The alleys off Hastings in Vancouver’s east side are home to a number of unscrupulous characters. Vick MacDonnell walks these alleys like he owns them and the shadowy figures lurking there scurry quickly out of his way lest they have business with him. Under these circumstances you can understand the shock Vick experienced when he found himself looking down the barrel of a nine millimeter handgun.
Its owner said, “Chris Parks was my brother,” waited for Vick to consider this and shot him three times as the horrified look of realization came across his face. Knowing that Vick knew who had killed him and the fact that the killer could now be free to live a life without the likes of Vick filled the murderer with satisfaction. The killer watched as Vick drew in his last breaths and, once satisfied that the monster was dead, dropped the gun and ran.
Marc Finkel, the detective in charge of the case, was very familiar with Vick, so he knew he could dredge up no end of suspects who would like to see the victim dead. Vick had his hand in a little bit of everything, from drugs to prostitution. The scene of the crime didn’t help Marc much either; there were no fingerprints, no footprints and the gun was gone. All he had was a once feared criminal lying dead in a pool of his own blood amid the dirty needles and garbage.
Marc put his notepad away, lit a cigarette and stared at the younger police officers moving busily around the scene. They looked so eager and enthusiastic. A big case like this could make their careers, but instead they had to call in Marc who viewed it as a hassle. I should have requested a desk job for another few years before I retire, he thought.
The night was cold and the air was full of moisture. Marc was not impressed at being dragged out of bed after midnight on such a night. At least I have no wife to wake up, Marc thought, and soon after tried to repress thoughts about how pathetic his life had become without his noticing.
The next day Marc had the always unpleasant task of informing the family of the death. A young girl, no more than 13, answered the door to Vick’s modest, but extravagant home. The girl was the shining image of innocence with rosy cheeks, golden blonde hair and an angel white smile. Standing in the doorway of a white house with immaculately tended gardens, full of vibrantly colored flowers, and a white picket fence to boot, made Marc wonder at first whether he had the right address. Is this actually the home of one of Vancouver’s sleaziest criminals, he thought?
After verifying that he was indeed in the right place Marc asked the little girl if Trixy, Vick’s girlfriend for the past eight months, was there. The girl went back into the house and was replaced moments later by a tall, beautiful woman who no one would expect to see on the arm of a character like Vick MacDonnell. Marc said hello and asked who the little girl was. He was shocked to hear that the intelligent and attractive looking young lady was Vick’s daughter, Isabelle.
“At least he did one good thing while he was here,” Marc said.
A worried look suddenly appeared on Trixy’s face. “What do you mean, while he was here?”
Marc cursed himself for his insensitive slip of the tongue and tried to break the news of Vick’s death as gently as he could. He waited patiently, as he always did after breaking the news, for Trixy to stop crying and regain her composure. Watching her cry, he felt sympathetic, but he was also happy for her loss. He had gotten to know Trixy quite well over the years. She was a nice girl and all of the cops thought that she was actually starting to make Vick a more compassionate criminal. In the end however, they all thought that Vick would put more evil into her character than the good she put into his. After she calmed down he got to the point of his visit. “I need to ask you if there is anyone that would want Vick dead.”
Trixy remained silent and thought about it for awhile. As soon as the answer dawned on her she was filled with anger. “How could he? That rat, it had to be him. Richard Jones. Vick confronted him just last week about stealing money from him.”
Marc knew Richard Jones as Vick’s exclusive lawyer for the past ten years. If Vick found out that Richard was stealing money he would have had him killed immediately. It makes sense that Richard would try to kill him first to save his skin. He would definitely need to have to have a talk with Mr. Jones, but first he had to explore the always awkward task of questioning the family without offending them. “Nothing personal Trixy, but I have to ask you where you were last night around midnight.”
“Isabelle and I were both here watching television all night” she replied. “You don’t think that one of us killed him do you?”
“It’s too soon to be sure about anything. As far as I’m concerned you’re not suspects right now. It’s just common procedure to question the family in these cases.”
After Trixy assured him that she couldn’t think of anyone else who might have committed the crime he said goodbye and set off for the office of Richard Jones. When he arrived in the lobby the secretary told him to have a seat while she informed Mr. Jones of his presence. The lobby was quite large and sparsely furnished. Abstract art of a variety that Marc cared little for was strategically placed upon the walls most likely by a highly paid interior decorator. After a short wait a tall man in a well fitting custom suit walked briskly up to Marc and introduced himself as Richard Jones. He invited Vick into his office which, thankfully, was a little cozier and more welcoming than the overbearing lobby.
When Marc explained why he was there, Richard was furious at the suggestion that he could have killed Vick. The distraught lawyer proceeded to explain to Marc that he had known Vick since he was a child and that Vick had helped him get through law school. He admitted stealing money from Vick, but he said that he told Vick it was only because he was going through some hard times and he wasn’t thinking straight. They were like brothers and Vick would never kill him over money.
“Well where were you last night?” Marc asked.
“I was home alone all night, but I swear I didn’t kill him,” Richard said pacing around the room. “But I have a good idea who did. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I think his little girl did it?”
“Isabelle?” Marc laughed. “Why?”
“She’s not as sweet as she looks, detective. There is a lot of hate in that little girl and it’s all directed at her father. It’s no secret that Vick was involved in a lot of criminal activities and that his wife, Isabelle’s mother, was murdered by some unhappy associates of his. Isabelle hates him and she is also the only heir to his rather large estate.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to the girl, but don’t make any plans to leave town for awhile” Marc said.
Trixy did not look happy to see Marc again so soon and almost refused to let him in when he told her why he was there. Isabelle had become like a daughter to her and she knew that although Isabelle hated her father she could never kill him. She told Marc that Isabelle did not kill her father because, as she told him earlier, the girl was home all night with her.
“What time did she go to bed?” Marc asked.
“Ten o’clock and she stayed in bed all night” she said. “After you left I thought about it some more and I am absolutely sure that Richard must have done it.”
“I’m sorry Trixy, but Vick was killed at midnight, which would have given Isabelle plenty of time to sneak out of the house and walk down to Hastings. I’m still looking at Richard, but Isabelle’s motives are just as good as his.”
Marc insisted that he be allowed to ask Isabelle some questions, but after arguing with Trixy he agreed to wait until the next day.
After he left, Trixy was furious. She was convinced that Marc would not be able to find the real killer and would end up putting Isabelle in jail after some half-hearted investigation. If she could find the gun that killed Vick she knew the police would trace it back to Richard and then they would leave Isabelle alone. She made some phone calls to Vick’s associates and told them to spread the word that she would give a $3000 reward to the person who brought her the gun that killed Vick.
While Trixy was intent on finding the murder weapon, Marc decided to hit up one of his informants to find out what Vick was up to lately. Apparently, the word was out about Richard stealing the money, but Vick was not as brotherly as Richard thought because he was planning to kill him over the incident. Richard was going through hard times because a young investigative reporter from out of town had gathered evidence of Richard’s criminal dealings with Vick and was about to go public with it. Richard finally asked Vick to kill the reporter. Vick took care of the situation and thought that the matter was dealt with until he found out that Richard was stealing money to run away and start a new life with before someone else threatened to expose him. The informant also confirmed Isabelle’s hate for her father, but he didn’t think that she was capable of murdering anyone. Other than that, Vick had received the usual barrage of death threats from rival criminals and families whose children he had lured into crime.
After leaving the informant, Marc went down to the police station to see if anything new had developed. The only information he obtained was that Vick was shot with a nine millimeter handgun. Since Richard was starting to look like the main suspect, marc checked his records and found out that Richard owned a nine millimeter handgun. Looks like it’s time to pay another visit to Mr. Jones, he thought.
Richard’s secretary gave him a disapproving look when he entered the lobby for the second time that day. “Mr. Jones is not here” she said. “He left very quickly after your last visit with him.” The rather large woman’s tone betrayed her as being very annoyed at Marc’s disruption of the regular office work.
“Do you know where I can find him?” he asked.
“No detective. He did not tell me where he was going.”
Marc’s hands started to sweat, the pace of his heart quickened and a lump formed in the middle of his throat. I knew I should have taken him to the station for more questioning, Marc thought. No need to panic yet. Just because he left the office doesn’t mean he has disappeared altogether. One thing was for sure though and that was that Marc was not going to be at ease until he located the missing lawyer.
He said a quick and disinterested goodbye to the secretary and made his way over to Richard’s home. The queasy feeling that had developed in his stomach grew stronger as he stood outside Richard’s door ringing the bell and receiving no answer. With his focus completely on the door, he almost jumped out of his skin when his cell phone rang from inside his jacket. His nerves were so shot that he had to catch his breath before he could slowly answer the phone. “Hello.”
“Hi Marc are you okay, you don’t sound so great.”
Marc pulled himself together and confidently replied into the phone that he was fine. “Who is this anyway?”
“It’s Trixy. I just wanted to let you know that I think I found the gun that killed Vick. I’m taking it to the police station right now.”
“That’s great news” Marc replied a little more cheerily. “I’ll meet you there.”
Marc hung up the phone and made his way to the station. The good news momentarily diverted his attention from Richard’s disappearance and lifted his spirits. When he got to the police station Trixy was already there and the gun was being processed by the forensic unit. While they waited for the results, Trixy explained how she offered a reward for the gun and found out that after the murder a person, who she promised would remain anonymous, had stolen the gun from the scene and was going to pawn it when he heard about the reward.
“Do you really think that this gun is going to lead back to Richard?” Marc asked, painfully remembering that the lawyer was still missing.
“I think so, but what I really want is to clear Isabelle’s name.” Trixy replied. “She is just a great kid who has been through so much.”
“What is going to happen to her now that Vick is gone?”
“I’ve already filed papers to adopt her” Trixy replied. “Vick was her only family, so I’m all she has now. When this is all over, we’re going to move back to Seattle, where my family lives.”
“Just don’t forget that Isabelle has to come in for questioning tomorrow” Marc quickly added, determined not to lose another suspect.
Their conversation was interrupted when the officer analyzing the gun came over to gave his report to Marc. The gun Trixy found was matched to the bullets found in Vick’s body and it was registered to Richard. Marc was satisfied that he had enough evidence for an arrest; Richard had no alibi, he probably knew that Vick was planning to kill him, and Vick was killed with his gun. Now all Marc had to do was find him.
“Is it safe to assume that you won’t be questioning Isabelle now that the gun has been linked to Richard?” Trixy asked.
“Yes, it looks like Richard is the murderer, but there is a problem. I couldn’t find him this afternoon.”
“So what are you going to do now?”
“All I can do is put out an arrest warrant on him and keep looking.”
Trixy wished him luck with his search and headed home, happy with the knowledge that the case was closed and she was free to start her new life with Isabelle.
Isabelle was excited to be moving to Seattle to live with a nice family. She hated her father and blamed him for her mother’s death. Every day she feared that she would be murdered by one of his criminal friends and she begged him to lead a normal life. He just laughed at her and told her that she worried too much. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she couldn’t even make any friends because everyone knew who her father was.
I can’t wait to start a new life, she thought. After the sale of the house her inheritance would be more than enough money to start a new life with and forget about her old one.
She was in the process of packing when her attention was drawn to the television. A reporter was excitedly ranting on about a body that was found in the Fraser River by a fisherman. The man had been viciously stabbed and dumped in the river. The victim was Richard Jones. What does this mean? Isabelle thought. Is that detective going to come poking around again now that his murderer has become a victim himself. This couldn’t be happening; not now when they were so close to leaving. She would have to tell Trixy right away and they could figure something out together. When the reporter finished her story, Isabelle ran upstairs and burst into Trixy’s room. To her surprise Trixy was sitting on the bed surrounded by newspaper clippings. Isabelle picked up one of the clippings and read the article aloud:
Local reporter missing. Chris Parks, an investigative reporter, was reported missing by his sister who has not seen him for two weeks. His sister, Mary Parks, says it is not like him to disappear and the last time she saw him he said that he was investigating a lawyer named Richard Jones and his involvement with a dangerous criminal named Vick MacDonnell.
Isabelle stopped reading and put the article down. She stared at Trixy with a confused look on her face.
“I was going to wait until we got to Seattle before I told you. Chris Parks was my brother and your father and Richard murdered him. I know this because after Chris went missing I used a fake name and became Vick’s girlfriend. After a while I found out that he had killed my brother because Richard asked him to. We were all sitting around one night and they talked about it like it was some kind of sick victory. I had to use all my strength to keep myself from killing them that night.”
“Why didn’t you just do it then? Why wait?”
“In the time that I was here, I started to care for you and I couldn’t stand the way Vick treated you. I knew that if I stole Richard’s gun and shot Vick with it the police would charge him with the murder and we would be free to leave the city and start a new life. Of course I had to wait until Richard had a motive. When Vick told me Richard was stealing from him I knew it was my chance. But everything went wrong when the gun disappeared and the police started pointing the finger at you. Richard came to see me after Marc talked to him. He was going on and on about how you must have done it and what an evil little child you are. First he had my brother killed and then he blamed you for your father’s murder. I was so mad and there was a knife on the table. He was dead before I even had time to think. That’s why he’s missing and that’s why we have to leave right away before they find him.”
The doorbell interrupted their conversation. “You’re not expecting anyone are you?” Trixy asked.
“No” Isabelle replied flatly.
Trixy and Isabelle went downstairs and opened the door to a flustered detective. When they dragged Richard’s body out of the river, Marc almost cracked. He was relieved to find his missing suspect, but now his suspect was a victim. This time he was going to follow up his leads immediately before anyone else went missing. “I need to interview Isabelle right now” he said in his most demanding and authoritative voice.
Both Trixy and Marc turned and looked at Isabelle in utter disbelief when she said, “Trixy murdered them both.”