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Killer Roll

Chapter Ten — Double Crosser

“What do you mean Yudai was behind this?” I can hardly get the words out of my mouth. Yudai is like my Japanese brother—only many times more because while my own blood relatives have stomped on my dream, Yudai made it possible for me to be a sushi chef. And Som, my coworker, is saying that our beloved boss may be trying to destroy us.

“You’re out of your mind, Som,” Carrie says as she steers her car onto El Camino. Gridlock as usual. Welcome to Silicon Valley.

Som peels off the duct tape from his wrists, wincing as his arm hair is being literally plucked out. “He’s the one who taped me up and stuffed me in back of a van. That desi woman helped him, too. How disappointing when your own people turn against you.”

“Desi,” I say, my mind whirling.

“You know, South Asian like me,” Som says from the back seat.

“I know what the word means. Describe her.”

“I don’t know. She looks pretty plain. No makeup. Hair cut at the shoulders. She could be a security guard or—”

“Police officer,” I state and quickly search on my phone for Agent Neela Bronstein. I find her on the page of the District Attorney’s REACT unit. “Is this her?”

Som nods. “Who is she?”

Carrie takes her eyes from the car stopped in front of her and stares at me, too.

“She questioned me after Ray, the undercover agent, was killed. She’s a member of the high-tech crime unit.”

Carrie frowns and then presses down on the gas pedal so that we can move forward about two feet. “That would make Ray one of her people.”

“She was telling Yudai what to do like she was his boss. I think she mentioned something about getting rid of me. Forever.”

“Yudai wouldn’t do that,” I say. I then start to think about the strange way he runs his business. No sign on the door. Purposely writing bad reviews on the restaurant’s Yelp page. Maybe indeed he didn’t want any customers. Because he was using the restaurant as a shell for something else. He was the one who launched our makeshift private eye agency—perhaps so that he could keep tabs on me. Yet one truth remained. “He didn’t get rid of you.”

“Maybe he was going to take Som to some secluded area like the bird preserve in back of Stanford.” Carrie is obviously starting to doubt Yudai’s loyalty. “Maybe some peregrine falcon would have discovered him for a snack.”

Som stays quiet, rubbing his hairless wrists. “Come to think of it, he did whack the sides of the van for a while. And then placed his finger to his lips, like he wanted me to stay quiet.”

“He was pretending to harm you, Som, maybe for Agent Neela’s benefit,” I exclaim.

“It could be.” Som rubbed his cheek, which was a bit bruised. “All I know is that Neela was threatening to kill me right then and there if I didn’t tell her where you were staying.”

Both Carrie and I wait—did he sell me out?

“I said nothing. But Yudai then told her that he thought you were at Carrie’s dorm at Stanford. That’s when the woman told Yudai to get rid of me and come with her to the dorm.”

* * * * *

With this new information, Carrie drives like a maniac on the sidewalk and over manicured lawns of condominiums and office complexes. I, meanwhile, try to reach her dorm mates and the chef, Crowe, on her phone, but no one’s answering. I try texting, too, to no avail.

“Should I call the police?” I ask.

“Who can we trust?” Carrie says back.

Good point. Besides, who would believe what I’ve been going through. It would take half a day to explain.

Somehow we make Stanford campus in record time and Carrie zooms to her dorm in the Cowell Cluster. There’s police surrounding the premises and Carrie parks about a half block away and she streaks out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition, while I follow with Som limping behind me.

By the time I arrive, dorm residents are standing in groups, madly texting on their phones. Carrie is talking to a couple of police officers. I find Crowe, leaning against a tree, holding onto his cloth bag of kitchen tools.

I rush to his side. “What happened?”

“I think you two are in some trouble.”

“What do you mean?”

“Two agents came in with your boss, Yudai, right? I recognized him from the sushi bar. They claimed that they had a search warrant to look through Carrie’s room. They made a complete mess of it and I was suspicious. I called the Stanford police and once they came on the scene, the threesome took off.”

What were they looking for?

“I don’t think you or Carrie will be able to get to her room. They cordoned it off with crime scene tape.”

“Did you hear anything that they said to one another?”

“The woman was upset with Yudai. Said that he had led them on a wild goose chase. I did overhear her telling the other agent that they need to see if Yudai is hiding anything. I think that they may have forced him to come with them.”

“Why do you think that?”

“He was handcuffed.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?” I try to slow down my mind. It’s Monday. The day that Yudai’s Corner is closed. So no one will be at the restaurant tonight.

“Let’s go,” I say, pulling at his white chef’s jacket.

“Where are we going?”

“Nevermind. Just make sure that you bring your knives.”

To be continued...

 

© 2019 Naomi Hirahara

fiction Killer Roll maki mitchell mystery naomi hirahara restaurant sushi

Sobre esta série

Maki Mitchell, one of the few female Japanese chefs in the world, works at Yudai’s Corner, a sushi bar in California’s Silicon Valley. Still bruised from her divorce to an American man, she uncharacteristically lets down her guard to a male customer one evening. That seemingly random encounter leads her down dark paths involving high-tech hijinks and international espionage. Soon Yudai’s Corner becomes a full-fledged detective agency and all the employees ban together to not only solve murders but to also support and protect the life of their female sushi chef.

Read Chapter One