“Sorry, Cynthia,” Desdemona Valdez said, “but like I said, there’s no way I have enough chits with any of the Vegas PD to get them to hunt down young Mister Waller. I did try though.”
“I appreciate that,” Congresswoman Kang answered. She walked past a group of people queuing up for a jazz club where Little Jimmy Scott was gigging. “Maybe when I get back to town you might have time for coffee.”
“That the best you can do to show your appreciation?”
She smiled. “I’m not sure I understand your meaning, officer.”
“I’ll make it clear when you’re back. Which is when?”
“Friday, late,” Kang said. Wilson Pickett singing “In the Midnight Hour” sprang into her head.
“Call me before you’re in the air.”
“You won’t be… engaged?”
“I will, Des.”
The detective didn’t speak, but listened to the other woman’s breathing and footfalls. Then, “What kind of trouble do you think Grish’s son is in? I take it you know the older woman he was arguing with?”
“Long story, and really, I’m not sure what the hell’s going on with Connie. I badly need to talk to him and for all I know, that dramatic hang-up of the phone was staged.” Kang had tried calling him back and the number was out of service. “But there’s no way for me to get to Vegas. Though I might have an idea that could work. Somebody I know in town there. Be safe, okay?”
“Until I see you at least.”
They laughed and Kang ducked into a bar and restaurant called the Derek Flint to get a brandy and search her address book on her cell for a certain phone number. All about her the nightlife in the gentrifying Logan Circle area was pulsing. Once a solid black neighborhood, where Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born, the riots and their result tore the neighborhood apart on the evening of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968. As word spread across the country, Kwame Ture, then called Stokely Carmichael, a Howard University grad and civil rights lightning rod, addressed fellow members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) around 8:30 that night.
According to what Kang read in Carmichael’s book, Ready for Revolution, “They took our leader off, so out of respect, we’re going to ask all these goddamn stores to close down until he is laid to rest.” Carmichael had broken with King over the nonviolence question two years before.
Some contended as Carmichael and the SNCC members marched along the streets, gathering the angry, grief-stricken residents as they went, that this was the match struck to the gas-soaked kindling. Others, Carmichael included, maintained he was in no way responsible for the ensuing conflagration. As some thirty cities would experience the flame, a frustrated answer to the murderous injustice visited on the Messenger, the fellaheen were going to have their say in the only way they could.