The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. A pandemic grips the nation, isolating everyone from each other. But sometimes they still need a little help. I was hired by Gregori Malcovich to find Anya Koslov. But
The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. A pandemic grips the nation, isolating everyone from each other. But sometimes they still need a little help. I was hired by Gregori Malcovich to find Anya Koslov. But when I found the girl, she didn’t know who he was and two gunmen kidnapped her. With the help of my friend Li, I discovered that Malcovich was really Greg Parks, but he’d been murdered. Our only lead, the freelance cleaner Victor Gruganov.
Read the full details Here and the unfolding case below.
I called Lucky as we got back to Li’s van. “What do you know about a Victor Gruganov? He’s a freelance cleaner.”
“Less than you apparently. Hang on I’ll see what I can dig up.”
“Focus on anything that will help us find him.” Time’s running out for Anya.
“All his normal haunts are probably closed down. I’ll see about finding an address, but that can take a while.”
“What about contact information?”
“You think he’d just talk to you?”
“Normally no, but he’s clearly still working. He might answer a job offer.”
“I’ll get you what I can.”
“Thanks.” I hung up.
“Now what?” Li asked from the driver’s seat.
“We find a good spot to meet our suspect.” And hope Lucky doesn’t take too long. “In a few minutes this place will be crawling with cops, and I’ve been caught at more than enough crime scenes for one case.”
“Let’s get going then.”
We were on the road before the first cop car came around the corner. I didn’t know if it was Jim, but all the same, I was happy to be in Li’s van instead of my car. For once.
“How about that parking garage?” Li pointed to a nearby building.
“Too close. We don’t want him to get suspicious. Especially now that the police have found his last job.”
“What about your restaurant?”
“No. Too personal. I assume we won’t be giving him our real identities.”
“Naturally. Speaking of, I need to grab something out of my car before we do this.”
He made a quick lane change and before long we were back at his restaurant.
“You sure you wouldn’t be happier in my car?”
“The van suits me just fine.”
“Suit yourself.” I hopped out and grabbed an old ID badge and some sunglasses from my glove compartment.
“What’s so important we had to stop?”
“Our cover story.” I flashed him the badge. “Congratulations, Li, you just joined the fake FBI.”
“How well will that hold up?”
“I’m not saying I could walk us into Quantico, but it should be enough to scare Victor.”
He glanced down at his clothes. “I didn’t know the FBI put fry cooks in the field.”
“Well, the fake FBI is low on resources so we make do with what we’ve got. Besides, we’re undercover, if we wore cheap suits he’d spot us from a mile away.”
“Which still leaves the problem of where we’re meeting him.”
“What about Hannity Park? It’s near my office, but there’s mothing to connect me.”
“Let’s check it out.”
On the way, Lucky called back with a phone number. “From what I gather, you leave a location and an offer. If he’s interested, he’ll show up.”
The park was deserted, like so many places in the city, but that served us well. We scouted the area and decided on a spot in the northwest corner. A stand of evergreens screened us from the road on two sides, which made it easier to predict his approach.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this plan, LaGrange.”
“It’ll be fine. I’ll do all the talking. You just stand over there and be menacing when he looks.”
The jogging path passed close by. Li set himself there, acting as though he were preparing for a run.
I sat at a conveniently placed picnic table and made the call.
It went straight to voicemail. “Leave a message.”
“Hannity Park, northwest corner. Four thousand.” I was guessing on the number. I wanted it to be enticing, but not so much that he got suspicious.
How long do we have to wait?
A moment later my phone buzzed. It was the same number. “Yes?”
“Ten minutes.” It was hard to get a read on him with such curt statements.
He hung up.
I made a mental note to add “timeframe” to Lucky’s information next time we spoke.
It was only eight minutes before Victor arrived.
The big man shrugged. “No traffic.” He sat in the seat across from me. “Enough small talk. Money first.”
“That might be a problem, Mr. Gruganov.” I flashed him my badge.
He stood up with a start.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” I pointed over to Li, who glowered back at us.
“What do you want?”
“Not you.” I motioned for him to sit down.
He did so with a growl.
“That’s better. I can place you at the Greg Parks job, but you don’t do the dirty work yourself. So who hired you to clean it?”
“I wouldn’t stay in business very long if I gave up my clients to the feds.”
“You won’t stay in business if you’re incompetent. The corpse was still hanging in the shower.”
“And yet you have no leads on the real killer. I think my client would be very happy with my work.”
“Look, we both know what you do and the kinds of people you do it for. But this is different. Did you see Greg’s body? Or the shot out apartment earlier? I’m hunting for monsters.” It was a calculated guess.
“All the more reason for me not to tell you anything.”
My phone rang. It was Jim.
“I have to take this. Stay here.” I stood up and stepped a few feet away. “Yeah?”
“Ange, where are you?”
“What? Wait, are you with Gruganov now?”
He growled his frustration. “I told you to wait for me. Tell me where you are.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right.” I got a perverse pleasure out of listening to Jim squirm. I should probably talk to someone about that.
“This is serious, Ange. You saw what they did to Greg Parks. Who knows what they’ll do if they catch you snooping around.”
“Huh, well I guess I owe you a drink then.”
I hung up on him and walked back to the picnic table. Victor was tense, just the way I wanted him. As long as he doesn’t call my bluff.
“Well, that was the boys from the lab. It seems they like you for this after all. Put your head and hands on the table.”
He complied. “Gladly, doing some jail time for my clients only boosts business.”
“Oh, I think you misunderstand the seriousness of your situation. Between the condition of Greg’s body and the girl earlier, they’re going to send you to the chair.”
“Well, I guess they use the needle these days, but you get my point. Anyway, you have the right to remain—”
“Hold on, I didn’t sign up for this.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll get your day in court. What you have to ask yourself is ‘how good am I at my job?’ Because we can place you at the scene. Is there enough evidence left for reasonable doubt? Or….”
“Fine! Fine, I’ll tell you what you want to know. But you have to promise me two things.”
“Keep me out of it. No mention of my name, my job, nothing.”
“I think I can do that. And the other thing?”
“If you go after these guys, take them all down.”
To Be Continued…