Detective Valdez ascended the outside stairs to the second-floor field office of Congresswoman Kang. The suite was located in a prosaic strip mall along Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park. There was a nail salon, a jewelry store, a boba tea and coffee emporium and a vacuum cleaner repair shop also located on the premises. Either the second-term Congresswoman wasn’t allotted much of an office budget or she really was of the people, Valdez noted sardonically. On the frosted window inset on the representative’s front door was her name and district in humble lettering. She entered.
“I have an appointment with the Congresswoman,” Valdez told a man with the thick hands and torso of a truck driver, albeit a better-dressed one. He regarded her as he stood in a corner looking through a file drawer. She showed him her LAPD identification.
“Hold on, I know she’s expecting you,” the man said as he walked toward a closed door on the other side of the modest office. The furniture was functional but minimal style-wise. Valdez concluded she was appreciative that Kang didn’t go in for unnecessary frills. The cop didn’t live in the district, but hey, the taxpayer’s money had to be safeguarded.
The man had stepped into the closed office and Valdez could overhear voices and some effusive sounds. After a few minutes out stepped an older Asian couple, the man putting one of those floppy hats like a stepped-on jellyfish back on his head. Valdez made a point on knowing ethnics and pegged them as Filipinos. She nodded as they went past and exited.
The door open, Valdez could see the man and the Congresswoman exchanging a few words, too low for her to hear. Kang retook her seat and the man came out to fetch the officer. “Come on in.”
Valdez stepped into the room as he left and reclosed the door. She quickly took in the space, noting several awards from national and local entities and photos of the Congresswoman with the likes of Bill Clinton and the late Grish Waller. On the desk was a folded copy of the Sing Tao, one of the Chinese-language dailies.
Kang stood again and shook hands with her visitor, who introduced herself. Valdez assessed the taller woman before her: the swimmer’s shoulders, the runner’s muscle evident even in the pant legs, and medium clipped and feathered hair framing an intelligent, but guarded, expression. She’d ease her way around to what she wanted with this chick.
As they both sat back down Kang blurted, “Is it your theory that Grish was the victim of, if not outright murder, then some sort of coercive presence?”
“I usually don’t hold much with rumors, Congresswoman. But do you have knowledge of such?”
Kang picked from her readied menu of responses. “You’re the homicide investigator.” She’d checked into the detective’s record. Valdez’s clear rate was above average and two years ago she been assigned to a task force tracking a serial killer targeting, of all things, women street vendors. They’d caught the suspect.
Valdez looked off for a moment then back at the other woman. “I want to make sure I’ve been thorough, Congresswoman.” She didn’t mention her conversation with Tanaka, the medical examiner. “So when was the last time you talked with Waller?”
“It must have been about two weeks before he died,” she answered, not sharing her conversation with Lillian McCord and Grish’s concerns with Mace Newsome. Let’s see if this looker do her own homework. Plus Kang wanted to do her own digging about Newsome and Grish’s son, Conrad.