The Tart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: March 03, 2019

Reads: 276

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Submitted: March 03, 2019

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Mike walked into the lounge of the Chicago Avenue Street Police Station. His eyes shifted in all directions until he finally spotted Winston sitting on one of the few soft, comfortable chairs in the place. It was only when he made his way across the room and stood in front of the chair did he realize Winston had fallen asleep while still holding his teacup.

Mike shook his head in disbelief. “Of all the detectives on the force, I have to be paired with a British half-wit,” he said to himself.

Facing Winston, Mike bellowed out, “Wake up. I need your help.”

Winston bolted up with a start, while Mike reached down and grabbed the teacup before it hit the floor. “Not a smart idea,” he realized, as the hot water stung his fingers.

“Bloody ass, what is the matter with you?” Winston responded.

“You are the one covering the Chinese girl,” Mike said. “I need to see the video of everyone who has visited her since she’s been in a coma. You don't get paid for sleeping on the job, anyway.”

Realizing the room had turned silent as all eyes faced towards the two men, Winston got up and left, while mumbling to himself, “Young hotshot.”


Mike followed, shouting, “I'll meet you in the computer room in ten minutes.”

Exactly ten minutes later Winston entered the computer room and silently set up a video on the screen. He started to leave the room when Mike stopped him.

“I woke you up because you are the one who has questioned all visitors to the room,” Mike said. “You need to stay and identify them for me.”

Winston sat down and stared at Mike. “So you think the Irish are in charge of the English?”

Mike frowned, “This is America and the year is 2010. Stop fighting a war with me. We are on the same side now. A girl was found beaten and left in a coma. We‘ve been assigned to find out who’s responsible.”

“She’s a tart,” Winston shot back. “Happens every day. Don't get so excited. You'll learn after you've been here a while.”

“Need I remind you, I came here from the New York Police Department,” Mike said.

The computer beeped and the video started. The first scene they looked at was of a hunched-over, small woman quietly entering the room. With baggy tan pants, thin-cropped yellow-gray hair, and slanted eyes she resembled a poor Chinese coolie from another time. She sat down next to the girl and gently rubbed her arm.

Mike stopped the video and turned to Winston. “Is that the girl’s mother?” he asked in an excited voice.

Winston answered, “I think she was an aunt. Didn’t have an interpreter around to question her.”

“Did she give you the girl’s name at least?” Mike asked.

“Sort of,” Winston responded. “They call the girl May Lin Wu.”

“What else did she tell you?”  Mike asked.

All she kept saying was, “She a good girl. No trouble,” Winston said.

Mike’s hand tightly clasped around his coffee cup. “Why didn't I get an interpreter and question the woman?” he asked himself. He then turned to Winston, and asked “You don't care, do you?”

Winston stopped the video and said, “I'm telling you, we have more important cases to handle. She probably got beat up by her pimp.”

“She was someone special to that old lady,” Mike admonished.

Winston silently re-started the computer. A dark-haired young girl wearing a tight short black skirt and red stiletto high heels entered the room and led the old lady out.

“Did you find out anything about this girl, her name, her relationship to May Lin?” Mike asked.

“The old lady called her Susi,” Winston said.

The next sight on the screen showed a room empty of visitors, with only a petite, shriveled, bruised, and silent patient attached to tubes and a breathing machine. Winston left the room. Mike stared at the girl for a few minutes before turning the video off.
***

Mike Fell, six feet tall, muscular, rash, energetic, perfectionist, and transport from the ranks of detectives of the New York Police Department, was miserable in Chicago. To him, this city’s law enforcement was made up of  sluggish, beer-drinking guys who spoke “dese” and “dose,” and one misplaced Brit, whom Mike had the misfortune to be partnered with. What an unlikely couple they were. To add to his discomfort with his partner, Winston was the only one besides Mike’s dad who called him Michael no matter what he said.

These thoughts swirled through his head as he grabbed his coat and briefcase. He had to get away from everyone and think through this case. As a detective he had the freedom to follow his instincts.

Yes, he felt sorry for the young prostitute, but he also had a gut feeling that there was more to her beating than just being another unlucky whore in the wrong place at the wrong time. No semen was found on her, and nothing had been stolen save her identification. She was wearing expensive clothes, and everything was intact—except her head, which had been bashed in. Her body had been left by the Lincoln Park Zoo, where she could be found. If her assailant wanted her dead she would have become a floater in the river. It’s looking like a warning gone bad. For sure she wasn't the first half dead girl he had encountered in his job. Maybe it was her age that got to him.

Upon opening the police station door, a gust of snow-saturated wind overcame him. He buttoned his overcoat and cursed the city again. It was late March, and the snow should be gone—would be in New York, anyway. 

He hailed a cab and slid into the back seat just in time to answer his cell phone. On the other end was the reason he was in Chicago. A voice dripping with honey said, “Mike, I have to work late. Would you be a darling and pick up Becky?”

There went his day. His wife, Vera, a high-powered lawyer who made five times his salary, called the shots. Her firm was busy defending one of Illinois’ U.S. senators who had gotten himself into some trouble.

Due to the nature of their jobs, many times they were required to keep secrets from each other. The media could be very devious and vicious. He once spoke out of turn to someone on one of her cases, and he never heard the end of it.

Mike’s thoughts were interrupted by the polite Indian or Pakistani cab driver trying to find the right English words to collect his fare. He missed the noisy, boisterous New York cabbies. 

He looked first at his watch, and then at the entrance to Northwestern Hospital. Mike shook his head, leaned over the seat, and told the driver he had to change his destination, and to go north on Michigan Avenue, and west on North Avenue, to the Latin School.

Mike and the cab driver picked up the detective’s daughter, Becky, on time. With hair tucked beneath a pink-and-blue striped ski cap that had recently been purchased in Aspen, nylon jacket, black pants tucked into UGG boots, and a big back pack, Becky was a typical 16-year-old Latin School student. Actually, she was nicer than most of them. Money and material things hadn't gone to her head. She was more like her dad.

The cab driver then went east to the Outer Drive along Lake Michigan, until he reached the 990 N. Lake Shore Drive condo building, where Mike and Becky exited, greeted the doorman, and entered through the double glass doors, working their way down the hall to the special penthouse elevator. This was a far cry from the small bungalow on the crowded New York Street that was the home he and five more siblings grew up in. “Yes, sir, Michael Leary Fell, you married well, didn't ya?” they would be saying back there.

“Mom’s working late,” Mike told Becky. “How about ordering a pizza from Rinaldi’s?”

Their 4,000 square-foot condo on Chicago’s Gold Coast had been decorated by none other than Bobbi Packer Designs. Everything in it was gorgeous, pricey, and untouchable, like the silk blue and green patterned upholstered chairs on which they were sitting. Not quite the environment for pizza and paper plates, but the cop and the teen didn’t care. They were accustomed to eating junk dinners together while mom was busy.

“Sounds good; I have three tests tomorrow, and need to study,” Becky answered as she walked bootless on the Italian marble floor towards her room.

Large star-shaped snowflakes pounded the condo’s immense picture windows overlooking Lake Michigan. Mike stared out the window, as he opened his briefcase. He could barely see the enormous Ferris wheel that jutted out in the sky overlooking Navy Pier, but he could hear the waves of Lake Michigan bouncing against the rocks on the shore.

Becky retired to her room to do homework and watch television, while Mike covered the dining room table with all the information he had on the girl in the coma. He pulled a bottle of beer out of the fridge and took a swig before studying the papers on the cold black marble table and the articles on his laptop.

May Lin was only 17 years old. She, with the girl who had visited her, were listed as models for Madam Cheng’s modeling agency, which was just a cover for one of Chicago’s luxury untouchable call girl agencies that operated from suburban Cicero. 

Mike looked from the agency picture of the girl to his own 16 year-old daughter, who had just passed through the kitchen in her pink and blue striped pajamas. He shivered thinking how close in age his Becky was to the prostitutes.

While Mike was studying the evidence and making a list of suspects, his wife threw open the door, dropped her fox collared long black coat on a chair and her high heels on the floor, and burst out with, “Guess what? They have no case against the senator. The state’s attorney’s star witness died. We just received the call from Northwestern Hospital. Now no one will dispute Senator Brill's testimony that he was only at the Red Dragon for dinner, never upstairs at The Enchanted Pussy. That little piece of s...... should have never opened her mouth when the press caught them together.”

Mike’s mouth dropped open in horror. He looked his wife in the eye, and asked, “Was she a young Chinese prostitute?”

“How did you know?” Vera asked, as she sat down in a chair opposite him.

“We found her bruised, but alive, two days ago,” Mike answered. “Winston and I are on the case.” 

“Don’t go there, get off of that case,” Vera ordered. Her large dark eyes bared down at him as she picked up her high heel black strapped shoes and walked down their massive hall to the master bedroom.

The days when he would follow her down the hall, close the door to their bedroom, and slowly, sensuously help her undress one item at a time were long gone. His body still responded to the sway of her hips and the scent of lilacs lingering as she disappeared, though. He turned back to the task at hand.

Ignoring Vera's warning, Mike picked up his phone and called the hospital to confirm that they had been talking about the same girl. They had been, and he sat staring at the two pictures of May Lin—the 17-year-old dressed and made up to look like a much older call girl, and the bruised, beaten frail kid in the hospital. He vowed to find her torturer.? ***
 

Mike passed the pizza delivery boy as he quickly exited his condo. Briefcase and coat swung over his arm, he took the elevator down to the garage, slid into his five-year-old gold Toyota, and drove out of the building west on Chicago Avenue towards the expressway.

Too bad he had missed his run along Lake Michigan this afternoon, he thought. That always helped him sort things thru but, he had traded it for a tongue sandwich at Manny’s, the only deli in Chicago whose food came close to that of his beloved New York eateries.

A loud honk turned his attention back to his driving. One couldn’t be traveling along Chicago’s expressways daydreaming. He exited the Eisenhower on south Cicero Avenue and headed to 20th Street, a dividing line between a Mexican neighborhood and an African-American one.

Cicero had long had a reputation of government scandal, a place where anything goes. Adult bookstores, street gangs, and houses of prostitution were a problem years ago; though less visible, they still were a problem today.

Mike stopped in front of a large, conservative looking, two-story white stone building. The sign in the window said, The Red Dragon, which really made him laugh. The town of Cicero, a factory town, had once had a population of mainly Bohemians, and now a little of everything, but never Chinese. Yet this Chinese establishment had been in this location for over forty years.

The inside of the building was quite different from the outside. After Mike walked through the plain wooden outer door, he passed through an enormous red lacquer inner door, adorned with golden dragons, white ivory lilies, and round-bellied wooden Buddhas. 

Mike was greeted by a stunning sixty-something Asian woman in a fitted pink silk Chinese dress. Her coal-black hair was done up in a beehive held together by a jeweled ebony comb. With a half bow she stuck out her hand to him, and in broken English. She said, “I'm Madam Wu, and I hope you’ve come to dine with us. Today we have Peking duck, something our restaurant is famous for. We have the best Peking duck in all of Chicago and the suburbs because we use a traditional wood-burning oven with logs from…."

He cut her off. “I’ve had your Peking duck, and it is truly delicious, but today I’m looking for the Enchanted Pussy,” he said, holding out a card.

She smiled, and asked, “Do you have an appointment?”

“Yes,” Mike answered. “With May Lin.”

The woman’s eyes opened wide, and her face had an expression of panic. She stopped, took a deep breath, and with a broad smile she motioned him to follow her. They walked through the black and red dining room, through the gold painted doors leading to the back of the house, and up the circular staircase leading to the top floor of the building. She led him up the staircase and into what looked like an office.

Now in perfect English, she said, “Someone will be with you shortly.”

Mike inhaled the sweet scent of marijuana coming from one of the rooms down the hall. He reminded himself of his mission tonight, and dismissed the thought of illegal drugs. He stood up and walked around the room. The white carpet was new and lush, cushioning his feet, the walls painted red, and the desk a rich floral-carved mahogany. 

As he leaned over to remove a paperweight so he could surreptitiously examine the papers on the desk, he heard the door squeak open.

Before he had a chance to react Mike was grabbed from behind, his arm twisted in a painful position while a gun was pointed at his ribs.

“Let go of me,” Mike growled. “Look in my pocket. I’m with the detective division of the Chicago Police Department.”

His arm was released, but the gun stayed, as he was slowly turned around and thrown onto a chair. The man holding the gun was a fat, bald, mustached Chinese man in an open-neck, too-tight gray golf shirt. Before Mike considered any heroics, he eyed the two large muscular thugs standing at the closed door and decided to cool it, though his pulse increased and his gun hand twitched.

The man holding the gun at him looked him square in the eyes, and said, “I don’t give a damn who you are. I just want to know why you pretended to have an appointment with my May Lin.”

Mike leaned way back in the chair trying to look relaxed and non-threatening. “Put that gun down and we can talk,” he said. “Take my wallet and check my identification. I’m Mike Fell, a detective with the Chicago Police Department. I am here because I want to find out who killed May Lin.”

The man, Wu, dropped the gun and crumbled down on the chair next to Mike. “She was my granddaughter,” he sobbed. “How can I believe you? The police only want to shut us down, and they don’t care about her. If you are honest with me, I will help you investigate. If not…” Wu’s discourse trailed off as he turned and looked in the direction of his two thugs.

“I am new to Chicago, from New York, and I have a 16-year-old daughter of my own,” Mike answered. “I’m here only to find out who beat your granddaughter to death, not to judge your establishment. I’m sure you have the right connections to stay in business.”

Wu turned to the men guarding the door, and ordered, “Bring us some food. This man and I have business to attend to.”

Mike heaved a sigh of relief, as he rubbed his sore arm. “Tell me, do you suspect the senator?” Mike asked? “With your granddaughter gone, he is free.”

The door opened, and a table loaded with food was brought into the room. Wu stared stone-faced at Mike for a few seconds. Then, he answered, “If I thought the senator was responsible, he would be buried with my granddaughter. I’m sure you know he was found with my granddaughter when our place was raided four months ago. He was set up by his opponents. Politics is one of the nastiest businesses around,” said the gun-toting brothel keeper.

Mike sat across from Wu, who he now realized must be in his middle seventies.

On the table in front of them was a virtual banquet—shrimp dishes, chop suey, duck, egg foo young, beef, chicken, egg rolls, crab Rangoon, plus tea and alcoholic drinks. 

A woman with black hair up in a beehive, long lashes, and a perfect body fitted into a red silk Oriental dress served tea. Mike scanned her from top to bottom. His gaze settled on her shoes.

He turned to Wu and asked, “May I question Susi?”

She stood perfectly still while Wu dropped his chopsticks on his plate and turned to Mike. “How do you know Susi?” Wu demanded. “You have never been in here before!”

Mike smiled. “I saw those four-inch red high heel shoes in the hospital video,” he said.

Wu turned to Susi and demanded, “You went to see May without telling me?”

Fear registered on Susi’s face, but she shook her head “yes.”

“Was she responsive?” Wu asked.

Susi shook her head “no.”

For the next hour Mike was allowed to question two employees of the Enchanted Pussy, and a few friends of May’s. All the interviews had to be done in front of Wu, which made them strained. Only one question was really helpful: “When was the last time you saw May Lin?” The consensus of opinion for the latest date was Wednesday, March 10. She left the house early in the morning. That matched his information since some poor devil walking his dog stumbled upon her barely live body around 11 p.m. Wednesday, March 10.

When he tried to get personal information on her state of mind, or on her friends outside of the house, no one knew anything.

By 10 p.m., Mike was escorted out with a friendly handshake, and packages of food. He wasn't confident that he had learned that much more than when he came in, however.

Upon entering his car, he realized he had not practiced one of the cardinal rules of safety—look in the back seat of your car before entering. Luckily the occupant on the floor of his back seat was a friend, Susi Chung. 

Without getting up, she said, “We need to talk. Drive. Go to Chinatown on Cermak Road and I will direct you to a small restaurant where we can talk. Make sure you are not followed.”

They went east on Cermak to a little place called merely The Kitchen. Despite Chicago’s anti-smoking ordinance, the smell of second-hand smoke, as well as greasy food, permeated the place. Sitting in the back in a dimly lit booth and sipping burnt black coffee, Susi opened up.

“May Lin was Wu’s heart,” Susi said. “Her mother ran away and left her with Wu when she was only six. He and his wife raised her. They watched her every move. She was only allowed to entertain the celebrities and the big shot politicians. For the last year the senator was her only customer. He abused her, and she hated him. Wu wouldn’t listen because the senator kept him in business. Wu paid him handsomely, and he kept the police away. But May was planning to run away with her boyfriend.”

Susi's hand shook as she pulled a cigarette out of her purse. Mike looked around for matches. Not many people smoked now days. Susie lit her cigarette herself and took a long deep puff.

Mike leaned in, looking directly into Susi’s face. “Who killed her?” he asked. “Wu, Senator Brill, her boyfriend?”

Susi turned away. “I don’t know,” she said. “I only know she was living in fear, and planning to escape.” 

She put her cigarette out on the table, got up and started to leave, but Mike grabbed her arm. “Who was her boyfriend?” he asked.

“He wasn’t Chinese,” Susi replied. “She knew him from school.”

“School?” He repeated, bewildered.

Susi smiled. “Yes, remember, May was only 17. She was in her last year of high school. She only worked at night. Now I have to go. If I get caught you will be investigating my murder.”

She turned around and quickly added, “She was still alive after school on March 10.”

A few heads turned their way so Mike let her go. He watched her hobble off on those ridiculous high heels, through the back door disappearing into the night. He realized she knew much more, and that he should subpoena her, even though it would put her life in danger. He pondered her statement that May was Wu’s heart. If so, how could he force her to be a prostitute? The family business! Wasn’t Mike in a family business, too? His father, uncles, brothers were all policemen.

He paid the bill with cash, left the restaurant, and drove home slowly, sorting out all the information he had received that evening. His next move would be to find the boyfriend. 

***

The coffee was slowly dripping into the pot. It was the worst coffee in the world and it took forever to brew, but Mike needed it this morning, after staying up most of the night going over his notes and scouring his mind for anything he might have missed at The Enchanted Pussy and in his conversation with Susi.

Mike wasn’t very alert, and didn’t hear Winston until his partner spoke.

“Michael, it is a good thing you are here early; we’ve got a job to do,” Winston said. “Did you hear the tart died?”

Mike smiled slyly. “Yes, I did, and I am way ahead of you with information on the girl,” he said.

The second floor of the station housed the detective division, while the first floor was used for more mundane matters. Both men went upstairs into one of the offices. Winston sat down in a swivel chair and turned towards the file cabinet, removing a folder, while Mike opened his briefcase and took out his laptop.

Winston, with sandy-colored hair surrounding a bald spot, short, and slightly stocky, was from the old school that favored cursive writing with an old-fashioned pen. Originally from just outside of London, he had been in Chicago seventeen years, but his British accent and manners meant nobody could guess it.

After Mike reported his findings, Winston squished his eyebrows and rubbed his chin. “Doesn’t sound like a typical prostitute murder,” he mused. “I think I will officially question Wu, while you check out her school record and find her boyfriend. Keep in mind there were seven murders in Chicago this week, one a little ten-year-old boy, so we can’t spend forever on this hooker.”

"Most of those murders are South Side gang related, out of our jurisdiction, so we can spent some time on this one,” Mike countered. “Is it the Chinese or the prostitute that have you irritated?" Winston just gave Mike a withering look that said it all.

Mike went over the coroner's initial report again. May Lin had been found in Lincoln Park with her clothes on, and most of her belongings nearby. She had not been sexually assaulted. Her death was due to a bash on the head with a blunt instrument, which had caused a brain hemorrhage. She was alive in a coma for two days. No drugs or alcohol were in her body. A more conclusive report would come later.

Again he concluded it looked like a warning beating that got out of hand. He hated to think that Vera's client, Senator Brill, would be dumb enough to have something like that done to a witness against him. He had to assign the questioning of Brill to Winston, or he would get in trouble with his wife and with the Police Department, which had little patience with conflicts of interest.

Mike spent the next three days checking the closest Chicago and suburban schools for a May Lin, May Wu, May Lin Wu, or any name sounding familiar, and for anyone in the school systems who recognized her picture. There were a lot of Wu's in the Chinese areas, but none at the schools nearby. He checked out Phillips, Tilden, De La Salle. With over 200 High Schools, this wasn't an easy task.

May Lin Wu's legal address was on 21st and Archer, not far from his favorite Chinese restaurant, Ming Hin. This place was nothing like the other restaurants in Chinatown. It was so beautifully decorated that the bar chairs had soft beige cushioned backed seats. Seated on one of these nursing his Jack and Coke and nibbling on his egg roll appetizer, Mike kibitzed with the bartender.

“Who lives in the house a few doors down the street?” Mike asked, casually

Before the bartender could comment the wiry young kid cleaning the tables said, “Auntie Wu. She has been there forever. Can't move her.”

Mike took out May Lin's picture. “Did she live there too?” he asked.

The boy quickly disappeared and the bartender clammed up, so Mike walked down the street to check the house out for himself.

The house in the middle of restaurants and shops was a very old two story red frame building. Not much to look at on the outside. The same old lady on the video answered the door. He made the same mistake Winston did. No interpreter. She just smiled and nodded at his questions. Sparse normal furniture but exquisite wooden chairs carved with dragons, birds and lilies, plus painted Oriental China vases as tall as he was, adorned the inside of the place. The distinct smell of roasted peanuts made him believe that something good was sizzling in peanut oil in the kitchen.

He showed Auntie Wu his detective badge and walked in, looking through the place as quickly as possible. She followed him as quietly as a mouse. When he came upon a bedroom with girly things he showed her a picture of May Lin. She didn't flinch.

Nothing much in the room, but some clothes in the closet and books lying on the bed. Tucked into one of the text books was a note. In English it said, “I will always love you. CB.” He shoved the note in his pocket, and left before he got into trouble for running too much of the show on his own, especially since some of the neighbors were watching from their doorways.

Experiencing no major breakthrough, he called Wu, who refused to talk to or see him. He couldn’t force Wu to talk, as he had no evidence to charge him with in the case at hand. Someone may have gotten to Wu. The man must be more concerned about keeping The Enchanted Pussy open than finding his granddaughter's murderer.

“Too bad I don’t have May’s cell phone,” he thought. Most likely it was ruined, and tossed, as none of the cell phone companies could help him.

The word on the street was, “I don't know nothing!” He hadn’t been in this city long enough to have the right contacts. Hell, he was still afraid to park his own car in a no parking zone. He drove back to the station.

He needed to get to Susi again. Off to Cicero he went; this time in a police car with a reluctant Winston. The police car might get him in the door. At least it made the trip faster. In the day time The Enchanted Pussy took on a dreary look.

First he rang the bell like any normal visitor. Then he pounded on the door. “Police. Open up.”

The old woman who opened the door had a wrinkled face, wire rimmed glasses, and was about four feet eight. “What do you want?” she asked in a feeble voice.

Mike showed her his badge. “I need to talk to Susi Chung.”

“No one here by that name,” said the old woman.

Mike pushed the door in and attempted to enter the premises when Wu and his two henchmen appeared. “Do you have a search warrant?” Wu asked.

Mike backed off. “I’m trying hard to find your granddaughter’s killer. I need to ask you and Susi Chang some additional questions.”

“I’ve told you everything I know, and Susi Chang no longer works for us,” was Wu’s response. “Unless you have a warrant please leave.”

Wu looked much different than he had a week ago. His hands shook, and his clothes were hanging loosely over his body. One look from Winston, who was now standing outside of the car shaking his head, and the stare from the two strongmen moving closer to Wu made Mike back out.

Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t legally do anything.

* * *
 

At home Mike dressed and showered, and harnessed himself in what he called a “monkey suit.” At five o’clock in his black tux he left the quiet apartment and took the elevator down to the front of the building where he asked the doorman to get him a cab. The taxi traveled south on Lake Shore Drive, past Navy Pier and the early sailboats on the lake, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and Chicago’s famous Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.

Finally the cab deposited Mike at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago’s only treasure left from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Located across from the 57th Street Lake Michigan beach in Jackson Park, it was the original Fine Arts Building for the exposition, which makes the stunning stone-columned structure a museum piece itself. It has three floors of unique exhibits such as the Old Street, the Coal Mine, the US Air Force Star fighter, and the German submarine.

Tonight the museum was the site for a fundraiser for Senator Brill. Besides the gourmet food stations, the place was overflowing with money and power bigwigs from all over Illinois, including Mike’s wife and her partners in the prestigious law firm of Wagner, Dow, and Miller.

Mike stopped at the bar for a Coke and Jack before joining his wife, who promptly took him over to greet the senator, his wife, and son.

Senator Brill was his usual arrogant self, dressed impeccably, looking perfect from his plastered smile down to his shiny shoes. Next to him stood either a very bored or very unhappy lady clad in a very elegant black beaded dress. 

The senator’s son was the only genuine human being in the party. He shook Mike's hand warmly and asked how he was connected to his father.

Unable to resist, Mike leaned in close to the senator and slyly said, “The Wu girl died. How convenient!”

To Mike’s surprise, Senator Brill did not flinch, but his son’s face registered horror as he grabbed his father’s arm, uttering, “Oh, no.”

Vera quickly maneuvered Mike out of the Rotunda. Her eyes flashed anger, and her index finger poked at his chest.

"You son of a bitch,” she said. “How could you do that to me? Go back in there and apologize to the senator, or leave me!”

He left without even getting a taste of the jumbo shrimp appetizers. “Oh well, I'm a beer and pizza man anyway,” he said to himself.

Before running down the stairs to the ground level and the entrances to the museum garage, Mike took a nostalgic look at his wife as she walked back to the senator’s circle. She was still a beauty in her elegant Gucci ensemble, and long shining ebony tresses. How had they grown so apart? he wondered. They had been on the same page during their college days. Now their life together was an illusion. Two people moving further and further apart, except for their love of Becky.

At home he was happy to get out of his tux, and spread out on the sofa with his computer and pictures. When Becky, hands holding a big bowl of popcorn, joined him, he asked her, “Did you know Caleb Brill, Senator Brill’s son? I just found out he went to your school until this year. Now he is finishing his last year of high school in an Eastern boarding school.”

Becky looked over at Caleb’s picture on the Internet. “Sure, I knew him,” she said. “Caleb was a super nice kid, not spoiled or arrogant. Funny, he was pulled out of school after three months of his senior year, and then about two weeks later his girlfriend left school.”

Becky stared at her dad. “Are you okay?” she asked. Her father was staring at her as if he had just seen a ghost. He ran to the dining room table and came back with a picture that he shoved into her face.

“Becky, was this his girlfriend?” he demanded?

The girl in the picture, dressed in a pink silk Chinese dress and totally made-up looked familiar, but…. “I’m not sure dad,” Becky said. “This girl looks much older than 17.”

“What was the girl’s name, was she Chinese, have you seen her in the last week?” Mike asked in a loud, excited voice.

Becky backed away. “Dad, you’re scaring me,” she said.

“Becky, this is very important,” Mike retorted. “Take a good look.”

“Dad, her name is May Weiner,” Becky explained. “She said her mother was Chinese, and her father Caucasian. She and Caleb were a twosome for the last year. I haven't seen her since she left school about two months ago. She’s tall and thin with the same beautiful dark eyes.”

“Unbelievable, most of the answers to this case were right here in my home!” Mike shouted out as he grabbed his daughter and hugged her.

Then a dark cloud clutched at his heart. Whatever the consequences with his wife he knew what he had to do.

Mike grabbed the phone and made a call. “Winston, I need you to get the coroner to check out something for me,” Mike said. “Yeah, I know it is 11 o’clock on Friday night, which is why I'm asking you. The coroner is your friend. I think I know who killed May. Call me when you get the report.”

At 5:30 a.m. with the temperature 50 degrees, snow melted, sun shining, and no call yet from Winston, Mike took off for a run north on the lakefront. Nothing could compare with blazing yellow-orange sun peeking over the clear blue waters. Too early for the hundreds of boats normally in Belmont Harbor, or the other bikers and runners, so Mike could pound the pavement, enjoy the scenery, and think.

Just past the Waveland Avenue tennis courts in the park he stopped to catch his breath and tie his shoe. His mind had been a million miles away, so the woman approaching him really startled the detective.

A blue baseball cap covered her hair and most of her face, and the long white t-shirt over blue jeans hid her near perfect body.

“I’ve been looking for you for days,” she said, staring straight into his face with her tired brown eyes. “May was pregnant, and the coroner was told to keep quiet.”

She turned and attempted to disappear, but he caught hold of her t-shirt.?Pulling her towards him, he demanded, “Susi, whose baby?”

When he got an answer, he let her disappear. She was a brave young lady, or possibly she was working for Wu. He took a deep breath and sprinted back to his apartment, stopping only to give Winston a call and a directive to meet him at the Original Pancake House in the 2020 Lincoln Park West Building.

A favorite of the inhabitants of the area for over 40 years, the restaurant was situated in a popular young people’s condo building located across from Lincoln Park. The place was a little tired with its worn leather red and white booths and dull tile, but the breakfast was still tops in the area.
The waitress came back to their table with plates of ten-inch round buttermilk pancakes, topped with strawberries and dripping with butter and syrup.

Mike held up his cup. “Honey, I need a refill,” he said.

Mike raised his fork and started right into his food, while Winston went over the papers in front of him.

After a few minutes, Winston took a slow sip from his coffee, then lowered his cup, raised his eyebrows, shook his shoulders, and said, “Hey mate, your head is clouded by your hatred for the senator. We still don’t know for sure. It could be the senator or his son or someone in Wu’s organization, or someone else. I think you figured it out, but you still don’t have enough evidence for an arrest.”  

Mike dropped money down for the bill, and turned towards Winston with pursed lips, ordering, “Just get the warrant and meet me there. I’ll take the blame if I’m wrong.” 

A combination of anger and excitement overtook Mike as he raced to the car.  He had better be right!

***
 

The snow had melted completely, and suddenly spring was in the air. Even the trees had started to bud, Mike noticed on his ride along Lake Shore Drive. He opened his car window. The few leaves on the large oak trees rustled from the warm southern wind.

He flipped on the radio. May Lin's death hadn't even made the news. With the Chilean miners and the constant South Side shootings it wasn't news worthy. If his assessment of who the murderer was is correct it will make the headlines across the nation. He smiled to himself as he thought of his wife.

Until he checked the address he hadn’t realized how close to him Senator Brill lived. He gave the doorman his car, flashed his badge at the reception desk and took the elevator up to the penthouse apartment overlooking Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. 

The door to the Brill apartment was opened by a smartly uniformed housekeeper. She showed Mike into the living room. The apartment must have been done by the same designer as his, he thought, as he noticed specially built floor-to-ceiling cabinets, silk fabrics, and unusual glass pieces throughout the room. Some he recognized as Chihuly pieces. Guess his high-class wife had had some effect on him, he thought.

Senator Charles Brill and his son entered the room from the foyer. Stone-faced, the senator stared at Mike. “Mr. Fell, what can I do for you?” Senator Brill asked. “It is 8:30 in the morning, and my son’s plane leaves for the East at noon, so please state your business and exit quickly.”

Mike reached into his pocket, and pulled out his badge. “Senator Brill, I am here on official police business,” he said, coolly. “I would like you to come down to the police station for questioning concerning the murder of May Lin Wu.”

Senator Brill started to laugh. “You must be kidding,” he said. “Get out of here, now!”

Mike heard the familiar melodious British voice of his partner coming through the door. He smiled. “Senator Brill, we don’t want to arrest you, and give the papers something to talk about,” Mike said. “I have a witness who dropped off May Lin at this apartment at 6 p.m. on March 10. The witness waited for her in the lobby, but she never surfaced again, until the police found her comatose body in Lincoln Park.” Winston showed Brill a warrant for his arrest, and read him his rights.

Brill lost his normal composure, threw his right arm out towards the door and yelled, “Get out of my house. This is ludicrous. Caleb, get my lawyer on the phone.”

Caleb, crazy with anger, pounded his father with his fists. “How could you, dad? You knew I loved her.” The boy collapsed on the floor sobbing.

Suddenly, a quiet steady voice was heard from the doorway. “I’ve had enough of this. It is time to tell the truth.”

All eyes turned to the woman in a beige bathrobe with wild crazy eyes. Brill walked over to her and demanded, “Edith, go back to bed and stay out of this.”

She let out a high-pitched shriek while waving her arms in an attempt to push the senator away from her.

"I’m done with the lies and the games,” Edith shouted. “The great senator, with his arrogant self-righteous attitude got his jollies from young girls, especially prostitutes.” She turned towards Mike and smiled, “Occasionally, lawyers also.”

The senator took hold of his wife, and tried to shuffle her out of the room, but she hit him on the chest with both hands. Mike came to her rescue. “Let her talk,” he said, though he realized she couldn’t testify against her husband.

“This one was different,” Edith continued. “This little girl not only had the love of my husband, but she had captured my son also. When she came to ask me for money for an abortion so she could run away with my son, I went wild. You see, she was pregnant with the great senator’s child. 

I picked up the paper weight off the desk and hit her. She fell to the floor, blood dripping from her hairline across her face down to her white sweater, but she was still alive and moving. 

“I started to scream. The great senator rushed into the room. He took me to my bedroom, gave me some sleeping pills and water. ‘The girl,’ I kept repeating, and he said, ‘Don’t worry I will get her to the hospital.’ I guess he didn’t!”

Another promise broken by a politician, Mike thought, as he escorted the Brills to the police station.


© Copyright 2019 CharleneWexler1. All rights reserved.

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