The House of Missing Keys, Part 16

Here’s my rough draft for today, Monday 05.30.22.

The House of Missing Keys, Part 16.

Chan watched Mrs. Souza cry herself out. When she lay there breathing heavily but tapped out on tears, he went over to help her up. She rose, adjusted her bathrobe, then headed for the stairs without a word.

Following behind her, Chan stewed over her trying to snow him with her Hollywood sob scene. He entered the house after her. She sat, gesturing to another seat. Chan took it and watched her worry out several sheets of tissue to snotty shreds.

Before she finished flushing out her sinuses, Yamamoto appeared at the front door.

“Any luck?” asked Chan.

“No soap, David. I swear, for all I know, he could’ve just parked anywhere in this neighborhood, not driven off at all. It’s a black Ford sedan forest up here.”

Chan nodded, asked Yamamoto to call the murder in.

Mrs. Souza relaxed into her chair, still silent. Chan sat examining her face. Finally he said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

She nodded.

“Ah, I might add that you’re quite an actress.”

Expressing great shock, she stared at him, bug-eyed.

Chan laughed. “Please, Missus Souza, spare me any more dramatics.”

Yamamoto returned to the living room. Chan gestured for him to sit.

“Vic, here’s our Oscar winner for tonight. Right, Missus Souza?”

She tossed her head angrily and looked off to the side.

“Acting, huh?” said Yamamoto. “How you figure all of this then?”

Chan continued. “What is it, Missus Souza? You had your husband killed so you’d take over The Palms? You had your guy do in Makia and Ammanton, too?”

She turned her head to stare at him, a stony, blank face, cold and hard.

“Well, let’s take her in on suspicion,” said Yamamoto.

“Hold on,” said Chan. “So am I right, Missus Souza? You had the three killed so The Palms would be all yours. That’s what you did, didn’t you?”

A disgusted face replaced the stony one. With a broad sweep of her hand, Mrs. Souza said, “Look at this dump. You’d think we were poor. Eh, Mister Chan, we got money, okay? But Dick, he’s such a penny-pincher. So tight his hands are just like clenched fists all the time. When we go out, he looks for change on the street. One time he found a twenty-dollar bill and was so happy you’d think he hit a jackpot in Vegas. Of course he didn’t spend it on anything for us. Not for me, for sure. Who knows what he did with it. Such a tight-ass.”

Yamamoto said. “So because you wanted all the money for yourself, you killed how many people? Ammonton and his girlfriend, Makia and his girlfriend. Anybody else?”

“If I had to I would,” she said. “I’ve lived poor for too long. Yes, I did have them killed. Yes, I did it for the money. Don’t tell me that surprises you. No way I’m the first person you’ve met who did the same.”

“No,” said Chan, “you’re right. But it’s correct that you’re not the one doing the killing, I see. Did you hire someone? Or is it someone you know? A friend? A lover? Who? Who is it?”

And just like that, for the second time that night, a bullet flew through the window and knocked Mrs. Souza off her seat. Again, Yamamoto flew out the door while Chan ran to the woman.

Her chest rose and fell with great effort. “Who is it?” Chan asked. “Who’s the killer?”

A broad smile spread over Mrs. Souza’s face, and Chan could see that she’d once been a terrifically beautiful woman. With one last hard gasp, she died.

Yamamoto staggered through the door, breathing hard. “I lost the bastard in the street. I’m pretty sure it was a guy. Athletic. Big.”

Chan pictured Duke Goto. Big, athletic, Duke Goto. But how to prove it?

Shaking his head, Yamamoto said, “I don’t know, David. I can see what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Goto. Maybe I guess I like it, too.”

Chan went to the phone and called the Holo Holo Bar. No, Duke Goto was not working tonight.

Next, he called Goto’s home. The phone kept ringing.

Chan’s anger was making him choke. If was as it the noose was tightening around his neck rather than Goto’s.

The forensic team and the men from the morgue arrived.

“Should we hunt him?” asked Yamamoto.

“It’d be a wild goose chase right now, Vic. The only way to catch that guy is at home or at work.”

“In that case,” said Yamamoto, “I need a beer. All this running around’s got me dehydrating like a damn raisin.”

“How about the Blue Light?” suggested Chan.

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