Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve

Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve
Among other things, I am writing a detective series that takes place in Tokyo. The first novel, "Be Careful What You Ask For," centers on a much-admired Tokyo police inspector being forced to confront his ties to a crime family while investigating a murder in Roppongi.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Detective novel continued

Here are a few more scenes from the detective novel I'm writing:
(previous posts can take you back to the beginning. It's worth it!)
     The two Marines had silently watched Abe walk over to a sergeant and two officers, point directly at them and then say something that made the other customers gather their things then stand and leave the club. Then they watched Sato’s interrogation, all the while calculating the odds of their spending the night in a Tokyo jail.
     The taller of the two, Lance Corporal Ty Johnson, was thin for a Marine. He had been a long-distance runner in high school and in the Corps he had the reputation of never fatiguing when the demands of physical exertion and bearing 70-pound gear packs were at its worse. Johnson did not know exactly what was going on, but he could tell Sato was a man you did not mess around with. As he sat and watched Sato he knew his conscience was clear. He had done nothing and had nothing to hide. He was not sure he could convince the cops, though.
     Private Rodney Ballard was not the reflective type. He had waited all week to come up to Tokyo and have a good time. When that waitress came in screaming, stopping the show dead, he knew any hopes he had for a weekend away from the base, from being a Marine, was all gone. Typical Ballard bad luck. And now here were the cops, and one of them spoke English too damn good.
     Johnson didn’t know Ballard well enough to know for certain if he could keep his mouth shut and stay out of trouble. Not knowing gnawed at him.
     Ballard was certain he was going to spend the night in jail. He could barely sit still while Sato was interrogating the staff. He kept muttering “I should have known, I should have known” over and over. “Go out on the town, wind up with the police. Every time. Happens every time.”
     “Shut up,” Johnson hissed. “Shut up and be cool. We didn’t do anything. We don’t know anything. The sooner we’re out of here the better off we’ll be.”
     “How many times you been arrested?”
     “Thought so,” Ballard muttered. He knew from long experience the odds were pretty good that if the police were asking them questions on a Friday night they would be seeing the inside of a jail cell before the night was over.
     The two stopped hissing at each other when Sato walked over, grabbed a tiny black chair and sat directly across from them. Abe and Endo positioned themselves behind Sato. The police sergeant did not move. They all kept an eye on the Marines as Sato flipped to a page in his notebook, click his pen, and said: “My name is Sato. I’m with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Thank you for your cooperation. I have a couple of questions for you. First, do I have your names right? Johnson and Ballard?”
     Suspicious “yes sirs” came forth.
     “Was there another man with you tonight?
     Ballard began to say “no” but Johnson cut him off: “Yes sir, there was one man, Charlie Jones. Another Marine. We’re all Marines.”
     “Ah, Jones,” Sato said, scribbling in his notebook. “Embassy?”
     Neither could hide their surprise at the question. Johnson only said, “No, Yokosuka,” wondering how some Japanese cop knew where Marines were stationed.
     “Here for the night?”
     “We’re staying at the Sanno, sir,” Johnson replied.
     Sato knew the place. It was the American serviceman’s hotel. Of course. It wasn’t so far away. “Is that where your friend is? At the Sanno?”
     The question came out innocently enough, and Ballard didn’t like it. Johnson could tell Ballard was about ready to say something stupid so he kicked his foot. Ballard shot Johnson a dirty look as he reached down to rub the spot that ached so, but he kept his mouth shut.
     Sato ignored it all. “It would take just a phone call to find out if he’s there.”
     “OK!” Ballard said as frustration and contempt overcame him. “We don’t know nothin’. What’s this all about?”
  “Someone was badly hurt earlier this evening,” Sato said in a quiet, even voice. “We want to know what happened, to talk to everyone who was here.” Sato emphasized ‘badly hurt.’
     Ballard he knew cops did not ask questions when someone gets hurt unless that hurt means raped or dead. He stared at Sato’s calm, patient, expressionless face, and said “I got nothing more to say!”
     “Ballard!” Johnson exclaimed, but Ballard’s fierce look of defiance stifled anything else Johnson had to say.
     “It’s all right,” Sato said, studying the two men. “My questions are all in the line of duty. You don’t have to say anything. But this is a criminal investigation, and I can hold both of you for seventy-two hours. I have room at my police station for guests. Nice way to spend the weekend, no?”
     Sato knew they were angry about getting caught up in something they probably did not know anything about, and had yet to see anything to indicate they were trying to be evasive. He knew were in club when Yamada was killed. But that said nothing about the other Marine.
     Ballard shot Johnson another fierce look, but slumped in his chair, confused by his anger and dejected by his frustration. “Where was that fucking Jones?” was all he could think of. “He brings us here and then he takes off. His girl gets hurt and we’re gonna take the rap, the fucker. Where the hell is he?’
     Johnson could tell Ballard had given up. He looked at Sato and asked, “What do you want to know, sir?”
     “Where is Jones?”
     “I don’t know, sir.”
     Ballard couldn’t help himself: “We don’t know nothin’!”
     Sato ignored Ballard. So far the other Marine seemed intelligent enough, so he asked again: “Tell me where Jones is.”
     Johnson didn’t know how to answer, so he said, “Sir, we got some liberty this weekend and Charlie said let’s go to the Sanno and see the town. And tonight he wanted to come here, to this club, to his girl. So we come up from Yokosuka and we go to the Sanno, and then we come here. He dates a girl here. A waitress. Kimi something.”
     That was when Johnson realized he hadn’t seen Kimi Yamada for some time.
     “Where’s Kimi?” he asked.
     “Who?’ Sato asked.
     “Kimi, sir. Kimi Yamada. Charlie’s girl.”
     “She’s dead.”
     The sudden, absolute shock on their faces convinced Sato they didn’t know anything about Yamada. But Jones was a different story altogether, and Sato suspected their story probably lead to him.
     Ballard recovered himself sufficiently to sincerely protest, “We didn’t do it, man, you gotta believe …” but Sato raised his hand, stopping Ballard’s plea.
     “When did you arrive at the club?”
     Johnson quickly answered: “Nine thirty or so, sir.”
     “Where were you before you got to the club? When did you leave the base?”
     Johnson said, “We left the base at six, sir. We knock off at four and we were on the ship getting ready to come down here and we left. We’re checked in already at the Sanno. You can look it up. We had a couple of drinks there at the club, and then came here. It took us that long to get here.”
     “Sir, we didn’t do nothin’,” Ballard said, slumped in his chair, his anger waning.
     “You were here in the club the whole time? Didn’t go anywhere else?”
     Johnson replied, “Yes sir, Charlie brought us here, set us down, the music started, and that was that. He left the table a few times and then he was gone.”
     “When was that?”
     Johnson thought for a moment: “I don’t know. Maybe sometime after ten. The kid with the guitar was playing.”
     Sato closed his notebook. He knew that despite what Abe saw in the alley he would have to be convinced Jones was not a suspect before he could clear his mind. He hated dealing with the American authorities, particularly the military, but all signs were pointing to a phone call to the American Navy’s investigation people.
     At this point, he did not need anything more from Ballard or Johnson, at least until he could speak to this Jones person. As Sato stood up he asked, “You’re checked in at the Sanno, right?”
     “Yes sir,” Johnson said.
     “Then give me your room numbers and your base information and be available to talk to me if we need to. I may come looking for you again. If necessary I’ll notify your superiors of what happened. In the mean time, do you know when Jones left the club?”
     “Ten, ten-thirty, maybe,” Johnson said. “He got up and went to the back, I think, but then he came back. We didn’t really see that much of him, sir,” Johnson said.
     “That’s right sir! We didn’t see nothin’!” Ballard chimed in, not trusting the fact a cop was going to let him go free.
     “All right,” Sato said. He turned to Abe. “Find someone to help these two get to the Sanno. If they don’t go straight to the Sanno I want to know where they went and why.”

No comments:

Post a Comment