“What do we have on Burke?”
Sarah called up a data file as she slowly paced around the office. “The combination of tailing him for two days and the research I have done online has given a well detailed profile. What were you looking for?”
I scanned the file as the question mulled over in my mind. “Let’s start with his home. His death has not been reported as a murder yet so there is a chance no one has bothered to lock it down yet.”
“Address is locked into your GPS. Research suggests that Mr. Burke’s home has an out of date security system.”
I made my way out of the Regency Bright office building, speeding along the freeway as the streetlights flashed by my window one at a time, distracting from the full moon outside as I headed into the northern suburbs. I slowed down to avoid attracting attention as I approached the subdivision, stopping to plant a small tracker by the most likely way in. That should let me know if anyone was passing by this late at night with a few minutes notice to run for it if I felt the need. Taking in the view of how the better half lived as I passed by pristine white houses one after another until I made it to Burke’s address. It appeared being a crooked lawyer paid fairly well. Working for Kimura carried a lousy retirement plan though. The area was far too open to hide the car anywhere and sneak in so I went with plan B and drove into the driveway like I belonged there.
I took a moment scanning the area before exiting the car. Either no one had noticed my arrival or they just did not care. A short walk to the back door told me Sarah had been right. This security system was slightly more technologically advanced than barricading the door, but not much. It took me thirty seconds flat to disable the electronics on the alarm and another twenty to force the lock. I didn’t even beat it up too badly. Closing the door behind me I started to search the rooms one by one. The kitchen was pristine, black and white tile matching the outside view and giving the place a cold, empty look. Burke didn’t strike me as the domestic type so I was guessing a cleaning service. That could give me one more avenue to check if I came out of this with a big pile of nothing. I slipped around the back into the master bedroom. My experience told me if there was anything to find, it would be here. The place had the same just cleansed look as the rest of the house. The closet was a whole different story. At first glance I thought someone had tossed it, but as I searched through the pile of clothes I started to get the feeling Burke had packed in a hurry and was considering never coming back. I Wasn’t sure how much time I had and going through this one hiding spot at a time was taking too long. I turned on a slow infrared sweep of the room that led med right to a hidden panel in the closet. Gently sliding it open I found several pages of handwritten notes, and a small data disc buried in an almost imperceptible hole in the wall.
Sarah’s familiar voice came in. “Multiple cars approaching, the police are on their way. I would say you have about three minutes before you are discovered.”
“Perfect timing as always.” I flipped on the camera in my artificial eye and copied the pages in one by one before turning my attention to the disc. I slid it into a ship reader. “Can you get me a copy of this.”
“It has not been encrypted, copying files now. I have a clone of the disc Detective.”
I shoved the evidence back in it’s hole but did not bother to cover it up. Hiding evidence in a murder case was a bit farther than I liked to push Bruno. I didn’t waste any more time, dashing back to the car and pulling out of Burke’s driveway to begin a nice slow tour of the area away from the advancing law. As soon as I was clear I kicked the car back into auto drive and turned my attention to Sarah.
“So what do we have.”
“I cannot fully verify this information without the help of the police department. However at first glance it appears to exonerate our client and connect Burke to a Miss Lindsey Williams. Miss Williams matches the description on the woman you saw Burke with in the alley.
“That’s our girl then. Can you get me an address?”
“Already done. Auto drive locked in to new location.”
I flicked the auto drive off and stepped in the gas. “I’ve got this one, we are only a few minutes ahead of the law tonight.” I could almost feel Sarah’s eyes roll as I listened to my tires sliding across the pavement.
It didn't take me long to find Miss Williams' apartment downtown, and even less time to realize I was not the first one here. The door had been kicked right off the hinges. My left hand dipped into my jacket, slowly slipping out the revolver and pulling the hammer back. The slow creak of the door echoed through the hallway as I slid what was left of the door open. I stepped through the threshold cautiously the revolver held low as I took in the scene. The place had been trashed. Tables overturned, broken glass scattered across the floor, and four holes in the wall that unless I missed my guess were the result of bullets. The final bit of evidence was in the next room. A young Japanese man laying face down in a pool of his own blood. I knelt down at a safe distance and stared into his lifeless eyes. The poor bastard almost looked surprised even now. "Were you alone, or just the unlucky one who took the bullets?" After a moment to study the scene I was firmly convinced the latter was true. Assume Williams was in the corner. Then when they came into the room she filled the first one in full of lead. Judging by the mess there was more than one and she emptied the gun on the first . Either Williams was in the wind or had been taken. Probably the second unless she could take down two or three heavies with her fists and an empty gun.
I heard the metallic footsteps just outside the apartment as I relaxed the hammer on my revolver and holstered it. From the sound of the approaching law, Lindsey Williams was about to become someone else's problem. Four BULS units came through the door on cue, their glowing red eyes focusing on me after they saw the dead body.
I raised my hands in surrender. "Samuel Sloan, Licensed private investigator. There is a gun in my jacket but it has not been fired."
The mechanized voice responded from the lead BULS unit. "You will surrender your weapon then be taken in for questioning."
I handed over the revolver just as the one of the BULS got that weird look that happens when their orders are being updated. "New instructions, you will be taken to Lieutenant Bruno. He wishes to conduct your interrogation himself."
Just what I needed, several hours of getting worked over by Anton Bruno. Whatever else you could say about him, the man had a sense of order and tended to get upset when dead bodies started appearing. As I was shoved into the back of the police cruiser I mulled over in my mind that it could have easily been worse then two dead bodies. I suspected Bruno would not find this argument compelling.
The BULS let me out of the car at the front door of abandoned warehouse. Just looking at the place made me wonder when my last tetanus shot had been. Bruno was waiting for me just inside the front door.
Bruno glared daggers at me. "I have so many reasons to throw you in a cell I am finding it difficult to decide where to start."
"I am at your disposal Lieutenant." I generally tried not to aggravate Bruno when he was this angry. I don't think he would shoot me just because he was irritated, but I am not completely sure.
"Let's start with the basics. What were you doing this time? Don't even think of giving me that 'confidential' crap."
I took a moment to try to make sense of the last few days. "Would you believe following a lawyer to see if he was involved in an embezzlement scheme?"
"In your case I would. That is just stupid enough to be true." Bruno slid his hat off, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. "We are going to go through this in great detail later, but right this second why were you searching for Lindsey Williams?"
Fellows didn't pay me enough to cover this up. "I have reason to believe she was a contact between the midnighters cycle gang, a lawyer downtown, and Haruki Kimura."
"Normally I'd call you a lunatic, but that would help explain this place. Follow me." Bruno led me into the open space in the center of the rotted out factory where BULS were collecting images of a dead woman tied to a chair in the middle of the room.
"Got it in one." Bruno held out his hand, stopping me from going farther into his crime scene. "And they worked her over hard. Two broken bones, a couple bullets in non vital places. You can't see the final touch from here. Two bullets in the back of the head for a messy execution."
"Kimura got to her before either of us."
"Looks like." Bruno turned to the BULS. "Take him to holding. I'll get the full story from him after I am done here."
After Bruno made me wait till he calmed down, I got to repeat the events of the last several days five times before Bruno was satisfied that I was telling the truth. Or at least he had determined he wasn't getting any more information.
"Since you haven't given me too much grief during this interrogation I'll give you one bit of information for free. Your buddy Rand of Zeta station security. He just hung himself in a apparent suicide after evidence started to surface that he was on the take."
Four dead bodies, I should count myself lucky Bruno didn't make up something to charge me with. "Did he really kill himself or is Kimura tidying up loose ends?"
"I'm not sure...yet. Get out of here before I change my mind."
I nodded then made my way back to the office, updating Sarah as I I let the car handle the trip. She was waiting for me as I entered.
"Welcome back Detective, I have an invite to the Century Club's New Year's party tonight." Sarah followed me through the office as I found my chair and tossed my hat on the desk.
"Not tonight, I have lost my celebratory mood. I'll make my apologies to Cherry later." A pile of dead bodies and a three day stake out will take it out of anyone.
"Will you tell anyone about Toshiro?"
"Not until I actually know something. I'm not going to bring back the dead unless I am sure."
"Any other instructions.?"
I leaned back in my chair closing my eyes. "Nothing tonight, Happy New Year Sarah."
"Happy New Year Detective."