Josh Sticks and Murder
"Charlie, you better come in here," Sergeant Norm Stroman said.
"Why?" Officer Charles Fitzpatrick asked.
"Just come in here now!" Stroman shouted.
Fitzpatrick dropped what he was doing and entered the jail. Walking down the aisle of jail cells, he looked both ways to find what cell Stroman was in. He stopped in front of Brian James's cell. "So what's the problem?"
"Take a look at him," Sergeant Stroman said, irritated.
"Just let him sleep."
"Hey, when the hell you guys going to bring us breakfast? It's ten o'clock already," one of the prisoners yelled from further down the jail.
"Just shut up or you won't get any breakfast at all," Officer Fitzpatrick yelled back.
Stroman checked the pulse of Brian James again. The man was certainly dead. "I don't think breakfast is coming at all."
"What the hell are you talking about? So they are a little late, so what?" Fitzpatrick questioned. "Just let him sleep or he will be yelling for his breakfast too."
"He isn't going to be yelling for anything ever again. He's is asleep permanently, Charlie."
Charlie Fitzpatrick entered the cell. "What the hell are you talking about? He's too young to have a heart attack."
"Yeah, but he is not too young to be stabbed to death," Stroman said.
"Stabbed? How? No one has been in here except..."
"Except the guy who delivered his dinner last night," Stroman finished for him, "and he is not here to bring breakfast. What does that tell you?"
"Oh God! Ironside is going to go through the roof. I don't envy you having to be the one that tells him."
Norm Stroman looked him in the eye. "Why should I have to tell him? Why can't you?"
Charlie laughed. "That's easy. You are the ranking officer, you know, head of the jail. You know what Ironside is like. He will expect it to come from you. You were in charge of the shift."
Stroman shook his head. "That is what I get for working a double shift so someone could have the night off. "Call the coroner. I will use the other phone to call Ironside." This was one conversation he was not looking forward to. Maybe he would get lucky and Ironside would not answer the phone. He would much rather talk to that pretty policewoman of his. Who was he kidding? Even if Ironside did not answer the phone, he would be down here as soon as he was told.
"Into the lion's den!" Charlie laughed as he headed for the phone.
Chong was washing the dishes when the telephone rang. Mark was not in the office. Every day he checked out Ironside's vehicle and did whatever maintenance was required. Robert Duvalier had already gone out working on the money angle of Donnie Walker. Ironside had sent Sergeant Brown with him. Although his father had assured him it was not to make sure he didn't miss anything, Robert knew better. It was his fault there was nothing in the safety deposit box. He had been kicking himself for not having thought of it. It was a rookie mistake. The young man did not take into consideration that he was a rookie.
Eve Whitfield was still in the office and picked up the phone. "Chief Ironside's office."
"Eve, Norm Stroman, downstairs in the jail," the sergeant said.
"Hello, Norm," Eve smiled. She had always like the sergeant. He was dedicated and had her boss's approval of his job as well. "How's our guest?"
There was silence on the other end of the phone before Stroman finally said, "That is why I am calling you."
Eve got that feeling she always got when she was certain bad news was about to be delivered. "What happened, Norm?"
"You always were a pretty sharp cookie," Norm said. "It's Brian James. We found him dead in his cell this morning."
"Oh my God! The chief is..."
"Going to blow his stack, I know. Can you tell him to come down right away. I thought he would like to handle this one himself," Norm said.
"I'll tell him and I am sure you are right." Eve hung up the phone.
Chong noticed the look on her face. "What is it, Eve?"
Eve relayed the telephone conversation to her and then said, "I have to tell the chief." She left the main room and headed for his bedroom. Knocking on the door, she called out, "Chief, I need to talk to you."
"Come in," Ironside said on the other side of the door. He had not been feeling well and as usual when that happened, Mark turned off his alarm clock. He was late getting around.
Eve entered and he immediately knew something was wrong. "Out with it," he ordered.
"Brian James has been murdered," she told him.
"Damn it!" he shouted. "How the hell does someone get murdered in a jail cell when he is under police protection?"
"I don't know, Chief. I don't know any more than that. Sergeant Stroman thought you would want to handle this one yourself."
"Let's go," he growled.
Eve stepped aside to allow Ironside to leave the room and enter the main room. As he wheeled up the ramp, he called over his shoulder to Chong. "We are going downstairs. Stay here until I get back."
Chong watched as her foster father wheeled out the door.
Kwangsoo had about as much as he could take. Chong was his wife and she belonged with him, not with her father. He didn't care if he was a cop. It was Kwangsoo's job to protect her, not Ironside's. It was time she stopped listening to the detective and started listening to him. Only this time, he was going to take another approach. It was obvious if he attacked Ironside in any way, she would become defensive of him. He would not do that. Kwangsoo had to remember Ironside was only trying to help after all. Because he did not understand their customs, he would continue to interfere with their lives. He had to put a stop to that.
Kwangsoo had been going about it wrong. Instead of complaining about Robert Ironside to her, he had to convince her to let him be the head of the household. She respected her father and was becoming Americanize more every day. He saw nothing wrong with living in America, but wanted to keep the traditions of their own country. After all, America was a very diverse country with many nationalities, many of which did not even speak English! They could embrace all that was good in America and keep the traditions that were better in their own country.
That was how he had to approach the problem. He could not fight Robert Ironside. That was becoming painfully obvious. He should not have to either. Kwangsoo was the head of their family, not Ironside. That was all he wanted her to realize. The constant fighting had to come to an end or their marriage surely would. He did not want that. Kwangsoo loved Chong. In fact, he had never loved another human being more. He just wanted to support her and plot the course of their lives like a man was supposed to do. She did not need to work. That was his job, not hers. Kwangsoo looked up at Police Headquarters. It was no longer the Hall of Justice, but it still housed the police department.
He walked across the street and headed into the building. That was another thing that bothered him. Chong could use the back elevator from the parking garage, but he had to go through the lobby. If Ironside thought of him as his son, he would be able to use the other entrance. Robert Duvalier used it. Obviously Ironside looked upon him as his only son.
Entering the building he went directly to the desk. I would like to see Chief Ironside."
"What is your name and the nature of your business?" the officer demanded.
"I am Kwangsoo Yung. Chief Ironside is my father-in-law," he told him.
The officer perked up. This must be the young man that married Ironside's foster daughter. Not wanting to tangle with the chief, he passed Yung immediately. "Use the elevators right over there, but since you are a member of the chief's family, I am sure you already know that." The officer wondered why the young man was coming through the front doors instead of using the police garage entrance.
Kwangsoo walked away from the officer and headed for the elevators. He kept running the conversation he would have with Chong through his mind. He had to handle this just right or she would never leave Ironside's office with him.
Stepping onto the elevator, Kwangsoo pushed the button for the top floor and watched as the doors closed. The elevator immediately began to rise. He waited until the doors opened once again and stepped into the hall. The young man headed directly for his foster father-in-law's office. He stopped just short of the door. There was one thing he had not considered. What if Ironside was in his office? No amount of talking on his part would lure Chong out of there. Ironside would never allow it. If he was in, he would make an excuse to see Chong and try later.
Kwangsoo walked up the ramp to Ironside's office and opened the door. As he entered, Chong was sitting at the main table drinking coffee. When she saw Kwangsoo, a smile appeared on her face. She stood up and began walking towards him. He closed the distance between them and took her into his arms. Holding her for a moment, and easing her back, he kissed her. "I have missed you terribly."
With tears in her eyes, she told him, "I have missed you as well."
Kwangsoo looked around the room. He did not see anyone else in the office. "Where is Chief Ironside?"
"You mean where is Father, don't you," she said, looking at him disapprovingly about calling him Chief Ironside.
"I am sorry, Chong. Of course I meant Father." He did not want to get off on the wrong foot with her after she gave him such a warm greeting.
"His witness was murdered in his jail cell last night. He went downstairs to investigate."
"Murdered? Who was murdered?"
"Brian James. He worked for the shark."
Kwangsoo smiled. "Loan shark, Chong."
"Yes, well that is who he worked for? Did you know him?"
He could not tell her the truth. Of course, he had run-ins with the man since Walker had been trying to collect from him. If he told her that, then she would know he had dealings with him. Well, he really wasn't dealing with him, but she would never believe him and if she wouldn't, neither would Ironside."
She had not taken a good look at him when he came in; she had just been so happy to see him. Now, she notice the bruises on his face and that it was slightly swollen. "What happened to your face?"
Kwangsoo raised his hand to touch his bruises. He had forgotten all about it in his haste to see Chong. He would have to tell her another lie. If he told her the truth, she most certainly would tell Ironside. He did not want the detective involved. "I had dinner last night in Chinatown. I ran into some thugs who tried to steal what little money I had on me. I was able to fight them off, but they did this before I could get away from them."
Chong ran her hand down the side of his face. "I am so sorry, Kwangsoo for the way things have turned out. I want you to know I still love you, and want to work things out."
He smiled down at her. "I love you too, and it is my wish that we work things out as well."
"As soon as Father is able to settle this problem with Walker, I will come home to you and we will have a long talk."
There it was. She did not plan to come home any time soon. He had to change her mind. Embolden by the fact that no one else seemed to be in the office, this was the time to see if he could change her mind with no outside influence. "Please come home now. I will protect you. I know Father is a police officer, but if you are with me you will be just as safe."
"I don't know, Kwangsoo. Father may not like it."
"We will call him later. If he feels we need police protection, than I will gladly welcome it. I just can't spend another night without you," he pleaded.
"But, Father thinks I am safer here," she protested.
"Safer here?" he said quietly. "A man was just murdered in a building full of police officers." He almost said with Ironside in the building, but he caught himself before it came out of his mouth.
"Maybe you are right. I do miss you. Father has done everything to make me comfortable. It is just not the same as being with you."
Kwangsoo smiled. She was weakening. "Good. We will contact him as soon as we get home. He should be back by then."
"I must leave him a note," Chong insisted.
"Of course," he agreed. While she found a pen and paper, Kwangsoo looked at his watch. He had to get her out of there before Ironside came back, or the man would never allow her to leave.
Chong wrote something on the paper and left it in the middle of the table. She smiled up at him and said, "Let us go home, my husband."
Kwangsoo took her hand and led her out of Ironside's office.
Wheeling into the jail, Ironside looked for Sergeant Stroman. At the duty desk sat Officer Fitzpatrick. The detective watched as the officer stood up when he came in. He appreciated the respect officers quite often showed him, but he was not the President of the United States. It was not necessary for them to stand upon his arrival in a room.
"Hello, Chief. It is nice to see you. I just wish it was under better circumstances," Fitzpatrick said. "You can go right back, sir. The sergeant would not allow them to remove the body until you arrived."
Ironside looked up at Eve and nodded. She pushed his chair into the jail, although it was not necessary as the chief was turning the wheels himself. The aisle was wide enough for Ironside to get his chair down to the cell. As he arrived, officers and lab employees parted to allow him access into the cell. The chief went directly to Brian James's body. Checking the wound, he could tell the murderer had used a rather large knife from the length and apparent depth of the wound. "No one got in here besides the man who served him dinner?"
"No, Chief, no one else," Sergeant Stroman said.
"What's the man's name?"
"Kent Owens. We called the kitchen. The have a rather large butcher knife missing from the rack. It is probably what he used to kill James with."
"How did he get a rather large butcher knife into this cell?" Ironside's tone was full of sarcasm.
Stroman turned red. He knew Ironside would ask the question. That was bad enough. What was worse, he had no answer for him. "I don't know, Chief. The only thing I can figure is he concealed it in his sleeve. He was wearing a rather baggy shirt."
"And neither of you went back there with him when he delivered the food?" Ironside demanded.
"No, sir, we did not." Stroman was embarrassed. This was the last man in the department an officer wanted to look incompetent in front of.
"What about Owens? How long has he been on the job?"
"He just started a while ago. He has always been on time and served the prisoners with no problems. He was a polite kid, but he didn't talk much."
"Why are you talking about him in the past tense?" One of the officers asked.
"Because the man was more than likely murdered as soon as he left here," Ironside told him. "Whoever did this could not take the chance we would find him, and he would talk. Norm's use of the past tense is appropriate."
"I am sorry, Chief," Stroman said.
Ironside waved him off. "What about the murder weapon?"
"He must have taken it with him, but we are pretty sure he used a butcher knife from the kitchen," the sergeant said.
"Was there another butcher knife like it in the kitchen?" Ironside asked.
"Yes, they have a set of three exactly alike," Stroman answered.
"Pick up one of them and have it checked against the wound on James," Ironside ordered."
"Let's go, Eve. There is nothing else we can do here. Put an APB out on Kent Owens, not that it will do any good." Ironside told Sergeant Stroman. He backed out of the cell and headed for the main gate. "Walker has decided to play hard ball," he said to his detective.
Eve walked along side of him. "You think he is responsible for Brian James's death?"
The chief stopped his chair and looked up at her. "Don't you?"
"I think Kent Owens killed him," she said.
"He was only the instrument Donnie Walker used. Walker is responsible alright. He has now added murder to loan sharking."
"We have to prove it, Chief," Eve reminded him.
"And we will. Let's get back up stairs. I don't want to leave Chong alone any longer. Sooner or later, Walker is going to come after her and this time he will be ready for us."
Kwangsoo and Chong walked up the stairs at the back of their apartment, arm in arm. For the first time in a long time, Kwangsoo was beginning to think they really could straighten their marriage out. Chong had told him that she loved him and that was all that mattered. Still, there was much to discuss. He had to convince Chong not to allow her foster father to interfere between them any longer.
They had been so happy in the beginning. Little by little that happiness had eroded because of Ironside. He did not understand in the least the customs of their country. If he did, he would not continually butt into their affairs. Somehow, he just had to make Chong understand. Otherwise their marriage was doomed to failure. He could not let that happened as he had never loved anyone as much as he loved her.
Kwangsoo put the key into the key hole and unlocked the door. Smiling down at Chong, he said, "Why don't we run a bath and relax in the warm water. We need to talk and removed the tension between us."
"I could not agree more," she said as he bent down and kissed her.
"Maybe we could make love as well. I miss that closeness."
Kwangsoo pushed the door open and the couple entered their dark apartment. As he reached for the light, he was hit on the back of the head. Kwangsoo Yung fell to the floor unconscious.
The lights turned on. When Chong saw her husband laying on the floor, she bent down over him. "Kwangsoo!"
"He's alright lady, at least for now. He won't be if you don't cooperate," Billy Morton said.
Chong turned to see two men standing their grinning at her. "What do you want?"
"You," Dave Fryman said. "Our boss is pretty upset with your foster father. He has interfered with his business. So now he plans to make him pay."
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"You, little lady. Ironside is going to back off, and you are the reason he is going to do it. We have been watching Police Headquarters; waiting for you to come out. You are coming with us."
"I am not going anywhere with you," Chong said.
When Fryman reached for her, she caught him off guard and kicked him in the groin. Fryman dropped to his knees holding his crotch.
Billy Morton pulled his gun out of the holster under his jacket and pointed it at Chong. "You try anything else and we'll send your dead body back to Ironside. Cooperate and you just might come out of this alive."
Dave Fryman slowly got off the floor. He walked over to Chong and hit her in the face with the butt of the gun. She fell to the floor. He pulled his gun out and pointed it at her.
"Dave! Donnie wants her alive," Billy shouted.
"Bitch! You're lucky, because if I had my way, you'd be dead right now."
"We need to get out of here before lover boy wakes up," Billy said. "Grab the girl and lets go."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Dave said.
"Oh yeah." He pulled a knife out of his jacket. Grabbing Chong by the hair, he took the knife and sliced her arm. It immediately began bleeding profusely.
Fryman grabbed her arm and held it over the rug in the middle of the room. Blood began dripping all over it. As he held Chong over the rug, Billy started knocking lights off the tables. He picked up a vase and threw it up against the wall, shattering it into pieces. With the gloves he was wearing, he put his hand into the blood on the floor, walked over to Kwangsoo, who was still laying on the floor unconscious. He grabbed his hand and smeared Chong's blood on it and picked up his pant leg smearing blood on his sock and then on his shirt. He threw the knife on the floor. Lastly he pick the folder from where he had set it on the coffee table, ripped it in half and threw it into the air; papers scattering everywhere.
"That should just about do it. You take the girl, I'll get Yung." Billy pulled out a needle and a syringe, injected the needle into Kwangsoo's arm. He picked him up, throwing him over his shoulder while Dave grabbed Chong. He wrapped her arm as tightly as he could to stop the bleeding and forced her out of the apartment.
"We will dump Yung along the way.