"Where were you last night at around 9:30 pm, Michael?"
Willis moved towards the kitchen counter as Michael went to the fridge. He opened the door and after peering inside for a moment, took out a bottle of cold, bottled water. He took a sip before answering the inspector.
"Out. I got some dinner at a little Greek place, picked up a drink from a store and fell asleep in an alley."
"Which Greek place?"
"The Beer Store."
"The one down by St. Clair."
Willis, leaning over the counter, was now scribbling on a notepad after carefully studying Michael when he had answered. He began fingering the woven strap on his digital watch. He eyed the pattern on the strap and looked up.
"Alone?" he asked.
"If you're asking about Tyson, he was there too. So we got a little drunk, I'll admit that, and I guess we dozed off. By the time I woke up, he was gone."
"Nothing," Willis replied, finishing the last points on his paper, "Just thinking."
Michael took another sip from the frost-covered bottle and then put the rest back into the fridge.
"Is that it? I'm meeting some friends."
"I suppose so, Michael. I'll find you if I need any more information."
Michael headed to the door and let himself out. He had to find Jerome.
Willis walked to the small plaza across the street where he had parked his car. Before he reached it, he pulled out his cell phone and dialled the number to Gerard Kennedy. While it rang, he opened the car door and got in.
"Gerard?" he spoke, "It's Willis. Listen, I got some information from Michael Thompson about last night. Looks like he made a few trips around the time of the shooting. I need you to get someone down to The Acropolis to interview its employees. It's a family restaurant so the people working there would probably take more notice of its customers. Get security footage from the closest The Beer Store in the area in the timeframe 8 to 10pm. Also, get a forensics team to the alley by St. Clair Avenue to analyze any fresh beer bottles. See if you can find evidence of both Michael and Matt in all three instances. This is all based on what he told me."
"So do you think he's telling the truth?"
"I think there's something he's not telling us. In fact, I'm almost certain he's hiding something."
"Oh, and speaking of hiding, you know that footprint we found hiding in the grass at the crime scene?"
"Sorry, Gerard, I'm going to have to cut you off. I need to catch a suspect while he's still out in the open. And before I forget, prepare an interview room for me. I'll be coming down with him."
"Yeah, sure. And Chief?"
"Sorry about Matt. He was a good kid."
"But I really think this is a case you should leave to the homicide squad. I know how much he meant to you, but-"
"Look, if your own son was murdered would you just stand by and watch?" he asked rhetorically, his temper flaring.
"But your involvement compromises the investigation-"
"It's my fault, goddammit! This was my operation and he shouldn't have been undercover in the first place! If I had done something this wouldn't have happened. If I had done something…"
Willis began stumbling over his words as his voice thickened. He felt the sting of tears at the corners of his eyes and laid his head back. He breathed in deeply, "He'd still be alive."
He ended his call and as he dropped his phone onto the passenger seat, he noticed a piece of white card by his feet. He picked it up and turned it over. It was the photo booth picture of him and his son at Canada's Wonderland a few weeks ago. He must have dropped it while he was leafing through his wallet for the Thompsons' address. He had him in a headlock in that shot. Willis remembered it vividly.
He and Matt had had a bet when they got there: that Willis, on a full stomach, wouldn't be able to ride the most ultimate G-force rides in the park without throwing up. Willis won the bet that day and to make sure Matt never forgot it, he dragged him to the photo booth and took a few pictures of them together- Matt in a headlock in almost every one. But Matt got the last laugh. He stole the keys to his dad's car and left him there at the amusement park, forcing Willis to call him and cry, "Uncle", for a ride home.
The memory from what seemed like just yesterday unleashed the emotions he had tried to suppress. He rubbed the corners of his eyes with the back of his hand and inhaled deeply. He was now more determined than ever to find his son's killer.
Willis put the picture back in his wallet, started the car, and headed off.
The Thursday morning looked as if it was going to lead into another hot city day. Already, the temperature had risen another ten degrees and the thick, choking smog had made its swift way across the lake. On days such as this, the fast-paced were reduced to lumbering creatures, sweat poured like fat droplets of rain during a storm, and tempers were prone to flare.
Michael walked the short kilometre to the Blood Brothers' headquarters, no doubt shaken by the police interrogation. He was definitely expecting it sooner or later, but he hadn't thought of 'sooner' as being less than twelve hours later in his own house.
As Michael was about to reach for the doorknob of the house, the paneled door swung open with Shawn James standing in the doorway. His wrap-around sunglasses were perched on his head and he carried a black gym bag over his shoulder. He edged by Michael and headed to his car.
"Hey, Michael," he said as he passed by.
"Hey," Michael returned, "You know where Jerome is?"
"Out with Darren, breakfast or something- even though I think it's more than that, but you didn't hear that from me. All I know, is he'll be gone for the whole morning."
"What's with the bag?"
"You didn't hear?"
Shawn opened the trunk of his car and threw his bag in. He slammed the lid down and replied, "We almost got raided by the cops last night. I got the word from Jerome and moved the coke supply. Just coming back for the other stuff."
He turned his head to either side of the house and added in a hushed tone, "Word is, they got a team here watching us."
"You gotta be kidding, Shawn."
"You think I'd risk driving around with this stuff with all these Devils here?"
He saw Michael's expression change at the mention of their rival gang, and then remembered the rumour about a Devil killing his father.
"Sorry, man. Forgot."
"No worries. Anyway, how'd Jerome know about the raid?"
Shawn got in his car and started the engine. He rolled down his window.
"His 'friend' Darren. But you don't wanna get yourself in his circle of friends, if you know what I mean, Michael. That guy gives me the creeps sometimes. Anyway, I gotta get going before Jerome finds out I didn't take care of the stash yet. See you in a bit, bro."
Before Shawn rolled the window back up, he asked, "By the way, where's Tyson? I need to return the money I borrowed from him last week." He obviously didn't know anything about last night. If Jerome would tell anyone, he would be the first to know. Jerome hadn't said a thing.
"He drove up to Mississauga," Michael lied, "Family emergency."
"Tell him I hope everything's okay," he shouted to him as he drove off.
Shawn was a pretty decent guy and Michael didn't want to get him mixed up in everything that had already happened. He wondered how someone like Shawn had gotten caught up in the gang. 'Even good people make stupid choices' he thought, the only explanation he could offer. Now he wondered whether he was one of those good people.
"I wish it was all that simple," he said under his breath.
His mind somewhere else, Michael ambled on with nowhere to go. He couldn't go home- he couldn't face his mother and what if the police where waiting for him, ready to pry their investigative minds into the many holes there already were in his story? The headquarters of the gang he wanted so much to leave was anything but a refuge. His hands were covered with blood- Tyson's blood- and he couldn't escape his hell- his inferno.
Somewhere in the distance, he heard his name being called.
As his mind swam back to the subsurface of his consciousness, the calling grew louder.
He snapped back to reality and turned his head to the direction of the voice. Behind him was the officer from the interrogation. He got out of his police cruiser and put one arm on the roof of the car, the other on the top of the open door.
"What do you want?" Michael shouted back.
"I want to talk."
"You're talking," he replied sarcastically.
Willis motioned to the passenger seat of the cruiser.
"Get in, smart ass."
"Yeah right," he smirked, turning back.
He didn't get far before Willis called him back.
"Michael, you're one of two suspects in the murder of one of your gang members, Tyson Morris- your friend I'm guessing- which means that your only way out of this mess is to talk to us. Now, you can run away as much as you like and as far as you can, but that'll only lead you closer to the Minotaur. In this labyrinth, there's only one way out, and I don't care if I have to call out the entire force to drag you back onto the right path. The only difference is that if you run, I can't guarantee that they'll take you in nicely which means that your gang buddies will notice and-"
"All right, all right," Michael surrendered, putting his hands up.
They drove in silence for the first few moments- Willis's tactic of getting the suspect to break the silence and hopefully get a few crucial things off their chest. Michael couldn't stand it.
"So what's 'Toronto Vice' doing on homicide turf?"
Willis kept his eyes on the road as he replied, "Personal matter."
"So you're breaking the rules?"
"You could say that."
Michael looked out the window to the houses and school-free kids passing by. He turned back to Willis and asked, "Why?"
"Because Tyson was my son."
"Was his cover name. We received some information about three months ago about a possible revival of a New York gang called, the White Knights. The FBI has reason to believe that they're planning the biggest drug shipment in U.S. history and are planning what their informant has called, 'The Final Strike'. The Blood Brothers were said to have a tie with the White Knights, so we deployed surveillance teams and launched an undercover operation to find information about the location of the White Knights and their plans. The leading field operative had the cover name 'Tyson Morris'. His real name was Matt Willis."
"Wait," Michael started, "Why are you telling me this?"
They slowed to a red light and for the first time in their conversation, Willis turned to look at his passenger.
"Because you're going to help us with this operation. We're not stopping because Matt's dead. We've got a drug shipment to bust and a mystery gang fight to thwart. But first…"
Willis made a right turn and parked the car in front of a large building complex- the headquarters of the Toronto police.
"What are we doing here?"
Willis finished his sentence, "I want you to tell me the truth."