The lights came back on as Adam eyes focused on where he was. Laying on his side his gun no long in his hand.
“Adam!” said Patrick under a table near the window Adam was tossed through. His wrists were cuffed to a pipe behind him. “Get up, run!” he shouted. Adam heard him as he sat up and saw the Harlequin entering through the door holding a knife.
He scrambled back against a wall just as the Harlequin lunged at him and managed to dodge the knife thrust towards his chest. He grabbed the man’s arm and used it to regain his footing, but the killer pushed Adam off causing him to stagger back towards the open door.
“Run Adam!” cried Patrick.
“Not without you!” Adam shouted back keeping his eyes on the killer. He readied his stance as the Harlequin came in for another attack. Adam was ready and blocked the knife by grabbing the killer’s arm, and jabbing his knee into the man’s gut. He heard a grunt, but he didn’t drop his weapon as the killer head-butted Adam, who recoiled, but didn’t let go of his arm. The Harlequin tried to kick Adam’s knee but he missed as Adam swung his elbow and smashed it into the mask. The man had less padding on so Adam felt he was on even ground when he thrust his fist into the Harlequin’s ribs. The man stared back at Adam then with all his force he lift Adam off his feet and body slammed him onto the concrete floor. Adam wasn’t yielding as he kicked the masked man causing him to let go and stumble back into a wall. Adam got to his feet standing just in front of Patrick.
“Adam, your gun is under here with me. I can’t get to it!” Adam turned and saw his gun just near Patrick’s leg. He went for it and just as he turned the Harlequin sprinted out the door. Adam gave chase as he raced down the hallway with turns that wasn’t giving him a clear shot of the killer. He heard an alarm and saw an emergency exit door opened. He ran through and saw the Harlequin scaling over a metal fence. He started to go after him but then remembered Patrick. He was alone and needed his help. He tucked his gun back in its holster and returned to the office.
“Patrick, are you alright?” he asked ducked under the table. Patrick looked up at him and smiled.
“Yes. Are you?”
“Yeah, but he got away. That guy can run.”
“I thought… I thought he was going to kill you too.” Patrick fought the tears that wanted to come as Adam used his handcuff key to release his wrists. He helped him out from under the table.
“Did he do anything to you?” asked Adam.
“No.” Adam couldn’t wait as he pulled Patrick close and pressing his lips against his. They parted slowly both filled with lust for one another. “He saw you on the security camera and told me if I called out he’d kill you.”
“Well, you’re safe now.”
“How did you know I was here?”
“I didn’t. I was looking for people who knew you and Gavin as a couple, I saw your cosplay pictures on line.”
“I’ve talked to people at The Cave.”
“Anyone there was friends Gavin’s?”
“They didn’t speak highly of you.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“There’s two sides to a story. Would you like to tell yours?”
“Yes, but not here. If security finds me here it won’t go well with my father.”
“Well it needs to be reported.”
“What are you two doing back here?” asked a security guard through the broken window. “Who broke this window?”
Adam looked to Patrick who was pleading with for help.
“I’ll explain everything.”
“Explain who you two are?”
“My name is Adam Potter and this is Patrick Valdez.”
“You’re both coming with me now.”
They were escorted to another office and questioned by two security guards. The local police were called and Adam and Patrick had to give a statement explaining the attempted assault made on Patrick by a costume attacker. Adam showed them his detective ID, and permit to carry a weapon. Patrick gave over his ID as well. Adam told them the assailant heave him throw the glass window when he confronted him and ran off. The cops believed them and returned their ID’s and allowed them to leave. They exited the convention.
“Where can I take you?” asked Adam holding Patrick’s hand.
“My father’s driver is nearby I can walk...” But Adam’s grip on his hand grew a little tighter.
“The hell you are. That nut could still be around here. You’re not going anywhere without an escort.”
Patrick was startled by Adam’s stern words. But understood the concern he had for him and smiled. Adam leaned in for another profound kiss. When they parted Patrick wanted to go home with Adam. But then reality set in and he remembered the promise he made to his father.
“Okay Detective Potter, would you walk me to my car? My driver is waiting for me.”
“Only if you tell me where you’re going?”
“I’m going to my parents’ house.”
“Sounds good.” Adam remover his cell and speed dialed Justin's number.
“Hey boss,” answered Justin sitting in the passenger’s seat.
“Justin, I have Patrick with me I’m going to walk him to his car. I’ll just be a minute.”
“Wait, Adam,” interrupted Patrick. “I need to go back to the cell phone store first, my driver thinks I’m in there.”
“Why does he think you’re in there?” Patrick smile and shrugged his shoulders. Adam wanted to give his an ear full about his carelessness. “Okay, Justin, change of plans, bring the jeep to the front entrance to pick us up.”
“Be right there boss.” They disconnect and Adam turned to Patrick. “What were you doing here Patrick?”
“I was checking up on someone. Who--I thought could be the killer.”
“What?” Adam snapped but Patrick placed his hands on his chest to calm him.
“But my friend talked me out of it. And I was going to tell the police what I knew. That’s when The Harlequin grabbed me.”
“Let me make myself clear Patrick. Don’t you ever try to investigate this case and talk to possible suspects again Understood?”
“If anything had happened to you…” Adam stopped himself not wanting to finish his thought.
“I’m sorry Adam. I never thought this would happen.”
“It’s okay just tell me what you know.” Patrick shared his story about the attacks on his past relations overseas and about the tattoo on the killer’s wrist and his cosplay stalker Jay. “I’ll share this with the detectives in charge of the case but they may want to question you again.”
“They know where to find me.”
“And I may want to find you as well.”
“That would be nice so long as it’s not just about this case.” Adam smiled and was about to respond when Justin pulled up. Adam was going to ask Justin to get in the back seat when Patrick voluntaries and hope in.
“Patrick this is my assistant Justin Shi. Justin, this is Patrick Valdez.”
“Hello Mr. Valdez.”
In silence they returned Patrick to the backdoor of cell store where he gave the sales girl what he promised her. His name and contact information for a reference. His driver was still at the car waiting for him. Adam and Justin watched from a distance as the driver opened the back door for him and waited until he was settled before shutting the door of the high-end luxury car and was safely driven off.
“Where to now?” asked Justin.
“Back to the office.”
When they arrive Adam went to his apartment and into the bathroom. His medicine cabinet was loaded with all the important remedies his mother stock when he was there. He first showered again and dressed his cuts with a liquid bandage then swallowed four ibuprofen. He returned to his office while Justin sat at his computer.
“Shouldn’t you be resting?”
“Adam you were nearly killed.”
“Justin, I grew up on a farm. I fell out of trees, rode my bike off roofs, fell down hills, fought with my older brothers and survived. This is nothing.”
“Don’t you want to add the military and your fight with a crazy man?”
“Ha, ha. Don’t you have research to do?” said Adam when a knock came to the outer door.
Justin rose and raked his fingers through his blonde locks as he approached the door, unlocking it and greeting the visitor.
“Hello, welcome to the Adam Potter’s detective agency.” He finished with a big smile.
A.J. Chance stood dressed even more impressive than last night. His stylish raven hair dawned long spikes, draped around his forehead, ears, and cheeks. He wore round framed glasses that told Adam A.J. did an all-nighter that prevented him from putting in his contacts.
Adam walked up and welcomed the detective/ex-boyfriend.
“Thank you, Justin for that—rehearsed introduction. I can take it from here. Good afternoon Detective Chance.”
“Adam we need to talk.” A.J. looked over at Justin curiously.
“Justin this is Detective A.J. Chance. Detective Chance this is my assistant Justin Shi.”
“Hello,” said Justin, who held his hand out to A.J., who accepted the greeting.
“We can talk in my office.”
“I prefer next door.”
“Next door, why?”
“I’ll explain on the way.” A.J. turned and exited the room. Adam sighed as he got his coat and gun and waved goodbye to Justin.
They took the stairs as A.J. spoke.
“You allow your assistant to wear what he likes to work?”
“I have a casual work environment.”
“What sort of cliental are you expecting to generate with that method?”
“You’d be surprised who find my ideology quite avant-garde.” A.J. had to catch himself from cracking a smile at Adam’s subtle attempt at humor and quickly change the subject.
“Did Mr. Valdez get home safely last night?” A.J. asked keeping his eyes ahead.
“Are you asking for the case or yourself?” asked Adam giving him a sideways glance.
“The case, of course. Patrick Valdez has now become a suspect.”
“What?” Adam froze on the last landing as A.J. continued on down.
“You heard me. Patrick's a suspect.” He walked out to the lobby passing the elevator to the front door. Adam caught up and grabbed the push handle to the door preventing A.J. from leaving. “Are you shitting me,” he snapped.
“I do not—shit you Adam,” A.J. said locking his hazel eyes with Adam’s green ones. “In fact, my partner is on his way to his home to questioning him.”
“This is insane, Patrick was nearly killed by some maniac, and you want to pin it on him?”
“Not me Adam the evidences.”
“What evidences?” Adam shot back.
A.J. pushed past him walking into the icy air towards the crime scene. Both men turned their collars up as Adam matched A.J.’s steps.
“A.J. you have the wrong man, I saw the killer and Patrick’s not him.”
“True, Patrick wasn’t the one in the mask, but we believe he’d was the one who orchestrated.”
“You’re wrong. And I’m going to prove it.” A.J. stopped at the police tape that blocked the door to the store underneath Gavin’s apartment. He turned to Adam with an arrogance in his stare that always boiled Adam’s blood. But also it’s a look that he only wore when he was right. And that worried Adam.
“Adam I like to show you something?”
“You sure it won’t compromise your investigation?”
A.J. unlocked the paper covered door and ducked under the police tape to enter, Adam followed.
The empty store was surprisingly clean. A rectangular counter sat towards the back covered with a drop cloth. Nothing else was in the room except a half circular stage flushed against the wall. A satin curtain on rings draped the foot length of the stage.
A.J. walked over to the stage that was eighteen inches off the floor. He stepped onto it with ease. Adam watched as A.J. turned to look at him. Adam remembered he loved him once. So deep it carved opened his soul when A.J. cheated on him with Artie Cutter who was A.J.’s mentor at the time. Adam left town to forget and stayed with his older brother Damien who although busy with work took time to help his younger brother through his ordeal.
Damien was the one who told Adam to follow his own path. And forget the one that he planned with A.J. It took a year but Adam got over A.J.’s deception and returned to start his agency. Now his halo ex was trying to destroy any possible chance with someone new.
“Detective Cutter mentioned you found a door upstairs in Gavin Martin’s spare bedroom?”
“How did you know it was there?”
“The room’s walls were the same structured as my office.”
“Well, Detective Cutter and I found where it lead.” He turned and pulled the curtain back. At first glance, it was just a wall but unlike the one upstairs and in Adam’s office this one was off color and not flushed with the adjoining wall. A.J. pressed the release handle, and the door opened inward.
“So the door leads down here, big deal.”
“Oh, it is, follow me, please.” A.J. stepped through the door, and Adam halfheartedly crossed the threshold into the hall with another door. “Now to the left is the stairs that lead back to Gavin’s room, but in here is what you need to see.”
Adam wasn’t sure if he wanted to see what was behind the door. But if it was evidence against Patrick he needed to see it for himself. A.J. opened the door and flicked on the light that revealed a small room with three vanity tables, with light bulbs trimmed mirrors along the left wall. The tables showed traces of makeup smeared on them. The opposite wall displayed photographs of different people dressed in different costumes, the 5x7 photos covered most of the one wall. Straight back was a wardrobe closet filled with different costumes.
“They used this room as a dressing room for the shows performed on that stage out there,” said A.J. “But this isn’t why I brought you here.” He walked closer to the wall and pointed at a picture of three people. Adam looked at the photo and saw what looked to be a male dressed as steampunk character with fighter pilot’s leather cap with brass goggles and leather boomer jacket.
In the middle of the two men, was a female, who held the pilot’s arm, dressed as a Geisha, her hair was styled more like a wrap, which encircled her head. The white creamy makeup on her face made her skin glow as did the shimmer, rosy tint to her cheeks. Her eyelashes were the strangest instead of on top the fake lashes that resemble bird feather were placed on the bottom lids giving a more haunting beauty to the wearer.
The third male, who stood taller than the other two, stood close to the geisha but didn’t touch. He was a steampunk dressed with a top hat, with a scarf tied around it that hung loose in the back. He wore black tint glasses, with a buccal mask, and a duster coat overtopped what looked to be a ruffle collar shirt under a leather vest. He was tilting his hat at the camera with a gloved hand. Adam noticed the gloves resembled the same ones the Harlequin wore.
“Recognized anyone in that picture?” asked A.J.
“You were with him last night weren’t you?”
“Make your point A.J.”
“Patrick Valdez is the geisha.”
Adam had to look again but closer.
“Impossible,” he said stepping away.
A.J. removed the frameless photo from the wall and turned it around showing Adam Patrick’s name. Adam hands back the photo, but not before looking at the beauty that he held in his arms early that morning.
“So this is your proof?”
“A pair of dirty gloves were found in the back of that wardrobe closet. I’m sending them to the lab to lift for prints and blood. Also, Gavin’s body was brought through here and taken up through that hidden door.”
“Okay, so how is Patrick involved?”
“We believe he let the killer in with Gavin Martin’s body then staged the attack.”
“Come on A.J., you're grasping at straws. I saw the killed fighting with Patrick in the tree and standing over him with a knife when Patrick fell.”
“You could have mistaken what you saw. Patrick fell, but it could have happened when he and the killer were trying to leave the scene of the crime when the branch broke. The masked man may have been trying to help him up but then you showed up forcing them to change their plans.”
“So why did they bring Gavin back to his place, why not leave him at the cemetery?”
“That's being determined but what you may think was rape might have been a relationship. Until you broke in and spoiled things. So Patrick and the Harlequin had to adjust their plans again.”
“Do you know how insane that sounds? Patrick wouldn’t do any like that.”
“My God Adam, did you fuck him?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Christ, you did.”
“Do you know the killer made another move on Patrick?”
“You mean at the convention hall? Yes. And what were you doing there?”
“I didn’t asked for your help Adam. But since you’re asking, don’t you find it strange that Patrick Valdez was out enjoying himself a few hours after his boyfriend’s death?”
“He wasn’t there for enjoyment.”
“Then what was he doing there?”
“He thought he knew who the killer was.”
“Really, and he decided to hold that from the police and go arrest him himself?”
“He wasn’t thinking straight.”
“He wasn’t or maybe he was there to talk to his partner.”
“I don’t have to listen to this.” Adam turned to leave, but A.J. called out.
“Then know this Adam. Gavin Martin was prostituting Patrick out dressed as female fantasies for clients. Patrick was using the spare bedroom upstairs that locks from the outside for the services of sex.”
Adam’s patience was wearing thin.
“A.J. of all the despicable things you’ve done to me…”
“I did to you? Oh no Adam, you’re not turning my investigation into your woe-as-me song. The evidences is stacking against Patrick, and when the lab work comes back from the glove and mattress, the truth will be exposed. Patrick Valdez was sick of being used, so he twisted a plan with the mystery male to kill Gavin Martin and make believe he was a victim. We will arrest him and charge him with murder one.”