The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. A pandemic grips the nation, keeping everyone isolated from each other. But sometimes people still need a little help. I’ve been hired by Gregori Malcovich to find Anya Koslov.
The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. A pandemic grips the nation, keeping everyone isolated from each other. But sometimes people still need a little help. I’ve been hired by Gregori Malcovich to find Anya Koslov. But when I found the girl, she had no clue who he was. Before I could make heads or tails of the situation, two gunmen shot up her apartment and kidnapped her, right out from under me.
Read the full details Here and the unfolding case below.
The police questioned me for the next several hours. I gave them all the easy answers I could, but there were some things even I couldn’t figure out.
Like who was this girl, really? How was she connected to the gunmen? And why was I hired to find her?
Based on their procedures, I gathered the officers on the scene were the Gang Response Division. From snippets of overheard conversation, it seemed they were trying to decide if this was some kind of gang-on-gang retaliation or the start of something new.
Neither of which felt right to me. I’m no expert, but I wouldn’t expect a random gang attack to include drugging a victim with a syringe. And I hadn’t come across any gang ties in my research into Anya. Clearly, I’d missed something.
And none of that explained why I was involved.
Eventually, they let me go. By then it was almost dark and my stomach was keenly aware that I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I got in my car and drove half a block before I remembered that everywhere worth eating was closed.
I turned at the next intersection and headed up two blocks. It took me off the shortest route, but I didn’t want to drive by the crime scene again. The police didn’t need any more reasons to suspect me.
Since I had some time to kill, and about as many questions as my brain could hold, I called up Lucky.
It took him three rings to answer. “Yeah?”
“I just thought you might like to know your boss isn’t dead.”
“What else is new?” He yawned. “Seriously though, what happened?”
“Where to begin? I went to our missing girl’s apartment, only she wasn’t missing. She walked in while I was there.”
“Easiest case ever.”
“Oh no. Before I could exchange more than a dozen words with her, someone shot up her apartment, broke in, drugged her, and carried her off.”
“So I’ve got some questions for you. First, did you see anything in your research that implied she had any criminal ties?”
“Nothing explicit, though it’s possible that this Jay character is a criminal, I still haven’t found much on him.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s hard to make much progress while you’re asleep.”
“If the shoe fits. Anyway, how many people could have found where she lived?”
“Like I did? Not many. She was very careful about keeping it offline. That said, there are other ways to learn that information, especially if drugging and kidnapping are on the table.”
“True, you’d better send me Cindy Gersan’s address, I’ll check in to see if she’s missing too.”
“You got it.”
“Then I need you to look into Gregori Malcovich. He claimed to be her uncle, but she didn’t recognize the name.”
“Keep an eye out for anything that might connect to this mysterious Jay. I’m not sure where he fits into all this, but I’ve had enough surprises for one case.”
“I’ll let you know what I find out.”
I pulled into the parking lot at Li’s Diner. I expected it to be as deserted as the handful of other restaurants I’d passed, but two cars and an old shopping cart were parked outside. One was Li’s beat-up white van, but the other was shiny and new, the kind of car that didn’t spend much time in this part of the city.
As I approached the door, Li’s angry voice reached me. “What do you mean ‘for the safety of my patrons? Since when has this city cared for my customers’ safety?”
I adjusted my mask and stepped inside.
I was greeted by the warm smells of cooking mixed with the less appetizing scent of someone who’d been living on the streets. Some things never change.
The “owner” of the shopping cart had set up camp at the corner booth closest to the door of the old 1950s-style diner. Bags of his possessions were piled into the seats around him as he greedily devoured his meal.
A short man in a dark, ill-fitting suit stood by the counter that separated the diners from the kitchen. His briefcase sat open on the bar, revealing a hefty stack of papers. Even at this distance, one word stood out: “Closed.” He had pushed one of these papers across the counter to Li.
Next to the bureaucrat, Li looked like a giant, his muscles barely contained by his greasy t-shirt. The bald eagle tattoo glared proudly up from his right forearm. His mask bore a cartoon smile that didn’t match his eyes.
Both men turned at the sound of the bell as I entered.
“LaGrange! Good to see you, girl. Have a seat; I’ll be right with you.”
“No. Ma’am, I’m sorry but this establishment is closed until further notice. You’ll have to go somewhere else.” The bureaucrat waved one of his papers at me.
“Looks to me like you’ve got enough of those little notices to shut down every place in the city.” I grabbed a menu off a nearby rack. “So I think I’ll stay here at my friend’s, at least until you two get this all sorted out.” I slid into a booth.
The little man sighed. “See. Mr. Li, this is just the kind of behavior that has brought your restaurant to the city’s attention. I mean, look at that man, he’s not even wearing a mask.”
“You can’t eat with a mask on.”
“Exactly my point. And you should be closed until this trying time has passed.”
“Most of my customers, like Fred over there, don’t have anywhere else to go. What are they going to do if you shut down the shelters?”
“Your business is not an officially recognized shelter, Mr. Li. It’s just that, a business. As such it falls under different rules and regulations, which include the need to be closed for major health risks, such as this.”
“Fine, then give me a warning and get out of my hair.”
“You misunderstand, this is your warning. If you are still open after I leave here today, you will be buried under so many fines that a struggling restaurant like yours will almost certainly never recover.”
Li straightened his broad shoulders. “Are you threatening me?”
“Not at all. I am merely explaining the consequences of your choices.”
“All right, post your little sign. We’ll see how well that works.”
The bell on the door dinged. I glanced at the unkempt teenager who entered. He had the look of Li’s usual clientele, ragged and hungry, but there was something shifty behind his eyes. I slid my purse closer.
“Not another one.” The bureaucrat turned toward the newcomer. “Listen, this restaurant is—”
The young man raised a handgun. “Nobody move! This is a robbery.”
To Be Continued…