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, not only did she not know who he was, but two gunmen shot up her apartment and kidnapped her. After being questioned by the local cops, I tried to piece things together in the calm of Li’s Diner, only to have someone choose that moment to rob the place.
Read the full details Here and the unfolding case below.
“Just stay where you are.”
The handgun shook in the ragged youth’s hands. “Nobody has to get hurt.” He was more likely to shoot someone by accident.
I suppressed a sigh. At this rate, I’ll starve.
The petty bureaucrat staggered backward into the bar, his papers scattering to the floor.
At the far booth, the homeless man, the only other patron, continued his meal in his own little world, safe behind his fortress of possessions.
Li stepped forward. “Billy, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“S-stay back.” Billy looked as scared as the city official.
In one swift motion, Li snatched the gun from the kid’s hands and started disassembling it. “No bullets, smart boy.”
Billy turned to make a run for it, but Li grabbed the back of his shirt.
“Not so fast. I said smart, not off the hook.” He dragged the kid back to the bar. “First, I think you owe this man an apology.”
The youth mumbled something.
Li smacked the back of his head. “Do it right.”
Li nudged him again.
“For trying to rob you.”
“There, was that so hard? Now sit down.” Li guided Billy onto a nearby stool. “Joshua! One order of philly-cheesemein.”
“C’mon, Billy, you know how it works. You do the crime, you got to face the music.”
The bureaucrat stared at Li in disbelief. “I’m sorry, but this…ruffian threatened our lives, and you’re ‘punishing’ him with a free meal?”
“Look, mister, Billy’s a good kid. But with things the way they are right now, some of these guys have started acting like it’s the wild west and they’re desperados. You know, a modern day…uh…well, you get the idea. The point is most of these kids just need someone to step in and show them what’s what.”
“Besides,” I chimed in. “I’ve tried the philly-cheesemein. Eating a whole serving is punishment enough.”
“Hey, that was the old recipe. I’ve been working on it. But due to its…unfortunate reputation, we’re having a hard time getting anyone to try it again.”
“So you’re resorting to guinea pigs who hold you at gunpoint?”
“Got to start somewhere.”
“This is insane. You’re all insane.” The official grabbed up his briefcase and a fistful of his papers. “I’ve got to get out of here.” He hurried out the door, not stopping to hang one of his “closed” signs.
“Uh, Mr. Li? My name’s not—”
“I know that, Trevor. But now, if that paper-pusher causes a stink, the police will be looking for a kid named Billy. And as scared as he was, he’s as likely to give a description of me as you. Now sit here and wait for your philly-cheesemein.” He patted the kid on the shoulder then walked over to me. “Sorry about the wait, LaGrange. What’ll you have?”
“How about the sweet-and-sour meatloaf, a scrambled eggroll, a green tea shake, and some company while I eat?”
“No problem, I’m sure Harry would be happy to join you.” Li pointed at the man in the corner booth, who had just polished off the last of his food.
“You know what I meant.”
He smiled. “Yeah. Give me a minute; I’ll be back with your food.”
I nodded, and he headed back into the kitchen.
Trevor’s philly-cheesemein came out first. If the smell was anything to go by, he was about to get all the punishment he deserved.
Eventually, Li returned with my food. The aroma was pleasant, if mildly confused. It was thick with scents of classic Americana, mixed with what you’d expect from a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. He set the tray down and slid into the booth. “So, LaGrange, what brings you here today?”
Between mouthfuls, I filled Li in on the case. I omitted names, for confidentiality.
“Well, sounds like you’ve landed yourself in a real mess.”
I pulled out the picture of Anya. “Does she look familiar?”
He examined it for a moment. “Can’t say she does.”
My phone buzzed. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this.”
“No worries.” Li got up and bussed our table and the one Homeless Harry had since vacated.
I pulled out my notepad as I answered the phone. “Yeah?”
“Hey, boss. Thought you’d want to know I dug up some stuff on our client.”
“What’ve you got?” I started jotting notes.
“Born Greg Parks in rural Maryland. Malcovich was his mother’s maiden name. He made a bit of a name for himself as an enforcer in DC before coming here.”
“How long has he been in town?”
“About seven months.” Li said from behind me. “He moved in just before everything went to hell.”
I stared at him. “You know this guy?”
Li shrugged. “Not really. He’s my neighbor.”
“Not you, Lucky. Hang on a minute.” I motioned for Li to sit down again. “You’re telling me you’re neighbors with Gregori Malcovich?”
“No, with Greg Parks. He lives two floors below me. Some of his mail accidently got delivered to my box once.”
“Are you sure it’s the same guy?”
“Not completely, but I did hear him use an accent once.”
“It’s a good start. Lucky, do you have an address on this guy?”
“Yeah, he’s got an apartment downtown.”
I jotted down the address Lucky gave me and showed it to Li.
“Great, anything else I need to know?”
“Keep looking.” I hung up on him. “All right, Li, ready to meet your neighbor?”
“LaGrange, can’t you see I’m working?”
I glanced around the nearly deserted diner. Trevor was still picking at his philly-cheesemein. “Yeah, you’re clearly swamped.”
“Come on, what are friends for?”
“Fine.” He walked back to the counter. “Joshua! I’m stepping out. Keep an eye on things. And if anyone else tries to shut us down give me a call.”
A halfhearted grunt answered him from the kitchen.
It was a short drive over to Li’s apartment building. He insisted that we take his van; it smelled like old fry oil.
The building was a dilapidated brick monstrosity. It couldn’t have been pretty when it was new, and that time had long since passed. Li stopped to check his mail at the ground floor box, while I started climbing the poorly lit staircase. Greg Parks’ apartment was on the fourth floor.
At the third landing a shirtless young man stepped out of a door in front of me. “Hey pretty lady. What are you doing in a place like this?” He didn’t look much older than Trevor, but his muscles rippled under a layer of tattoos.
I tried to push past him, but he stepped back into my path. I reached into my purse and grabbed the collapsible baton I kept for these types of situations.
“In case you hadn’t noticed, that was me asking nicely.”
“Frank, get out of the way before she shoots you.” Li came up the stairs behind me. “Don’t take it personally, LaGrange, he’s like this with everybody’s guests.”
The little punk moved aside. “Sorry, Mr. Li. I didn’t know she was with you.”
“That shouldn’t matter. Now, don’t you have homework or something?”
“Uh, yeah, or something.” Frank ducked back into his apartment.
“He’s a better kid than it looks. He’s not great with first impressions.”
“I wasn’t going to shoot him.”
“Yeah, but if he keeps it up somebody will. I keep trying to tell—”
I shushed Li. Ahead on the fourth floor landing, the first door was ajar. I glanced at him for confirmation. He nodded. That was Greg Parks’ place.
I pulled the gun from my purse and crept up on the door. Li walked past casually, then doubled back to approach from the other side, his own handgun drawn.
Once he was in place, I gently pushed the door open. It swung easily. The apartment was a small studio with very few places to hide. It was pristine; quiet.
“Greg? Greg Parks?”
Li covered the door while I slipped inside. A quick sweep of the main room didn’t turn up anyone, but the bathroom door was closed.
I nodded to Li, and we took up positions to either side of it. He knocked, still no answer. Carefully, he turned the knob and then threw the door open.
I entered, gun first. But there was no need.
Hanging in the shower was the bloody corpse of Gregori Malcovich.
To Be Continued…