I may write books of no redeeming social value like my latest release, Bombshell. But I think crime fiction, even written with a sense of humor and some romance, should still be accurate. I’m always ‘investigating,’ attempting to learn something, anything, that will make my books a little more realistic. My books are all set in Minnesota, usually in my hometown of St. Paul.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are known as the Twin Cities. There’s really not much of anything ‘twin’ about them anymore. Minneapolis is a big booming metropolis and St. Paul, well we say it’s the world’s largest small town. If Minneapolis and St. Paul were sisters, Minneapolis would get all the hot dates, but St. Paul is the one you’d bring home to meet your mom.
I thought it would be a good idea to take a police officer out to dinner and garner some information. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention a couple of facts here. First off, my dinner date was a woman, a very attractive woman of Southeast Asian heritage named Mai. Secondly, she isn’t exactly a police officer, okay, she’s a lawyer. But she works in the city attorney’s office, law enforcement of a sort though obviously not patrolling the city in a squad car, but still, the courts and all I figured I was bound to learn something.
My day job at the time, substitute teacher, allowed for a solid day of writing and interaction with social groups I might not normally meet. The experience was interesting to say the least. I took Mai to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant where she looked around, smiled and mentioned that she was Cambodian; news to me. We had dinner accompanied by multiple glasses of wine. We lingered over a discussion of city prosecutions followed by a night cap until we were almost the last table to leave. By the time we walked out the door arm and arm it was almost ten. It was a Wednesday in early May. One of the first nice evenings where you didn’t need a jacket, but the summer’s dreadful humidity had yet to make an appearance.
The wine and the night cap were working their magic and we exited the restaurant with the intention of returning to my place for possibly more wine and no doubt polite conversation. I had parked a half block away on the street. It had been crowded when we arrived, but now was devoid of all vehicles except mine. There were four twenty-something guys leaning against my car as we approached. Mai visibly slowed down, looked left or right for help, saw none then muttered, “Oh no,” under her breath.
I began to do everything I could to send the message this was my car they were lounging against. I jiggled my car keys, cleared my throat, set my jaw, shuffled my feet and glared for a nanosecond. My antics had none of the desired effect. I sized up the odds and determined I could flee the scene faster than Mai in her sling back stiletto heels and tight skirt.
As we drew closer, two of the guys exchanged quips, not in English, and drew a chuckle from all four thugs. They smiled for a half moment then glared like a pack of hungry wolves and remained in place. This was not going my way. Suddenly a tiny figure I hadn’t noticed popped out from the these guys. He stood about four feet tall, skinny, animated and I immediately recognized him as one of my fifth grade students from the previous week: Elvis Vang, age ten.
“Hey Mister, ‘F’ how you?” he smiled. His speech was heavily accented and I hung on his every word.
“Elvis, man am I glad to see you.” I wasn’t kidding and didn’t hide the relief in my voice.
He held out his hand, I slapped him five, he returned the action and then faced his comrades. “Hey you guys, this Mister ‘F’. I tell you bout him. He play the, the…what that thing you play Mister ’F’?”
“Bagpipes, Elvis, I played the bagpipes for your fifth grade class last week.”
“Yeah, that’s what I think. I tell you guys, ‘member? Hey Mister ‘F’, you got em, your bagpipes? You play for us, no?”
“No. I mean sorry Elvis, I didn’t bring them tonight, you know dinner and all. They take kind of a dim view if I bring them into the restaurant.”
“Mmm-mmm, too bad. They really cool. Make a lot of noise.”
“Yeah, well maybe next time. Hey look we were going to get in the car. This one, it’s mine.”
“This one here, it yours?”
“Yeah, Elvis, it’s mine.”
“Hmm-mmm, you could do better,” he said glancing at the car, then sized Mai up and down for a long ten seconds. Finally he said, “Hey guys, get off Mister ‘F’ car. Come on, move.”
Reluctantly the four guys groaned off the side of my car. I opened the door, Mai quickly slipped in, immediately locked her door and then stared straight ahead. I walked around to the driver’s side, slipped in behind the wheel, waved at Elvis and we drove off as he waved back.
“You, you know those people?”
“No just Elvis, he was…”
“The little one?”
“Yeah, Elvis, he was one of my students last week.”
“Fifth grade? The little pervert, did you see the way he looked at me, he undressed me with his eyes. And those other hoodlums, his friends, we ought to call child protection. What are they doing out this late on a school night anyway?”
I decided to change the subject to something more pleasant. “You still up for some dessert and that glass of wine at my place?”
“You know, I think maybe I better not. I’ve got a killer day tomorrow.” She crossed her arms and slid closer to the passenger door.
“You sure, I mean…”
It was a quiet seven minute drive to Mai’s building. I pulled up in front, and before I could put my car in park she had the door open. “I can make it from here,” she said, quickly jumping out before I had a chance to respond. She turned to face me. There was an extremely slim chance she might come to her senses and invite me up so I smiled and looked hopeful. “It’s been unique. I’ve got a busy few weeks coming up,” she said. Then slammed the car door and almost ran to her building. Once safely inside she pulled the door closed to make sure the security lock was activated.
I drove home listening to the golden oldies station. No kidding, Elvis came on, the real Elvis, singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” As for the other Elvis, I haven’t seen him since that night. What did I learn? A little about city prosecution, and maybe remember to park in the lot next time. Oh yeah, and thank God for Elvis.
Thanks for taking the time to follow my night of ‘investigation.’ If you have a moment, don’t miss my latest release, Bombshell, as well as my other books on Amazon, and don’t forget to tell two or three hundred of your closest friends.