance and asked God to please keep her partner’s Neanderthal tendencies in check.
Detective Rebecca Tran merged onto the 10 Fwy east and disappeared into the LA night. Tomorrow’s gonna be another day…