Chapter 5: (Sunday, 2004-09-12 PM)
It was now 3:00 in the afternoon. After comparing their impressions of Chuck and what he shared with them, Victor and Jack rushed back to their office. They agreed the information from Chuck was the first break for their investigation. They now had a sense of urgency to identify the drug dealer. Even though he didn’t have anything to do with the abduction, he may have witnessed the beam of light that Chuck witnessed.
After a brief discussion as to what should be done next, Jack volunteered to search the police records. He believed that it was the quickest way to find the man. He sat down at his desk and began to go through criminal records in the hopes of spotting some mention of a drug dealer operating in that area.
“Drug dealer… Latin American, 20 – 25 years old, with short jet black hair. And yes, a tattoo on his right arm…” Jack muttered to himself. “Let’s see if that’s enough information to give us some prospects.”
Meanwhile Victor decided to pay a visit to the Gang and Narcotics Unit. It was the last place he worked before moving to his current unit. He was hoping to obtain the necessary information from his ex-partner T.J. When Victor arrived, T.J. was on the phone, but acknowledged Victor’s presence by raising his hand.
“So what’s up?” T.J. asked Victor with a big smile as soon as he got off the phone.
“T.J., long time no see. Sorry to just drop in on you without an appointment, but this is very important. I need some information about a drug dealer who has a tattoo on his right arm.” Victor said.
T.J. Herman was a veteran undercover officer in the LAPD. He was in early 40’s. At a first glance, he looked like a drug dealer himself. His hair long and scruffy, his unshaven beard and mustache, his ripped jeans and a worn out black T-shirt made him fit the image of a typical drug dealer. A glittering gold chain around his neck caught everyone’s eye.
Victor knew T.J. even before he became his partner in the Narcotics Unit. In those days, T.J. used to have a crew cut and always wore a crisp police uniform. He was a good looking young man who stood out in a crowd. The transformation from that to drug dealer was astonishing. No one could suspect that they were the same man.
Through his dark sunglasses resting just on the tip of his nose, T.J. looked right at Victor and laughed before answering,
“Well, you realize that most of the drug dealers have a tattoo or two on their arms, right? You leave the department and go brain dead? Or maybe you just don’t want to remember your time here!”
“Apparently the tattoo is a foreign character. Perhaps a Chinese one.” Victor added.
“That will narrow it down…” T.J. smiled with amusement and a hint of sarcasm.
“He is Latino, around 20 to 25 years old. His height is about 5 foot 7 and stocky, with short, jet black hair.” Victor said recalling the information he had obtained from Chuck.
Freezing his movements suddenly, as a lion holds still after spotting its prey, T.J. spouts monotonically,
“I know one man who matches that description.” as he moved his sunglasses to the top of his head. His eyes were piercingly blue and full of curiosity. He continued.
“Why do you want to know about him, Victor? Is he involved in one of your murder cases?”
“Well, apparently he dealt with the boy who had been abducted last Friday…” Victor said.
“I knew it! I knew those abductions have something to do with drug deals.” Said T.J. as he shook his head, almost regretting that he had made the connection on his own.
“What are you talking about? You mean that you already suspected these abduction cases have something to do with drug dealings? What makes you think that?” Victor asked T.J.
“I’ve been paying a lot attention to the recent news and saw the photos of the missing kids several times. They are all clever looking kids. But something about their eyes… I can always tell the ones who use drugs. All these years of experience dealing with users, I guess.” T.J. explained.
“That is impressive… But can you tell me who this drug dealer is?” Victor asked, with a hint of impatience.
“Oh yeah, right… His nick name is ‘Hawk’.”
“Yeah. The tattoo you mentioned apparently means ‘Hawk’ in English.” T.J. replied.
“Hawk it is… And do you know his real name and possibly where he lives?”
“His real name is Ricardo Gonzales and you don’t have to look for him any further. He is in our office right now. He was just arrested this afternoon for assaulting one of his customers. Apparently, the customer didn’t pay the price agreed on for the goods provided. We arrested and brought Hawk in a couple of hours ago.” T.J. said.
“Well, today is my lucky day. Can we question Hawk about the boy after you finish with him?” Victor was delighted to find out Hawk was right in the building.
“Go right ahead. Be careful, though. His lawyer may not like the idea of you asking about the missing boy. Because it has nothing to do with the crime he was arrested for. Besides, Hawk is so pissed off about being detained, he may not volunteer any information.”
“That’s alright. I will take that risk. We’ve got to try every avenue to find any clues on the boy’s disappearance.”
“Good luck!” T.J. said.
“Thanks, man. I really need it. I knew I could count on you.” said Victor, feeling very grateful for his ex-partner.
Victor quickly informed Jack that he had found the drug dealer they were looking for. Jack felt relieved to hear the good news as his search hadn’t yielded any positive results.
“Meet me at the Gang and Narcotics Division in 20 minutes. I’ve made arrangements to question the man named Hawk.” Victor said.
“Hawk? That’s his name?”
“Nickname. His real name is Ricardo Gonzales.” Victor replied.
“I think I saw the guy while I was going through the criminals records. Didn’t realize that it was him, though…” Jack answered.
Half an hour later, Victor and Hawk entered the interrogation room and found Hawk puffing cigarette smoke into the air. He was sitting on a chair that was tilted backward against the wall and his right foot was pushing against the edge of the desk. Hawk briefly looked at the two detectives with his half opened eyes and slowly looked away with disdain.
“My name is Detective Peterson and this is Detective Boyd. We understand that you know Timothy Bryant, the boy who disappeared 2 days ago. We’re here to ask a few questions about him.” Victor said.
Hawk got up and then kicked the chair hard, making a loud noise. His half-sleepy eyes were suddenly wide open with anger and he began to yell.
“What are you trying to do? First, you assholes are accusing me of assaulting a gay guy and now you are questioning me about a missing boy?” Hawk stared at both men menacingly.
Victor moved forward and said with a stern voice, “Shut up and sit down now or I will knock you down!”
Victor gave a piercing glance for a moment at Hawk to establish dominance, then continued,
“We know you didn’t do anything to Timothy. All we want to know is what happened when you went to see the boy…”
“Who the hell cares about the kid? I just want to be out of this f***ing place.”
Frustrated, Hawk intensified, “Call my lawyer back. I will sue you your asses for harassment and trying to trump up charges on me!”
“As soon as you give us the information we need, we will think about releasing you. Until then, we don’t have any choice but to keep you here.”
“Jesus Christ! You can’t do that. I want my lawyer.” Hawk shouted.
Suddenly, Jack thrust himself forward and grabbed Hawk by his throat, pushing him hard against the wall. Jack is considerably larger than Hawk, so his forward charge required little effort. Surprised by the sudden attack, Hawk gasped for air and gestured to Jack to put him down. After a pregnant moment with his hefty hand around Hawk’s neck, Jack released him and then straightened his tie which had become loose from the struggle.
“So do you know about this boy or not?” Victor asked Hawk.
“What do you want to know about this f***ing kid?” Hawk replied as he moved his head from side to side, trying to release the tension in his neck and regain his composure.
“Well, were you going to meet Timothy on Friday at 1:30?” Victor asked.
“If I said yes, would I be in more trouble?”
“All depends. Were you?” said Jack while staring at Hawk poised to attack him again.
“Yeah, at 1:30 in the afternoon. But by the time I got there, he was gone.” Hawk replied realizing that he had to tell the truth or he would be assaulted again.
“Where were you supposed to meet?” Victor asked.
“Usual place. One of the alleys downtown.” Hawk wasn’t going to be specific in order to keep from giving the cops too much information about where he did his business.
“Usual place? So you saw him more than once?” Victor asked again.
“Well. He is one of my customers. He regularly buys stuff from me.”
“What stuff?” Jack asked.
“Are you going to incriminate me? You don’t have any right. I’m not going to tell you. This must be a f***ing trap. You swine are trying to put me in jail. I want my lawyer!”
Hawk began to shout again, but stopped right away as he noticed Jack inch forward towards him, sporting a look that says he would get the information one way or another.
“No, it is not a trap. We promise we won’t charge you for selling pot. At least not now.” Victor said firmly.
“Well then!” Hawk spouted, mockingly. “Like I said before, he didn’t show.” with a twisted smile on his face.
“When you arrived at the meeting place, did you see anything unusual?” Jack asked.
“Just before I turned the corner, I thought I saw a flash of light. It looked like… uh… lightning, no… It was more like a spot light, but much more intense and narrower… It was gone so fast, I didn’t think much of it.”
“Was there any noise when you saw the light?” Jack asked.
“No, I didn’t hear anything… Even if there was a f***ing noise, I couldn’t hear because of the traffic.”
“So, by the time you turned the corner, the bright light was gone. Then you waited for Timothy at the alleyway and he was a no-show, is that right?” Victor asked.
“Yeah, that sounds ’bout right. So can I go now?”
Pausing for a moment, Victor adds, “One more thing. Do you know any kids in these photos beside Timothy? If you do, can you point out which ones?” Victor took the pictures of missing kids from his jacket pocket and showed them to Hawk.
“Well, I know these two. But I haven’t seen them for a few days.” Hawk said as he selected two photos from Victor’s hand.
“Did you know that they are also missing?” Jack asked.
“How would I know? Do I look like their mother? I’m not keeping a tabs on these f***ing kids. Sure, I tried to see them earlier this week, but they didn’t show up either.”
“You mean, they were your customers, too?” Victor asked.
“I’m not saying any more without my f***ing lawyer.” Hawk said as he plopped himself back down on the chair.
“Fine. We’ll stop here.” Victor walked toward the door. Then he opened the door, addressing someone standing outside.
“T.J. He’s all yours.”
“Hey, what the f***! You told me that I can go home!” Hawk raising his voice again.
Victor and Jack left the room, with Hawk cursing at the top of his lungs as the door shut.
(Writer's Note: Chapter 6 will be uploaded on Tuesday, June 23rd.)