Another flash fiction challenge over at terrible minds! Detective, Ghost, Chinatown, unsolved murder were what I rolled.
Randy didn’t even know he’d gotten out of bed this morning. He ran a hand over his grizzled jaw in frustration. He hadn’t even remembered to stop for coffee. And he wouldn’t be able to get a double-double and breakfast at least until the body was in the bag. If he could even get through the endless lines and the computers at Tim’s hadn’t broken again.
His partner, Detective Dave Turner, bent over the faceless figure against the wall, deep in discussion with the ME. Jane Grant was talking animatedly pointing to the peaked roof of the Millennium Gate, before returning to the body. A shooter then, from the roof. In the middle of Chinese New Year celebrations. This was going to be a messy case. The Chief walked over to them, her hand on Dave’s back. That was interesting…Both had been divorced in the last couple of years. Maybe…Nah, it was none of his business what two consenting adults got up to.
He was musing when a soft voice behind him said, “I saw it.”
Randy turned to see an old friend. “Mr Foo!” He pumped the hand of restaurateur. “Long time no see.”
Foo smiled. “You’ve been a stranger, Sergeant Miller.”
“It’s Detective now,” Randy said with a grin, “and that’s because you closed the store. How’s Toronto? You just back visiting?”
The old man looked perplexed. Randy’s brow furrowed; the old man had retired, maybe he had been diagnosed with dementia. Still, he was prepared to hear the old man out.
He flipped open his notebook. “So what did you see Mr Foo?”
“In the morning there was a cleaner, climbing up with ropes. It was strange, because it would be bad luck, cleaning out all the good built up during the maintenance last week. But they didn’t stop, just climbed to the top, and then the ropes were pulled up.”
People were gathering around them. The news had spread. Randy lead Mr Foo to a shadowed alcove. “Did you notice anything else closer to the shooting?”
“While we were waiting for the blessing of the lion dance, I saw a reflection. I thought it was a photographer.” Mr Foo’s face fell. “Then there was the shot.”
“Did you tell any of the officers on the street?”
Mr Foo’s expression had desperation in it. “I tried! There was chaos. No one listened.”
“Did you see where the person went?”
“Yes. They slid down behind the pole and ran down toward the park.”
“A terrible omen for the new year.” Mr Foo shook his head sadly. “Attempting to kill those who were going to bring some life back to Chinatown.”
A chill ran down Randy’s body. His girlfriend Mai was working on the redevelopment and she was here. He vaguely remembered her in the shower as he left. He had been here too. Why couldn’t he… Randy shrugged it off. He needed to focus.
He gave Dave a slap on the back. “I have a witness describing our shooter heading down Carrall Street. I’m going see if we have any more witnesses.”
Dave turned and glared. He always hated to be disturbed when contemplating a crime scene. He looked particularly haggard today.
Randy took the hint and backed off. He looked down at the streamers and bits of cabbage littering the street and trudged around Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s classical garden, which was locked up tight today. He snuck up to the one of the ornate wall decorations and looked into the cool and green space. He overheard some angry whispers in Chinese.
“They’re saying that a target was missed. That they got the boyfriend instead.” Randy swirled around to see Mr Foo beside him.
He held a finger to his lips and shook his head. Mr Foo continued, albeit in a whisper, “The shooter is being sheltered by Chen, who hired him from Shanghai. He has family connections to the Triads at home.”
“They say he will be brought out of hiding tonight and fly home. If he can’t finish the job first.” Foo spread his thinning and still dark hair back over his head.
Chen ran the Chinese Cultural Centre. He’d been outspoken about not destroying the heritage of the area, even when the shop fronts were to be updated but remain in tact. Randy had witnessed more than a few of Mai’s heated exchanges in Mandarin with Mr Chen. He had a few businesses on East Pender that stood to be shut during the closures and he was unhappy. Randy wouldn’t have thought it was worth killing for.
Randy looked up to find Foo had gone. He sauntered casually around to the cultural centre, past the red rimmed doors and windows. He doubled back and quick as a lick, jumped a metal fence beside the centre. Quietly he crept into the back, which adjoined the garden and was cool and quiet. He spotted a man exhaling the smoke of his cigarette, the garden filled with the spicy fragrance. This man was a stranger.
In front of him was a tablet, and on it was a face Randy was overly familiar with. He reached for his radio, but found it wasn’t responding. As silently as he could, he retreated, climbing back over the fence. The wind gusted and shook the mesh, but Randy was already off and running.
He raced to the crime scene, to find only the techs still finishing up the cleaning. He swore. Where had Dave gone. Up the street, he saw a familiar dark blue truck. He sprinted up there.
Dave sat curled in the front seat, his eyes glassy and unseeing. Randy knocked on the window. Dave looked right at him but didn’t acknowledge him. He looked down to his hands. He was rolling Randy’s badge over in his fingertips.
Randy’s hand went to his belt, but there was nothing there. He looked down, and noticed the dark spreading stain on his shirt. The world whirled and suddenly there were flashes of images. A dancing of colour as the dancers moved past. The pop of what he knew was a gun, and Mai’s boss crumpling to the ground. Moving to get directly in front of Mai, get her into a protected doorway and the sudden aching in his chest. Mai, white and screaming at him, her hands soft as ever on his face. Then the darkness.
He remembered now. Mr Foo had died, a few months after leaving for Toronto. A massive coronary. He remembered the flowers out the front of the store, the white streamers.
It was so cold to suddenly realise he was dead. And that there was nothing he could do to help Mai now…