Kriminalist

Chapter Eleven - A Lesson in Dying Part B

MATT

Look at him, in there, schmoozing. He never schmoozes. I’m the one who does all the talking. He just gets angry and shoots stuff if people try to talk to him. It’s only because she’s pretty. He probably thinks he has a chance with her.

An assistant. Please. What am I, a secretary now? He’s lapping all that praise up. What is it that makes him seem like a detective and not me?! He doesn’t even look straight, with all that tight leather, and those… gorgeous… blond…

Whatever. Point is, earlier he was saying how much he needs me and now, surprise surprise, he’s in there doing all the work by himself again. He’s even taken my job. Well, I refuse to be relegated to coffee boy and watch them fawn over each other. How ridiculously unprofessional. I bet he’s flirting like crazy. I bet she’s fluttering her eyelids at him even as I’m pouring this coffee. So what if her fiancé is missing? From what I’ve seen lately, she’s probably the one who got rid of him.

Storming back into the room, I hand her her coffee and shoot Mello a daggers look. He isn’t watching me, anyway. He’s moved closer to her, and I could have sworn when I walked in that he was comforting her. Comforting! He met her three minutes ago! What kind of vixen is this woman?!

“Just take your time.” Mello says gently. “We can’t start looking until the morning at any rate; what’s important is that we get the information.”

“Yes; I’m sorry, it’s just… so hard…” Penelope sniffles. Pathetic.

“I understand. It’s alright.” Mello replies. “So, when did you last see him?”

“Three days ago, at around nine.” She replies, cradling the coffee in her lap. “He was… normal. He was hurrying to go to a meeting, so we didn’t see each other properly; he kissed me on the cheek and then went out. I don’t know who he was meeting. It wasn’t in his diary.”

“What was he wearing?” Mello asks.

“A black suit and tie with a white shirt. And a briefcase.” Penelope replies. “His… his collar was turned up at one side, so I straightened it for him. He told me he would be back before midnight.” Her voice starts to break, and Mello reaches out to touch her hand. It’s almost more than I can take.

“Has he been in any other sort of trouble lately?”

“No! Well… I…”

“Yes?”

“I think he’s been in contact with the mafia. I found… a photograph, of him and another man. I saw that man in the news. They say he’s a crime lord.”

Mello’s jaw tightens. “Do you have the photograph?”

“Yes, it’s…” Penelope reaches into her handbag and draws out a small frame. “It’s here.”

“Well, thank you, Miss Primrose.” Mello smiles encouragingly. “That should be enough for us to go on for now. Unless there’s something else important?”

“No… at least, I don’t know…”

“Alright. Well, you can go home. Rest assured, we’ll do everything we can to find him.”

MELLO

I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, but Matt was glaring at me for the whole of that conversation. As soon as she’s gone I turn back to him, and I notice immediately how he’s standing. Arms folded, leaning against the wall, not looking at me. With his goggles over his eyes.

“What did I do?” I groan.

“Hnh. Nothing.” Matt replies, his tone clipped and formal.

“No, seriously. What did I do?”

He looks up at me angrily, and snaps back, “Who’s fucking that one then? Come on, it’s about this time you make the comment. Is it you, by any chance?”

“What?” I blurt, totally taken aback by his sudden rage. It’s rare for him to even get a little angry, but this is… this is worse than I’ve ever seen him. This is the kind of angry that I get.

“Don’t play innocent, you were practically on each others’ knees. It was sickening.”

“Wh-- Matt!! What are you talking about?!” I reply, completely thrown. But, like a switch inside me has been flipped, I head straight into Argue Mode. “And what does it matter if we were, anyway?”

Matt flounders for a moment, pushing at the bridge of his goggles as if they’re glasses. “It’s unprofessional.” He mutters at last, and turns to stomp away. I catch his arm.

“What the hell? Make sense, will you? What’s your problem?”

“My problem?” He sneers. “Oh, gee, Mells. Maybe since I didn’t grow up without a Daddy like you I can’t understand. But there’s such a thing as morals, and those morals say you do not flirt with the fiancée of a missing man.”

Before even thinking, I slap him across the face as hard as I can. He slips to the floor, cradling his cheek, but doesn’t cry out. I shouldn’t have done that, but he went too far.

“Get out of my sight.” I hiss. He scoffs, and opens his mouth to make some kind of smart comment, so I pull out my gun and aim it at him. He closes his mouth, gets up, and heads down the corridor towards his room without looking back.

Ohhh, shit. I shouldn’t have done that.

MATT

Well, that proves it, then. I’m nothing to him, am I? Just a dogsbody to do all the hard work while he chats up girls and gets to be the super-cool detective. You know what, fuck this, fuck HIM. I don’t need him. I got this place all on my own, who says I need him for anything?!

But… in the back of my mind, a little voice says to me: If you don’t need him, then why did that hurt so much?…

I throw myself into a game, Pokemon, furiously fighting Rocket after Rocket. Destroying them. Through the thick plastic of my goggles the colours seem a little strange; but I’m used to playing like that. And if I take the goggles off, I might cry.

It doesn’t take long before he’s at my door again, knocking. I ignore him and turn the music up louder.

“MATT!” He yells, eventually. “Don’t make me shoot the fucking lock off this door. Let me the fuck in.”

ROCKER wants to fight!

“Matt, I swear to God I will shoot this door.”

POLIWHIRL uses BUBBLEBEAM!

I hear him kick the door. Then his footsteps recede along the corridor.

MATT has defeated ROCKER! MATT gets $345 for winning!

God. Why does it hurt so much?

MELLO

Fucking hell. I tried, I really tried to get through to him, and now we’re back on square one. This is so… so pointless. Apart from anything else, William Pitts is missing right now and we’re getting paid to find him, and if we don’t hurry up then we may not find him alive. Not that Matt cares about that; oh no, when he should be working on this case, he’s locked up in his room, playing his stupid games

And I know I shouldn’t have slapped him. I know that. There’s no need to guilt trip me, I’m feeling bad enough. But it works both ways. He shouldn’t have said that about my parents. And I wasn’t flirting with her. I was just trying to be nice, like he is.

God. I don’t know why I bother. This is why Near got to be number one, it’s because he doesn’t care about anyone. He doesn’t let anything distract him. I can’t let anything distract me, either. I’ve got to get to work.

I head back and look at the photograph, at the mystery mafia man. I have no idea who he is or how to find out. The word ‘mafia’ brings back bad memories, but ‘revenge’ is a better one; if I can find this guy, link him to the crime, and bring him down… that will be sweet. It won’t take the scars away, both mental and physical, just like seeing Kira die didn’t; but it’ll help a bit.

Light fucking Yagami. To think, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here right now.

No, I’ve got to focus. No Kira, no Near. I have to find out who this guy is. I go to the nearest laptop and switch it on, going to a search engine as soon as it’s ready. The wireless connection is slow, for some reason. I open a new chocolate bar, waiting impatiently for it to load up.

The first thing I do is a picture search for mafia men in LA. Most of what comes up is just film stills or music videos, but then I remember what Primrose said. I saw that man in the news. I pull up the sites of all the local newspapers and start trawling through the databases.

I hit gold at three a.m. The man in the photograph is Ronaldo Krane. He’s been held on suspicion of armed robbery, assault, arson, and murder, but nothing sticks to him. He’s also a money-lender, and is suspected to be the kidnapper of a guy last year: he demanded a ransom, which was handed over, and then the guy was found alive, but unable to identify his attackers. Which makes me very wary. I’ve dealt with mafia men before… and there’s no way I’m going in there all guns blazing. This has to be done subtly, with surveillance, with bugged phone calls and hidden cameras and technical trickery. Which means I need Matt.

Oh, shit.


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