Sunday, December 6, 2015

Samuel Sloan and Sarah update

Sam and Sarah will be taking a short break for the holidays. The third Samuel Sloan mystery will begin next year as Sam is about to be hired by a Ms. Rochelle Lockwell. So while I am enjoying holiday cheer...a teaser.

The door slid open and Sarah guided the dame into the office. Ms. Rochelle Lockwell according to the appointment. She had a hard look in her eye as she scanned the old room, possibly hoping for a little more of a high class detective than yours truly. I took her in as she made her judgments about the room. Tall and pale skinned in a dress of deep red and matching hat. The legs were the part hardest not to look at though. Strong ,shapely, and completely covered by chrome. The lady had a hard look in her eyes, and looked none too happy that she had to seek the services of a private detective. She sat down sliding a cigarette holder out of her purse. "Do you mind?"

On an unrelated topic I am on a search for some artwork of Samuel Sloan and/or Sarah. If any of my readers should have such talents my email is at the right of the blog.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Blossom and Cherry Part 5

I threw my clothes on in almost record time. Settling my hat in place as I walked out the door and almost right into the gaunt form of Timothy. “Where is Cherry? Did her safe house get hit?”

Timothy glanced down at me with a look in his eyes that said he would toss me out the door and lock it if he was allowed. “As you are aware Miss Azure does not appear at the scene of any crime. However she has instructed me to investigate and bring you along for the trip. The car is this way.”

I decided to not aggravate him for the moment. Timothy was a good guy for an enforcer if stiff as a board and lacking in anything resembling humor. Since I had just spent the night with his boss I wasn’t feeling the moral high ground to judge his choice of employment. We made our way to a sleek black racer with tinted windows. I normally like to drive, however there was a good chance the law was already at the scene if shots had been fired and no way Bruno wouldn’t pick out my Fairlane if I even did a drive by. As predicted the place was surrounded with a ring of BULS. Timothy made a slow circle at a safe distance. A few button presses on the dash popped out a long range microphone and we listened in silence. Two men dead in a shootout three wounded. No mention of a young woman. Asiru Ishamoto was probably alive. They would want her for leverage on Toshiro and that would buy me a little time. I focused the camera in my eye on the scene catching what pictures I could before we headed back to the Century Club.

I had just made it back to my car to plan my next move when a message from Sarah pinged on my dashboard. “Detective, We are getting a scrambled phone call for Toshiro Ishamoto. They seem quite determined that he is here.”

“Put them through.” I dropped my hat my hat in the passenger seat and took a moment to clear my head. Unless I missed my guess this would be the ransom call.

“I have Asiru Ishamoto. If her father would like her returned he will be at that following address immediately. “ The voice sounded British, although I was almost sure I was talking to Hakiru using a next generation voice disguiser. Voice scramblers have been around for ages but the current generation records your voice, transfers your voice to text then the text into a synthetic voice, leaving no trace for even the best signal analysis expert.

“This is Samuel Sloan. Toshiro Ishamoto is not here. Even getting a message to him would take days your lot has driven him far underground.”

“I suspect you have a way to get a message out faster than that. If you cannot it will be very unfortunate for the daughter.”

“I don’t know why you are threatening me. I have seen Toshiro exactly once in the last five years and I already have been paid for this job. I was supposed to get the girl out. What happens to her after is not my problem.” Toshiro would go in guns blazing to get her back of course, and so would I when it came right down to it. I figured Kimura was too clever to be convinced his ace in the hole was a knave. Nothing lost trying though.

The British voice did not seem impressed. “I have difficulty believing a man who fought through six people to rescue a girl is quite so heartless a mercenary. Although I do believe Toshiro is not with you at this moment. I will wait for him at the north docks. At seven tonight I will be forced to do something unfortunate to his daughter. I am sure I do not need to tell you we will have the area watched and any sight of the police will result in the young lady’s death.”

“I will do as you ask, but not lead my friend into a death trap. If I see any snipers or it even looks like an ambush I am pulling out and letting the police handle it.”

“You are a clever man Mister Sloan. It is agreed. Do not be late.” The transmission cut off.

“I am guessing we didn’t get a trace on that Sarah?”

“Initial information would indicate somewhere in England. I suspect that is not accurate.”

“Nice touch to match the signal to the accent though.” I started up the Fairlane with no idea where to go. After these last couple days I needed to drive. Perhaps Sarah sensed it since she passed on telling me to use the auto drive this time. “Sarah send out the message marked TI in my database. Hopefully I can at least get hold of the man before Kimura’s deadline.”

“Sending now detective, any other instructions?”

I stepped on the accelerator hard speeding down the Los angeles freeway. “Now we wait. Give me an hour to make sure I am not being tailed then spoof the car’s location. I am sure the police and our new Japanese friends wouldn’t mind getting what they want by ambushing us before the meet.”

“I agree detective. Do be careful.” Sarah’s voice faded from the car.

The next hour was long as I drove in and out of the back roads of downtown LA. Unless they had satellite coverage no one was watching me and I seriously doubted I rated high enough in anyone’s book for that. I spun into the back of the biggest dive in downtown I could come up with on short notice and found Toshiro Ishamoto waiting for me in the back room.

“I see you got my message.” I quietly sat next to him trying to find a way to avoid breaking the news.

“Indeed. I am assuming that your case is not going well.” Toshiro had a unreadable look on his face. I was almost sure he has already guessed what I was going to tell him.

“Kimura has her. He has offered to trade her for you but I do not trust it for a second.”

“You mean that since they have already committed a kidnapping the easiest course for them would be to kill all of us and dump the bodies into the sea?” I was always impressed how calmly Toshiro could discuss the most horrible events, such as a mass murder involving the two of us and his daughter. “And if we do not show what do you think Kimura will do?”

“He’ll kill Asiru and dump her someplace public to make sure you know about it, then move on to another strategy. Not carrying out his threat would make him look weak.” I watched Toshiro closely trying to figure what he had planned.

“I am glad to see my lessons were not wasted on you. So here is what we are going to do. I am going to show up as requested and you are going to find a way to sneak in and rescue Asiru. I can take care of myself if I do not have to worry about her.”

“This is a terrible plan. Not the worst I have ever heard but it makes the list.”

“Perhaps, but I must see this through. Will you be there?”

“I will.” I adjusted my hat as I rose to my feet. “I still have a few hours so I am going to see if I can come up with a surprise or two.”

“I have heard Kimura enjoys surprises. You should do just that.”

“See you there.” I went back to the Fairlane and took my time driving to a small storage locker owned by one Robert Engle. Robert does not actually exist which is perfect for storing equipment I would not want Bruno or any other law enforcement types to ever know about. Kimura would have all the obvious points guarded but perhaps he would not see this coming. I spent the next hour planting a few devices in places Sarah was kind enough to suggest, then hid as close as I dared to the scene of the crime to be.

“Sarah I am going offline until it is time. We are playing this Toshiro’s way for now. If shooting starts call Bruno and tell him to get down here fast.”

“Given this plan I suspect the correct phrase would be when shooting starts.”

“Most likely correct. Signing off.”

It was a few hours and a long LA sunset before the goons started to trickle in. Big black vans with who knows how many inside and one car behind the pack that should contain Kimura and probably Asiru, unless Kimura was being clever and showing us what we expected to see.

Toshiro stepped out from behind a crate half an hour early carrying a rocket launcher on his shoulder and shouting. “The first person who does something I do not like is going to explode violently.” I take back my earlier statement, this may be the worst plan ever. “Now confirm you have my daughter unless you would just like to shoot this out now.”

Two goons came out of one of the vans with Asiru Ishamoto between them guns pointed at Toshiro. Kimura was out of sight for the moment. I wouldn’t stand in front of that launcher if I could avoid it either. “Lower the weapon Ishamoto.”

Toshiro dropped the launcher down just a little. “Let her come away, then I will come with you.”

Goon number one nodded and gave her a shove. She took a few steps forward eyes scanning left and right in a panic for a way out of this. On the fifth step I hit the button in my pocket. Explosions went off around the docks. Most were just a distraction but a few well placed charges took out the lights on the docks, plunging the entire area suddenly into near darkness. Asiru vanished from sight and ran for it, her chameleon field and the sudden change in light rendering her almost invisible as I laid down a line of fire at her escort to give them something to think about besides giving chase. One hid behind a van as the other went down with two bullets in his chest. Toshiro took the cue that the party had started and emptied his weapon at the nearest car, returning light to the docks as the van flew up in the air in a fiery explosion.

Asiru arrived next to my position and I pulled her out of sight as I heard the sound of vans opening and weapons being readied. Sarah’s voice came clear in my ear. “I was going to call the police, but you seem to have attracted their attention on your own. They will be arriving shortly. I have also just got a message from Toshiro Ishamoto. ‘Get her out, I will by you time’.Also I am trying to get sight on you but the camera feeds in your area have been cut off.”

“Perfect, running blind out here we might just walk into a pile of bullets.” I heard the sound of an automatic in the distance. Then several more shots responded. The lights came back on far too soon and I was pinned down trying to find a way out. “The cameras have been cut locally” I turned to Asiru. “We are blind.”

Asiru pulled a small device out of her pocket scanning for a signal. “I think I can get the signal but not watch twenty cameras at once.”

“Do it and send the signals to me.”

“If you want. You cannot watch that many camera’s at once either. Sending…”

“Sarah are you getting this?”

“Yes detective analyzing information. I assume you wish to know where the gunmen are?”

“Yes and soon.” I took one man out as he came around the corner, then Sarah did her work. A number of images lit up in my cybernetic eye, confirming the locations of each of the men hunting us. It helped but there were still too many to make a clean getaway. I was looking for a miracle path out when several shots rang out from up above dropping the two shooters closest to us. I signaled Asiru to follow me as we made our way up and out. “Sarah, what is going on?”

“I believe Miss Azure has decided to interfere.” I didn’t have time to argue as I broke into a run, Asiru close behind as we cleared the docks proper to run into Timothy.

“Thank you for the assist.”

Timothy gave me his usual annoyed glare. “Not for your sake. They shot one of our people and we do not let that slide.”

Turning back to overview the carnage I caught Toshiro taking a pair of bullets and falling into the sea. My first instinct was to run after him. If he survived he would never forgive me not getting his daughter out of this shootout, so I guided her to safety as I watched Haruki Kimura getting into a limo and clearing the scene before the law arrived. I could already hear the sirens on the horizon and approaching fast. I decided to tell her what I could about her father tomorrow. “Sarah, signal Bruno. Tell him I have Asiru Ishamoto and if he still wants to arrest me I’ll turn myself in.”

“The police have responded and are en route to your location.”

The BULS were fast, escorting Asiru and I to the police station with a minimum of force for once. It wasn’t long before Bruno came in to interview me and I recounted every detail of the night’s events, twice. Bruno was kind enough not to arrest me on the spot, the fact that I didn’t actually fire the rocket launcher or shoot anyone that didn’t shoot first probably helped. After the interview he turned the recorder off. “I really should find a reason to arrest you just for being near this mess.”

“How did they find Asiru in the first place?”

Bruno stood quietly for a moment before answering. “There was a call in on the APB. Funny thing, right after the call a few heavies showed up just before the cruiser arrived.”

“So your mole isn’t just a theory anymore?”

“Looks like not and when I find him I am going to stomp on his throat. Get out of here and don’t ever pull a stunt like this again.” Bruno walked out the door to begin sorting all the people the BULS arrested. I was so surprised not to be in a holding cell I even let him leave without a clever remark.

In the days to come I made a few checks in on Asiru Ishamoto. She was holding up well all things considered and even told me to call her if I needed any computer related assistance. Toshiro’s body was never found. I like to think he made it out of there somehow, even though the more likely situation is that his body was washed out to sea. If Toshiro did survive he was clever enough to make sure no one including me ever found out about it. Five days after the shootout at the docks I received a text only message from an unknown party. “You made a fascinating adversary. I suspect will will cross paths again. K.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Blossom and Cherry Part 4

It had been a few weeks since I had enjoyed a ride at the courtesy of the local police department. The back seat of the cruiser was jammed of course and BULS make lousy conversationalists so I was reduced to looking out the window at the setting sun. I’ve had worse treatment at the hands of Bruno. BULS unit one and two escorted me too a gray room, empty except for a mirror and a single white table with a pair of much abused chairs. They shoved me into the too warm room and I sat silently. I am not sure why Bruno bothered with the theatrics of making me wait. I had been through this enough times not to be impressed. When you come down to it a cop is a cop though. I set my hat on the table and watched myself in the mirror. No bullet holes yet in the case, so we’ll call it a win.

Bruno slowly entered the room not saying a word as he took the chair opposite mine. “Well you have made a hot mess. Care to explain yourself or shall I just find a hole to throw you in now?”

I turned in my chair leaning over to face the lieutenant. “Bruno, you have the statement and the evidence at the scene, you have to know it was self defense at this point.”

“Maybe I do and maybe it’s taking a while to process. Like a few months if you don’t start talking.”

I thought it over as I spun my hat on the table. Bruno couldn’t really hold me for months on nothing. A few days when I needed to be doing other things he could manage however. Or find a way to sandbag me later. That man can hold a grudge with the best of them. “The goons were there to kill Toshiro Ishamoto, which I suspect you already knew. He ran out the back and took off on my old motorcycle after we shot the killers. Speaking of the barkeep is he ok?”

“Yeah he took a nasty hit. He’ll live though. How did Mister Ishamoto convince you to stick your neck out in a mess like this? And who is after him?”

“I owe him one. And I was not hired to protect him. His daughter Asiru is a student in LA and my job was to keep them away from her.Before you ask I don’t have her. Since they have not tried to use her it is a fair bet that they do not either. You met Haruki Kimura in my office. I don’t know how many are looking for him. I am almost sure he is in charge though.

“A heavy like that, perfect. You do know how to pick em. I am putting out an APB on Toshiro Ishamoto, Asiru Ishamoto. If you see them and don’t tell me I’ll run you in for obstruction for real next time.” Bruno stood up making for the door. “I’ve got guys trying to keep an eye on Hakiru Kimura. He is a slippery one though. Do me a favor and stay clear of him. Your homicide case is trouble I do not need. You can go as soon as the paperwork clears.” Bruno left the room as the door clicked locked behind him.

The BULS escorted me out an hour later. Sarah must have caught wind of what happened as the car was waiting for me as I walked out into the night. I blinked stifling a yawn as I collapsed into the car. The case should hold till morning and I needed at least some sleep.

Sarah greeted me as soon as my fingers touched the ignition.“Welcome back detective. One of your shorter stays at the police station by my count. I suspect you could use some sleep however Miss Cherry Azure has requested your immediate presnce at her club. Where should I send the car?”

“Let’s see what Cherry wants. Sleep can wait another hour and she is cutting us a few favors as it is.”

“Of course detective, any other instructions?”

“I am going to close my eyes till we get there. Handle anything that comes up.” I slid my hat over my eyes and let the car handle the trip.

I blinked slowly eyes adjusting to the light as the Fairlane pulled slowly into the back of the Century Club. Cherry was there waiting for me, her man timothy standing over her with an annoyed look on his long face. I could just make out him whispering as I slid out of the car. “This is a mistake.”

“Shhh…” Cherry put a finger to his lips. “Not in front of our guest.” She turned to me, perfectly filling out a short black dress that left no curves and very little else to the imagination. “So you have made a mess again Sam. Is that the third gunfight today I am hearing about?” Cherry flashed me a smile that could melt stone.

“The second. I am guessing the reinforcements have arrived.” I stared down into her flashing emerald eyes, lit up with the touch of red implants she used for effect at the club and mischief in equal measure.

“That is what my sources say. With this many in town I can’t do much more for you that offer you sanctuary in the small part of Los Angeles I control. They won’t come near the Century Club unless they are ready for a full out war. We are quite ready for them if they do. Isn’t that right Timothy?” Cherry looked back over her shoulder.

“Of course Miss Azure.” Timothy nodded his head, otherwise holding the motionless stare of a man almost always on his guard.

“Sam take me up on my offer. There are going to people looking for you and at the very least I can give you a place to sleep. Sometime when bullets are not flying I’ll find a better way to entertain you.” Cherry stared up at me waiting for an answer.

“You win Cherry. I am too tired to argue about it.” I gently touched her cheek, meeting her stare. “And thank you.”

“I almost always do.” Cherry signaled to one of the bouncers. “Show Mister Sloan to the private room I had set aside and make sure he is not bothered.”

I allowed myself to be led to a small, lavish room in the private area of the Century Club. I just managed to slide my coat and hat over a hook before a deep sleep overtook me as the beat of the club echoed in the background.

I just barely woke up to the creaking sound of my door opening at what had to be the middle of the night. I slid to the left my fingers closing around a heavy lamp on the table as I tried to make out who was coming in.

“Put the lamp down Sam, I am certainly not here to hurt you, not much anyways.” Cherry sat next to me on the bed the lights in her skin bathing the room in a soft red light. She seemed to have misplaced her dress on the way in although she was still dressed in black, just much less of it. “I hardly ever get to see you anymore and don’t even try to tell me you haven’t missed me a little.”

“I have.” Cherry was an occasional pain but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy her more often than not. My fingers traced the flecks of red in her skin “Staying the night?”

“I thought you would never ask.” Cherry kissed me as the red light dimmed plunging the room back into darkness.

Cherry left early, leaving me to wake up to a buzzing message in my ear. “I’m here Sarah. What is it?”

“Detective we have received a number of anonymous messages over the last hour. I believe Asiru Ishamoto has been kidnapped.”

“Find out what you can then send me the data. I’ll start at the club and see if the guards Cherry set are intact.”

“Already working on it. I will contact you when I have something.” 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blossom and Cherry Part 3

I carefully studied at the map Sarah had provided as the rather obvious watchers outside moved about trying not to draw attention to themselves. “Do we still have that old motorcycle in the basement?”

“We do.” Sarah walked around the room pulling up data files. “It is a relic but as I am sure you recall I have been forbidden to get rid of it.”

“True but a relic with no tracking software and an old style gas engine, should evade all the usual methods of following someone. That just leaves jokers outside to ditch and I have an idea for that. How long until sunset?”

“Twenty seven minutes detective. What are you planning?”

“Something stupid most likely. Unless they sent a bunch of tech dependent rookies to watch over us.” I grabbed the spare hat and jacket that was stashed in the closet in case of emergencies like working all night or bleeding too much to make a good presentation to one’s clients. Cautiously staying out of sight from any prying eyes outside the windows, I slipped down to the Fairlane. Constructing from a few loose bits of office equipment a fair facsimile of my height and weight that would not hold up one second if anyone got a look at it. Then I programmed the auto drive to do a drive by of Cherry’s place, they should believe I would go there.

Sarah was waiting for me as I reentered the office. “As soon as the car reaches the Century club take control and set it to a new destination. Maintain contact as briefly as possible. The law will probably realize they have been had at that point. If we get really lucky we might draw them off for a wild goose chase.”

“Confirmed Detective. Although I must say this trick seems a touch juvenile.” Sarah peered at the ground below and our small collection of interested parties. If only we could get paying clients to line up that neatly paying the rent would be a much easier task.

“It is but I am betting no one has their best people on watching the office so it just might work once.” Sarah and I stared out the window at the as the sun slowly fell into the west. I slid quietly into the basement taking one last look at the time before starting my car on it’s automated path. The fairlane slowly made a right turn out of the garage then was gone. “Back to emergency communication Sarah.”

“Already taken care of detective, good luck.” Sarah’s voice faded as I gunned the engine on the relic of a motorbike driving though the dark into the narrowest alley I could find. I banked a hard left down the street on the other side as I flipped the headlight on. Even if I had not gotten rid of all of our tails, they would have a hard time following me now. I made a few more detours just to insure I was not being followed then pulled the bike quietly behind Sue’s tavern, a dive on the east side of town I used to meet up with Toshiro with before we parted ways. I slipped in the side door nodding at the hulking giant behind the bar. “Hey Sue long time no see.”

“Not long enough for that joke to get old apparently.” The big man slid a scotch on the rocks across the bar. His name was really Brian, but we had been calling him Sue since he bought this place decades ago.

I stopped it mid slide and took a sip. “Good to see you big guy. Has my old friend made an appearance?”

I heard an accented Japanese voice behind me. “Already here. You must learn to be more careful with who is behind you. As I seem to recall telling you before.”

I spun and saw my old friend sitting quietly in an out of the way booth. I should not have been surprised. Toshiro always had a knack for not being noticed unless he wanted to be. I slid in across from him setting my hat on the table. “And I always told you your choice of employment was going to land you in a lot of trouble one day.” Toshiro had aged well in the years since I had seen him. There were still several wrinkles and a touch of gray that was not there before.

“Then it seems we are both wise..or both fools. Since you are here in one piece can I assume Asiru is safe?” Toshiro slowly sipped from a short glass as he eyed me intently.

I nodded slowly. “I got her out just in time and have her stashed safely for the moment. There are a lot of people looking for you two though. Care to tell me what happened?”

“I don’t want to involve you any more than you already are. I fear I have already asked too much as it is.” Toshiro sat there quietly considering. I knew from past experience that it was a waste of time trying to get him to talk before he was ready. After a moment he finally spoke. “Suffice to say a few of my former employers were displeased with several of their men and last I heard I was the only one left alive.”

“I feel I should tell you I was visited by Haruki Kimura and he offered to let your daughter go in return for you.” I saw Toshiro’s eyes move toward the front door as I turned my head around just catching sight of three heavies. I just made it to the floor with Toshiro right behind me as they opened fire with automatics riddling the place with bullets as the sound of shattering glass rang overhead.

Two of them moved in with the third covering as our friendly local bartender came up from behind the bar with a double barreled shotgun. Two loud bangs and their rear guard went down like a pile of lead. The two others returned fire and Sue took a shot in the shoulder as he fell to the ground. He had given us the distraction we needed as Toshiro and I put down the other two attackers. I normally don’t like shooting a man in the back exceptions can be made however.

I turned to Toshiro. “Motorcycle is in back. Get out of here, I’ll cover this.”

“If I live through this I will owe you a debt that cannot be repaid.” Toshiro vanished out the side door as I heard the metal steps of BULS units right behind me.

“Everyone drop you weapons. You are all detained pending investigation.” I complied and took my seat back at the booth, finishing my drink just before Lieutenant Bruno arrived with a few more BULS. “I seem to recall telling you I did not want to see a mess from this situation.” Bruno walked through the door kicking aside a bit of broken glass. “Arrest Samuel Sloan for obstruction of a police investigation, and whatever else I think up on the way back to the station.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Blossom and Cherry Part 2

After a few moments Sarah’s voice responded to my request.“Her people insure me Miss Azure will be in touch with you shortly. I assume you are looking for a place to hide?”

I spun the wheel directing the car down a side street and pulling over on the side of the road after a quick check to make sure we were alone. “I am and I think I shook any direct tails but these people won’t give up that easily. I popped the hood of my car. “I am disabling the location tracking software in the car. Until this is resolved use the secure communications protocol I gave you.”

“Verifying new orders. Limiting communications to vital functions and disabling all GPS devices in use. Going silent, I will contact you when I have something.” Sarah’s voice went dead leaving me with only the background hum of LA traffic.

I slid back into the driver’s seat. Taking Asiru on an impromptu tour of the less impressive parts of Los Angeles. “Hold tight, I think we are clear of any tails.”

Asiru was starting to relax after the fight in her apartment and stared out the window, like she was expecting the next wave of attackers any minute. Her voice was soft and distant. “I am sorry I do not. I am aware of my father’s past in Tokyo, and he gave me a way to escape if it ever caught up with us. There were too many of them, and they came too quickly. I barely got to the cloaking device before they smashed down the door.” Asiru appeared lost in thought for a moment then went digging into her bag pulling out a small tablet. “I may have something of use though, a data stream with a long range connection that is not attached to either of our names.”

“Do I want to ask why you have illegal computer equipment so close to hand?” I made my way across LA in the general direction of Cherry in the hopes she would have a little help for me.

“You could ask that. However it might interest you more to know the men in the building set it on fire then vanished into a black van just before the police arrived. No casualties however a Lieutenant Bruno is furious.”

Torching the place was a sloppy way to cover your tracks. It kept the law from knowing exactly what you were looking for. The downside was an entire building going up in flames made them really determined to find you so you could explain yourself to them. “Bruno was born angry. You have anything else?”

“A few contacts in Japan that watch criminal activity. No names here however a few high ups are offended by how badly the attempt to acquire my father has gone. They do not seem to have your name, at least not yet.”

“These being the kind of people that offending tends to be fatal.”

“So I have heard.” Asiru went silent again, alternating between prodding through her small tablet and staring out the window. I had managed to put what I thought was a safe distance between the car and the burning apartment when a text only message flipped up on the cars communicator. ‘Back door, 15 minutes…CA’

I pulled a hard right tearing through a back alley on my way the the back door of the Century Club. I knew this part out town was probably well monitored enough to be safe. I still kept cycling through detection methods on my left eye, scanning the side of the road for ambushes until the car slid quietly into the back of the century club. I told Asiru to stay in the car as I went out to meet with the locals. Waiting for me with an amused look on her face was Cherry Azure. Her blond hair falling down over a short black dress as she spoke softly to a tall drink of water with a bored look on his face, Tim I think. Cherry put a hand on his shoulder as he started to walk forward to meet me. “No need this one is not going to try to shoot me, are you Sam?” Cherry sauntered over giving me her most innocent smile as if I didn’t know better. “So what trouble brings you to my back door this time?”

“Had to rescue a girl from a few Japanese thugs. Not professionals by how easy they went down. Although that probably just means the real ones have not arrived yet.” I returned the insincere look of innocence with a wry grin. “And to cut a long story short I could use a place to hide her. I just made it here a couple steps ahead of some very angry people, among them one Lieutenant Bruno.”

“You two must really learn to play nice one of these days. I rather like the Lieutenant all things considered and would hate to attend one of your funerals…or both.” Cherry peered into the front of my car. “That’s a cute one, I hope she is not stealing your eyes away from me.”

“Just a client Cherry. Or the daughter of one more specifically.”

“Is she? Well that explains a few things.” Cherry thoughtfully tilted her head. “The rumor mill tells me that several guns for hire have been on the move today, almost all Japanese. I even had a few trying to investigate around my club. They were…encouraged to look elsewhere.” Cherry paused a moment to think. “I can keep your girl safe for a while. The people on the hunt are well funded though and don’t strike me as the type to give up easily. I hope you know what you are doing.”

“So do I.” I went around to the car and fetched Asiru introducing her to Cherry. “This is the safest place I can give you in LA. Do as she says and sit tight. I am going to go back to the office and see if I can lay a few false leads for our friends.”

Asiru looked up at me. “I hate this plan and my father has a lot of explaining to do.” She paused for just a moment. “Try to keep him alive, and thank you.”

“All in a day’s work.” I tipped my hat at the ladies then slipped back into the Fairlane speeding back to the office before I was missed.

Sarah shimmered into view the second I cleared the door. “Time to resume communications detective?”

“Yes, has anyone been by looking for me?” I flopped in my chair perusing the news reports of this afternoon’s shootout Sarah had sorted out for me.

“No one at the office. Although one Haruki Kimura has made an appointment to see you in half an hour. Also police lieutenant Bruno sent a message that he wanted to talk to you, and not to leave the office.”

“What do you have on Mister Kimura?”

Sarah moved to one of her favorite spots at the edge of my desk. “Suspected of a long line of criminal activities in Tokyo, never convicted. Should we keep the appointment?”

I considered this carefully. “We might as well. If he was going to come in shooting he wouldn’t have left his name. Let’s see if we can find out what Toshiro got himself into. Save the office recording to a remote location just in case. And stay out of sight when he arrives, no need to give any information he doesn’t already have.”

“Of course detective, all systems are ready.” Sarah slid off my desk and then faded from view.

The front door opened and Haruki Kimura entered at exactly one minute before his appointment. I rose to look down at a Japanese man standing just inside the entrance, waiting with his hands calmly folded in front of him. His obviously tailored black suit and small bowler were immaculate and my infrared picked up complete metallic replacements of each arm and part of the shoulder. I made a mental note to avoid a fistfight. This guy must hit like a truck full of bricks.

“Mister Kimura I presume, do come in.” The man silently walked into my office stopping right in front of me. I didn’t bother to offer him a seat or go to my desk. It wasn’t going to be that kind of meeting. “What can I do for you today?”

Haruki Kimura’s eyes were dark and hard. He took a moment to size me up, then stared straight into my eyes. “I am told you find missing things, among other pursuits.”

I nodded briefly. “Correct.”

“I am looking for an old friend that I have reason to believe has entered the City of Los Angeles recently, or possibly will be coming in under a false name. My information leads me to believe you knew him long ago, making you the perfect person to search for him.” This Kimura was careful. He either knew he was being recorded or strongly suspected. “Will you do me the courtesy of dropping any pretense of not knowing who I am talking about?”

I paused for a moment. “If that is the way you want it. I have no idea where Toshiro is and if I did I wouldn’t tell someone was going to harm him.”

“I suspected that would be your answer. There is another matter. Earlier today several private contractors completely failed to accomplish what they were hired for.”

I looked back at him eyes unblinking. “I am sure they will not enjoy your employers views on failure.”

“True. That is not my concern however. Before leaving Los Angeles for.” He paused. “Other opportunities they commented that a man with a metal hand and one glowing eye was seen in the area. I admit to being conflicted about this. I must complete the task I came here to do, but have no need to involve any young women. Targeting children is not how men should do business, don’t you agree?”

“I completely agree. I may have a client that would be interested in that information. If you are giving your word that if you find your old friend the hunt stops there.”

“I am and of course anyone providing information would receive a significant financial reward. Although if what I have heard about you is true this will not motivate, so I give you one warning. I will get what I came for. Possibly, your actions in this matter may keep several other people safe. There are others involved who do not share my sense of restraint.” Haruki Kimura barely moved as he spoke.

“I will take it under advisement.”

The impromptu stare down was interrupted by the over six feet of police Lieutenant Anton Bruno bursting through the door followed my the echoing mechanical footsteps of a pair of BULS units in tow. Haruki turned to face him as he paused for a moment. “I heard you were in town, if you are roughing up Sloan I can come back.”

“Unnecessary officer, I believe my business here is concluded and I have overstayed my welcome.” Haruki turned to me and bowed. “I have left contact information if you wish to make a deal.”

I returned the bow. “An honor to meet a man of your renown Mister Kimura.” No reason to insult what was likely a hired killer, not without a really good reason anyways.

“You clearly have other clients to deal with, I can show myself out.” Haruki turned and strode out the door without another word.

I returned to my chair kicking my legs up on the desk. Irritating the good Lieutenant was another matter entirely. “What brings you to my door Bruno?”

Bruno moved forward knocking my legs right off the desk with a hard backhand. “You know perfectly well why I am here. Why were you involved in a shootout at a high end apartment building today? And where is Asiru Ishamoto?”

I sat up in my chair. “I don’t know where she is.” Technically true. I wasn’t quite sure where Cherry stashed her. “I might be able to give you a couple hints though, quietly. You arrest me I call for a lawyer and say nothing.”

Bruno turned to the BULS. “You two outside and no one comes in till I say so.”

The lights in the machines eyes blinked. “Orders confirmed, Lieutenant.” Bruno sat in the clients chair as the metal footsteps echoes off into the hallway.

“Ok I’ll do this your way for now. What do you have?”

I turned to the empty space. “Sarah suspend recording.” Sarah appeared leaning on the wall at the far side of the office. “Taken care of detective.”

Spinning in my chair I leaned over the desk facing Bruno. “The man who just left is looking for Toshiro Ishamoto, I don’t know why but it is almost certain they are going to kill him if they find him. A different group of goons went after his daughter, presumably to force him to reveal himself. They failed to acquire her and she is on the run and hiding.”

“Let me guess. Eight bruisers all Japanese and very recently found beaten, executed, and publicly dumped as a warning to others.” Bruno slid a small device out of his pocket and sent me the morgue photos of at eight men, the ones I had fought my way through on the way up to get Asiru.

“I think you have it. Since we are being civilized one free warning. My source was sure that they have a man in your department.”

“Yeah. If you repeat this ever I will run you in so many times you will think you live at LAPD headquarters, but I think you might be right. Did he give you anything else?”

“No he doesn’t know who the man is. Despite everything I wouldn’t keep that from you.”

“We’ll do this your way for now.” Bruno stood slowly and adjusted his suit. “If I this becomes a giant mess I have to clean up, I’ll be back with so many BULS the bruises will take months to heal.”

“Glad to see you haven’t lost your edge Lieutenant.” I stood as Bruno walked out then turned to Sarah. “How many people do we have staking out the place at the moment.”

“Three obvious groups of police officers and two Japanese gentlemen that are trying very hard not to be watching the building. There may of course be less obvious scouts beyond them.” Sarah walked across the room her hands moving as she searched for information. “Local map uploading. There seems to be a hole in the police coverage.”

“Probably with the actual tail right behind it. I need to find a way out of here without bringing the circus.” I scanned the map, looking for a way out of here that didn’t involve bringing several criminals and the LAPD with me.

“And soon I suspect, I got an anonymous message asking you to head to ‘the old place in an hour, T’”

“Perfect timing as always. And I think I have an idea.” I slid my hat on and turned to the window.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Blossom and Cherry Part 1

Blossom and Cherry
October 15th 2107 4PM

The bright LA sun poured through the window highlighting the small amount dust the cleaning lady missed last night as I watched the motionless front door of Samuel Sloan investigations for the third day in a row without a client. As I am the owner, founder, and only living employee of the same it was beginning to concern me. Sarah assured me that we were in no danger of going bankrupt for a change. Still a man can only stare at a door for so many days before going a little bit crazy. After a solid half hour of watching the clock click from one minute to the next I turned to the empty air. “Is there any point to staying open for the last thirty minutes, or should we just call the day a loss?”

My secretary's holographic program activated and in an instant a translucent brunette was sitting on the edge of my desk looking back at me through thin wire glasses. “Much as I hate to encourage your tendency to close the office early, I am having a hard time seeing the point in a few more minutes today. Your call list is completely empty.” Sarah walked across the room, her black heels soundlessly making their way across the floor. “Wait this is unusual, I am getting an international call from a Toshiro Ishamoto.”

There was a name I hadn’t heard in years. “Toshiro? Put him through.”

“Connecting now detective.” The image of a Japanese man slowly came into focus in place of my blank screen. Older than I remembered him from his days on the west coast and with a ragged look in his eyes.

“Good to see you after all this time. What brings you back to my neck of the woods, so to speak.”

“I need to hire you I am afraid. Forgive me for skipping past the pleasantries. Time is short. I cannot go into detail where I might be overheard.”

“I still owe you a favor from the old days if memory serves. I doubt I will be able to be of much assistance in Tokyo however.”

“The work I need is local and I would need to be able to travel back in time to do it myself. I am sending you the address of my daughter Asiru, I need her removed from her apartment in Los Angeles and kept somewhere safe for a time. The men looking for her are dangerous so I will triple your normal fee, in addition to calling the debt between us even. She must be protected however.” The hard look in his eyes reminded me that this was a man who had once terrified most of the Tokyo underworld.

“I’m on it, I am assuming this will not wait till morning?”

“It will not, also I believe the men looking for me have a man within the local police force. Do not involve them if you can avoid it. I will contact you when I can and thank you.” The image faded back to a blank screen.

Sarah’s eyes followed me as I slid on my coat and checked my revolver in it’s holster. “I assume you met him before my tenure here began and that this job will not actually involve time travel?”

“Correct on both counts. The time travel was a code. Toshiro is coming to LA.” I slid my hat on as I headed out the door. “And I have work to do.”

The tires of my Fairlane kept a tight grip of the road as I sped out of downtown to the apartment of one Arisu Ishamoto. An Japanese thug in a cheap suit and a bowler was standing guard outside the front door and doing a bad job of looking inconspicuous. Unless I missed my guess his brother was standing at the back door.

I tapped my comms on as I made a causal drive by of the building, parking out of sight of the far side. “Sarah, keep an eye on the situation and be ready to call the law if this turns south.”

“Of course detective, they will be summoned when the shooting starts.”

I strode around the corner causally, being careful not to make eye contact with the side of beef outside the front door. Fidgeting in my pocket as I walked up the stairs completely ignoring him on the way by. He was in front of me in a second.

“Building is closed for maintenance. No entry today.” His speech was heavily accented and he appeared to be as much of a handyman as my mother. Not a convincing lie. He must have been hoping his size and the dull glare in his eyes would make people not want to find out more.

“I live here what do you mean the place is closed?” I moved to walk around the grunt, apparently clueless to the danger he presented.

The candidate for worst doorman ever placed his hand on my chest opening his jacket to reveal an automatic pistol holstered on his left side. “Take a walk.”

I took half a step back raising my hands in surrender.”Don’t shoot, I’m leaving.” I slowly started to turn around with my hands raised catching his guard dropping out of the corner of my eye as he tapped a comm unit in his ear.The moment his eyes turned away from me, I spun as the titanium joints in my right hand closed into a fist catching him with a right hook just under his left ear. The street echoed with the crunch of bone against metal as the big man crumpled to the ground like a puppet whose strings had just been cut. I quickly drug him away from the main entrance. That should keep his friends from finding him for a few minutes at least. A quick look through the door to make sure he didn’t have a friend inside and then I was in dashing up the stairs as I saw another pair of cheap suits searching the ground floor.

This was starting to look ugly. “Sarah, I need an exact location on Asiru’s apartment. Also begin a search for escape routes.”

“Next floor third door on the right. If you do not trust the front and back doors public records show two fire escapes.”

I cleared the stairs quietly making my way to the open apartment door. A switch on my eye lit up the hallway in infrared. There were a pair a goons trashing the place. My luck was holding on that at least. They had not found the girl yet and their backs were to me. I came in fast sliding my pistol out of it’s holster as a solid punch to the base of goon number one’s skull laid him out. Number two turned in surprise as I dashed forward pistol whipping him to the ground before a swift kick between the eyes put his lights out. There was an odd flicker in the infrared but no girl here, Japanese or otherwise. No time to work that out as the two from downstairs came in the door with automatic pistols drawn. I dived through the nearest doorway unloading my revolver over my left shoulder. One went down in a spray of blood as I took cover and quickly reloaded my pistol. Can’t say I liked the idea of going head to head with that automatic, but I was running out of options. I braced myself hoping I was faster than the guy outside the door as I heard a loud crash and a thump from the next room. Slowly coming around the corner I made out the blurry outline of a young Japanese woman standing over my new friend with what appeared to be a small statue in her hand before she faded out of sight.

This was new. I blinked before focusing in on that little glitch I saw in my infrared earlier. “Asiru? Your father sent me to get you out of here. Also if you would stop turning invisible that would help.”

A short and very disheveled Japanese girl blurred than slowly faded into view, still holding a broken piece of statue in her trembling hand. “How do you know my father.” Her small frame shook and I could see the terrified eyes of someone who has never seen a gunfight up close.

“We’re old friends from when he used to work in Los Angeles and the small army here was after you not me. So get moving now and talk later.” I went to the door, eyes searching both ways with my revolver behind me just out of view. “Sarah, best exit now.”

Asiru moved in close behind me as Sarah’s voice responded in my ear. “One floor up and you will see a way out on the left.”

I motioned behind me slowly making my way up the stairs, turning a corner before hearing the next wave of soldiers moving around below. Sarah’s voice came through as I saw the fire exit. “Detective the police are on their way to your location, if you wish to avoid them you will need to hurry.”

“Bullets flying will do that.” I put my right fist through the glass protecting the exit, a fire alarm sounded although one more loud noise at this point shouldn’t matter. “Believe it or not I am usually more of a gentleman. However no time so up and over.”

I noticed bit of color had returned to Asiru’s cheeks as she put her hand to her chest sighing dramatically. “My hero.” Then climbed out the window and down the emergency ladder.

After a quick scan of the alley for any other interested parties I made my way down as the car came around to meet us. “That’s mine, get in.” We climbed in and I slammed the gas, switching the auto drive off before it could tell me I was performing a number of unsafe maneuvers. “Care to explain the vanishing act earlier.”

Asiru glanced at me considering her response for a moment. “A gift from father. Prototype chameleon field, it was scrapped because it would not conceal a full sized man. Also glitches quite a bit if you move while it is activated.”

“But a small woman will work?” I sped away through the side streets and back alleys leaving the apartment building far behind as I checked behind me for a tail.

“If she holds very still.”

“Sarah, put me through to Cherry, I think I am going to need another favor.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jade Frog Part 5

I let the auto drive handle the car as I made my way back to my apartment slowly sobering up while staring at the night sky. The moon was barely a sliver, making the city darker and the side streets I slowly drove by that little bit more ominous as I listened to the occasional police siren in the distance. The road was almost empty on the way back only the rare view of another car to interrupt my thoughts.

Inside the quiet of my apartment I went into a cabinet and found a watered down whiskey and a Japanese rock garden an old client had given me. Placing a large rock in the center while thinking of the Jade Frog, I set a series of smaller ones around it in no particular pattern. Arthur Dolwes, Clarise, my mystery gunman, the police surrounding this case. I continued with the experiment leveling the sand then beginning to rake the patterns of samon I had been taught long ago. I had never quite mastered the art but as I watched the ripples form in the garden the feeling started to overtake me that I was only missing a critical bit of information and then I would understand what had happened to my unknown frog. I set one more stone in place for the unknown, finishing my drink and the waves in the sand before taking a long slow look at my work. This method had never actually solved a case for me, but it was a relaxing way to go over the details in my mind. When I felt the sand had told me all it intended to, I left the garden in place and the glass on the counter top. A deep sleep overtook me almost as soon as a laid down.

Morning came far too early as I woke up to Sarah’s voice. “Detective, Mrs. Clarise Dowles shall arrive in the office in just over an hour, if you desire to meet her here you need to get moving soon.”

“On my way.” I slowly wiped the sleep and the last effects of the whiskey out of my eyes, quickly stealing the small luxury of a shower before sliding a fresh set of clothes on. I took an extra moment to check my revolver before sliding it into the holster hidden away in my coat. I was in no mood for auto drive this morning speeding out of my building to the office with just one stop for coffee and something resembling a bagel.

Sarah was waiting for me as I passed through the door. “Good morning detective. I took the liberty of turning on the coffee, but you seem to have that taken care of already.”

I found my desk mentally preparing myself for my possible client to walk though the door. “Anything new shake out overnight?”

“The murder made the news, but the police are keeping the frog quiet for now. Most likely staking out the usual suspects and hoping that someone will try to move the jade and give themselves away.” Sarah slid next to my desk with a twinkle in her eye. “I assume Miss Azure was happy to see you.”

I took a long drink of my favorite coffee shop’s dark roast. “That is a complicated topic as always, and I think you are about right about the law.” A small knock on the door freed me from this line of conversation as Sarah went to answer. The door slid open and I could hear Sarah’s voice in the entrance. “Please come in Mrs. Dowles, the detective is waiting for you.”

I rose as Mrs. Clarise Dowels entered the office. The tall brunette was in a dark green dress and matching hat that succeeded in making her look significantly more conservative than last night as she was tearing up the Century Club. “Please Mrs. Dowles come in. Can I get you anything?” Sarah’s research showed that the lady was pushing fifty but I had no doubt she could turn half the heads in any room she walked into with a little effort. Can’t help but wonder what Authur Dowles did to get so lucky., well lucky until recently.

“Clarise will be fine Mr. Sloan.” Clarise took the seat I offered her as I found my way behind the desk pulling up the file on the Jade Frog case to current.

“I understand you want me to continue working the case your husband left on my doorstep.” I watched closely to observe her response at the mention of the late Arthur Dowles.

Clarise slid her hat off, bright green eyes looking straight into mine. “Correct Mr. Sloan. My late husbands finances were not what he led me to believe and another loss would not be acceptable.”

“That can be arranged, although with the law involved I am not sure what I will be able to turn up.” I spun my chair slightly considering my next words. “I’ll need ten percent of the fee up front and not refundable. No disrespect intended but I do not risk getting shot at for free. Also you should know that detectives are not lawyers and I do all I can to protect my client’s privacy, however with a murder investigation in the middle of this there is a limit to what I can keep hidden from the law.”

“Your terms are acceptable and I had nothing to do with my husbands murder, although I am sure the police suspect me.” Clarise spoke very calmly, seemingly unaffected by the tragedy. “I won’t lie to you it was a loveless marriage. Arthur and I led separate lives. He deserved better than this though.”

Sarah nodded in the background, indicating that my client to be was more or less on the level. “Very well” I took a small tablet, modifying some details. “This contract will secure my services, arrange for payment, and grant me access to the personal files of Arthur Dowles. With luck I Will have news for you soon.”

Clarise Dowles glanced over the contract for just a moment before letting the tablet scan her thumb and retina. I checked the screen on my desk, payment had cleared and Sarah was already going through Arthur Dowles personal information. I rose from my chair. “I will contact you as soon as any information is found.”

“Of course. Thank you detective.” Clarise Dowles rose, replaced her hat, and exited the office without another word.

I took a slow walk around the office mulling the case over in my mind. “Let me guess Arthur Dowels is dead broke.”

“Close to it detective. I assume you suspect he was involved in the theft.”

I found my seat looking over the data Sarah was processing. “I am almost sure of it. He must have stashed the thing somewhere though, if it was at his house the cops would have turned it up by now. Let me see where his car has been.”

Sarah turned up a list of locations tracking his movements. “Two visits to the same area downtown.”

I scanned through the records. “That area is pretty low rent for a guy like Dowles. One stop right after the theft, and one a few hours before he was murdered. Would explain why he wanted to keep this quiet. Put me through to Orange.”

The line was only on hold for a few seconds before the image of Julian appeared on my screen. “Looking for favors again Sloan?”

“Just a name, some of your competition in the south part of Downtown.”

“That is pretty close to Roy Jackson. Wouldn’t recommend dealing with him though, a complete idiot. What did you want to know?”

“You just told me, thanks” I hung up on him as Sarah confirmed the address. If felt good to put one over on Julian from time to time. I found my hat and made for the address. This caper was sloppy work all around and I figured I was just ahead of the law as it was. It was only a few minutes before I arrived at the crappy lower level apartment of one Roy Jackson. I decided for the direct approach and knocked on the door, to be quickly greeted by a weasel-faced man holding a small gun pointed at my chest.

“Get inside, and no sudden moves or else.” I complied slowly walking inside the dump Roy Jackson presumably called home. “You’re the detective Arthur hired, how did you find me here.”

“As you said I’m a detective.” I slowly walked toward the cabinet on the far wall. “And I am guessing you shot Dowles after your little deal went south.”

“That idiot was going to talk.” I could almost here the panic in Roy’s voice. “That’s far enough.”

“Listen Roy, do you mind if I call you Roy. This isn’t going to work.” I took a step backward as he twitched nervously. “If I found you the cops can’t be far behind, that cruiser outside the window is probably looking for you.”

He turned the the window straining to see what might be outside through the dirty glass as my left hand slipped into my coat. I could almost see the hairs on his neck stand up as I pulled back the hammer on my heavy revolver. “Don’t turn around. I can see you are just about desperate enough to try a shootout with my gun pointed at your back, but I am going to give you one chance.” I slid the cabinet open that he was so desperate to keep me away from easily finding a piece of jade in the shape of a frog. “I am only being paid to find this frog, so if you walk out the door slowly without turning around and run I won’t shoot you in the back or come chasing after you.”

Roy nodded slowly and opened the door. I could hear his footsteps quickly moving off in the distance as I activated my communications. “I assume you already called Bruno.” I took a moment to seal the Jade Frog in a plastic bag, just in case it got dusted for prints later.

“Of course detective, I doubt Jackson will make it far.” A couple shots rang out in the distance. I followed quietly and peered around the corner to watch a couple of BULS lifting Roy Jackson up off of the ground and dragging him to a nearby police cruiser. That peashooter he was carrying wasn’t enough firepower to bring down a BULS unit. It did seem to have upgraded him to deadly threat judging by the broken leg.

I joined Lieutenant Bruno as he arrived on the scene. “Causing trouble again Sloan?”

“Solving it this time.” I removed the plastic bag containing the frog from my pocket. “I assume you will need this for evidence. I would like it noted in the record that it was in my possession and handed over willingly on police orders.”

“Fine, fine. 715 take that frog into evidence and then get a statement from Mr. Sloan here.”

It only took a few minutes to give the cranky looking robot an accounting of what went on in the apartment and then I was back in the car and talking to Sarah. “Contact our client and tell her the Jade Frog is in police custody.”

“Already done detective, although the Dowles estate just filed for bankruptcy a few minutes ago. I doubt we will see the full amount we were promised.”

It figured. Even the down payment would keep the business in the black for a while longer so for the moment, case closed.