The Kwikee Mart

Kai Jones had interviewed the manager of the Kwikee Mart the day of the shooting but not that I knew the caliber of the bullets used in the murder was a little unusual, I wanted to ask him some more questions. We had a Russian rifle with an unusual caliber but it was almost impossible for me to believe that it would have been used for a murder in the middle of the street. A rifle is not easy to carry and conceal, or even use for an execution such as Sung had gotten. A pistol was much more likely. So if the manager, a Mr. Pranash, had seen a man getting into a black SUV and he was carrying a rifle, there was no way he would have missed that.

The Kwickee Mart was open as usual, but the manager was’t behind the counter. I tilted my head in the direction of the attendant and Rourke got the hint, it was his turn to do the tedious questioning.

Rourke pulled out his badge, “where’s the manager,” he asked. The attendant, lanky, surly, just out of his teens, a stereotypical 7-11 minion said “Back office” with a vacant stare. Apparently, that was the extent of the cooperation we were getting from him.

Rourke shook his head and headed for the back office. Rourke was more surly than usual today, otherwise I would have gotten a an earful of how the youth in this country was going to shit, and no manners, no ambition, back in his day, the whole shpiel. I was spared this once. Rourke knocked on the door labelled ‘office’ and went in without waiting for a reply, I followed.

“Good day Mr. Pranash, we’d like to ask you a few followup questions.” Rourke said.

Pranash looked up from the ledger he was working on, sighed and said “of course gentlemen, even though I’m very busy, I always have time for the police.”

At least it was something that we’d gotten the only polite manager of a convenience store left in the city.

I didn’t want to lead a witness by asking him outright if he’d seen something that looked like a rifle on that morning, so I had to be careful how I phrased my questions. I dances around the subject, asking him if he remembered anything else, maybe something the man was carrying, etc, etc.

We spent an unfruitful twenty minutes with Pranash and left. Once outside I said, “Harry, since we’re here, let’s go take another look at the crime scene.”

“Again? You’ve seen it about a dozen times already, and it ain’t a crime scenes no more, it’s been trampled and contaminated to death.”

“Still…” I kept walking towards where Sung had been found dead. I walked around looking at the ground, then up at the storefronts, moving around, looking from different angles. Rourke hung back with his hands in his pockets, leaning against a parked car.

“You let me know when you find the murder weapon genius.” He called out.

I just gave him the finger without looking in his direction.

[ There used to be some text here about Rourke being suspicious of Harding but doesn’t fit anymore with the chronology. It is pates into the notes section of this chapter.]I couldn’t see anything I hadn’t seen a dozen times before, no epiphanies. I was thinking about the weird caliber used on Sung, 9x39mm, a very Russian caliber, Dan had said. If that was true, why even use it? Why use a caliber that pointed a finger at you? To send a message would be the only thing I could think about. But to whom? And what message?

I walked back to where Rourke was, by now, lounging on the car, he asked “Had enough, young Sherlock?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

Once back in the car, I told Rourke my thoughts about the unusual caliber, he grunted and said, “yeah, so what? Who cares if it was a handgun, machine gun, or fucking rocket launcher, the kid is no less dead. What the fuck difference does it make?”

“It makes a difference because that particular weapon we picked up is a lot harder to obtain than a hand gun and we know a guy who has one.”

“Yeah, but this fucker wouldn’t have gotten it at a Wall-Mart or any other place where he would have had to leave I.D. and all that. He got it in the black market and we can only tie him to the gun, not the murder even if we could tie the murder to the gun.”

“Probably, but still… there’s only a couple places in town where he could have gotten one. We might get a lead if we do some digging around.”

“Or they brought it over themselves on the boat, ever thought about that, genius?”

“Yes I did and you’re probably right,” a little buttering would do him good, “that’s a hard gun to come by over here I would guess. Let’s go ask your new favorite person, Kai.”

Rourke just grunted.

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