Monday, August 9, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Chapter 2, part II

“So who do we think did it?” asked Fred.

Chicago shrugged.

“Could have been a random burglary,” said an editor over the table.

Chicago chuckled. He couldn’t help it.

“It was clearly premeditated and nothing was stolen. And the door wasn’t broken into,” Chicago said.

“So, what we need to figure out is who would have wanted the mayor dead.” Martin stated.

There was a short silence. Mary leaned over in her chair.

“You don’t suppose it was a political thing,” she said across the room. “Suppose a deal gone wrong, an argument. Someone from the office.”

“Something to think about,” Martin muttered.

“And what does Features have to do with all this?” Mary asked.

“You tell us,” answered Hans.

“Well it’s a bit early for a exposé don’t you think?”

Chicago could tell this would be a long meeting.

“Well, if I’m going to be at the press conference, I’d have to leave pretty soon, so maybe we should…”

“Chicago’s right. Before we go about shooting off ideas, Hans and I need to make sure everyone here is on the same page. This story is huge and’ll only get bigger. We’ll need all eyes open. Tell your writers. Tell ‘em to call any good sources. Somebody killed the mayor and I’ll be damned if the police figure out who it was before we do.”

Chicago walked out of the meeting relieved. As the editors were deciding what angles, if any, their departments would cover, Chicago would be prepping for the conference.

Back in his office, he turned on his mounted television to the local morning news. They’d been beating the story to death already, interviewing specialists, experts and talking heads who really had no clue what they were speculating.

Still, this would be a good start. He’d jot a few names down and look for them at the conference.

“Nathan Malone,” said one of the talking heads.

“You think he could possibly be behind this?” asked the anchorman.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Chapter 2, part I

Chicago managed to take in a 2 hour nap after arriving to the newsroom

It was 7 a.m. when he woke up. Like Chicago, much of the newsroom staff had come in early that morning, preparing for a hectic day. In fact, things had already started to get crazy.

The newsroom was a large, open office space tucked away at the top of a 40-story building in Downtown. Windows, revealing the view of the city, stretched around the bright room. Flat-screen televisions were mounted everywhere. Most were turned to local news stations as the writers waited for possible leads on the Wu murder. An assortment of cubicles and metal desks filled the center of the space.

There were also private offices along the north side of the room. They were moderately sized with large black desks and chairs. These offices were reserved for the editors and star reporters. They had glass windows so the editors could observe the newsroom and so the newsroom staff could watch the editors and dream of someday being one of them. Chicago had his own office.

He lifted his head from his desk. The sun had finally come out, though, with his blinds closed, Chicago could barely tell.

He glanced at the clock on the desk. Perfect timing. At some point in his life Chicago had learned that if he’d tell himself before drifting off how long he wanted to nap, his body would somehow wake up accordingly. He was so used to being deprived of decent sleep, he became quite skilled at being somewhat consciously aware of sleeping and could wake himself up.

He opened the window blinds and let the rush of white light fill the metallic office. He opened the bottom drawer of the desk and yanked out one of his spare button-ups. He slipped the ironed, striped shirt over his t-shirt and buttoned it. He then removed a pair of slacks from the drawer. He quickly took off his shorts and slipped the pants on.

Neatened up, Chicago walked toward the newsroom and opened the office blinds and was surprised. When he had come in at five only a couple editors were in. Now, half the staff was there and no one was smiling.

A couple people ran by his door. The televisions were all on and he was sure the volume was raised, which only happened on “special occasions.”

‘You’d think someone died, the way everybody’s looking,’ Chicago joked to himself. ‘Oh, wait…’

Patty Hutchinson was a fellow columnist. She walked briskly by Chicago’s door, barely noticing him. A few seconds later she paced back to the door and swung it open.

Patty was nearing 60 and was considered a “veteran reporter.” She was a healthy sized brunette and had mostly a no-nonsense flare with a touch of cynical humor. Many journalists shared this trait, but it suited Patty rather well. She was wearing one of her dark gray skirt suits and white blouse.

“Oh good, you’re up,” she said, breathing harder than normal from the speed walking around the newsroom. “News conference in...”

She took a quick glance at her gold watch.


Chicago looked at his department store watch.

“Oh boy,” he said sarcastically. “Thanks Patty.”

Patty waved her hand as she paced out the door, leaving it open. Chicago decided to enter the battle field. Even a couple of interns had come in early. They’d need to pick up some of the slack while the others focused on the mayor.

While there was little talking, the room was quite loud. The flat-screens were blaring, mouses were clicking, keyboards ticking and feet stomping.

“Chiiiiiic!” sang a voice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Chapter 1, part II

Like the other houses on the block, Mayor Wu’s home was huge, built of solid red brick. The two thick pillars at the top of the veranda stairs supported the small second floor balcony.

It was odd to see these kinds of homes existed on the South Side or anywhere outside some place like Wicker Park, Chicago thought. It reminded him of a Victorian-inspired row house, though with more space around it. In fact, the house was surrounded by shrubbery, plants and shady corners. If someone got past the black iron fence they’d find it very easy to sneak about without being noticed.

Most of the neighbors stood on the sidewalk across the street. They were still in their nightgowns and pajamas, whispering and pointing at the cops’ silhouettes in the windows. Several cops were going in and out of the house. Others were snooping around in the bushes.

Chicago spotted Wendy Welch, the crime writer from the Morning Beacon, speaking with what seemed to be the only cop giving interviews. The other reporters were questioning bystanders. This territory was taken.

He stared at the house thinking of what he should do.
‘If the killer sneaked in from the back, that’s gotta be where all the action is,” Chicago thought to himself.

By now, of course, the cops had blocked entrance to the house with police tape. Somehow, Chicago had to get into backyard. He stared at the house and then to the houses next to it.

He decided he’d inconspicuously approach the third house down from Wu’s then sneak into the backyard. It was the darkest of the neighboring homes. Everyone was too busy with the crime scene to notice him heading over there.

The house was similar to the mayor’s, only slightly smaller and gray instead of red. An 8-foot, vine-covered, stone fence guarded it. The fence looked more like a wall that stretched around the entire house. There was also a black wrought gate that led to the house’s steps. It was open.

Chicago eased away from the crowd and slipped behind the gate. In the safety of the shadows, he no longer had to tiptoe. Instead, he quickly dashed toward the backyard. He could hear the crunching sound of the plants, grass and twigs on the ground, but didn’t care.

Step 1 was complete.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Chapter 1, part I

<< Introduction/The Murder

Could it have had been the one night Chicago Robinson would get more than four hours of sleep?


He ignored the rather irritating sound and let the cordless phone ring, turning his head from the flashing orange glow of the keypad lights.

For the price, Chicago didn’t get to enjoy his Downtown apartment much. There was no time to stare outside the window hundreds of feet above the shimmering city and certainly no time to enjoy a glimpse of the beautiful lakefront. He barely had time to sleep; not a healthy lifestyle for the 28-year-old writer.


Finally, the last ring. Chicago snuggled his head back into the pillow. It wouldn’t be difficult for him to drift back to sleep. The warm breeze racing past the white curtains would create a symphony with the ocean-like sound of the cars outside and the sporadic creaking and bumping of all the high-rise’s residents. Chicago called it the urban lullaby.

Though, the faint smile this induced quickly disappeared.


"Dammit!," Chicago groaned to himself.

This time, it was his cellphone. It vibrated next to the cordless house phone on the night table. The whitish, bluish LED light lit the room.

Chicago rolled over in the queen-sized bed and grabbed the phone.

Hello…” he answered groggily.

He didn’t have to guess who it was. The only calls he’d get at three in the morning would be from one of his editors at the Courier. He was sure this was Martin Johnson, the Editor-in-Chief.

“Chic, wake your ass up. I need you in Hyde Park now,” Martin said in his usual hurried tone.

“Marty it’s 3 a.m. What is it?”

Chicago could tell that Martin was already located wherever he wanted Chicago to be. He could hear muttered voices and a slight stir in the background.

“It’s the mayor,” Martin said. “She’s dead.”

Chicago was too tired to feel surprised. He quickly lifted himself up and kicked the sheets from over his fit chest. He sat on the edge of the bed and opened the night table’s drawer to grab his notepad and pen.

“What’s the address,” he asked, sighing at the same time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

'Wu-dunit': Introduction/The Murder

This breezy June night would be Connie Wu’s last. 

Just because she was the mayor of the third largest city in the nation didn’t mean she saw it beneath her to get down on all fours and scrub away at the peach-colored ceramic tiles of her Hyde Park kitchen. It always bothered her that her hoity-toity neighbors would often take advantage of poor families and new immigrants by paying them next-to-nothing to serve as personal maids and Spanish “cleanup ladies.”

“I clean my own house,” the 62-year-old widow of four would boast whenever her children would insist she hire some cleaning ladies of her own. 

“You have enough on your plate as it is Ma,” they’d say. 

Her hair, once a silky, jet-black and- when not in a bun- could touch her waist, was now just a short grayish-blackish bob. Make-up could no longer cover the thickening bags under her eyes and she had gained at least 50 or 60 pounds in the last year or so. 

But there she knelt, in her blue and red floral blouse, green slacks, yellow head scarf and rubber gloves scrubbing away. This night, “The Mayor’s Mansion,” as the neighborhood kids called it, was quiet. The SCRISH SCRISH SCRISH of the scrub brush against the tile was the only sound in the house. Every now and then a BLOOGP followed by a PIT PIT PAT could be heard as Wu dunked the brush into the tin pail of bleach. 

The lonely silence would be terrifying to some, but the mayor was certainly not afraid to be alone in her own home and had no fear of being harmed in it. She would even leave the back door open all night sometimes during the summer.

Even the few enemies she had were not capable of causing her any serious harm- or so she thought. 

For one of them had just managed to slip into the kitchen with her. 



Huh? A BLOOGP? But Mrs. Wu had not yet dipped the scrub brush into the bucket behind her.