zyu ichi

After half an hour of chanting, Charles finally shot to his feet, waving uselessly at the incense smoke in the air.  “I’ve had enough,” he said.  “I’m leaving.”

He had indulged Katz for longer than he should have.  They had phoned in the murder anonymously, which rankled tremendously as the police were denied nearly all of the details about the killer that they knew.  Katz had refused to stick around to make a report, though, and suggested (rather strongly) that if Charles did so, further contact would not be forthcoming.

This made Charles uncomfortable, but he didn’t have a choice and didn’t think he could be faulted for choosing Nikki over a dead punk he didn’t know.  He and Katz had gone to a psychic next, and that was the last straw.  In spite of Katz’ reassurances that he knew what he was doing, Charles wondered exactly how the private eye thought incense, chanting and tea leaves could help.  He had enough patience for thirty minutes, at which time he wanted nothing more than to call his fiancee, tell her that he’d gotten a strong lead but it hadn’t panned out otherwise, and go home to decide what the next step was.

Katz was on his feet immediately.  He’d taken off his Columbo coat and shirt, revealing a white tank top and tattoo-covered arms.  He wore what appeared to be a chain of dried roses around one surprisingly toned bicep.  Underneath the coat, Katz clearly wasn’t the pasty desk-jockey he appeared to be.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up,” he said.  “We’re getting somewhere, here.  We make a good team.”

“Getting somewhere?  We’re watching an old Indian woman sing to herself, Katz.”

“It’s a purification ritual.”

“A what?  It’s a waste of my time.  I’m feeling very strongly that I’m being hustled, here.”

Katz nodded.  “That’s a valid concern.  Very shrewd.  Except that I haven’t asked for any money.”

The innocent act annoyed Charles.  “Oh, I’m sure you will,” he said sarcastically.

“Hadn’t planned on it.”

Charles started for the door, and Katz followed.  “I’m supposed to believe you’re helping me out of the goodness of your heart?”

“Believe what you want.  But if I’m charging a fee, I negotiate it up front, like a good businessman.  Take advantage of my goodwill, here.”

He opened the door and stepped out into the bright Los Angeles sunlight.  “No, thank you.”

“No, look, wait.  Look what we’ve got here.”  Katz followed Charles outside, shook the wallet out of his pocket, flipped it open.  “We know the dead guy’s name.  Craig Reilly.  And judging by the address, that was his own apartment he got killed in.  And he knew Liz.  Maybe he knew your sister, too.  She might even be in his address book,” he added, pulling that out as well.  Charles had paused.  Katz tucked the wallet under his elbow and zipped the address book open.  “Let’s see…oh, hell, this thing’s not written in English.”

“What?”  Charles took it from him and paged through it.  The only characters on the page he recognized were the numbers; the rest was Asian writing.

“Christ, man!  Manners?”

“Sorry.”  He handed it back.

Katz leafed through it.  “It’s Japanese,” he said.

“How do you know that?”

“‘Cuz it’s my job to know things like that, Mr. Saxen.  And it just so happens I have a friend who reads Japanese.”

“Because it’s your job to know people like that?”  Charles cracked a small smile.

“That’s the spirit.  We’ll find her.”  Katz gave Charles a friendly punch in the shoulder and pretended not to notice when the bigger man’s grin disappeared. 

“You said you had more information about those photos of Nikki.”

“I might.  I have some leads to run down first.”

“In there?” Charles asked, nodding toward the psychic’s door.

“No, sorry.  That was just…well, look, seeing that dead guy kind of rattled my cage too, okay?  I needed my head cleared.  Let me go in and pay Lupe, and we’ll go get this book translated.  You never know, your sister might be in here.”  He held up the address book and smiled, but Charles didn’t return it.