Foreword: On Feb 1st 2013 Elisa Lam (21) went missing from the Cecil Hotel, 19 days later her dead body was found in the hotel’s rooftop water cistern. To date the authorities have offered no answers, the story that follows, is what downtownster believes may have happened to Elisa Lam.
It was the kind of morning that most do not care for in the city known for its good weather. Overcast, no, more than overcast, dark with a chill in the air, the type of morning that one would expect to hear that something horrible had happened…
A storyteller am I, however it has been a long while since I have taken to the keypad, not because the world has, suddenly in our lifetime, become mundane, rather with my own personal aging has come the understanding that there truly is nothing new under the sun. To write now, is to not slice into the essence of humanity as it once was, this frontier has been thoroughly explored, yet context does change and with it, perception. And it is within the realm of new context that a storyteller can possibly offer some insightful or entertaining new perception. So why not tell a story? I did not venture to find something to tell of, it ventured to find me.
And so it goes:
I awake early, though I am not a morning person, to begin my routine before others, for lack of a more polite way of saying it, get in my way. This is a short story of the terrible variety, which does not concern me directly, so I see no need for my own personal dimensions to unfold slowly or in great detail—I’ve had an interesting life, most of which has taken place in and around Downtown Los Angeles.
The coffee I raised to my lips was a blonde roast, which is better than the house blend Starbucks always has to offer. It’s strange that a chain of coffee houses, synonymous with the over corporatization of an entire country should be mentioned in a story one would hope might last for the ages, but it too plays a role in establishing new context. In the past a story such as this would begin in an establishment owned by a character of some-sort, who surely would be part of a community, but there is little sense of community in 21st Century America.
And while many desperately seek privacy from friends and family, they live out a personal reality show in the realm of social media—much of it filled with lies and delusions of grandiosity. The anonymity offered by a city as large as Los Angeles, attracts the most extreme of this type—their end is often financial, moral or physical demise…
“Do you mind if I join you?” asked the attractive, twenty-something-year-old.
I glanced around the space and beheld an abundance of empty tables, which leads one to an obvious conclusion of specific intent. I gestured to the empty chair and she sat.
“You start early.” She smiled.
I wanted to not like her. It’s a funny thing about men of my age, after a lifetime of living ruled by feelings toward women; we break our chains and move on. Not that we come to hate the opposite sex, in fact I would say quite the opposite, we come to see them as a being, for better or worse. And it this very naked state, when a woman stands before a man not blinded by sensuality, that can be perceived so incorrectly. In my youth many a woman asked to be desired for who they really were, but knowing that I was hopelessly unable to see as such, the true nature of this statement was simply one of having power over another. “You can’t know me, because you are weak.” So why not like this attractive girl who sat in front of me? Without knowing her true nature what was there to like? And because of her appearance, as with all women of her type, I asked of myself to not be fair. I moved the line back, to be sure that she would have to prove herself as a person, something more than the causation of a chemical reaction within my body.
I didn’t return the smile, but answered, “I don’t sleep well, when I have things to do.” I paused to contemplate for a moment what an attractive, young, well dressed, woman would want with me so randomly. And concluded that this was not random. “Do I know you?”
She shook her head. “You don’t, but I know you.” She smiled the smile of the self-assured. “Your book “Criminal”, it’s required reading for anyone who wants to take the detective’s exam.”
I nodded. “Did you pass?”
“Yes, I passed…I’m Detective Patrick, I work for the Los Angeles Police Department.”
A slight smile crossed my face. “Really?”
“So you’re a chef now-a-days?” She stated more than asked.
“True story,” I answered.
“I hear you’re very good, my captain eats at your place—garlic chicken I think.”
“Another true story,” I confirmed. “But it’s not my place anymore, you would know that, I imagine.”
Detective Patrick leaned forward, her face feigning some concern. “I heard something to that effect, what happened?”
“Bad partners, of the vile to be around type, so I ended our arrangement.” I paused. “By that I meant, that I ended it nicely, not with them in the deep fryer or anything…”
“Why don’t you write anymore?” She asked.
“I wouldn’t say that I don’t write anymore. I think I’ll write again, I mean I plan to, I’ve just been taking some time off…More than I thought I would actually, but I have a lot of new ideas.”
“Are you going to write another crime story?” she asked, seemingly genuinely pleased that I intended to write again.
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. The world has enough ugliness for everyone to see, it doesn’t need me to tell its story…I want to write something that raises people up, there’s plenty of beauty out there, I’ve seen it, that’s what I want to write about…”
“When we were told to read your book, I was skeptical, slash, young and arrogant. I couldn’t imagine a bad guy that’s smarter than a good guy. But I get it now…Can I ask you a personal question that I have no business asking?”
“Are you going to ask me if I’ve really changed?” I asked, preemptively.
She nodded with a smile. “You’ve heard this one before?”
“Once or twice,” I quipped.
“Have you?” she asked, returning to a tone of propriety.
“I’ve changed. And I haven’t.”
The detective’s face sagged a bit at being confronted with this truth. “That’s not exactly reassuring.”
“As it shouldn’t be.” I shrugged. “I mind my own business, I’m not out there hurting anybody. I try to stay busy doing good things.”
“And if someone were to run into you in a dark alley?” She noticed my face lighted up.
I laughed. “The trick is to avoid dark alleys, detective.”
She sighed. “Well that’s not going to be possible today, I need your help.”
Detective Patrick at this point had caught my fancy. “What could you and the LAPD need help with, from me?”
The detective took a moment to think about what she was going to say and how to say it and then with no back-story, she simply said, “There’s been a murder.” Continue reading