Part 134: Unwelcome Attention
to get up for work any more. Stop bugging me.* Nothing. He reached out and smacked he alarm clock, stopping the noise.
Dropping his head back on to his pillow, sleep threatened to wash over him again. But his slumber was interrupted once more, this time by the phone ringing, yelling for attention. *This isn't even funny.*
Hyde fumbled for the receiver. "Hello?"
When he heard the voice at the other end, he thought it might be another anonymous
She asked Hyde why he wasn't getting ready for work, and he told her he had the day off. *Which isn't a lie, exactly.* Hyde wasn't quite in the mood to tell his mother he had been fired.
"Why're you calling me so early? Is something up?" he asked. He didn't sense any urgency in her voice, but Jeanie wasn't usually the type to be calling him so early in the morning.
"Actually, there was something... A man going by the name Rex Foster called. Do you know him?"
Hyde had never heard of him. According to Jeanie, he had asked her whether she was the mother of ex-NYPD detective Kyle Hyde, and whether Hyde was still searching for his former partner, Brian Bradley.
Bradley's name set off Hyde's alarm bells immediately. How did this person know about any of that?
He racked his brains, searching for any traces of the name Rex Foster. But nothing came to him.
"If you get any more calls from strangers asking you questions..." he began to tell his mother, who seemed slightly unsettled at this point. She understood what he was getting at.
Hyde started to say his goodbyes, but Jeanie halted him. She hadn't talked to him in a long time and wanted to know how her son was doing. Specifically, she asked if he was still pursuing Bradley.
The subject of Bradley had obviously been a concern of hers for the previous four years, ever since he quit the force for that very reason.
Hyde assured her that his search was over. He also told her that she didn't need to worry so much about him. She admitted that she was still having difficulty letting him go.
She then asked about Ed, the owner of Red Crown. He and Jeanie had known each other for many years. Ed and Hyde's father had first met each other 25 years earlier, when Ed was a cop with the LAPD. He then turned out to be the one who discovered Hyde's father's body, dead in a parking lot.
"Are you two getting along?"
"Mom, I'm thirty-four now. You don't need to keep worrying about me."
"It's just, you're the same age your father was when he died, and..."
She said her goodbyes and hung up. Hyde sighed. With her husband and her son both gone, Jeanie was all alone at home, a fact that Hyde overlooked all too often. She was right about one thing, though. Hyde was 34, the same age his father had been when he passed away.
As soon as he put the phone down, Hyde realised that all desire to sleep had left him. He headed into the bathroom and began his usual pre-work retual: splashing his face with cold water and getting dressed.
*Not like I'm going anywehre though.*
Hyde threw himself down on his old sofa. Perhaps because he had nothing to do, or perhaps because he had been talking to his mother, the past started replaying in his mind as he gazed at the bland apartment wall.
Hyde had been born right here in Los Angeles. An only child, he had lived with his parents in a small back-street apartment.
His father, Chris, had nor been around much while Hyde was a child, and had been a man of few words when he was present. He also didn't play much besides slipping on his old glove for the occasional game of catch. The clearest image Hyde had his father was of the man sitting by the radio, catching up on the baseball scores.
Jeanie had always been out of the house during the day too, working as a nurse, just as she did now. Kyle would often stand out on his apartment's balcony to wait for her, watching the setting sun dye all of the buildings red and orange in the meantime.
Chris died when Hyde was nine years old. That night, he and his mother sat up waiting for Chris to come home, but he never appeared. Three days later, Chris's body was found in a parking lot.
After crying for a week solid, Jeanie had packed her things and taken Hyde to live in Manhattan, New York. After that, she refused to ever speak about her husband's death.
It was a further seven years before she finally broke her silence and told Hyde everything. She told the 16-year-old Kyle that his father had been a safecracker and that, the night he died, he had gone to carry out his final job.
Six years later, Hyde joined the NYPD. Naturally, Jeanie hoped that he could find out the truth behind his father's death. But after gaining some experience as a police officer, Hyde saw multiple cases go by that were exactly like his
Even after hanging up his badge, he kept away from it.
And now, Hyde had no job and nowhere to live. He let out a long sigh, returning him to his senses. He stood up from the sofa, and as if it had been waiting for him to stir, the phone rang out. Hyde walked around the bed and picked it up.
"How're you doing, handsome?"
It was Rachel. Despite being Ed's secretary, Hyde had always thought of her as more of a confidante than a colleague.
"I've been better," KYle replied dryly, trying to sound nonchalant about the whole thing.
"Well, for someone who lost their job yesterday, you sound okay at least."
Hyde dropped the subjet, asking Rachel about Ed. She said that he was still angry, although it was understandable given that Hyde had gone to do a job, then not shown up at the place and not phoned for three days. She had considered that Hyde could come and apologised in person, but he would probably be turned away. There was nothing she could do.
"Is Ed there now?" Hyde asked. Rachel told him that Ed had gone to see the candidates' speeches for the mayoral election. Apparently Hugh Speck, Ed's former boss, was in the running.
Rachel told Hyde that if anything came up, she'd get him on his pager, and that he should remember to keep it on him. If it was anyone but Hyde she was talking to, that would have been a given, but she knew about his habit of turning it off at the earliest opportunity.
She also mentioned a phone call she'd received from a certain Rex Foster. He had called looking for Hyde, so she told him Hyde was taking the day off. She said she'd get in touch with Hyde later and hung up.
Putting down the receiver, Hyde mused over that piece of information. This was the second time he had heard mention of Rex Foster. Who was this man?
He decided thinking about it wouldn't solve anything. But he couldn't get the matter out of his mind.
As if in response, the door buzzer sounded. Hyde opened it to find Tony standing there looking panicked.
"Hyde, man, you gotta help me!" Tony said.
Hyde sighed. "What do you want, Tony?"
Hyde was never in any mood to help Tony, because he always got roped into one of Tony's big messes and ended up having to rescue him from something or someone.
Tony started speaking at a mile a minute, tripping over his own words and generally making no sense at all.
"Whoa, whoa," Hyde said raising a hand. "Slow down, Tony. Stop gibbering and tell me what happened."
Tony started again, and this time Hyde could follow. He said he was in some trouble and needed Hyde to help clear his name.
The story was that Marie from room 206 had come banging at Tony's door and demanded that he "return her ring". No matter how he'd tried to ocnvince her he had no idea what she was talking about, she refused to listen. At the end of his tether, Tony had come to Hyde for help convincing her.
As he watched Tony repeatedly insist he hadn't done anything, Hyde started to believe it. Tony was an idiot and a moocher, but he was no thief.
Hyde decided he wanted to assess the situation for himself and left the room.
Marie was standing in the hallway, arms crossed and an irritated look on her face. In the six months since Marie had moved in. Hyde had barely even seen her, let alone talked to her. When he asked what the problem was, she said that her ring had been stolen and pointed the finger right at Tony.
Pressing her about the details, Hyde surmised the situation as follows: Marie had gone to the lobby to get a drink from the vending machine and forgotten to lock her door. On the way down she passed Tony on the stairs. She bought her drink, then when she got back to her room, the ring was gone.
Marie seemed convinced that Tony had stolen it. She declared that Tony, as a man who was always short on dough, wouldn't have any qualms about stealing a ring to make some quick cash.
"What?!" Tony was incensed. He raised his arm as if to attack Marie, but Hyde grabbed him and managed to calm him down. Seeing that the situation could only get more volatile, Hyde continued to question Marie, his police training taking over.
"When exactly did your ring go missing?"
She explained that it had happened an hour previously. She was sure she had left the
down the corridor.
The door to room 203 flew open and right behind the three, and Betty stormed out.
Betty complained about being woken up this early. She turned on Marie. "I heard the whole thing. Marie, I think you're pointing the finger at the wrong person."
Marie turned red in rage as Betty went on. Apparently, while moving in six months ago, some of Marie's items had gone missing. Marie had pointed the finger at Billy from room 205, but it turned out that the removals company had simply made a mistake.
Marie was about to interrupt, but Betty held up her hand to quieten her.
"At least check your room thoroughly before you point fingers," she said firmly. "And if you really want to continue this ruckus, do it somewhere else!"
Betty returned inside her room, slamming the door. An awkward atmosphere descended upon the corridor.
Hyde suggested that Marie search her room one more time. If the ring was still nowhere to be found, she could look through Tony's things. Marie agreed, but on one condition: that Hyde be the one to search her room.
Hyde agreed, if only to get the whole mess out of the way. Marie ushered him into her room to begin the search.
Pulling apart the pristine room, Hyde searched everywhere he could. But the ring was nowhere to be found.
Deciding that Marie must have left it somewhere, he asked her if she recalled putting it down anywhere, such as by the sofa or on the table. She said she didn't remember doing so.
Suddenly, a glint caught his eye. Something was shining in the tiny space between the dresser and the chest of drawers. But the space was too thin; he needed something to reach in there...
Searching for something to fit in the space, Hyde's eyes fell on a hanger resting on a peg on the wall.
He recalled a similar situation back at Hotel Dusk where a hanger had come in handy. He took it down and pushed it into the space.
Instead of getting the thing out, Hyde had just pushed it even further in.
"How's it going, Mr Hyde?"
"Fine, fine, just looking around over here." Hyde bluffed.
Hyde took a look around the room for inspiration. Searching through the drawers, he found a safety pin. *Bingo. This and some thread from that sewing box on the sofa, and we're home free.*
The idea came from something Hyde had done as a child. His friend had gotten a fishing line, and Hyde was extremely jealous. So, without telling his mother, Hyde had stolen thread from her sewing box. Tying it to a safety pin, he had tried catching fish but had no luck. When he got home, he was sharply scolded by his mother.
And now that childlike genius was about to come in handy. Hyde tied the safety pin to some thread and fished into the small space.
Grabbing on to the shiny thing, he managed to lift it out. It was a diamond ring.
Hyde handed the ring to Marie. She reacted first with relief, then with regret. She apologised for the mistake, and Hyde told her that everyone makes mistakes.
Marie said she wanted to apologise to Tony, and Hyde told her bluntly that he would go and do it, privately thinking that it would be much safer to do it that way given the screaming match they'd had earlier.
With Marie thanking him profusely, Hyde left the room.
When he emerged into the corridor, he ran into Tony pacing back and forth, who instantly attacked him with questions. Hyde assured him that the ring had been found and that Marie was extremely sorry about what had happened.
Tony angrily said that her apology wasn't enough, and that she should practically be on her hands and knees begging for forgiveness.
Hyde sternly told him to give it a rest. "She's really embarrassed and not exactly proud of what she said. We're all going to be clearing out of these apartments soon. Do you really want to cause any more trouble for yourself?"
Tony grudgingly agreed to let it go. "Y'know, I guess all that detective training you got really paid off."
Hyde hadn't told anyone that he used to be a detective. How did Tony know?
"Tony, how'd you find out about me being a detective?" asked Hyde.
"I heard it from Dylan," Tony said, "I thought you must've told him or something."
*Dylan? the handyman
message from Rachel. Hyde shelved his plans for the time being and headed back to his room.
*Maybe Ed's in a better mood now.*
Hyde picked up the phone and called Rachel, who let him know Ed was back. She transferred him over. Ed took the call, but from the sound of things his mood was even worse than the day before.
In case Ed changed his mind and hung up, Hyde quickly told him about the mysterious order sheet he had received the day before. The order form that had told him to find the Scarlet Star, which disappeared at Hotel Cape West 25 years ago.
Ed said that the idea of Hyde receiving an order directly was preposterous, and accused Hyde of blabbing about the side job he did. Hyde insisted that he told nobody about it.
"It sounds like a bogus order to me. And in case you forgot, Red Crown ain't your concern anymore, so just drop it. You can take that piece of paper and burn it.
"Besides, you've got more important things to do, like finding a job."
With that, Ed hung up. Maybe it was bogus, Hyde mused. But he couldn't let go of it so easily.
And even if it was, who would go to the trouble of leaving it? And why?
Hyde's thoughts wandered back to what Tony had said before. He had found out about Hyde's past from Dylan. There had been too many distractions already -- it was time to head out and find Dylan.
Luckily for him, he didn't have to go all the way to Dylan's room, instead finding Dylan standing in the third floor corridor.
Hyde got right to the point, questioning Dylan about what he had told Tony. "Yeah, he was asking about you so I told him that."
*Asking about me?*
Hyde pressed Dylan about it. "What was he asking you?"
Dylan replied that he was fixing Tony's door two weeks prior, and that Tony had invited him downstairs for a drink. That was when the subject of Hyde had come up. Tony had asked Dylan what he knew about Hyde, saying that he wanted to be friends with him.
Hyde considered this. That made sense in a twisted way, but how had Dylan known aboutd his past in the first place?
When asked, Dylan explained that he had seen an article about Hyde in a newspaper. Three months previously, he had done some plumbing work for a man who had just moved to LA from New York. There were some old newspaper in the apartment, and Dylan had spotted Hyde's name in one of them.
According to Dylan, the newspaper talked about an NYPD undercover operation.
"Did your partner really betray the NYPD? And did you really shoot him?"
Hyde squirmed, uncomfortable at having his past talked about so lightly.
Before he could respond, Hyde heard a noise behind him and turned to see a man glaring at him.
"You really should take your chat elsewhere," the man said bluntly. "You're blocking the hallway."
It was Frank Raver, an ageing man living in room 302, the apartment above Hyde.
Hyde had a particular bone to pick with Frank. The man had an irritating habit of getting up in the middle of the night and pacing through his apartment.
Frank didn't waste his breath on pleasantries. "Move."
Frank's tone of voice instantly hit a nerve in Hyde, who wasted no time confronting the old miser about his night-time strolls.
The old man didn't rise to Hyde's accusation, insisting that it was preposterous to assume anyone's footsteps ould be heard in a solid building like Cape West Apartments.
Hyde indignantly retorted that they were loud enough to keep him up at night. He was usually a cool, rational man, but when confronted with the cause of so many sleepless nights, all his reserve went out the window and pure fury took over.
Seeing that the situation was about to get out of hand, Dylan stepped in. "Mr Hyde is just trying to say that he's noticed some noise coming from your room. He's not trying to start an argument with you. Isn't that right, Mr Hyde?"
Hyde grudgingly agreed. Frank, mollified a little, caustically said that he would be more careful to stay in his bed during the night, if that was acceptable for Hyde.
Frank then turned to Dylan. "It seems that someone left trash by the fire door on the fourth floor again. We wouldn't want an incident like before now, would we? I recommend ou get upt there and"
floor, Dylan turned, surprised, Hyde avoided the obvious subject of him following Dylan, and instead asked about the trash on the floor.
Dylan had already cleared up the trash, but he complained that becasue anyone could come and go from the street, outsiders often came in and deposited their trash there.
Hyde got to the point right away. "What did Frank mean about an incident happening before?"
Dylan seemed taken aback at the sudden question, but replied almost automatically, telling Hyde it was nothing for him to worry about. He then took off down the stairs.
Now alone, Hyde decided he wasn't buying Dylan's quick deflection, and made for the fire door leading to the fourth floor rooms.
Hyde took hold of the door's sturdy handle and edged it downwards.
Suddenly, a shrill bell rang out through the corridor.
*Damn! Didn't expect a security system in this old place!*
Hyde jumped at the sound, but his instincts quickly took over. *Gotta find the off switch.*
He scanned the immediate vicinity and spotted a control panel on the wall.
Opening it, he saw two switches, both in the "on" position with red LEDs lit up. *Maybe I have to turn these off...*
Grabbing both switches at the same time, he flicked them to the "off" position and, just as suddenly as it had begun, the alarm stopped.
Sighing in relief and turning around, he was confronted with Dylan, who had heard the alarm and come dashing up the stairs.
Dylan angrily asked what Hyde was doing up there. Hyde quickly replied that he had accidentally set off the alarm.
Familiar with exactly how the alarm was set off, Dylan wasn't buying the "accidental" part. "You were trying to open the door and snoop around in the off-limits area, weren't you?"
An unpleasant atmosphere descended upon the corridor, only broken by a sharp voice: "Dylan, care to explain what is going on here?"
The voice belonged to Mags, who was walking towards them from the stairs, looking stern. Hyde noticed Dylan beginning to quake under her stare.
Dylan attemped to explain the situation, but his voice was trembling so much he could barely make himself understood.
At the same time Mags noticed Hyde was also present, Hyde decided he needed to step in and apologise.
But before he could tell the truth, Dylan seemed to gather his courage and told Mags that he was conducting a test on the security system.
"A test?" Mags said doubtfully. "At this time of day?" Her eagle eyes travelled between the two men.
Dylan stared imploringly at Hyde, who finally chipped in, saying that Dylan had asked him to help out with the test.
Mags eyed them both with some suspicion, but seemed to accept their explanation.
Agreeing that it was good idea that the safety measures should be kept in order, Mags communicated her gratitude to Dylan for his vigilance and went back down the stairs.
With Mags gone, Dylan turned to Hyde. Expressing his annoyance at Hyde for forcing him to lie to Mags, Dylan told Hyde it was about time he went back downstairs.
*All I did was touch the door, and now it looks like I owe Dylan for vouching for me...*
As instructed by Dylan, Hyde headed back down the stairs and went back to his room.
Sitting back down on his sofa, Hyde once again found himself thinking about the mysterious order sheet.
His eyes wandering over to the clock, it occurred to Hyde that it was now 4:00 PM, the time Ed's old boss was due to have his grand introduction on television.
He flicked on the TV and switched to channel 5, immediately seeing an image of Hugh Speck. According to the reporter, Speck had left the LAPD 13 years earlier to become a politician.
*So this guy was in the LAPD when they found my old man...*
The reporter went on to state that Speck had closed many cases while in the LAPD, including cases of police corruption. He was also the favourite to be elected as mayor. Hearing this, Hyde decided that a man like that would probably not have been in charge of a minor homicde like his father's.
Turning off the TV, Hyde was again left with nothing to do. Not used to having free time during the day, Hyde had no idea how to occupy himself.
*Too early for dinner. I guess I'll go to the café and grab a coffee.*
saw through the deception straight away, re-introducing himself as Charles Jeunet with no small amount of irritation.
Hyde explained that he didn't tend to remember things that didn't directly affect him.
"Interesting attitude," Charles said, still sounding somewhat peeved.
Hyde thought to himself, this guy can mind his own business, then replied, "Yeah, that's how I am."
"Well, try to make the effort to remember my name from now on, yes?" Charles replied patronisingly. "When I forget a person's name, I feel terrible inside."
*Good for you.*
Charles was an exchange student from France who had been living in room 305 for the last year. According to Betty, he wanted to be a movie director, which probably explained why he was so abrasive.
Charles asked Hyde about the alarm upstairs, to which Hyde replied that it had just been a test.
"A test?" Charles said. "I thought it might have been something a little more exciting. Here we go again, I thought."
*What? How does everyone know about this mysterious incident but me?*
Hyde asked about it, and luckily for him Charles was more willing than Dylan to tell him what had happened. Apparently someone had gone up to the fourth floor and set a fire there. Frank from room 302 had noticed it and put it out.
*That's all? Why was Dylan clamming up about it?*
"By the way, Mr Hyde," Charles said, "What are you going to do after you leave this place?"
Hyde still had no idea. Charles went on, "I really like this place. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer..."
"You and me both, kid," Hyde replied. Charles nodded and took his leave.
Hyde headed on to the café. As he entered the place he almost knocked over Frank, who was exiting at the same time.
Hyde was about to apologise but he was beaten to it by Frank muttering, "What is this, an ambush?"
Concealing his annoyance, Hyde asked Frank about the fourth floor fire and, because Frank wasn't pulling any punches, he didn't either. "Are you in the habit of wandering around in out-of-bounds areas?"
Frank replied equally caustically, "It's good for my health to climb up and down the stairs. I thought for a moment you had something interesting to ask me."
With that, Frank walked past Hyde and headed for the stairs.
Hyde had the feeling something wasn't adding up about what Frank had said, but he shrugged it off. Hyde had never thought of his neighbours as anything other than faces in the corridor before, so the amount of stopping and chatting he had done the past two days was starting to get to him.
As Hyde opened the door to Lucky's Café, his nose was treated to the bittersweet aroma of freshly-ground coffee.
A cheerful voice greeted him. "Welcome to Lucky's Café! Today's coffee is a straight Guatemalan mineral roast."
Behind the voice was a cheerful young woman named Claire Reagan. She was the daughter of the café owner, and her charming smile always made the customers feel at home.
The café menu was another great thing about the place. As owner, Sidney Reagan's specialty was catering to his customers' every need. Claire always complained that he never made much money from being so willing to bend over backwards, but Sidney just ignored her. Lucky's Café was well known for selling good food at reasonable prices, and it worked in Sidney's favour.
Hyde ordered a coarsely ground black coffee and, at Claire's recommendation, a dessert to go with it.
He sat in his usual seat, relaxing and waiting for his coffee.
He wasn't kept waiting long. Claire soon showed up with a smile on her face and a mug of steaming coffee in her hand. She laid it down on the table along with a chocolate plum truffle dessert, then bustled off.
After Hyde had a chance to try out both, the owner fo the café, Sidney Reagan, scuttled over. "Well? How is it?"
A talkative, opinionated man, Sidney was one of the few people Hyde didn't object to having a friendly chat with.
Sidney was obviously fishing for comments about the dessert rather than the coffee, so Hyde relied that it wasn't bad.
"I thought so," Sidney declared. "I always find that adding some liqueur boosts the impact of the ganache. Helps to balance the taste of the plums and cocoa too. But Claire
even met you before. Time to start talking, pal"
The man took off his sunglasses and returned Hyde's glare with interest. "The name's Foster, Rex Foster."
The significance of the name was not lost on Hyde. This was the man who had been calling his mother and Rachel to pump them for info about him.
"What are you after?" Hyde asked angrily. "I don't seem to remember asking for a guy like you to follow me around."
Rex simply laughed, which just made Hyde angrier. Ignoring Hyde's question, Rex said, "You really do talk like a detective, Kyle."
*How does he know I was a detective? What does this guy want from me?* Hyde was getting steadily more infuriated by the second.
"If it makes you feel any better, you're not the only one I'm looking into."
"How is that supposed to make me feel better? And who else are you investigating?"
"Sorry, Kyle. I can't really tell you anything right now. I don't want you getting in my way."
The man kept avoiding Hyde's questions and giving infuriating answers. Hyde still couldn't figure out what he was after.
Rex continued. "You see, despite quitting, you're still a detective. One whiff of a case and Officer Hyde comes biting back."
The man was absolutely incorrigible. Hyde decided that nothing was worth a conversation like this.
Rex asked Hyde whether he knew about the trouble from earlier on the second floor.
He must have been talking about Tony and Marie. Hyde said nothing had happened.
"Fair enough. I just wanted to ask." Rex got up from his chair and made to leave.
"Not so fast!" Hyde said angrily.
"Take it easy, Kyle," Rex said in his calm manner. "There's plenty of time for us to sit down and chat, you know."
Sidney came over to the fuming Hyde and asked who the man was.
Hyde said that his name was Rex Foster, and that he had been asking questions about him.
Sidney declared that he knew the man was suspicious. He had come in frequently over the last few days, ordered a single coffee and sat there for ages watching people coming and going in the café.
"He also asked about stuff from the past," Sidney said uncomfortably.
*What kind of stuff?*
Kyle voiced his question and Sidney replied that Rex had been asking about something that had happened 13 years earlier, when the building was still a hotel.
Sidney said that Mags had asked him to keep quiet about it, but he would tell Hyde anyway.
"13 years ago, there was an unsolved murder here."
This immediately grabbed Hyde's interest. He asked for more details, but Sidney refused to tell him anything else. He voiced his concern that Rex might be a journalist trying to get a scoop about the old murder case.
Hyde was even more confused now. What would someone like that be investigating Hyde for?
Sidney changed the subject. "So who do you think we'll be stuck with as our new mayor?"
He didn't wait for Hyde's response and immediately voiced his distrust of the of the favourite, Hugh Speck. Lowering his voice despite the lack of anyone around, he said that he had heard rumours Speck was on the take while in the force, and was into racketeering, among other activities.
Sidney concluded that all politicians were crooked, and as long as the economy and crime were looked after, he didn't care who took the spot.
"On that note..." Sidney took down a newspaper from the counter. The article he showed Hyde was about a jewellery robbery that had occured nearby.
Sidney said that his crimes like this gave people his age the jitters and that the MO was very similar to a string of crimes that had happened a long time ago.
Hyde wanted to know more, but Sidney was called to the counter by Claire and had to cut the conversation short.
Hyde picked up the newspaper and had a look at the article.