The Naked Eye - A Trilogy

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Chapter 16

A short burst of pressurized air makes a sharp hissing sound as a metal-toothed bottle cap falls to the counter. Beneath the red-lantern draped awning of the Naked Eye Restaurant, throttling a couple of beers, Lombardo clinks the neck of his bottle against his partner’s, offers a modest toast.

“To Jai Mei,” he says.

“To all of them,” Furor counters, taking a long pull from his drink.

Late-night revelers fill the confetti strewn streets, sporting a variety of Chinese theater masks, laughing and whistling as they toss little, white bang snap fireworks at passing cars.

“What’s with costumes?” Lombardo asks. “The parade is over.”

“They’re trying to scare away the spirit of the Nian.”

“The what?”

“The dragon,” Furor tells him.

“It’s crazy,” Lombardo says, swirling his hand around in circle, “none of these people have any idea what just went down, that we just stopped a serial killer, dead to rights. Brilliant play back there, by the way, with the taped confession and the empty gun clip. I wish I could have been there, in the room, seen the look on his face when the gun didn’t go off.”

“He killed sixteen people. What did we stop?”

“Number seventeen.”

A thin, vertical crease appears between Furor’s eyebrows. “That’s our consolation?”

“You want consolation,” Lombardo challenges, “crack a damn fortune cookie. Policing is reactionary. That’s the price of living in a free society. Unless you’re willing to treat everyone’s life as a crime in progress, we’ll continue to arrive at the scene after, not before, the murder.”

“I think you’re right,” Furor says.

“About what?”

“I think I will crack that fortune cookie.”

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