[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For 1-55 (Chapters 1-13), see here.
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Chap 14 056-063 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 Chap 15 064-074 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 Chap 16 075-084 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 Chap 17 85-95
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 096
Chapter 18 (1 of 15): Arrest
Early Monday morning on January the nineteenth Michelle goes to the bus station located some thirty-five blocks from Aspasia’s and places a coin call to Mazarine’s second cell phone. Mazarine has slept little, and is already awake.
“Yes?” she answers breathlessly.
“Honey, listen. I’m hoping they don’t know about your secret cell, but in case, here it is, quick and dirty. The DA is going to indict you for murder this morning.”
“What?” Mazarine shrieks. “All I did was give them some hair, for God’s sake.”
“Apparently it was enough.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“I’m with you, Mazarine. So are most of the girls. Moneywise and otherwise. I’ve called around, and you’ve got one of the best criminal attorneys in the city. And even better, she’s not connected. Her name’s Natalie Siu. Around forty, Chinese. She’s a junior partner at Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar. They’re the absolutely best.”
“Now, get dressed and pack some things. Toothbrush, pads, that kind of stuff. Some reading material. And be sure to bring your passport and your income tax returns for the last three years. In forty-five minutes – that’s about six-thirty – wait in the lobby downstairs. Natalie will pick you up in a yellow and take you to her office. Tell her everything!”
“There’s nothing to tell! I hardly know this Trinh woman!”
“Doesn’t matter. Trust Natalie. At nine she’ll march you into the police station and surrender you. That’s part of her strategy. Trust her, Mazarine. She’s all that stands between you and … and probably … some serious time.”
“This is insane! Absolutely insane!”
“I know, honey. I don’t believe you did it. Somebody hates you, because it looks like a real good frame. The D.A. smells blood, and he thinks he’s got you. You’ve seen the press coverage this thing has generated already. He can’t help himself, the little prick.”
“I know. I know. Now hustle. Do what I told you. And don’t say anything to anyone but Natalie or unless she’s present. I’ve pulled in a lot of favors and cashed a lot of chips on this one. Believe me, I’m on your side. But it is serious. Now rush!”
“Uh … thanks, Michelle. I can’t …”
“I know, honey. Save all that for later. Now do!”
The phone goes dead and Mazarine is staring at. Then she tosses it on the bed in frightened disgust, as if it were the head of venomous snake. She jumps in the shower and is out in a few minutes. She throws some personal stuff in a plain tote bag, including the documents Michelle had mentioned, as well as some Ovid. No makeup, plain clothes, simple and very, very non-provocative. At six-twenty she is hiding behind one of the palm stands in the lobby of the apartment house, and five minutes later a yellow pulls up. A Chinese woman steps out of the cab. Mazarine rushes towards her and is met with a comforting smile.
She motions to Mazarine with her hand. “Quick, quick, into the back.”
In less than a minute they’re speeding off downtown towards the center of the city.
As Mazarine started to throw questions at Natalie, the woman placed a long index finger vertically across her lips and, with the other hand, pointed at the taxi driver, a hairy head with a thick beard. She shook her head. They continued on downtown into the Business Park, a recent real estate development consisting of glitzy high-rises, office spaces, and expensive apartment buildings. The streets were eerily uncrowded at this time of the morning, and they cruised through the blinking yellow stop lights. After about ten minutes they pull up in front of a gleaming façade whose glassy lintel bears four large block letters: W-H-B-B. Natalie drops a twenty in the money slot and the cabbie tips his finger against his forehead.
“What firm did you say you were with?” Mazarine asks.
Natalie points to the four massive letters. “Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar,” she says. “It’s a long story. But not now.”
She slides a plastic card through a slot attached to the front door and rapidly punches in an electronic code on the keypad that sits right next to it. The huge door hisses open, and they gain entrance into a glass-enclosed cubicle that is the size of Mazarine’s living room. The door whooshes closed behind them and they face an inner door on the other side of which two large guards with their hands on their side arms stand attentively. Natalie holds up an ID card for both of them to inspect.
“Raise your arms so they can tell you’re not holding a gun on me,” Natalie instructs smoothly. Mazarine does as she is told. The inner door now slides open and the two women march through, Natalie tossing a pleasant ‘good-morning’ to the guards and they in turn responding with a smiling, ‘Good morning, Ms. Siu.’ Natalie’s heels click rapidly across the vast lobby towards a bank of elevators, and she inserts a key into a small slot next to one elevator that has no floor-pad next to it. The door opens and they travel in silence up to the sixtieth floor. “We have floors fifty-six through sixty-five and long-term lease the rest.”
Mazarine is duly impressed.
Natalie uses another card and more punches on a keypad to allow them access to the offices of Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar. The central wall of the main entrance hall is hung with four large portraits of distinguished gentlemen dressed in the conservative style of a much earlier era. The two in the center are Asian, and the flankers are Caucasian. Misters Blair, Wu, Hsien and Balthazar, Mazarine assumes. “The firm is over a hundred years old,” Natalie explains as she notices her client staring at the paintings. “Here, let’s go into the conference room there and sit down and see where we are.” Natalie is very efficient, little wasted motion, confident, and, Mazarine observes, strikingly resembles the Chinese woman who played the reporter in one of her favorite films, ‘Year of the Dragon’.
“Now,” she says, fully in control, “let me explain what has happened and what is going to happen. You’ve been charged with the murder of Trinh Cao and asked to surrender yourself. If you haven’t done so by nine this morning, the D.A. will issue a warrant for your arrest. Believe me, the smartest thing to do here is to surrender yourself.”
Mazarine, a shocked look on her face, nods numbly. “How … how do you know all of this? I mean, it isn’t even seven in the morning.”
TO BE CONTINUED