First chapter of Red Chicago
If there is one thing Ted knew, Hell had to be better than Monday. He rolled lazily towards the edge of the queen sized mattress, easily reaching the blue jeans from which the all annoying sound emanated. After a few short moments he managed to get the smart phone out, but it took him a few more moments to unlock the damned thing and finally shut it off. He threw aside the tan comforter and sat on the edge of the mattress, its proximity to the ground causing his long legs to push into his chest.
Of course, he didn't have to get up. Ted employed himself, but the angry Korean landlord would demand his rent for the small cheap apartment. Maybe he could be lucky enough to snap some pictures of a cheating husband to earn a payday. Ted let out a massive yawn as he rose, stretching his long limbs and moving towards the bathroom. He kicked empty Chinese food boxes out of the way in his quest to relieve his bladder. Ted switched on the small portable radio that sat on the back of the toilet, the radio began to spew forth some sports news as the inspiring sound of water striking water mixed in.
"Lovie Smith is out as the Bears head coach...."
He cranked the shower on, letting it build up to a steam and hopped in. He began to lather up his hair with the expensive shampoo, the only luxury he conceded. If there was anything Ted was proud of it was his hair. His ex-wife had loved it, up until the day she left and took everything. Ted didn't blame her, the late nights of dangerous work had taken their toll. Not to mention the scandal that sunk his career, and eventually pulled out the last brick in the foundation of love he shared with her.
Upon stepping out Ted noticed the floor he set his bare feet upon, probably need to clean this shit he thought as he began to walk on his heels to minimize exposure to the disgusting tiles. Ted made a quick pot of coffee as he got dressed, strong. Just the kind he would need to get on with his day.
Ted locked both bolts on the door, hearing that reassuring kachunck as the deadbolts slid home. Not that he had anything worth stealing, it was the principle. He could hear the early morning commotion of the other denizens of the fourth floor, mothers yelling at kids to hurry up, doors slamming, babies crying, and the clutter of pans from multiple breakfasts which he could smell all mingled together. He gave a nod to a young black couple strapping their baby into a stroller and hit the stairs.
Half of the flourescents were out going down, probably for the better. It just meant he could smell and not see the stains of piss and vomit that accompanied the stairwell like an old friend. As he descended the last flight he saw a young Hispanic couple engaged in a shouting match on the last step.
" No Enrico!" The girl said crossing her arms.
" You gonna do it! 'Cause I said so chica!" The young man said grabbing the girls arms.
He could barely be out of high school. He was dressed in baggy pants with a large coat, his Bulls hat cocked sideways. He had a tattoo on his face, right under the eye. A tear drop. Ted knew the type, he had worked the gang task force for a couple years.
" Hey asshole!" Ted shouted as he made his towards them, " let the girl go." The man, Enrico, gave Ted the once over, a dangerous look coming into his eyes. Ted's sheer bulk could usually make people think twice about tangling with him, but he wasn't sure if the kid was strapped or not.
" This ain't none your business puta, get to steppin," Enrico said reaching his hand behind his back and facing Ted. but Ted was a resourceful kind of guy, and not much for talking. He planted a size 15 boot into Enrico's chest before he knew what was happening. As the gang banger flew from the steps Ted was drawing his piece, the girl screamed.
" I suggest you get your punk ass out of here kid, and don't think about coming back. You could get a lot of heat for drawing down on a cop."
Ted wasn't a cop any longer, but a little white lie never hurt anyone. The statement had it's desired effect, Enrico's eyes went wide for just a second and he scurried away down the steps, giving the girl a nasty glare and Ted an even nastier one.
" You okay ma'am?" Ted asked the girl, noticing a tear trickling down her face.
" What is wrong with you! Stupid cop, now I'm in deeper shit." She yelled at him stomping away, she pushed past an old lady come to investigate the noise from the suspected safety of the door leading onto the second floor.
"What did I do?" He nonchalantly asked the old lady who just shook her head and left him alone in the stairwell.
Ted hit the street a few moments later, a brisk wind picking up the tail of his overcoat and freezing his legs. Teaches me not to wear long johns, all these years and my dumbass can't get that right.
Ted sat in bumper to bumper traffic in his beat up green Buick Lesabre. With his heat cranked up and listening to some loud sportscaster berate the Bears management for getting rid of the coach instead of the quarterback. The sky was grey and overcast lending the day a sluggish and depressing look. the skyline of buildings and skyscrapers loomed oppressively as he made his toward West Grand Avenue, where the shop he used as his headquarters was.
It was originally going to be a suit shop and haberdashery him and his ex-wife were going to open once upon a time ago. It was the only property she didn't ask for in the settlement. Now it was O'brian's Detective Agency, a place where lawyers and suspicious spouses came for a little bit of dirt. He finally managed to pull up and find parking after navigating the one way streets the city decided to curse his existence with.
The faded lettering on the storefront stood out to him as he unlocked the cage and rolled it up, using yet another set of keys to unlock all three locks on the door itself and finally admitting him into the freezing building. The place was bare save for a his desk with the filing cabinets behind it, a couple of chairs facing it and the old computer that kept soldiering forward even though it should have been replaced years ago. All this was walled off by a cheap divider that offered a false sense of privacy should more than one client make his or her way through the door.
Ted turned on the heat, he could not afford to keep it running overnight or the weekend, and started making yet another pot of coffee, his only breakfast most mornings. Ted could never bring himself to eat in the morning, just caffeine and before he quit smoking, a cigarette. Just as he was pouring himself a steaming cup of joe, and it had become warm enough for him to take off his overcoat, the door bell chimed. Ted quickly checked his tie and button up polo, just one stain, and walked out from behind the divider. If your thinking gorgeous gals with long legs and low necklines, your way off. An older man immaculately dressed in a pinstripe suit walked in, a folder in his arm and a likewise dressed gorilla of a man a few steps behind him.
" How can I help you Mr....?" Ted trailed in question.
" Jonathon Artmen, Mr. O'Brian and this is Frank." He gestured toward the bodyguard then turning his ice chip blue eyes and patrician face to inspect Ted. " I hear you are a detective of sorts."
" That I am Mr. Artmen. That I am." Ted answered, silently thanking god for bringing in one of the richest men in Chicago. Artmen was a real estate mogul, rich on old and new money. " Why don't we step into my office?" Ted extended his arm towards the shabby divider.
" Yes," Artmen said glancing around with a slight hint of distaste, " that would be a start."
As they entered the cubicle Ted extended his hand, Jonathon Artmen did not seem to inclined to shake it from the way he sneered imperiously at it. Ted dropped the proposed hand and decided Mr. Artmen was an asshole. Didn't matter to him though, money was money.
" Can I get you some coffee John?" Ted asked once again extending the olive branch.
" It is Mr. Artmen to you, and no. Can we get down to business," was the brusque reply."
" Sure thing."
Jonathon Artmen remained standing as Ted took a seat, Ted did not even consider asking if he would like to take a seat. I hope his old ass hip breaks standing there thought Ted.
Artmen began, " My son, Paul, disappeared a week ago. The police have told me they would look into it but they are busy with more important issues or so I was told very tactfully, we have better shit to do than track down a horny teenager. But one gentleman oh so kindly told me you are a decent detective and have been successful with this kind of thing. A police chief by the name of Rudd."
So the old man is still looking out for me thought Ted, I'm gonna have to take him out for lunch or something. Mr. Artmen continued placing the folder on the desk.
" Inside are photos, a physical description, the last persons he was seen with for the week leading up to the disappearance, and addresses of his friends and their names. I must get going, my schedule demands it. My phone number is in the packet."
Mr Artmen reached into the breast pocket of his superbly tailored coat, Ted would know this he had owned a few himself at one time, and produced a check. The amount made Ted lose his breath. A hundred Grand. Ted's mouth dropped like an adolescent boy the first time he sees a real pair of boobs.
Mr. Artmen just gave Ted that impeccable sneer and said, " I expect results Mr. O'brian, I will give you another hundred thousand on successful return of my son." Jonathon Artmen just marched out, Ted heard the ring of the door chime, just barely. He sat speechless staring at the zeros. By the time he worked himself out of the stupor to ask Mr. Artmen some questions his brain registered that he had gone. Ted began to page through the packet, it was pretty thorough, but there were questions he still needed answering. Oh well, I least I have something to start with. Shit, for a hundred grand Ted would start with a pubic hair and a used toothpick.
Ted did the first thing in his new age investigate techniques, he went to facebook. He looked up Paul Artmen, the son of his client. He found The page was set to private and he was only able to see one picture. It was a picture of Paul at some type of party, most likely a rave. The young man had his hair spiked up and was wearing nothing but bright blue swim trunks, flip flops, and a plethora of bead necklaces.
Giving up on the facebook, Ted googled the older Artmen, his client. A couple of article links popped up about ongoing projects he was involved in, but it was an older one at the bottom of the page that really stuck out to Ted. The breif description began describing some type of white collar crime, a ponzi scheme. Ted opened up the link and dove into the article describing how Johnathon Artmen had gotten a large group of investors to go in on a project to refurbish Navy Pier, a project that had failed to ever produce. The article listed a bunch of sorry excuses made by Artmen as to why nothing was ever done and where the money went, the article stated he had been taken to court but cleared of any wrongdoing. A picture next to the article of Artmen featured him with someone Ted knew, Tony Armerillo, a local mobster. Sure, organized crime had taken huge blows when the RICO act went official but now they stuck to white collar crime while dipping their fingers in drugs, guns, gambling, and prostitution. Old staples tucked beneath a new diet. And this was one of the richest and most influential men in Chicago with one of the sleaziest. Ted wondered if this had anything to do with Paul's disappearance. Ted printed the article and thumb tacked it to his particle board.