Val and I had a lunch meeting at Fuzzy’s, and then I had to ask Thomas if I could speak with the other language expert¸ Agent Grove, about some discrepancies I had found in his FD-302.
Davies slapped my desk and stood up. “Just another goddamn bossy…” Her grumbling trailed off as she got closer to my door.
She turned around, her long brown ponytail flipping as she did so. The annoyed expression on her face hardened when her eyes met mine.
“You need to get one thing straight. I am not bossy. I’m the fucking boss.”
Davies’s stern look softened, and she blinked. “Have a nice day, Agent Lindy.”
“Likewise, Agent Davies.” I motioned for her to shut the door, and as it closed, I put on my headphones and listened to the digital file Thomas had sent me this morning.
The file Agent Grove had translated a few days before was accurate, except for a few key elements. I’d meant to ask Thomas about it earlier, but something felt off. It was mostly a number here and there, but then Grove had listed a suspect by the wrong name and begun leaving things out altogether.
I pulled off the headset and walked out into the squad room, noticing Grove wasn’t at his desk. “Val,” I called, “have you seen Maddox?”
She walked over to me, holding a small bag of potato chips in one hand and licking the salt off the other. “He’s interviewing someone over at the Taliban Welcome Center.”
I frowned. “Really? We’re really going to call it that?”
“It’s what everyone calls it,” she said, shrugging.
Val was referring to the million-dollar building that sat in front of our multimillion-dollar building. It served as a security checkpoint for visitors, and it was where we would question persons of interest. That way, if they or their friends attempted to bring explosives in, the main building wouldn’t be at risk.
Someone had dubbed this checkpoint as the Taliban Welcome Center, and for some bizarre reason, the nickname had stuck.
I flicked my ID badge—habit to make sure I had it on before I left—and I headed out. It was normally a nice jaunt across the parking lot to the checkpoint building, but low gray clouds were rumbling across the sky, and huge raindrops began to fall a few moments after I’d stepped onto the concrete.
The air smelled metallic, and I breathed in deep. The last week had been spent mostly indoors. That was something I hadn’t prepared for. It was easy to work behind a desk in freezing Chicago temperatures. Working so much when it was downright balmy was proving to be more difficult as the gorgeous days came, one after another.
I looked up at the sky, seeing flashes of lightning at the edge of the city. It would be easier to be at work in stormy weather.
I pushed through the glass double doors, flicking my hands and spraying the carpet with rainwater. Despite being soaked, I was in a good mood.
I looked to the agent at the desk with a broad smile. She wasn’t impressed with my positivity, my manners, or the fact that I’d walked that far in the rain.
My smile fell away, and I cleared my throat. “Special Agent Maddox?”
She took a long look at my badge and then nodded behind her. “He’s in interrogation room two.”
“Thank you,” I said. I walked over to the security door and bent over a bit while holding my badge to the black box on the wall near the door. I felt ridiculous, and someday soon, I would have to find a retractable badge holder.
The bolt lock clicked, and I pushed through. I walked down the hall and then through a door before seeing Thomas standing alone, watching Agent Grove question an unknown subject—also known as an unsub—a sullen, lanky Asian man in a bright track suit.
I crossed my arms, aware that my white blouse was wet and I was cold. “How long has he been at it?”
“Not long. The subject has been cooperating.”
I listened to them conversing in Japanese. Immediately, I frowned.
“What made you come this way?” Thomas asked.
“I had some questions about a few of Grove’s transcriptions. I need your permission to speak with him.”
He hummed, unaffected. “Your function here is confidential.”
“Someone left a stack of his reports on my door. I assumed Grove knew I was also a specialist and wanted me to look them over.”
I looked through the glass at the three people inside. Another agent was sitting in the corner, taking notes but otherwise looking extremely bored.
“Pittman. He wrecked his third vehicle. He’s on desk duty for a while.”
I looked to Thomas. He was unreadable.
“You don’t seem surprised that I found some discrepancies,” I said, watching Grove through the one-way mirror. I pointed. “There. He just translated that eleven former members of Yakuza are living in a building that also houses other subjects of Bureau investigations.”
“The unsub relayed that the members are in fact current members of Yakuza, and their number is eighteen, not eleven. Grove’s omitting. He’s either shit at Japanese, or he’s unreliable.”
Agent Grove stood and then left the unsub in the room alone with the transcribing agent. He slowly walked out before closing the door behind him. When he saw the two of us, he startled but quickly recovered.
“Agent Maddox,” he said in a nasal tone.
Anyone else might have missed the slight trembling in his fingers when he pushed up his glasses. He was a pudgy man with copper skin. His eyes were so dark that they were nearly black, and his wiry mustache twitched when he spoke.
Thomas gestured to me with the same hand that held his coffee. “This is Agent Lindy, the new supervisor for Squad Five.”
“I’ve heard the name,” Grove said, eyeing me. “From Chicago?”
Grove had the look I’d seen often right before a person asked me if I was Korean, Japanese, or Chinese. He was trying to decide if I could speak the language he had been incorrectly translating.
“Maybe you should come in here and help. He’s got a weird accent. Keeps tripping me up,” Grove said.
Thomas spoke up, “Maybe you could work with her, Grove?”
“Like I have time for that,” he grumbled, mindlessly rubbing his sweaty palms against each other.
Thomas lifted his chin once, waiting until Agent Grove left the room.
“I’ve had my suspicions for at least three months. I was sure when I missed an arrest after walking in on an empty room that I knew had been crawling with Yakuza two days prior.”
Thomas shrugged. “I was going to bring him in to translate the Title Threes we’d gotten on Benny’s guys in Vegas, but after that missed arrest, I thought better of it. Instead, I wanted to bring in someone new, someone better.”