by Johnnie Mitchell
Chapter 1 I'm standing here in our ultra modern kitchen whipping up a pop art version of a meal. You see, in the last year or so, I've become a junk food gourmet. I have whipped up a dish I call Left Over Delight. It consisted of two chopped up hot dogs, sliced boiled white potatoes, a dash of macaroni, and a half can of spaghetti without meat balls.
The reason I had been forced to such measures was because my writing partner, live in lady, and all around great cook, Grace Anderson was off in Tinsel Town for meetings centered around turning our bestselling book into a feature film.
I suppose I should tell you more about myself. Depending on how your vision works, I'm either a movie star handsome, or ruggedly handsome black man near forty, with an in shape, if not overly buffed body. My parents, for reasons they never explained, stuck me with the odd, yet familiar to many, name of George Washington.
I was a Chicago cop for fourteen years. I never thought about becoming a writer until I became involved in investigating a murder case that grabbed national headlines. Even after the case was solved it lingered in my mind on an everyday basis. I started to jot events and aspects of the case down on paper in a haphazard manner. A few months later I found myself enrolled in a community college writing class.
The book probably would have never happened had not a local bi-monthly black oriented magazine requested an interview with me, of all people. Sure enough, the reporter they sent to interview was my future love, Grace Anderson. I found her to be a very attractive petite brownskinned cutie. As for the interview, which was partly about the high profile case, but mostly concerned the dilemmas and adjustments black cops in Chicago had to face while policing the streets.
The interview went well. I got along well with Grace. So in a couple weeks I set up a meeting with her to discuss the possibility of us collaborating together on a true crime book centered on the big time murder case. To speed things up, yes the book was written over a year and a half period, yes it was published, and amazingly became a huge hit. Even more amazing to me, Grace and I became a couple, fell in love, and moved in together.
I dumped my concoction of a meal into a bowl, secured a glass of orange juice, and sat at the kitchen table. I used the remote to snap on the mounted from the ceiling fifteen flat screen TV. I dialed around to the best movie I could find in the early morning hours. Five minutes into it I realized it wasn't destined to be a classic, yet I stuck with it because nothing else was on.
The ringing phone saved me from my bad meal, and even worst movie. I got up and answered the wall phone.
“Hi George,” said a woman's voice. “Do you know who this is?”
“I kind of recognize your voice. But I can't get it.”
“This is Randi. Randi Blake.”
An erotic memory shot through my mind. I was standing, and there was Randi kneeling before me. In high school she was the first girl to ever give me a blow job, and I had never forgotten the incident. We dated from my junior year to the middle of my senior year. About ten years ago I answered a burglary call and discovered Randi was the victim. Just like that we were dating again. It lasted six months, until the weird hours and demanding nature of being a cop caused us to split.
Randi told me she read my book and loved it. She was now a computer analyst. We joked a little about our high school craziness. Then came the reason for her call.
“I know you sometimes help people out. You know, with their problems and everything.”
“Sometimes. Whenever I can. If I can. What's your problem?”
“It's my roommate. She's been missing over two weeks.”
“Have you contacted the police?”
“Yes, of course. I did that three days after she disappeared. They did their usual stuff, but they didn't get any kind of line on her. I got the feeling they're just waiting for her body to show up somewhere.”
“But you think she's still alive.”
“I'm sure of it. I have no proof. It's just a feeling I have.....George, this thing is just driving me crazy. It really is. It's messing with my mind but good.”
“Uh. I don't know if I can help you or not. But I'll talk to you about it and see what I can do.”
“That's great, George. Thank you so much. I'll pay you and everything. I mean if you don't charge too much.”
“We don't have to talk money now. You want me to come over to your place?”
“Why don't you meet me somewhere where we can grab a bite to eat?”
“I just had a brain storm. Remember Lindy's?”
“Yeah. Everybody used to hang there. Don't tell me it's still open.”
“Well, not exactly. Lindy's son has turned the site into a MacDonald's.”
“Wow. Progress strikes again.”
“Yeah. Still it would be kinda fun to be at that spot again. I'll tell you what. I'll take a cab over there and you can come in your car.”
“Okay. If it's not putting you out too much.”
“Not for a reunion,” Randi said.
“Okay. I'll see you there pretty soon.”
“Yeah. So long George. Thanks for helping. Bye.”
I drove to my old southeast side neighborhood until I reached the spot where Lindy's used to be. The golden arches had replaced a dingy looking building with a bright red door.
After I parked the car I stepped inside the fast food joint. Randi was seated at a table off to the right. As I got closer she stood and smiled.
Shapely and petite, Randi had a very fair complexion. Her jet black hair was cut short and angled from one side of her forehead to the other. Her features were caucasion-like except for her wide nose.
“How you doing, baby?” I asked. “You're looking great.”
“So are you.”
She stood on her tiptoes and kissed me on the cheek. Then she returned to her seat.
“I see you haven't ordered. What would you like?”
“Guess,” she said with a grin.
“Hmmmmm, let's see. Could it be a cheese burger? And maybe a Coke.”
“You remembered after all this time.”
“I'll be right back.”
I went to the counter and ordered two Cokes and a cheese burger. Went back and sat opposite Randi at the table.
“I see you didn't order anything but a Coke.”
“I already ate just before you called.”
Actually, I was afraid of mixing in regular food with my Left Over Delight.
“Wow, this is really something,” beamed Randi, “Me sitting down and eating with a bestselling author.”
“It's something to me to think I'd ever have something to do with the writing of a book. Really, my partner did most of the for real writing.”
Randi sipped from her Coke. “I bet you never thought I'd become anything like a computer programmer.”
“I don't know. You were always pretty smart in school.”
“Hey, do you remember the time you caused that food fight at Lindy's?”
“I caused it. You were the one that caused it,” I countered.
“Oh yeah. How do you figure that?”
“If you hadn't been such a hot mama I wouldn'tve stolen you from that other dude. And he wouldn'tve gotten mad and dumped his milk on my head. And then I threw my pie at him and missed and hit somebody else.”
Randi laughed for several seconds. “I remember Lindy locked the door and made everybody help clean up the place.”
“If he did that now some fool would pull a gun on him.”
“I hear you.”
Randi took a couple bites out of her burger and sipped from her drink.
“I guess you better tell me something about your friend,” I said. “Like her name and the kind of work she does.”
“I didn't tell you her name, did I? It's Angel Mandrell. She's a high fashion model, and she does television commercials. You might've seen them. Now she has one out for a clothing store. And for a local health club.”
“Was it like her to take off without telling you where she was going?”
“No, not at all. She always told me when she was going out. And when she should be back. She didn't always say where. And, you know. I wouldn't press it.”
“Did you know where she was going on the day she disappeared?”
“Not exactly. She just said she was going out to see a friend.”
“Was it day, or in the night?”
“At night. I think she left around eight o'clock.”
I drank from my Coke. “What kind of person is Angel?”
“She's really something special. She really is. There's a sort of quiet calmness about her. Something almost mystical. And men. They absolutely love her.”
“Yeah. Did she date a lot?”
“No. She isn't like that. She's a one man woman. But she is kinda funny about men.”
“You know, it seems like she picks guys that are good at what they do, but are having some kinda trouble with it. She stays with them until their lives are turned around. Then she ends the relationship. They usually don’t want her to go, but they can never make her stay.”
“Has she broken up with somebody lately?”
“Is she seeing anyone?”
“Yes. But I don't know his name. She never talks about her men when she's with them. They never call and she never brings them to the apartment.”
“Hmp. That is strange. I guess it would be a good idea for me to look at your place. It might give me something solid to go on.”
I was at the wheel of my car heading for the Lake Shore Drive address Randi had given me. She was in the front seat next to me. She said:
“George, were you ever married?”
“No, I almost got married once. But uh, it fell through. What about you?”
“I was married for six years before it fell apart.”
“Did you have any kids?”
“No. That was one of the problems. He didn't want to have any kids. I guess I forgot to ask him about it before we got married. That was really stupid.” Randi took a bite from her burger. “I met Angel a few months after my divorce. We just happened to sit next to each other at Wrigley Field. The game was a dud, so we got to talking, and we got along good together. We exchanged phone numbers. I didn't think she would ever call me or anything. She was a successful model, and I was struggling on public aid at the time. But she did call. And you know, we did things together. She was the one that suggested I go back to school. A few months after that she asked me to come live with her. She's younger than me, but she was the wise one that helped me turn my life around.”
“She seems like a nice person.”
Then who would want to hurt or kill her? I asked myself.
Randi and Angel's apartment was located on the eighth floor of a twelve story orange-colored apartment building. When Randi and I got inside I found it to be spacious and colorful with a feminine touch to it. A lot of frills and lace covered the basically modern style furniture.
“You have a nice place here.”
“Thanks. Most of the stuff is Angel's.” I noticed an eight by ten photograph resting on an end table near the sofa. It was of a tan complexioned woman with what looked to be long straight jet black hair. She had crystal clear looking hazel eyes, a sleek nose, and luscious thin lips.
“That's Angel, if you haven't guessed,” Randi said.
“She's almost as fine as you are.”
“Don't start no mess now. I guess you want to see her room.”
We moved left to an adjoining hallway. Two rooms ran parallel to each other. I followed her into the first one. The walls were pastel pink. The bed spread, carpet, and the cushioned chairs were covered in various shades of pink. There were two poster sized photographs of Angel near the corner of the wall opposite the bed. One was an obvious blow up of a magazine ad she had done for a brand of makeup made especially for black women. She looked incredibly beautiful and glamorous in the picture. And to top it off her facial expression reeked of pure sexuality.
The second poster was the one the fascinated me. It was a framed photograph done by an obviously fine artistic photographer. In the black and white photograph Angel was wearing a flowing white gown. The light hit her face head on. The background was dark except for a light halo that surrounded her head. The halo combined with her serene expression gave her an angelic quality that matched her name.
I moved over and stood near the poster. Angel's eyes seemed to connect with mine. I found myself wondering what it would be like to know her.
“You better watch yourself,” Randi warned. “You might fall victim to her charms.”
“What? Just by looking at a picture. That's crazy.”
“Famous last words.”
I moved away. “Did it seem like Angel took any clothes with her?”
“No. But she did take her a check book and a couple cards.”
“Maybe she was planning on leaving.”
“But why would she leave and not tell anybody where she was going?”
“Don't know. Since nobody knows where she might be I guess I'll have to start with her relatives and friends in town.”
“I have an address book of her's. She took her only cell phone with her.” Randi went to the dresser and opened the top drawer. From the left corner she took a little green address book. She flipped it to a specific page.
“She doesn't really have that many friends in town. I guess she's acquainted with the people she works with, but she really doesn't socialize with them much. The information on the men Angel helped through their problems is on these two pages.
I took the book from her. Three names, addresses, and phone numbers were listed on the pages. Dr. Leon Bryant, Alfredo Menti, and Mark Garmon.”
“Is the Mark Garmon listed the one that plays for the White Soxs?”
“Yeah. That's the one.”
I removed a pad and pencil and jotted the information down. “What's the name of her agency?”
“The JM Modeling Agency.”
I thumbed through the rest of the book. “Her mother's name is listed. Is she still with us?”
“Is her address the same?”
Randi checked it out and nodded her head yes.
“Are there any clubs or restaurants or places that Angel frequented regularly?”
“Yes. We've been to the Black Bird a few times. She eats at Simon's sometimes. I'm always her guest. Their prices are too much for me.”
“Well, I better see if I can get in contact with some of these people.”
“The police talked to them all. They haven't heard from Angel since she disappeared.”
“I need them to talk about her. Maybe I can get a clue on how she thinks.”
First I got hold of Angel's mother and she agreed to see me right away. I got lucky and caught the three men home. I was surprised at how eager they were to talk about their long lost Angel.
Randi walked me to the door. “Good luck to you, baby.”
“You know what they say. It's better to be lucky than good.”