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