Mystery Files: Detective Jonathan Barrett
“Kavan St. John, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see your ugly mug,” my enthusiasm taking the beat cop by complete surprise.
“You’re kiddin’ me, right?” Kavan has been a highly decorated member of the force for just shy of a decade and I can never remember a time when I was actually glad to see him. We are friends and all but genuinely speaking he has the worse timing. It never fails, if I’m in the middle of something important my cell rings and St. John is on the line, calling me to work.
“I’m not jesting . . . it’s the truth. You’re my savior.”
“What’s wrong?” Falling in stride with the cop, Kaven is a tall man- so tall that if I stand in his shadow it offers enough shade to keep me cool, broad shoulders, weighs in at a stout two-hundred pounds, but don’t get the wrong impression, the man’s in shape due in part to his occupation, but I figure the three boys at home have something to do with it, as well.
“Girl trouble. Eva, the girl in question, we met at a Dodgers game in May and she’s already wanting me to spend all my time with her. My week has been spent between window shopping, playing in the park with her stupid yappy poodle, and she keeps telling me that I should meet her parents. Any other time the department burns out my number, but your call was the first this week.”
“I didn’t know you had a new girlfriend.”
“Why label the relationship?” Major fear of commitment.
“First of all, what did I tell you about picking up women at ball games?” He had warned me about this several times. I never listen to his advice, but am reconsidering the idea.
“I know, I know. And she’s a Mets fan.”
“Come on, Jonathan!” We are both die hard Dodgers fans, with a slight dislike of the New York teams. “Moving on. I don’t see what the problem is. You aren’t getting any younger, stick with one woman and quit running away when things start to get serious. I’ve been married twelve years and I have three beautiful children. You can enjoy your life with another, if you just give it a chance.”
Awkward pause. “I don’t think the family life is suited for me. Rather not.”
“We’ll see where you are in a couple of years. But how about we solve this case now rather than later?”
“But of course. What’s going on?” I switched to detective mode, quickly forgetting about all my personal dilemmas.
“Another robbery. Not unusual anymore with the financial troubles that residents are faced with today. People are getting desperate. Anyway, a diamond was stolen from a local jewelry gallery.”
“Only one diamond?”
“Yes . . . ,” he paused a moment to flip through his notes, “a pink diamond, oval cut.”
“Well, I can tell you one thing for certain. Your thief is smart and he has knowledge of precious stones. This diamond is worth more than any other item in the store. The thief did not waste their time . . . take only what you need. No greed here.” We stopped on the side walk in front of the gallery. I expected to see glass on the sidewalk from a broken window or door, but there was none. “Not the usual crime scene. How did they break into the store?”
“Didn’t have too. The store was open for business; a man came into the gallery with a knife and ordered the clerk to open the case and hand over the diamond.”
“And the clerk did this?”
“No, he refused and received a knock to the head for his stubbornness. The perp. then proceeded to steal the diamond, via removing the keys from the clerk’s pocket. Opened the case and left. No prints, gloves were used.”
“The man was caught on the security cameras, right?”
“Yes, didn’t even attempt to disguise himself.”
“Than why am I here? If you have a picture to circulate around the city than why do you need me?” Confused I began to wonder if I was wasting my time.
“Because the perp. was also at the Marina- at the same time as he was stealing the diamond.”
“Excuse me?” The dots weren’t connecting as they should.
“We immediately placed an APB over the police radio and within minutes a man matching the description was picked up at Chip’s Marina. Security cameras show that he was there at the precise time that the gallery was being robbed.”
“Hmm. That’s an interesting tidbit.”
“I’ll say.” Walking into the gallery, my imagination wondered freely pondering how much these precious stones were worth and how easy it would be to pocket one of the gems. The idea was quickly dismissed. I solve crimes . . . I don’t commit them. Kavan interrupted my thoughts. “Jonathan, we got wedding bands over here.” He laughed at my expense.
“No, thank you.” The clerk who was attacked, Mr. Duncan, was collapsed in a chair holding an ice pack to the back of his head. A medic hovered over him checking the damage and tending to the wound. “How are you, sir?” I asked to begin the interrogation.
“Been better,” he answered in no mood to chat it up. A lean, tall man with blond curly hair, and he wore a dark suit with a red power tie.
“Sorry to hear about your bad day at work. What can you tell me about the stolen item?”
“It was the most valuable stone in the gallery, worth millions of dollars. My boss is not going to be happy.” Duncan paused a moment, wincing as the medic placed an alcohol soaked cotton ball to the open wound. “The diamond was raspberry in color, very beautiful, oval shaped, and we had just acquired the stone.”
“The owner must have some impressive pull. If I’m correct the only way to possess one of these rarities is to be invited to a special bid. Hard party to get into.”
“You are correct, Detective Barrett. Mr. Stone has high contacts with an abundance of pull in the industry.”
“I see. Let’s discuss your attacker.”
“He was a short, Asian man . . . possibly Chinese. Black hair, light complexion, and he wore a decent suit, black in color. Oh, and he had a vague birth mark below his left eye, and it was in the shape of a bird. Carried a knife and spoke perfect English. He possessed more than a passing interest in diamonds and stole only the pink diamond.”
“You have been very helpful, Mr. Duncan. Good luck with your recovery.”
“Glad to be of help.” Leaving the building, the warm California sun warmed my skin considerably and I turned my LA Dodgers cap backwards, my usual custom. I’m kinda a punk. Deep in thought I pondered the testimony I just received, allowing the facts to rise to the top.
Kavan, unknown to me, had apparently left me because when I looked up, he had reappeared holding a photograph in his hand. “This is the security camera shot of the Asian man.”
I glanced at it for a moment burning the image into my memory. “Can you believe the owner’s name is Mr. Stone?” The pun made me laugh but St. John dismissed the play of words with a shrug of the shoulders. “Precious stones . . . Mr. Stone? Get it?”
“I got it, Barrett. Let’s move past the name, shall we?”
“Fine. Take me to the Marina. I must speak to the suspect.”
With gas prices on the rise, especially here in Hollywood, I opted to ride along with the cop in his cruiser. I tried to coax Kavan into turning on the siren but he would not buy into my childish games. Too bad. Chip’s Marina is a handful of minutes away making for a short ride. Exiting the vehicle I was grateful for the cool breeze that came off of the Pacific. It is always cooler in the marina compared to the surroundings. Hundreds of boats were tethered to the docks; everything from expensive yachts that looked more like mini ocean liners, to tourist filled catamarans, and the more modest boats whose owners were not members of the one percent of the population loaded with cash.
Sitting cross-legged on the boardwalk sat an Asian man that looked eerily similar to the man from the jewelry security camera. To say that I was thoroughly amused would be a complete understatement. This may be the challenge that I have been waiting for. My mouth salivated just at the thought of this possibility.
“Sir, I am Detective Jonathan Barrett, I need to ask you some questions.” I paused to make sure the man could indeed understand me. “Where were you at two-thirty this evening?” That was the time of the robbery.
“Here.” Short answer. The bird birthmark was barely visible, just like the diamond thief.
“Do you own a boat, sir?”
“No, I live near bye and just wanted to take a walk by the docks. People do it quite frequently.” He was allowed to stand up. I noticed that he too was wearing a black suit, only his jacket was missing.
“Take a look at this photo.” I handed the black and white to him to inspect. “It looks eerily similar to you. This man robbed a jewelry store, steeling a rare pink diamond.”
“The resemblance is uncanny but I was here. I have committed no crime. A simple case of mistaken identity. I may look like that man, but there is no possible way that I could be your thief. Honest mistake, I’m sure.”
“Thank you . . . I never got your name, sir?”
“What is your country of origin, Mr. Zhao?”
I walked away and motioned for Kavan to join me. “Looks like you found your man.” I smiled at him innocently enough.
“You are not going to tell me that Chao Zhao is the thief?”
“Come on, Jonathan! How can a man be in two places at once? I mean, he is human, right?”
“As far as I know,” I chuckled at the thought of extra terrestrials running around in SoCal.
“Care to explain?” Kavan had had enough of my vagueness.
Before I explain the situation to the beat cop, I would like you to take five and see if you can solve this perplexing mystery. We know Chao Zhao stole the diamond. It is possible to pull this crime off. I know this but do you?
The question is: we know who did it, but do you know how they committed the crime? Those of you whose magnifying glass and trench coat failed to discover the truth- do not fret- I will assist you and reveal the clue. Take five.
Solution to the Crime: How did Chao Zhao swipe the pink diamond?
Clue: “Sometimes trouble travels in two’s. Our man Zhao has an identical twin brother. But you don’t have to worry about that.”
“I checked the boat registry and their was a boat registered to a Mr. Quake. If you check the name, you will realize that it’s a bogus. Guess the name of the boat?”
“I don’t know?”
“You’re no fun. Double Take.”
“Oh that’s clever.” Kavan finally got a pun.
“Are you sure there is a twin?”
“It is the only way that this crime could have been committed. While the other brother was robbing the jewelry store the other stood conveniently in front of the camera here at the dock, wearing similar clothes. The thief left on the boat while the other sacrificed himself to the police.”
“So all I have to do is check with the Chinese officials and find out if there is a brother.” Kavan was proud.
“No good. China is still reeling from the major earthquake, the records are in shambles and quite frankly the Chinese officials you speak of have more pressing matters to tend to. Like the Olympics.”
“You’re telling me that those files are lost?”
“Exactly. You will have to let Chao go. You have no evidence. Gloves were worn at the scene, no knife nor diamond was found on the suspect. You could check the islands in the San Pedro Canal, but I bet you the brother is long gone. It is a perfect crime.”
“Damn it!” With that sentiment Kavan St. John stormed off clearly flustered at the thought of another criminal escaping his grasp, like so many times before.
Chao Zhao was standing alone peering at the open sea. Standing beside him, I began the conversation. “Your brother is taking the diamond back home, huh?”
“Yes, he is.” Obviously the man knew that he was in the clear.
“What is Mr. Quake going to do with the money from the diamond after he sells it on the black market?”
“Our country is in ruins due to the earthquake. What do you think we are going to do?” With that last remark he turned and walked off into the shadows. Amazing to think that these men pulled off a crime in hopes of helping their country when she needs them the most. For love of their country as well as helping their families prosper.
My cell phone rang summoning me from my thoughts. It was Eva. Starring at the small device I debated if I should answer it.
The phone ringed again.