Wednesday, March 5, 2014

No. 4, St. James' Street

It was 23 to 3 37 past 2 nearly 3 AM when I heard the faint crash in the distance. I was lying on the floor, still half-conscious. As I laboriously made my way towards the window, something else caught my eye.

I could barely make out the silhouette of a hooded figure in the darkness. It was hard to tell whether it was walking towards or away from me, but I could see that it had a weapon in its hand. All of a sudden, lightning struck in the distance, revealing that it was the Batman action figure I kept near my bed every night.

As I tried to collect my thoughts leading up to this point, I realized that I was really hungry again, and went downstairs to get something to eat. On the way to the elevator, I glanced at my phone to check if I had missed any important calls or messages. There was nothing new -- the last message was from Jessica telling me that something was wrong, which I’d already replied to 3 days ago. So I tossed it into my pocket and began looking for a burger joint that would be open at this time of the night.

A couple blocks’ worth of directionless wander brought me to back to the hotel I was staying at. By now I was really tired of walking around on an empty stomach, so I got back to my room and proceeded to take a quick nap.

By the time I woke up again it was around 5 PM. I lazily got dressed, grabbed a sandwich ‘to-go’ and took a cab to Jessica’s. It was a fairly short drive, but the rush hour traffic slowed us down, and it was almost sundown by the time I finally reached. I rang the doorbell, and was soon greeted by Jessica’s patent half-smile.

“It’s nice to see you! Where’ve you been all these days?,” she said, as she leaned forward to give me a hug.

“Er. I was at my room all along. Why do you ask?,” I said, sidestepping gracefully.

“You never called! I thought you ran away or something,” she huffed as she tried to pick herself up and dust off her dress.

“Why would I run away?” I questioned, following her into the house.

“I’m not sure you know this, but they found your prints on the murder weapon,” she said after a while, taking a sip of the coffee she’d just made for both of us.

“What? That’s strange -- maybe the killer looks like me, then, huh?” I mumbled. My mouth was filled with the cookies I found at the back of the house.

“Uhh. I’m not sure that’s how fingerprints work. Maybe you touched it when we were inspecting the scene? Anyway, there’s another set of prints on the gun – probably belonging to the real killer. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to find a match in the system.”

“Hmm. Well, that’s a dead end, then. How about we check out this Travis dude’s apartment?”

“Sounds like a good place to start.”

And so we decided to drive to Travis’s place in my car. Good thing I’d already parked it behind Jessica’s house a couple of weeks ago.

It took us about an hour to reach the address. Mainly because it took me a large chunk of time figuring out whether St. James’ St. stood for Saint James’ Street or Street James’ Street.

Once we got there, though, we found his place pretty quickly. There weren't too many buildings in the neighbourhood. And amongst the Burger Kings and the Subways, it stood out like an apartment in a sea of fast-food chains.

I sneaked in from the fire exit. I nearly tripped and fell over a couple of times, but eventually made my way up the eight long flights of stairs. Then it was just a simple matter of picking the lock -- a trivial task that took my expert fingers no more than 45 minutes.

From the inside, the apartment was a completely different story. Rows of neatly-lined books on shelves. Expensive-looking clothes in the wardrobe. Luxury sanitary ware in the toilet And a swanky large screen TV on the wall.

I made my way towards the living room, only to be met by Jessica's gaping eyes.

"Hey, how did you reach here? Was there another elevator or something?", she asked, looking puzzled.

"Nope. Back door. Came in through the fire escape."

"Huh? Why would come through the back when the front door was open?"

"Why would you come through the front when the back door was closed?"

"What?! That doesn't even--"

At this point I could barely make out the muffled sounds in the distance, as I was already in the kitchen. There was a pizza that looked at least 3 days old, but I was starving, and I'd eat anything to fill my stomach. Except for the stupid muffins that were in the fridge. Heck, I hated muffins so much, I wouldn't even eat them if I were full.

With that out of the way, I proceeded to inspect the living room a little more closely. There was nothing of interest -- no finger prints, no blood stains, and no wine glasses with smudged lipstick (which somehow lead to the killer by looking at what shade it is).

It was when I was heading back towards the bedroom when I really stumbled upon something big -- the dining table. I didn't notice it and ended up tripping over it and falling down. As I got up, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a discarded folder laying nearby. I skimmed through the pages -- it looked like a report of some sort. I stowed it in my jacket and began surveying the bedroom.

Nothing really stood out -- except Jessica -- who was now standing outside. I locked the door so that it remained that way I checked the drawers, and most of them were empty. However, one of them had what looked like a secret compartment. Opening it revealed a smallish-looking flash drive.

"What's that?," Jessica said, stepping back into the room. "Oh. Looks like you finally found a clue! You know what? Let me make a copy of the files so that I can take a look as well. You know, speed up the investigation and stuff."

"Cool," I said, fingering through other stuff in case any of them prove to be relevant to the case. Nothing else turned up, though. By now, Jessica had made a copy and returned the flash drive. After scanning through Travis' personal belongings for a little while longer, we decided it was time to call it a day. By the time I dropped Jessica off and reached my apartment, it was nearly 11 PM.

I plugged the flash drive into my laptop and did a cursory check of the files. It looked like a bunch of worthless junk, mainly consisting of autobiographies and documentaries about famous politicians -- yet another dead end.

Then I remembered about the folder tucked away in my jacket. I took it out and tried to make sense of the documents inside. It looked like some form of research on the local drug cartels. Some one had spent countless hours understanding and documenting each and every aspect of their operation -- complete with photos, locations, and most importantly -- names. And one of them stood out like a familiar name in a list of unfamiliar ones -- 

Joe Finch.

Finally, we were getting somewhere.


Will any of this ever make sense? How close are we to finding out who the real killer is? And will I have any indigestion problems due to the stale pizza? 

There's only one way to find out.

Stay tuned, for the next episode of Dragon Ball Z

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mr. Miller and the Mysterious Mistress

(Continued from Jessica)

I had no idea what I was getting into.

The recent turn of events had a very unsettling effect. The house seemed to have a creepy, dark undertone. The sun was setting in the distance, and the clouds cast a gloomy shadow on the sky.

Jessica went to the bathroom to freshen herself up. In the meantime, I sat there admiring the posters in the room. There weren’t any, so I finished quite fast.

When she came back, her hair was tied loosely in a bunch, and she looked less distraught. She was also wearing a white shirt underneath a leather jacket, and blue jeans, which I did not mention in the previous post as it was not relevant.

It is not relevant in this post either.

‘Aren’t you even going to check who he is?,’ she asked, looking exasperated, as I tried to finish my lunch. ‘Never mind, I’ll do it. Let's see. He’s roughly 5 foot 11. Well-built. No signs of struggle -- Looks like he was taken by surprise.’

She proceeded to check his pockets for more clues.

‘Expensive-looking leather wallet. Driver’s license states his name as Travis Miller. All the cash is intact. No cellphone. Single gunshot wound on the chest.’

She then started looking for things around the room that might help reconstruct the crime. There was an empty shell casing on the rug. And a handgun. On closer inspection, it looked like there were 2 sets of prints on the gun.

‘I’ll check with my friends over at forensics and see if I can get them to analyze this,’ she said. In the meantime, see if you can dig up anything on Travis.

‘Wait, what’s your interest in Travis?,’ I asked, curious.

‘Part of an undercover job. Can’t talk about it,’ she said, looking uncomfortable.

‘But aren’t you off the force?,’ I said. She flinched, trying to suppress her memory of that incident.

Then there was an awkward silence. Tension slowly built up in the air, as neither knew what to say next. Suddenly, my phone rang. But I left it at home, so I didn’t know this yet.

‘So maybe I had some unfinished business to take care of,’ she finally said, ‘What’s your motive, anyway?’

‘Doing a favor for a friend. Can’t talk about it.’

‘Fair enough. Do keep me posted. This case means a lot to me,’ she said, parting with a half-smile. I nodded in acknowledgement.

After she left, I started snooping around the house for a little while longer. Something didn’t seem right. Why wouldn't the killer hide the body? Why would the gun be left at the crime scene? I made a note of everything that seemed useful, and left, taking a cab back to my hotel room.

By the time I got there, I was really hungry, so I made a stop at the bar and ordered some snacks and a drink. Oddly enough, I spotted Sam at one of the tables.

He looked different from when I last saw him. His face was narrower and skin a little darker. He was in a grey hoodie, loose black jeans, and worn-out canvas shoes. I went up to him to let him know of the latest developments.

‘What’s up, Sam?’ I said, as I thumped my hand on his shoulder.

‘My name’s Joe,’ he said, in a voice that sounded like a cross between a whimper and a grunt. ‘Joe Finch. And I have a job for you.’
I had a strange feeling I'd heard the name before.

‘Huh. How do you know who I am?’ I asked, puzzled.

‘That’s not important. What's important is that I know about the body in the shack and that you are working on it.’

‘Go on,’ I said, now that he had my complete attention, ‘how are you involved? And why do you need me?’

‘My wife thinks that I killed him. I knew that the two of them were having an affair, so I set up a private-eye on him. Somehow, she came to know of this, and now she thinks that I killed him in jealousy, and wants a divorce.’

This just got more interesting.

‘Personally, I don’t care about the divorce. Heck, I’d probably be happier. But I want to get this murder allegation off my head. If you can prove my innocence, I’ll pay you twenty grand in cash.’

‘I guess I can’t really say no to that. I’ll let you know if we narrow down on any suspects. How do I contact you?’

‘You don’t. I’ll get in touch with you when you have the details,’ he said, and disappeared as quickly as he appeared.

‘I guess I've had one drink too many,’ I thought to myself. I paid the bartender and went back to my room.

Once there, I saw my cellphone lying on the bed and picked it up. I’d missed a call from an unknown number. And there was text message from Jessica. The forensics report was back, but something was not right, and she wanted to meet up as soon as possible.


What exactly was Jessica worried about? Where the hell did Joe Finch come from? And can I come up with a third question for the outro? Only time will tell. Stay tuned!

Update - Click here for the sequel!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I remember it like it were yesterday.

It began like any other Tuesday morning. Mild in temperature, sunny in climate, and slightly windy in wind. I was taking a stroll in the backyard, looking at what my neighbours were doing minding my own business, when I heard the slow tinkling of music, which meant that the mailman had arrived.

No, wait. I guess it was an ice-cream truck. Also, maybe it was a Saturday. I don’t remember clearly.

Irrelevant little detail.

What was relevant was that I found an unusual looking letter in the male mail. It was from an old friend. It seemed to be an emergency, and he wanted to meet me immediately. I don’t know why he sent a letter if it was really that urgent. It must have been really important, I reasoned, so I quickly got dressed and headed downtown.

He mentioned that he wanted to meet up at Johnny’s. It was a shady local bar. Not like the ones in movies, though. This one was under a tree, and so it blocked most of the sunlight.

His name was Jack. One of those generic names that are usually made fun of a lot. Jack of all trades. The thing-that-is-used-when-changing-tyres-jack. Jack-knife. Jack of hearts. Butter-knife. Yeah, I remember he was the butt of all jokes in school, the poor guy.

He was already there when I reached. He looked stupid. And worried. But mainly stupid. He was wearing a crisp printed cotton shirt underneath a cardigan-like-thing that only someone named Jack would wear.

‘What’s up, Jack?,’ I asked.

‘My name is Sam,’ he said, rather huffily. I guess it was the taunting at school that made him so grumpy.

‘So what’s the problem?,’ I asked, as I signaled to the barkeep to get me a beer, whilst admiring the woodwork and stools and such.

I don’t know why Sam thought I was disinterested. He was a weird guy. He spake of his tale in a slow, grim tone.

'You look as sad as Joe Finch in the middle of a divorce,' I said, as I lit a cigarette with a lighter I found at the back of the bar.
'Who the hell is Joe Finch?'

'I dunno. But I'm sure as hell he would look just like you'

'But why would he be sad during a divorce?'

'Did I say sad? I meant happy. Typing mistake'

'What??,' he asked, with a dumbfounded look. ‘Never mind. It’s the Smiths again. I don’t know what they are up to this time, but I reckon it's something terrible. I heard gunshots coming from their apartment the other night. So I thought I’d give you a heads up’

‘You what?! And you decided to send me a letter?? Wow, sometimes your intelligence scares me. Lucky for you, I came right away, huh?’

‘Actually, it’s been 9 days,’ he said.

At this point I just freaked out and left. I don’t remember some of the events that followed, but somehow I ended up in a rusty looking shack. It reeked of something noxious. It also leaked of something dihydrogen-oxious.

Good thing I packed enough food for 3 people.

The place looked like it had recently been refurbished. Some knick-knacks were out of place, and most of the furniture looked chewn-up in places, but overall, it had a pretty homely feel.

I rummaged through the things in various rooms, looking for clues as to why I was there, but to no avail. I almost gave up hope as I made my way into the last room, where I was shocked to see someone already there -– Jessica. She saw me too, but didn't say a word. This was strange.

Jessica was not usually this silent. This was probably due to the duct tape plastered onto her mouth. I asked her why she didn’t do something about it.

‘My hands are tied,’ she said. And indeed they were. Literally.

Also, she didn’t really say this, as her mouth was taped. Pay attention.

It was a pity, really. Whoever did this to her was either keeping her hostage, trying to extort some information, or simply felt that she talked a lot. That reminds me – I did. She did talk a lot.

I undid the tape, in spite of myself. Fidgeting with the curtains was beginning to bore me.

‘This is a setup!’ she cried, ‘I’ve been framed!’

‘Framed for what?,’ I asked, rather indifferently.

‘For this!’ she sobbed, pointing in the general direction of a dead body lying nearby.

‘Oh, I never noticed. Hmm. Well, this complicate things a bit. What are we going to do with all the extra food??’


Will Jessica be able to prove her innocence? And what of our mysterious hero? Will he be able to recount all the gruesome tales of that day? Or will an unknown third party ruin everything?

Stay tuned to find out. 

Update - Click here for the sequel!