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.


As Chicago pulled up onto Hyde Park Boulevard, a mixture of blue and red light danced about his face. The police cars were blocking the road.

Chicago decided to double park next to another car, which he assumed belonged to a writer already on the scene.

He thought it’d be difficult to find Martin. By now, there were already dozens of neighbors and print reporters filling the streets. The lights and mess of onlookers, reporters, police officers and detectives moving about made the scene look like a block party, except no one seemed to be having a good time.

As Chicago scanned the crowd, a large, round, dark figure emerged from the blinding haze of red and blue. It made it quite difficult for Chicago to tell who, or what, the massive shape was. Nevertheless, it was coming his way.

“Looks like it was murder,” the figure said.

Chicago recognized Martin’s deep voice of confidence.

Martin was a large, round 40-something man with a bald head and trimmed beard. He was rarely seen without a collar and tie and, with his stern gaze, could easily intimidate those who didn’t know any better.

“I had to come down and see for myself,” Martin said. “Everybody else is here: the Beacon, the Times, even the Watcher. That makes you-“

“Late. I know, I know,” Chicago said rolling his eyes. “Excuse me for wanting to get more than 30 minutes of sleep each night.”

Chicago knew Martin didn’t care much about Chicago's personal health or stress. As long as there was someone working on the stories, Martin was satisfied. Martin was a go-getter who, for some reason or rather, thought everyone else shared his abundance of energy and drive. Chicago was close, but not quite as easily energized when it came to working after-after hours.

The fact that Martin had still managed to don a buttoned shirt, slacks and tie for this occasion served as a reminder to Chicago of what Martin expected of him. He knew he’d have to wake himself up and perform at that level.

“I take it you’ll be leaving now?” Chicago said with a smile, taking out his pen and notepad from the right pocket of his shorts.

As Martin rarely smiled at non-business related things, he simply raised his eyebrows and briefly pulled back the corners of his lips. The two had been in this situation so many times they had an established routine. Martin would somehow be the first to hear about the crime. He’d get the basic facts and pass them along to Chicago. From there Chicago didn’t need much help from Martin.
Chicago began scribbling on his pad as Martin tried to explain the details.

“Looks like about 1 a.m. someone snuck into the back door-“

“Snuck? Really Martin?”

Martin sighed, pulling back the corners of his lips again while giving Chicago “the look.”

“And attacked Wu,” Martin continued. “Cops came around 1:30. I don’t know who called them or why. Whoever killed her didn’t have to force their way, just walked right in.”

“How’d she die?” Chicago asked, still scribbling and frowning at his pad.

“Cops came in; found her head in a bucket of water. Guess she drowned.”

“In a bucket?” Chicago asked, finally looking up at the editor. “How does that happened?”

Martin placed his heavy hand on Chicago’s shoulder, squeezing it tightly. He cracked a very faint smile.

“That, my friend, is for to find out,” Martin said, turning Chicago around in his direction. He gave Chicago a couple pats on the back and headed toward the cluster of cars.

“Wait. That’s it?” Chicago yelled after Martin.

Martin never looked back.

“That’s all I got Chic,” Martin yelled. He reached his car and hopped inside, relieved he could get back home and rest.

Chicago, on the other hand, knew his work was cut out for him. As Martin drove away, Chicago turned to the block party and began to study the scene.

Chapter 1, part II >>

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