Susie Pelosi called Kate as she stepped out of her personal patrol car at the Daly Building. The DC Metropolitan Police Headquarters covered a sizable chunk of Indiana Avenue and was barely a 12 minute drive from the Void nightclub.
‘What’s the latest, Sue?’ said Kate.
‘I’ve got a Paul Garretts who seems to fit your profile. He’s 63 with a net worth of $3 billion or so. A very low-key kind of guy; business is rail road construction and maintenance. His son Kevin liked the rough life though. Kevin died in a drug fueled boating accident along with a Noora al-Baziri.’
‘Jazmin’s mother’ said Kate instinctively.
‘Yes. Paul raised her as his own. It’s really sad, losing his granddaughter after all this time. He’ll be crushed when he finds out.’
An intense sadness flashed through Kate. She struggled to keep her voice professional.
‘Do you have anything on Noora al-Baziri?’ she asked.
‘Of course, she was the only child of Omar al-Baziri, a reclusive Abu Dhabi businessman. He’s got a massive empire, Kate. Worth $15 billion. Noora broke all ties with her family, took her inheritance and moved to America in ‘89, three years before the accident.’
Kate mulled over the information. Two heavy hitters. That explained Jazmin’s huge spending power. Kate felt a twinge of apprehension. Paul Garrett’s could be contacted in person and handled with tact. Al-Baziri was the unknown quantity.’
‘That could be grounds for a family feud’ she said. ‘Could al-Baziri harbor any grudges against his daughter?’
She heard a rustle and could picture Susie shaking her head on the other end of the line.
‘Not possible. He loved her to bits, she was the spitting image of his late wife. I heard she was his only weakness. He doted on her.’
Kate felt a rush of gratitude and admiration. Susie remained a reliable source of information and support
‘Very thorough as always, Sue. You dug all this up in 30 minutes?’
‘Of course not. I’m good, but not that good. I did a column on al-Baziri a couple of years ago so I’ve got some notes handy.’
Kate noted a barely perceptible change in Susie’s voice. The reporter seemed subdued, distracted.
‘There’s something else isn’t there, Sue? What’s troubling you?’
A sigh on the other end of the line punctuated the silence. And then-
‘Bateman’s sniffing around’ said Susie. ‘He called to make small talk and ask me out for drinks. He was trying to find out what I knew. He knows, Kate.’
Kate’s palms tingled and her stomach churned at the revelation. Patrick Bateman was a rival journalist. While Susie relied on building credible sources and accurate research, Bateman used sensationalist reporting and questionable tactics in acquiring sources. She still remembered the stinging four page story he wrote trashing the police department’s internal discipline record. She’d been painted as indulgent and lax in her enforcement of department policies. And Bateman had strayed too close to her personal life…
You could never tell how far Bateman would go.
‘Word’s gotten out. And I think I know how’ said Kate.
‘You gonna flush out the rat?’ replied Susie grimly.
‘I wish I could. You’ve got to keep a lid on this, Sue.’
‘I’ll do my best, but I’ll need your green light soon. I can’t get scooped on this, Kate.’
‘You won’t. I’ll call you in a bit, Sue.’
She meant it. The coming media backlash had to be controlled. As a young officer she’d seen the damage poor press relations could inflict on a homicide investigation. When the press worked based on rumours the public were generally misguided. And when the public didn’t get the facts right Homicide usually spent days trying to determine which information provided by ‘helpful’ citizens actually had anything to do with the crime. Susie would provide a rational outlet for relaying the facts to the public.
She walked into the foyer of the police headquarters. Captain Myers was waiting for her. He managed to look like a small town Sheriff even in his sports coat. They exchanged brief pleasantries before Kate dove straight into business.
‘Did you do what I asked?’ she said.
‘Yeah, as soon as I got your call I put a team on finding out more about the club to complement our field work. The owner’s Shawn Curtis, known in club circles as Shawn Savvy. My boys tracked him down and are bringing him in as we speak.’
‘Nice work. Now have you seen Gotti’ said Kate, walking up to the elevator while Myers mirrored her steps.
The Captain fiddled with his coat sleeve before replying. ‘He came in about an hour ago. Hasn’t spoken to anyone this morning. He’s being a prick, as usual. We decided not to tell him anything’.
‘Good’ said Kate. Together they stepped in and took a ride up to the third floor, where the Homicide division was located. The Head of Homicide’s office was through a misted glass door which separated him from a room of cramped cubicles. Kate pushed the door open and stared at the man she despised so much.
‘Good morning, Chief’ said Carl Gotti.
Kate felt her blood boil, and tried to find the words to convey her feelings. Then, as though on cue, the click of Myers shutting the door sparked her to life.
‘You leaked sensitive information to Patrick Bateman. Do you have any idea how that could compromise our investigation? Of course you do, you’re the Head of Homicide!’
Gotti smiled. His large, dome shaped fore head and prominent ears gave Kate the impression of a cobra poised to strike. Deceptively small eyes and languid speech masked a fittingly snakelike mind and inordinate ambition. He looked up at her with mild curiosity as she reached his desk in two strides and leaned over. Kate recoiled as the smell of whiskey assaulted her nostrils.
‘You’ve been drinking!’
‘Some would call it a liquid breakfast’ said Gotti.
‘I should ask you to hand in your badge right now’ whispered the Chief as she trembled with barely repressed anger.
Gotti leaned back in his chair. He was a large man, with broad shoulders and thick forearms. The words bounced on him as he smirked at Kate.
‘We both know you won’t do that, I’m far too valuable’ he said. ‘Between you and me, we both know this homicide division has been the best in the country for half a decade.’
‘I think it’s closer to three years. And that’s more to do with your detectives, Carl’ retorted Kate.
‘From where I’m sitting I’d say it’s down to leadership. Not one bad call’s gotten by me in five years, and I’m sure the Mayor would agree.’
There it was, he’d touched it. The reason she was so powerless to knock him down a peg.
The Chief of Police had near autonomy to promote officers and take decisions for the good of the Force, in theory. Unfortunately, theory doesn’t account for politics. Kate had been appointed by the previous DC Mayor on a five year contract. She had been selected from a group of five Commanders, the only woman. It had been an extremely popular decision at the time amongst the troops; Police Chiefs were predominantly male and women were massively underrepresented in the role.
It was a vindication for all her years of service on the job. However, her elation was cut short when the current Mayor called her for their first meeting after his assumption of office. He looked her straight in the eye and announced his desire for a restructure. That included a more ‘involved’ Police Commissioner who had direct access to key members in the force for reporting and advisory purposes. Inexplicably, Detective Carl Gotti had been promoted to oversee Homicide and included in the advisory panel despite his fractious relationship with Kate.
She saw the play for what it was. She was now for all intents and purposes a figurehead. She’d considered stepping down from the job and made her thoughts known to Ben. After all her husband had been through the system before and seen all the games which could be played. Ben advised her to hold on to the post and run the Metropolitan Police to the best of her diminished ability.
Kate stared at across the desk at the man who had undermined her for half her tenure and spoke. ‘Why weren’t you taking my calls this morning?’
‘I was gathering information.’
‘Gathering? More like dishing it out. To what end, Carl? Will you go into politics after damning your team to hell? ’
Kate felt Myers shift awkwardly behind her. Gotti raised a large arm and stroked the silver beard and moustache which framed his thin lips.
‘In case you haven’t noticed, someone’s iced a girl outside a very prominent nightclub right on the President’s doorstep’ he said. ‘That girl is, was, possibly someone with considerable connections. Not just anyone gets allowed into The Void. You’re going to have journalists asking how you could let this happen under your watch. Fortunately for you, I have taken pre-emptive action and prepared a press release, a statement only with no questions asked, damage control. Something for those press dogs to sink their teeth into.’
He said all this, still speaking at that annoyingly slow pace. His eyes never once left her’s.
Kate looked around at Myers, who raised his eyebrows in surprise. If Myers was right in his assertion no one had spoken to Gotti one of the officers on the field must have talked.
Dixon stuck his head through the door behind them. ‘Shawn Curtis is in interrogation’ he said.
‘I’ll take a stab at him’ said Gotti. ‘Watch me closely Chief; you might learn something.’
Shawn Savvy looked like a different man as he watched Carl Gotti pace up and down the small, windowless room. He looked tired, like a man pulled out of bed after a late night and only two hours of sleep. That was to be expected, given the circumstances
He was recovering his wits quickly though, his bleary eyes occasionally darting to the enigmatic Detective sitting opposite him. Sam Raker was so still he could have been a mannequin, oblivious to the actions of his superior.
‘Shawn Curtis’ said Gotti in the interrogation room as Kate and Myers watched from behind the two-way mirror. ‘Do you know why you are here?’
The big black man leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. ‘I know enough, you say someone killed a girl outside my club and y’all need some answers.’
‘We’ll need the guest list, and any video footage you might have’ said Detective Raker, his face a blank mask as he stared at his notepad from behind thick sunglasses. He always had them on, even at night, Kate thought it was rather bizarre.
‘I dunno man, there were some important people at the Void yesternight. I just can’t go ratting off my customers.’
‘You won’t have any customers if you can’t open your club, Shawn’ said Gotti.
The night club patron looked up at him, face set in a scowl. ‘You can’t do that. You’re bluffin’.’
Gotti didn’t reply. Instead he pulled out his phone and pushed a single number.
‘I’ve got an officer, on speed dial, standing outside the City Magistrate’s office. I could drag this out longer than I need to. Think about this; the Void closed for three months. Off limits, a crime scene currently under investigation as DC Met builds a rock solid case. That’ll be bad for business, wouldn’t it Shawn?’
‘Aw shit!’ Said Shawn, ripping off his scally cap and flinging it to the ground.
‘Temper’ said Gotti as he leaned forward. ‘You know… I never believed in such a thing as a non-violent clientelle, deep down in every one of us there’s a little Annie Wilkes bursting to come out. The difference with people like me is we know how to channel our aggression. We know what’s important, we know what’s at stake, what we have to lose. And we aren’t willing to throw it all away.
‘So you can make this very easy for yourself, you can help us by telling us everything we need to know and we’ll put in a good word for you. It’ll speed up the investigation and you can go back to making money off your stuck up execs and wannabe divas, living out your second rate fantasy. While me, I go back to tackling reality, catching the bad guys and putting them where they belong.’
Several seconds passed in thick, uncomfortable silence as the cop and businessman stared at each other in mutual hatred. Raker remained aloof as he scribbled in his pad.
‘They had a fight’ said Shawn simply. ‘Crazy people trying to mess up my business.’
‘Who did?’ said Gotti.
‘The Garrett’s girl, and some Chinese guy. Ryan Chow.’
Beside Gotti, Raker looked up as his pen froze in mid motion.
‘How do you know his name?’ asked Raker.
‘Cos I crossed it off the guest list myself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned fighting customers are bad customers. Best cut your losses and kick ‘em out. They don’t pay for no damages’.
‘Is that what you did to Jazmin? Get rid of her cos she’s bad for business?’ asked Raker.
‘What? I didn’t say nothing like that!’ Shawn spluttered.
‘Then I’m sorry I misunderstood you’.
‘That ain’t funny man’.
Raker brushed aside the last comment. ‘Can you tell me about the fight?’
‘I’m not sure how it started, I got there late see, I guess it was more of a beat down than a fight. From what I heard Chow snapped and smacked her around, all cool and calm like. It was creepy, he’s been around a couple of times. I never knew he had that nasty side to him.’
Raker’s face remained a mask. ‘You’re saying Ryan Chow assaulted Jocelyn Garretts.’
‘Yeah, there was a whole room of witnesses. We split them up to cool them off for a bit. Kept the girl. Kicked Chow out.’
Kate turned around as Devino came into the observation room.
‘We’ve got something for you’ he said.
‘What’s that?’ said Kate.
Devino held up a disc. ‘Closed circuit camera caught footage of a man fleeing the scene’.
Finally, a break.
‘Call Gotti and Raker out. Let’s have a look at it’ said Kate.
Kate stared at one of the screens in the analysis room. Here analysts extracted video footage and audio recordings as possible evidence. The magic was in the splitting of the extracted files into smaller portions to be perused by several teams at high speed. This accounted for the department’s rapid turnaround time.
‘Is this the only view?’ she asked.
The analyst nodded. ‘You can see the suspect, presumably a man, walks into the alley at 11:23 pm according to the timestamp. Then Jazmin comes in six minutes later. Suspect finally comes out at 11: 31pm.’
‘So he kills the girl and saunters out. Truly a premeditated and cold blooded kill’ said Gotti.
Raker leaned forward to look the cctv footage.
‘Freeze right there’ he said.
There, on the screen, was a young man unaware of the camera. His face chillingly blank. Devoid of remorse, devoid of emotion.
‘Ryan Chow’ said Raker.
‘What are we waiting for? Let’s get that warrant’ said Gotti.