Select a primary language to get the most out of our Journal pages:
English 日本語 Español Português

We have made a lot of improvements to our Journal section pages. Please send your feedback to editor@DiscoverNikkei.org!

Trouble on Temple Street: An Officer Ellie Rush Mystery

Chapter 2

“You’ll have to leave the premises,” I tell my best friend Nay Pram as I direct people away from the dead body covered in a furry blue costume. My voice goes into law enforcement mode, and she’s not having it.

She flashes her press pass at me.

I squint. “You’re not 120 pounds.” And she has never been, as long as I have known her.

“This is what I get for bringing your stuff over from Osaka’s?” She hands me my backpack. I grunt my thanks while taking out my now slightly wrinkled LAPD shirt and pulling it on.

“Stand over there with the rest of them, then.” I point to where I’ve directed the rest of the crowd—about three yards away from the Go For Broke monument and the fallen cosplayer. “And don’t touch anything.”

I try to register everything that I’ve seen. I take out my phone. It’s 7:25 p.m. and it’s about dusk in Los Angeles. I start taking a few photos and make some quick notes. Little Tokyo, just south of Temple Street.

“Who discovered the body?” I ask the crowd of about ten.

The guy who led me here from the ramen shop tentatively raises his hand.

“What was your name again?”

He adjusts his large, black framed glasses. “Kyle Schaup. I volunteer at the koban.”

The doctor who was attending the man seems eager to leave. His hands are bloodied from the dead man’s chest wound and he holds them awkwardly away from his body. “I’m late for an engagement. Can I leave?”

I ask to see his identification and type in his name and contact information into my phone.

The paramedics have arrived with their trauma kits but it’s too late. A couple of black-and-whites then drive into the parking lot surrounding the monument. Out of the squad car come officers Azusa and Boyd. They are from my same station, and definitely not among my favorite people.

“We’ll take it from here, Rush,” Boyd says to me while Azusa frowns at my wrinkled shirt and disarrayed hair, freed from my work bun.

“I thought that you were off-duty,” Azusa says.

“I am, but a citizen called me in.”

I hate their cockiness. Azusa is a P2, Police Officer II, but Boyd has just been promoted to P3. Yeah, I may patrol my area on a bicycle, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less than them. At least that’s what my boyfriend, Cortez Williams, keeps reminding me.

The doctor tries to leave but they stop him. “But she said that I can go,” the doctor says, but Azusa says something like what I say doesn’t matter.

One of the assistant coroners comes on the scene and I know that homicide detectives are not far behind.

Nay, fearless as ever, goes up to Boyd to get more information. After receiving a few answers to her questions, she returns to my side. She senses that my ego is bruised but pretends that nothing is wrong. “Drinks at Far Bar?”

I nod. Why not?

As we make our way to the bar on First Street, we pass the pile of trash on the edge of the monument. I notice that the pancake, which had once curiously topped the trash, is now gone.

* * * * *

I order a Sapporo on draft and Nay goes fancy with a French martini. “Can’t resist the pineapple,” she tells me.

“So what did they say?” I feel foolish asking my journalist friend about what my colleague, a uniformed officer, had to report.

“The usual bull. You know how cops are. I’m supposed to call the Public Information Office tomorrow morning to get an official statement.”

“I guess the victim went to Anime Expo.”

“Well, yeah. It’s not like you see Doraemon around everyday.”

“Dry-mom?”

“My God, Ellie, you have to get with it. You’re the one who’s part Japanese, after all.”

“I’m fourth-generation removed. My white dad knows more Japanese than my mom.”

“Okay, but still, no excuse. Everyone is into manga these days.”

That, I doubt. The waitress brings over our drinks and the first gulp of beer washes down any embarrassment I felt back at the crime scene.

“Anyway, Doraemon is kind of old-school. He’s a blue robotic cat that comes from the future to help a little boy.”

“Sounds stupid.”

“And he has a magic pocket that contains all these gadgets. Like this propeller that he places on the top of his head to make him fly. And this magic door that is able to open up any room. Pretty cool, right? Oh, and he loves eating pancakes and—”

I put my beer glass on the table. “Waitaminute, what did you say?”

“The magic door?”

“No, the part about pancakes.”

“Doraemon likes eating these pancakes. I think that they are special ones, filled with red bean.”

The pancake on the ground. Just a few feet away from the victim’s body. Could it be somehow connected? And if so, who had taken it and why?

I tell Nay about the missing pancake and she doesn’t poo-poo it as being a possible clue. We both check over our photos.

“Look at my first shot, El.” She refers to a wide shot that includes me, the doctor, and, of course, the body. “That round thing in the corner; is that the pancake?”

I use my thumb and middle finger to expand the image on her screen. “Yup, that’s it.” There’s not much distinctive about it. I mean, a pancake is a pancake.

I look through my photos. Most of mine are too close, focused on the poor victim, but a few include members of the crowd. Could one of them have taken the pancake? And if so, why?

“We need to go back and check it out,” Nay says.

I agree. We both down our drinks. Even with a murder to solve, there’s no reason to waste alcohol, right?

When we turn the corner at the old Nishi Hongwanji temple, the whole area is full of black-and-whites with flashing lights, detectives, and crime tape.

“What the—” Nay says.

In the distance, I can make out my boyfriend, Detective Cortez Williams, his right hand on his hip, talking to Azusa and Boyd. I know Cortez has been working on some top-secret case, so for the department to dispatch him here means that this victim is high profile.

Before we continue forward, someone runs from the crime scene. It’s Kyle, the young guy who works at the koban.

“Hey, Kyle,” I call out.

He stops and looks back at us.

“What the hell is going on?” Nay asks.

“The dead guy is Atom McDonnell.”

“No way!” Nay’s eyes, which are already pretty big, get even larger. She glances pitifully at me. “You have no idea who Atom McDonnell is.”

I don’t even put up a front and shrug.

“He’s the guy that runs 2ibon,” Kyle says.

I don’t say anything and Nay practically screams. “Ellie! That’s the Internet site which is always leaking naked photos of celebrities.”

My aunt, a deputy police chief, had mentioned something about it at our last family gathering. “Oh, yeah. I remember.”

“I can’t wait to tell my friends that I saw Atom McDonnell,” Kyle says, rechecking his phone.

As he runs off to join his posse, Nay shakes her head. “I hope that he didn’t take a selfie with the dead Doraemon.”

To be continued…

 

© 2017 Naomi Hirahara

doraemon Ellie Rush fiction little tokyo mystery naomi hirahara Trouble on Temple Street

About this series

LAPD bicycle cop Ellie Rush, first introduced in Murder on Bamboo Lane (Berkley), returns in this special serial for Discover Nikkei. Ellie, who has been on the force for two years, finds herself in the middle of a Little Tokyo murder case that may potentially involve the people she loves most—her family. Will she be able to connect the dots before the killer harms her aunt, the deputy chief of the LAPD? Where does Ellie’s allegiances fall—the truth or family loyalty?