Tag Archives: intrigue

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter ten, part two

“Lydia gave that to me for my birthday,” Brian said softly, interrupting my scrutiny.  “It’s the best thing she’s done, though not really my cup of tea.”

“Does it have a title?”  I asked, curious about the nomenclature of such an evocative piece of art.

“Willows Weeping,” Brian said, his eyes tearing up.  “It’s almost as if she had a premonition about her death.  It’s too bad, really.  The day she died, she received a letter in the mail commissioning her for two paintings.  It was someone who had seen a flyer of her work—she used to post them around town—and really liked it.  That would have been her first big sale.”  Brian looked at the ground as he talked, unable to meet my eyes.

“Brian, will you take the painting down for me?”  I asked, gesturing to the painting.  I wasn’t comfortable with his show of emotions, and I wanted to redirect his attention.

“Why?”  Brian asked, folding his arms across his chest.  He wasn’t being nearly as helpful or charming today as he had been a few days ago, but I didn’t have time to wonder about the change.

“Because,” I said snippily.  My shoulder was really starting to hurt like hell, and his attitude wasn’t doing anything to improve my temper.  “You want me to find out who killed Lydia, don’t you?”  Brian didn’t answer, but he lifted the painting off the wall and set it on the couch.  I flipped it over and carefully removed the backing.  There between the backing and the painting was a manila envelope, and it was stuffed.

“Well I’ll be damned,” Brian said, looking thunderstruck.  “What’s that?”

“Probably the evidence Lydia thought I’d be able to find,” I said dryly.  “She’s just lucky that I’m persistent.”  Brian didn’t say what was on his mind, but I had a hunch by the look on his face that he wanted to say that Lydia was dead, not lucky.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter thirteen, part one

There is very little to be gleaned from my conversation with Derek other than Rosie’s strong sense of morality which only makes sense in the case of her murder if her belief system was her excuse for carrying out blackmail.  Asking for money from people she didn’t approve of to care for her child might have seemed like some sort of poetic justice to her.  Derek and I part, and I meander home.  My head is pounding from too much information and not enough evidence.  How I wish I had Paris here to bounce ideas off him—him and Lyle.  Speaking of Paris, there is a message from him on my cell phone which I have forgotten to turn on.  He is put out because he had to find out about Mariah’s death from the news.  I call him when I reach home.

“What the hell is going on over there?”  Paris’s voice has regained some of the vigor it had earlier lost.  “Who’s going to be next?  It better not be you!  Tell me everything.”  I tell him about Mariah’s death and what little information I have gathered about it.  I still don’t tell him about the second attempt on my life or the threatening note in my pocket because there’s nothing he can do about it from Memphis, and the last thing he needs is to be worried about me.

“Enough of that.  What about you?  How are you?”  I want to think about something other than the murders for a little bit even though I’d love to get Paris’s take on it.  It’s clear, however, that his mind is focused on the situation with his family, and I want to be a good friend and support him.

He is at his wit’s end.  His mother is wigging out.  Last night, she started screaming and couldn’t stop.  She kept saying it was her punishment for lying to Paris about being adopted.  She started pulling out her hair, and her husband had to pin her arms behind her back to keep her from making herself bald.  I ask about Lyle, hoping to take Paris’s mind off a difficult subject, but apparently, that is a touchy area as well.  Lyle is trying to be supportive, but understandably, is under tremendous strain as well.  He is spending the day alone because he needs some space.  While Paris can understand the need, it still makes him panic.  Any whiff of abandonment throws him into a tizzy, and they had a fight about it before Lyle took off.  Paris isn’t sure he can come back Wednesday after all with his mom in such bad shape and Mr. Jenson not being any use at all.  He just sits around, scowling, exhorting his wife to pull herself together.  I vaguely remember Mr. Jenson from when the Jensons lived in Oakland, but that was years ago.  He was very phlegmatic; I remember that much.  Seems he’s crossed the line into asshole-ness.

“I don’t mean to be flippant, Paris, but what about your mother’s deep relationship with God?  Isn’t that helping her at all?”  I am not a Christian, but I admire the faith that devout Christians have.  I wish I were that certain of a benevolent force having a positive interest in me.

“That’s the worst part, Rayne!  She’s renounced God.  She spent a half an hour calling Him every filthy name in the book.  I never thought I’d see the day when I wished she would spout Bible verses at me.”  Paris stops.  I hear a distinct sniffle.  “I don’t understand how someone’s faith can collapse like that.  It’s as if she thought because she believed in God, she was protected from bad things.”  I wonder if that’s why Rosie quit church as well.  Her son’s death certainly seems like a catalyst for the catastrophic events to follow.  I shake my head to remind myself that Ashley had been killed first.  I have a gut feeling, however, that Rosie’s blackmailing hobby plays a large part in this whole mess.  What if she found out something about Mr. Stevenson and tried to extort money out of Ashley?  A glimmer of something niggles at my brain, but I can’t force it to the forefront.  I let it simmer, hoping it’ll develop on its own.

“People deal with their grief in different ways, Paris,” I say soothingly, but honesty compels me to add, “Though I’m sure it’s not good to pull out your own hair.  Have you talked to her about seeing a therapist?”

“We are not people who resort to therapist,” Paris says in a sing-song voice, obviously imitating his mother.  Or perhaps his stepfather.  “We take care of our own problems, thank you very much.”  I restrain a sigh.  That is such a prevalent feeling, even in this day and age, and it’s so destructive.  I’m not advocating therapy for everyone or for every situation, and I balked at entering it myself, but at least I intellectually realize that there are some problems I can’t solve on my own and it’s not a weakness to seek out help.  “I almost punched my stepfather when he said he’d take care of my mother himself.  He’s doing a shitty job of it so far.”

“Maybe you should check out therapists yourself,” I suggest.  I don’t want to widen the rift between Paris and his stepfather, but it’s clear that his mother is not coping well at all.

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter five, part three

“It sucks,” Billie says hoarsely, slurping at her beer.  “She was my girlfriend, you know.”

“Really?  I thought she was found by her girlfriend,” I say innocently.  “Was that you?”  I line up for a long table shot and neatly sink the one.  The two is on the far rail with the seven in between.  I don’t think I can make it.

“That bitch wasn’t her girlfriend; I was.”  Billie folds her massive arms across her chest and glares at me.  “We just had to keep it quiet.  Moira didn’t want to tell anyone because she said it would cheapen what we had.”  Good God!  This woman who looks like a common thug has the heart of a bad romantic.  I try to imagine this goon in bed with Moira, and I have difficulty trying to repress a reflexive shudder.  Although, Billie would have the muscles to tie Moira down.  “I haven’t been able to stop crying since I found out.  I saw her just the night before, and she told me she was going to leave her gi—the bitch for me.  She was so happy when I saw her.  Then this.  I bet that bitch did it.  If I find out she did, I’m going to fucking kill her.”  Billie finishes her beer and glowers at me as I safety the next shot.  Billie marches to the table and without aiming, shoots.  She’s nowhere near the two so I have ball in hand.

“I read that the police have other suspects.  I wonder who?”  I haven’t read any such thing, but I’m counting on Billie’s grief to cloud her judgment.

“That fucking professor who had a crush on her and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”  Billie snorts, pulling a pack of cigarettes from her back pocket.  Catching the look of the bartender, she puts it away.  There is no smoking in bars in California any more, a fucking travesty if I’ve ever heard one.  Drinking and smoking go together like sex and, well, anything.

“What professor?”  My heart pounds slightly, not wanting her to realize that I am questioning her.  Fortunately, she’s too absorbed in her sorrow to wonder why I’m asking her so many questions.  Besides, she’s eager to talk about Moira and probably doesn’t have many close friends with whom to share her sad story.

“The one who acts like he’s from fucking Britain.  Something Banks.  God, I hated him!  The old fart didn’t know what to do after his wife left him.  Thought Moira was the answer to his dreams.  When she told him she wasn’t interested, he tried to rape her.  What a prick, and him acting so goddamn proper all the time.”  Her nostrils flare in disgust.  Her ill-temper is not helped by the fact that I am now up to the five and have a gimme shot.  I ponder her words for a minute.  She must be talking about Emil.

“Emil Banks?”  I throw the name at her, and she doesn’t even blink.

“That’s the asshole.  I should have sliced off his dick when I had the chance.”  It is clear that Billie is one of those dykes who hate men although it seems to me that she’s not too fond of women, either.  She a pure misanthrope, that’s what she is.  I have no idea what Moira saw in her, unless it was the stalker adoration this woman is emanating.  “Then there are her students.  Take, take, take.  They took, whatever they could from her, but never gave nothing in return.  They all got stupid little crushes on her, then turned hateful when she wouldn’t go out with them.  Maybe one of them did it.”

“Where were you that night?”  I hold my breath, ready for her to explode.  To my relief, she merely shrugged.

“I was here.  Playing pool.  You can ask anyone.”  She presses her lips together and begins fiddling with her cue.  It’s clear that this well of information is about to run dry, so I slip in one more question.

“How did you meet her?”

“Right here.  She came in with the bitch one night over a year ago.  The bitch had a headache and left early, but Moira stayed.  She help me close the bar that night.”  A smile breaks across Billie’s pudgy cheeks, transforming her from scary to almost beautiful.  She hesitates, then pulls out a thin gold chain from under her t-shirt.  “Moira gave me this.  Said it signified our true love.”  It’s a simple gold chain with a tiny heart pendant on it.  It’s completely out of character for Billie, which makes it that much more pathetic.

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter three, part two

I do the dishes—this is our deal.  When one person cooks, the other does the dishes.  Consequently, I do a lot of dishes around the house.  I am more than happy to do that in payment for the fabulous meals that Paris cooks for me.  After the kitchen is clean, I start making the cakes.  I usually make two of whatever I’m baking because I know Paris will want one.  He has a tremendous sweet-tooth which he has yet to tame.  It’s another reason he works out religiously.  He always says if he’s going to play, he has to pay, and for him, it’s a worthwhile trade-off.  Me, I eat my chocolate whether I work out or not because I’m not as obsessed with my body.  That’s another reason Paris and I couldn’t date.  He has too many body issues that would drive me nuts.  That’s why he tends to date models because they understand his issues and actively support him in them.  I don’t think that’s the best mentality for his well-being, but who am I to judge?

My thoughts wander to Inspector Robinson.  I wonder what her first name is and if she dates men or women or both.  She looks straight, but I only have a spot-on gaydar for men.  For some reason, I can’t tell when a woman is queer.  I think it’s because women are more fluid than men are.  I know more gay and bisexual men who have known since they were very young that they liked boys than I do women who knew at an early age that they were interested in girls.  Women have closer friendships to begin with which can easily cross over into the physical.  I would never presume that a woman is interested until she tells me she is, unlike men.  I can always tell when a man wants to get to know me better and not just in a friendship way.  Then again, I think most guys would jump my bones if I give them the indication that I am so inclined.  It’s endearing in a way—so touchingly simple and straightforward.  Not like the manipulative minds of woman.

Inspector Robinson is a mystery, however.  There are moments when I felt a frisson of tension between us, but I can easily convince myself that I am making it up because it’s what I want to happen.  She is not my usual type—I don’t like blonds—but I’m willing to make an exception for her.  I like the way she sits so still, it’s as if she isn’t even there.  I wonder if she’s taken any martial arts or studied Buddhism.  That would explain the alert look despite her relaxed body.  She is quite intelligent, too, which is one of my requirements in a bedmate, unlike my not-so-picky roommate.  I realize that I’m talking myself into a huge crush on the good inspector, so I force myself to stop idolizing her.  The last time I fell for someone before really knowing her, I ended up having to get a restraining order against her.  She did not take rejection well at all.  Finally, from what I heard, she started dating someone else and is currently happily stalking her.  Not to be mean, but better her than me.  It’s every gal for herself.

“I’m out!”  Paris calls from the hallway.  “Make sure you save me some cake!”  That boy is a slave to the cacao bean.  Hm, maybe I can use it to lure him into my bed.  Just because we wouldn’t make good lifetime partners doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun.  We have always been dynamic together in bed.  The cakes are coming along nicely, so I sit down to wait.  I don’t want to watch them as I know from experience that I can ruin things faster than a flash if I watch.  I tend to want to dabble instead of just patiently waiting for it to do its thing.  Come to think of it, that’s a good analogy for the way I deal with most things in my life.  When the cakes are done, I change into a black silk shirt and low-riding blue jeans.  Just as I’m about to leave, my cell phone rings.  I don’t want to answer it, but it’s probably important.  Very few people have access to my cell phone, and those who do know better than to call unless it’s important.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter eight, part two

“Hello, Megan. It’s so good to see you again.” Reverend Yang clasps one of my hand in both of his. He’s wearing a nice Armani suit, black, and he’s quite a dashing figure. I’m wearing a black dress, but one with a high-cut neck. It falls well past my knees, and it covers most of my assets. I have my hair up in a severe bun, and I’m wearing gold studs in my earlobes. I’ve taken pains to look as plain as possible, but it doesn’t stop the gleam in Reverend Yang’s eyes. I sigh internally. I was hoping to do this the easy way, but, no.

“Reverend Yang. Yes.” I shake his hand before extracting mine. I sit on the couch and put my purse next to me. Whatever else he might be, Reverend Yang is not stupid. He pulls up his chair and sits across from me. I soften my tone a bit and say, “I keep thinking about what we’ve talked about. My relationship. The troubles. You know, my sister and her husband have been my inspiration as far as relationships go. They’ve been married thirty years.”

“Oh, yes. Bob and Jasmine are marital role models to us all.” Reverend Yang’s smile is forced, and his eyes are grim. “May we all be so lucky in love.”

“I know you can’t talk about your counseling sessions, but you must know Bob is missing.” I pat Reverend Yang’s hand, and he reflexively squeezes mine in return.

“As you said, I cannot talk about what is revealed to me in my counseling sessions,” Reverend Yang says. His presses his lips together tightly, and I realize I’m going to have to ratchet up the pressure. I start by unbuttoning the top button of my blouse, and Reverend Yang swallows hard.

“I know, Reverend.” I caress Reverend Yang’s hand. “But, it’s just, Jasmine and I are so worried about Bob. Anything you can tell us about it will really help.” I feel a flash of distaste at my methods, but whatever will get me the information I need.

“I really shouldn’t….” Reverend Yang’s voice trails off as I undo another button. I am not above using my feminine wiles to get what I want, even if I don’t like doing it.

“It’s rather warm in here.” I smooth my hair down and unbutton one more button. I better get what I want soon otherwise I’ll be topless. “I don’t want you to breach confidentiality, Reverend, but I’m at a dead end with my research. I need more information, and I would bet you knew him better than most.” I mop my chest with my handkerchief, and Reverend Yang can’t keep my eyes off my tits.

“Yes, well.” Reverend Yang clears his throat several times before continuing. “I really can’t break a confidence, but I can tell you he was having problems with alcohol.” I blink. I know that, but it’s not what I was expecting. I’m also not sure it has anything to do with Bob being missing. “He admitted that once he starts drinking, he can’t stop. I was trying to help him create a plan to combat that.”

“Is there anything else you can tell me?” I lean forward, giving him a healthy glimpse of my cleavage. He definitely appreciates that, and it takes him several seconds to respond.

“I can tell you he was having a personal problem at work. With a woman.” Reverend Yang places a hand on my thigh, and I let it stay there for a minute before pulling away.

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Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Four)

Chapter Eight (Part Three)

“Shit,” I yawn as I wake up.  I had a disturbing dream that I can’t remember upon waking which has kept me from sleeping soundly.  This is so unlike me that I’m not sure what to do about it.  Realizing that there is nothing I can do about it, I drag myself out of bed, disgruntled.  I take a quick shower and dress in a flattering emerald-green top and slacks.  I can’t believe it’s only Friday, four days after my personal hell started.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Vandalia says grimly tossing the paper on the table in front of me.  The appetizing aroma of bacon and eggs is in the air causing me to salivate.

“Mowgli make it home OK?”  I had gone to bed before Mowgli left, so I wasn’t sure how late he stayed.  Or what the two of them did after I went to bed.  By the looks they were sending each other, I have a hunch that they are more than just friends.  Which leads me back to my question of what gender is Vandalia.  I shrug as I pour myself a glass of orange juice.  It’s really none of my business, and I don’t particularly care as I’m not attracted to her.  It would interest me to know if she and Mowgli are lovers or have ever been, but it is purely personal curiosity to which I don’t often give in.

“Mowgli’s still here,” Vandalia says, her tone still hard.  “He’s taking the day off.”

“Why?”  I look at her levelly, not understanding the emotion emanating from her.  She seems pissed, though not necessarily at me.

“Read the paper.”  Vandalia turns back to the stove to look after her cooking.  “He was going to go in later, but we need to call a war council.”  I pick up the paper and scan the headlines.

“Lady in White Found Slain Behind Famous Strip Club!”  I shut my eyes, knowing what is to follow.  Jesus, those assholes must have a personal hotline to the press the way they control the flow of information.  I’m sure when I open my eyes and read the article, Blanche’s name will jump right out at me.  I knew I should have gone back to the club last night; I just knew it.

“Read it!”  Vandalia barks, forcing me to open my eyes.  She is glowering at me—an irate hausfrau wrapped in a bright red muumuu.

The story is sensational, though maybe not by San Francisco’s jaded standard.  An ‘anonymous tipster’ had called the police in the wee hours of this morning after hearing noises in the same apartment building where Sylvian was killed.  The cops burst into the apartment and found—surprise, surprise—Blanche White dead on her living room floor.  Quite a coincidence that she lived in the same building in which Sylvian was found.  The police revealed that the place was in shambles and it would take them some time to discern what—if anything—had been stolen.  It is clear that Blanche White, nee Bertha Dubrowski—no wonder she changed her name—has been murdered by a single gunshot to the heart.  In case anyone’s wondering if it’s suicide, she was hog-tied at the time of her demise.  Not too easy to shoot yourself in the heart with your hands tied behind your back.  As with Sylvian and Sato, there is no evidence of sexual intercourse, but Blanche had been severely beaten and tortured before she was killed.  The cops say they have irrefutable evidence that Blanche White’s death ties in with Angelica Sylvian’s and Evelyn Sato’s, which means that folks, we have a serial killer on our hands, and it’s a female.  As I read, I’m getting more and more pissed off.  What’s clear to me is that I am an easy scapegoat for these fuckers to pin a whole plethora of murders on.  I curse DiCalvo for walking into my life, and I know that he is going to fucking pay one way or another.

‘Colleagues who talked to Ms. Dubrowski before work say she seemed nervous and upset,’ Detective Beauregard says, his face serious.  I stare at the picture of the handsome detective—six-two, dark wavy hair, blue eyes—committing his face to memory.  Another asshole to add to my list of fuckers who are out to get me.  Either this man is in the pocket of DiCalvo, or he’s being played like a mandolin.  Either way, he’s now my enemy.  I also wonder why the chief of police didn’t comment himself as is usual in a case like this.  Is it because he wants to keep his hands clean or because Beauregard has convinced him to stay out of it?  Either way, I need to find out more about the chief, too.  I need to know exactly who in the police department has it in for me.

‘She mentioned meeting with an Asian woman before coming to work,’ Melody Anderson is quoted as saying.  ‘There was an Asian woman in the audience the night before Blanche was killed.  She seemed awfully interested in Blanche.  Fixated, you know.’  I am stony-faced as I read the quotes from little Melody.  She, too, is thrust onto my list.  Melody goes on to say the Asian woman doesn’t fit the description of the suspect, but she was wearing a lot of makeup and seemed to have cut her hair short.  She goes on to describe Mowgli, Greeley, and Vandalia whom the police call ‘possible accomplices’.  Her descriptions are vague, however, and would fit half of the San Francisco population.

By the time I’m finished reading the article, I am speechless with rage.  How dare these pricks do this to me?  Not only do they kill without compunction, they don’t give a damn that they’re sending me to the chair.  Whatever body count they end up with, they best add one more if I’m caught, tried, and electrocuted for crimes I never committed.  Why the fuck me?  How did they happen to chose me?  It can’t just be because I’m Asian and because O’Reilly has a fetish for Asian women—that’s too flimsy.  When I cool down, I can see that if my being Asian is a primary concern, then it had to be me.  Let’s face it—there aren’t many female Asian repo men running around.  In fact, I can’t think of another one besides me.

“Fuckers,” I say, not realizing I’ve said it out loud.  I stop reading halfway through the article because I can’t stomach finishing it.

“We need to powwow,” Vandalia says, sliding a plate full of food in front of me.  Normally, I don’t eat breakfast, but I make an exception this time.  I’m so angry, I need something to fuel that anger.  My therapist used to tell me that I had to let go of my anger which is one reason I think therapy is a crock of shit.  Anger is a useful tool, and it’s much better than fear.  Continue Reading