CHAPTER 16 (REMIX / THE CHINATOWN SUSPECT)
Judi and Gavin pulled into a vacant parking spot near Kam’s Kitchen. The two detectives exited the car with certainty they had not had in the past. The menus they found a day ago were the best lead that they had. They entered the main entrance and stood in line with several customers.
Judi observed the small unimpressive dining environment that consisted of a few plastic tables and chairs. The aroma was intense. Yung and Sue took their cooking seriously and they had developed a reputation in Chinatown.
Gavin picked up a menu from a shelf on the wall and pretended to read the contents while Judi surveyed the customers in the restaurant. She continued scanning and recognized Sue behind the counter. She remembered her smile and warm disposition from previous visits. ‘Damn, never thought I’d be here for an investigation’ she thought to herself.
Yung placed several containers into plastic bags and happily handed them to the departing customer, as another stepped forward and placed an order. Judi listened to Yung’s Mandarin, while Gavin continued to fake read his menu. He’d spent enough time working with Judi to know that she was listening to Yung’s conversation, trying to place his accent.
The customer at the counter paid and Gavin stepped forward to order.
“Hey, can I have a pint of beef lo mein?”
Beef Lo Mein wasn’t on the menu and Gavin continued to make small talk with Sue who started to develop a suspicion about the tall loquacious stranger. While Gavin talked, Judi kept looking. Her eyes kept moving until they stopped on a wall, there, she saw a picture of a younger Sue with the man who was behind the counter. She figured that he was her husband. Beneath that photo, there was a framed image, slightly discolored, perhaps from the early nineties. It’s a younger Sue and Yung with a small child in a playground in a park. He has brown skin.
Sue laughed at one of Gavin’s jokes and blurted something in Cantonese. Some chatter came from the kitchen. Yung and Sue started having a discussion with a worker.
The phone rang and Sue returned to the counter take an order over the phone. Judi nudged Gavin with her elbow, then looked at the wall. He saw the photo and he returned his attention to the counter.
Sue finished on the phone and she continued talking to Gavin about items on the menu. Yung stood by and wondered if the stranger was flirting with his wife.
At that very moment, Arious returned from a delivery and rested his bike against a wall. Judi and Gavin noticed Arious before he stepped into the kitchen area.
Judi knew that they found their man. She revealed her badge and Gavin did the same. Sue’s smile vanished immediately.
“What could the police possibly want,” she thought to herself.
Judi nodded her head toward the kitchen area, and Sue looks at her with confusion. Yung came to Judi’s side and spoke in his native tongue “What is the problem here officer?”
Judi responded “The young man in the back.”
Yung and Judi looked at each other with confusion. Arious then emerged from the kitchen and said: “Dad do you know where…”
He was interrupted by his parent’s facial expressions and the two strangers who stood before him. There is an awkward silence in the restaurant. He looked at Judi and Gavin and assumed that they were officers.
“Hi, we’d like to speak to you,” said Judi.
“How the fuck did they find me?” Arious thought to himself.
Yung knew that something was wrong.
“Officers, why do you need to speak to him?” interjected Yung.
“We only want to ask him a few questions,” said Gavin.
Yung raised the counter partition. Judi and Gavin stepped into the kitchen area.
“I will be watching closely. Okay?” said Yung.
Judi stood before Arious and before he could speak, she looked into his eyes she had a weird feeling about him, a sense of power.
“My name is Detective Long. This is Detective Brown. What’s your name?” asked Judi.
“How long have you been working here?” asked Gavin.
“Yung and Sue are my adopted parents. I’ve worked here for a while” said Arious, studying Gavin’s hand movements when answering, making sure he wasn’t reaching for his gun.
“Do they know who I am?” thought Arious.
“Can I see your ID please?” asked Judi.
Arious provided Judi with his learners permit.
Judi copied the information, and she could see that he lived in Chinatown. She knew his address, it was the same building as her old piano teacher. Gavin looked towards Yung and Sue, offering a fake smile.
“We’re almost done guys.”
“Were you on the train yesterday? The six train?” asked Judi.
Arious said nothing initially. He realized that found him, but how? There were cameras, but his face had been hidden by his cap.
“I rarely take the train. I usually ride my bike or skateboard.”
Judi realized that he was intentionally avoiding her question. Gavin found the entire situation comical. To break the tension as he was use to, he playfully asked Arious “You don’t speak Chinese do you?”
“Some” replied Arious.
Judi’s eyebrows are raised. She looks up briefly and continued copying the rest of the data on the permit. Judi then spoke to him in Mandarin.
“Thank you for your time,” said Judi.
Although he realized he was being tested, Arious understood why. He responded in the tongue that he has learned from Yung and Sue.
Judi is impressed and somewhat fascinated.
“What is he doing here?”
Judi returned the identification card and made their way towards the restaurant. As she was leaving, she turned and looked back and saw Yung and Sue standing next to Arious. There was something about him. There were always brown-skinned faces around Chinatown, but few worked in restaurants.
“What did they want? Are you okay?” asked Sue.
“They just wanted to know if I was on the train yesterday. I’m okay.”
Sue returned to the counter and Yung looked at Arious curiously. He knew that the police came for a reason.
Arious returned to the kitchen and stood in front of the sink.
“How did the police find me?”
Gavin sat in the driver’s seat and closed the door. A slow drizzle turned into a heavy downpour that beat against the car.
Judi had a gut feeling.
“He’s only twenty, but I think this is our guy”
“Oh, come on Judi! This kid? Taking on gangsters by himself? I can’t see that happening” responded Gavin.
Gavin shook his head in disbelief.
“This guy fits the profile though, he’s young and Black,” said Judi.
Gavin sucked his teeth in disbelief and answered an incoming call. Judi looked out the window, knowing that she was right. There was something about him.
At that moment, she had chosen to embark on a journey that would forever alter her life.