Denver Bar Association
December 2005
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Murder on the Reunification Express

by C .

Editors Note: This is a continuation to a serial fiction piece written anonymously by Docket committee members. Each month, The Docket will feature a new installment by a different committee member.

Logan sat dejectedly at his computer after reading Mickey’s e-mail. He hoped this trip would be an in-and-out affair, all to be written off as a business expense. For the next hour, Logan stared at his computer screen and nursed a scotch while aimlessly clicking about the Internet. In either a state of sleep deprivation or mild intoxication (he was unsure as to which), Logan inadvertently ran Mickey Thornton’s name through a Google search. Shocked by the results, Logan tried closing one eye to help him focus on the computer screen. Unfortunately, things still looked the same and very confusing. There, on the first few hits, were articles naming Mickey as a Chief Jail Administrator in Crittenden County, Arkansas.

Logan sat back and rubbed his eyebrows in confusion. He’d remembered that Mickey had a connection to Arkansas somehow, but a jail? That didn’t sound right. Logan was about to dismiss the similarity until he remembered Mickey’s stern warning about "keeping the police out of it." Was there something Mickey was covering up? Nah, couldn’t be, Logan thought. Why would Mickey have a double life as an Arkansas jail administrator? Must be coincidence, he concluded. Still, it bothered Logan.

After a fitful night’s sleep, Logan contacted Thanh and Vinh for a second interview. Fortunately for Logan, he spoke the native tongue, so the added burden of interpreters was unnecessary. After much persuasion, Thanh and Vinh
reluctantly agreed to a follow-up meeting. "After all," they reasoned, "we’ve told you everything we know. There is nothing more."

The trio agreed to meet at a secluded park, and the
reason for their discretion was visibly apparent to Logan. Thanh was walking with an obvious limp, and Vinh had a puffy and angry looking black eye. "Bar fight over a woman," Thanh explained. Vinh further added, "It is very important for our reputations that we not be seen like this, thus, the need for privacy." Having appeared once in court with a bandage wrapped around his head like a turban, Logan understood their apprehension.

"I have been instructed to find Tran’s killer," Logan explained. Then, apparently suffering from the effects of having gone without a meal in 24 hours, Logan spoke without thinking and in violation of Mickey’s instructions asked, "Do you think we can reopen the file with the assistance of the local police?"

"No. Police involvement is not an option in this country. Useless unless money is involved," Vinh gruffly responded. At this, Logan breathed a gentle sigh of relief, and
simultaneously realized he had horrendously bad breath
that morning.

Backing away from the investigators so as not to offend them with his odor, Logan asked, "The mother, perhaps she can be found and can shed some light on why Tran was headed to Hanoi."

Vinh and Thanh looked at each other, puzzled. Logan repeated his request and, after further discussion, Logan
realized his second mistake. The idiom, "shed some light" was misunderstood in the translation. The investigators thought he was asking them to rip up lampshades in Hanoi after finding him a wife. Evidently, Logan got the words for "wife" and "mother" mixed up.

"No, no. No wife for me," Logan clarified, visibly
nervous at the very suggestion that he was there to find a wife. "I mean, I’m looking for Than’s mother. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture or anything. I don’t even have her name. Is there some way of looking that information up?"

"Phuong … " Vinh absentmindedly muttered to no one in particular.

"What?" Logan cocked his head in confusion.

Thanh, clearly irritated at Vinh, scowled and quickly spoke up. "Oh, nothing. Vinh’s still upset about the bar fight last night. Disregard him." Vinh looked down and shuffled his feet uncomfortably.

In a sudden rush of inspiration, Logan remembered that "Phuong" translated into "Phoenix" in English. He was also reminded of a ring that Mickey habitually wore on his left pinkie finger. There was a tiny bird etched into a silver ring. When Logan asked Mickey about it, he claimed to have picked up the ring in Phoenix after a particularly lucrative closing on a real estate transaction.

Stay tuned. …


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