So Terry, Truc, and Arnie settle in at Arnie’s house in Irvine to review the security tapes. Arnie ordered food from a number of delivery places, so there would be something everyone would like. (This includes Epic Takeout: Polyamorous Comfort Food. A fusion restaurant that offers the most tasty and unhealthy food from every tradition!)
The Killer Revealed
Turns out the night of Buck’s death, a car parked at the QT and four thugs crossed the street towards the professor’s place, wearing knit caps that were probably ski masks. One was about the same broad-shouldered size and build of the guy that tried to kill Truc.
Less than 30 minutes they were back, with a big cardboard box (probably containing the wall safe) and a duffel bag (most likely loaded with stolen books.)
They got most of the license plate, so Terry called it in to his buddy on the front desk, Fred. They arranged for hoagies to be delivered to his desk as well. Since Fred wants to be a detective, he was eager to find out who the car might belong to, and he’d have something by the morning.
Advancing the recordings, they saw a skinnier figure in a trench coat chain smoking and watching Truc in the townhouse, also moving out of sight when Truc left (probably to get his plate numbers.) Surely the housing development security cameras would be able to figure out what that guy was driving, if they could get the footage.
Terry gave the others the safety talk; they could be targeted, so avoid going anywhere on foot or going to familiar places. Arnie took the talk seriously, getting out his granddad’s Luger that he kept for sentimental (and now self-defense) reasons.
Terry headed home to his shotgun apartment Downtown while Truc stretched out and slept on the couch at Arnie’s place.
Arnie researched the Plantagenet explosion from 1988 until he drifted off at the dining room table.
The next day (Wednesday, January 13) Terry planned to put in a full day at the office to let everyone looking for him catch him, and keep an ear to the ground.
He was met at the front desk by Fred, who narrowed down possible owners of the car to one real suspect; Wayne Teller, a.k.a. Savage D. This guy had a huge rap sheet, full of violence and an ever-shifting but massive cast of accomplices and contacts. His addresses were all suspect, but he did business at the Shinycat, a rave pit on the Strip.
Terry wasted no time calling Truc and filling him in, noting that he could go check out the Shinycat if he felt like it–but from a car, under no circumstances wandering around or going inside.
To the Shinycat
Truc was grouchy about being woken up, so he woke up Arnie too. After a brief chat, Arnie had Truc bring in all the books from the car, and let him borrow the car to go check out the Shinycat. Meanwhile he cataloged the books from Buck’s library, to close the loop on that and get the estimate to Buck’s sister.
Truc parked in a nicer area some distance from the Shinycat, and checked it out on foot. It used to be a massive mechanic shop for semis, and the interior was adapted to be a big dance floor, with seating in the mechanic pits, balcony, and offices. Truc killed some time at Dimz a Dozen, a local coffee shop, then went to get some information about Savage D.
Truc figured he’d start at The Kidney Stone, a pawn shop run by his buddy Doc Trevor, a charming man who refused to take off his comfy bathrobe while at work or play. Doc knew of Savage D, and warned Truc that he was violent, bad news, and asked him not to work for the thug (since many of his associates came to bad ends.) Truc killed some time socializing in the pawn shop, then headed to Pink Spot’s nearby lair.
Truc brought a delightfully sweet and caffeinated brownie for Pink Spot, and shared some with Cornelius, the thug on guard duty. Once he mounted the blinged out camper van so he could access the second floor directly, he met with Pink Spot, who was rocking his silk pajamas and anticipating riding his new blinged out moped both on the street and in the mall. Maybe a sidecar. He was also eager to show off his new workers, Bambi and Perks.
Anyway, he knew of Savage D; a ruthless killer, who was trying to break into the profession. Shinycat was a “tourist trap of criminals” where people who were not so much “in the know” would look for contractors. Savage D was charismatic, but not loyal. A dangerous person to know.
Also, Tuesdays are Ladynights and Wednesday there was inspirational speaking (or something like that) so he would probably be there Thursday, tomorrow, for explicitly “rave night.” Also, “Emotional Mouth” was scheduled to play.
Truc thanked Pink Spot, and headed out, loaded down with a gift of a sack of quarters with pink nail polish spots on them. He could spend them at the local arcade or laundromat and the coins would find their way back to Pink Spot. Great.
Truc returned to Arnie’s car to find the tires slashed. He headed to a nearby chop shop, where it turned out he knew the bouncer, a big fighter called One Two who had a glass eye. One Two called in a favor for his buddy, getting a flatbed truck to pick the car up, bringing it back and fitting it with new tires. In exchange, the boss of the shop, a tough mechanic named Carlita, suggested now Truc owed her one and she’d call on him for help sometime.
Truc headed back to Irvine and Arnie’s house, planning to arrive in time for great leftovers for supper.
Friends in Law Places
Meanwhile, Terry plowed into the caseload of burglaries assigned to him, conducting phone interviews. His morning was interrupted by a furious call from Detective Sanders, the lead on Buck’s case. He was furious not just that Terry poked into it, but that Terry apparently hired a private detective (an outsider) to get into it as well. After a hostile exchange, Sanders hung up.
Later, Special Agent Weldon Waters dropped in. He was apparently doing corruption investigation in Grifton, making people used to having their way quietly feel uncomfortable. He wanted to know what Terry was into; it was making some people squirm, and Waters wanted in on the investigation to help out.
Terry told him about Buck’s death, and Kimball’s death, and the death under the bridge, and how it connected. Sobered, Waters agreed to help, and said he’d find the private detective’s name to help out, a gesture of solidarity. Terry noncommittally agreed.
Later he talked to Anna Duwitt, from the Seville Precinct. He asked her on a date, she suggested the Pigsicle (a nice upscale-ish place that serves all kinds of meat on sticks, with drizzles and sauces aplenty. A great place to flirt.) Oh, and he asked her to see if she could figure out who called Sanders.
She called back before the end of the day, and told him it was some guy named Elliott Keys, with an office in Irvine.
Eventually Terry headed back to Arnie’s place. On the way, he got stuck in traffic behind an overloaded trash truck, and his car’s defroster pulled that wafting stink in and heated it for him.
Consulting the Local Busybody
After a delightful supper of re-heated take-out, they looked up Keys’ website and found it underwhelming. They decided to check with the “village elder” in their part of Irvine to see if she knew his rep.
Shortly afterwards they arrived at Sister Stacy’s house, and her granddaughter let them in. While Truc and Terry were entertained by the granddaughter, Arnie went in to see Sister Stacy herself.
The 80 year old woman was wearing a bikini and trimming her bonsai trees in a room with the sprinkler system running to water the plants. She enthusiastically chatted up Arnie, and when he asked after good local private detectives, she gave him a list including Keys; upon further inquiry, Keys was too drunk to be a cop, and had a number of high flying corporate types who had him on retainer. A clever enough setup.
Meanwhile Terry and Truc got to hear about the hot-but-distant granddaughter’s scientific project, collecting photos of clouds to substitute for ink blots in personality tests, accessing a different (more natural) picture of the subject’s mental state. She was somewhere between a scientist and a beat poet, and while Truc was bored with the crazy, Terry left only reluctantly.
Into the File
They returned to Arnie’s house to dig into Savage D’s file to look for banking information or an address. While Truc quickly lost interest in the endless papers, Arnie zeroed in on a girlfriend that kept coming up in Savage D’s interests. She went from a flat with lots of roomates to her own trailer to a corner apartment with no visible means of support. That was likely a good way to find where Savage D lives.
Terry followed the money to a launderer nick-named “Bermuda” who could make money disappear and reappear mysteriously. The launderer had made enough mistakes that he was also a criminal informant with the police, in a somewhat ambiguous role. He handled Savage D’s money, which was entirely off the books, and could likely be a key to dealing with the thug.
Terry reflected that dealing with the trigger man was not particularly satisfying; someone hired him, and that was the person of interest in this case. But how to identify, much less punish, a figure proving to be so elusive?