“Aw shit,” Congresswoman Kang uttered.
“I’m shocked that an elected official would use such language,” Valdez joked. “I should report you to the ethics committee.”
“Bite me,” Kang said, laughing. She then addressed her staffer. “Brian, dear, go down there and find out what my constituents are complaining about, hmmm?”
“On it.” He started to stalk away.
“And Mr. Betters…?”
“No yelling. This is a dialogue. You’re there as the representative of a thoughtful and caring public official who wants to find out their concerns and seek solutions. Deference and tact are your bywords.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He left.
Valdez folded her arms, regarding Kang. “Just another day at the office, huh?”
“You get to see humanity at its worst, husbands who beat their baby’s mama to death or knucklehead kids killing each other over who threw up what hand signal.”
“But this kind of thing,” Valdez said, nodding toward the street, “this gets you charged, doesn’t it? You like the adversity?”
“I like it when people say what’s on their minds, Des. Democracy in action, as cliché as that sounds. There’s a whole lot of backslapping while greasing the skids under you in my line of work.” Through the window Brian could be seen talking to one of the demonstrators, a woman wearing a large sun hat. The sign she held read Recall Kang for Being Out of Touch.
“Hey hey, ho, ho…,” went up again
Kang continued, “What I really like is getting something done. Too many decent bills die slow deaths up on the Hill. Jobs programs, affordable housing initiatives, campaign finance reform,” she pursed her lips, staring at the scene below.
She added, “Still, if all you do while up there is introduce one after the other idealistic piece of legislation, but can’t get any of it through, then what good are you?”
Valdez said, “It’s not enough having principles if you haven’t mastered the art of compromise?”
“Or is it selling out?”
“You wrestle with that often?”
Kang smiled crookedly at her. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose.”
“God, I hope you’re not a country-and-western fan.”
“There’s a night spot over here in Alhambra called the Cobra Lounge that has a group called the Mongols as the house band. Mostly Asian-American, and they play everything from Willie Nelson to Snoop.”
“How about the Thai Elvis, you ever catch his act?”
“I have,” Kang admitted. “He even sang at a fundraiser of mine.”
The detective shook her head. “Yeah, you’d think he’s kitsch, but once he cranks those tunes up, he’s not too shabby. He does a righteous ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight.’ ”