He collapsed onto my chest, tears dropping onto my shirt. I let him have a good cry.
When he'd exhausted his supply of tears he raised his head back up.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Randolph," he said in an embarrassed tone.
"No need to be sorry. And it's Jake, okay? Jake."
"Now, I want you to listen to me very carefully," I said in a tone that suggested he heed my words. "I'm going to find who did this and I'm going to make them pay for it. You'll get yourself killed if you try to handle this. Understand?"
"Did I tell you that I practically raised Susan by myself?" he asked, his voice still quivering like it was on the phone.
"No, you didn't," I said as I pulled up an orange chair and sat down beside him.
"Her mother," he continued, "died in a car accident when Susan was only three. It was a terrible time for both of us, but we got through it together because we had each other. Now, who's going to help me through this...?"
He broke down sobbing. Then I did something I rarely do. I put my arm around his shoulder...
I borrowed Rebecca's car, a red '57 Dodge Coronet Lancer, to drive to the hospital. Mine looked like a piece of Swiss cheese and I didn't need to be hassled at that moment.
I made it to the hospital in short order. I found Mr. Miller in the lobby. He was sitting in one of those plastic orange chairs, head in hands.
My heart ached for this man. He lost his daughter, got her back against all odds, and then lost her again, permanently.
"Jeffrey," I said in a somber tone.
He looked up at me, tears in his eyes...
Rebecca rose up to look at me. "Is Blaze really dead?"
I nodded. "Her father said she overdosed."
"In the hospital?" she asked incredulously.
"Yeah. Someone got to her in there. And I can give you three guesses who."
She raised an eyebrow, "And all three answers are Jade Chen, right?"
"Bingo. The lady wins a bucket of fried rice."
I got out of bed and started getting dressed.
"Look, baby, I'll try to get back as soon as I can. I have to help this man if I can."
She smiled, "I understand. Be careful, huh?"
"Always, beautiful. Always."
That didn't make sense. I saw Blaze go from completely naked to fully dressed, and I was sure she didn't have a needle or any heroin on her.
"Look, Mr. Miller. Just stay put. I'll be there as quick as I can."
He was sobbing even more as he said, "Jake, I'm going to find whoever gave her this shit, and when I do I'm going to kill them."
"Jeffrey, listen to me. Stay right where you're at. I'll be there soon."
I hung up the phone and laid back. I felt like Adam, having to leave Paradise so soon...
I couldn't believe what I heard. "Dead? When? How?"
Mr. Miller's voice was shakier than a bowl of Jell-O in an earthquake.
"Just a little while ago. She overdosed on heroin."
"What?" I asked loudly. "Mr. Miller, I know for a fact that Blaze didn't have any heroin on her when we entered the hospital."
His voice continued to wobble, "You must have been mistaken, Mr. Randolph. I went to the cafeteria to get some coffee when she went back to sleep this morning. When I came back she had a needle sticking in her arm and she was.....dead."
We were lying there holding each other when the phone rang. I looked over and the phone was on the nightstand on my side of the bed.
"You want me to get it?" I asked.
She nodded and snuggled against my chest again.
I picked up the receiver, "Miss Jordan's residence. Randolph the butler speaking. How may I help you?"
Rebecca giggled as a weak voice on the other end said, "Mr. Randolph?"
"Yeah?" I asked as I kissed the top of Rebecca's head.
"It's Jeffrey Miller."
"Hey, Mr. Miller. How's Blaze... I mean Susan?"
"She's... she's dead, Mr. Randolph."
When my eyes opened I was staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. For a moment I was disoriented, until I felt a soft woman in my arms and then it all came back to me.
Rebecca was the ringleader for the whole sexual circus freak show that took place, and I let her be in total control. I'd never been with a woman who was that confident in her sexuality.
She stirred awake and raised her head from my chest.
"Good morning," she said in a groggy voice.
I smiled, "Yes it is!"
She laughed and then we started Round 2...
By the time I reached Rebecca's apartment on Reseda Boulevard I was more eager than a fox that had spent the entire day staring at a chicken coop.
I opened the doors and crossed the lobby, taking the stairs to the third floor, apartment 28. I knocked gently on the door. After what seemed like an eternity, the door swung open and Rebecca was standing there in a lacy nightgown. She looked like a carnally minded angel.
I started to say something when she pulled me in, closed the door, and pushed me against it, kissing my very ready lips...
I thought I could smell the smoke from the bridge I'd just set alight when a plaintive voice on the other end said, "I'll be waiting for you."
I was practically walking on air as I went back to Blaze's room and peeked in. She was conked out again and her father was sitting on the edge of the bed gently stroking her hair.
I quietly stepped in and gave him Rebecca's phone number and told him I would be there and if he needed anything to call me.
Then I pointed my bullet hole riddled car toward Rebecca's place...
I stepped out of the room. It was a private moment and I was an interloper. I went down to the pay phone in the lobby and dropped a coin in.
"Hello?" another sleepy voice asked.
"Hey, Rebecca. It's Jake."
She woke up fast. "Jake? Are you alright?"
I smiled, "Yeah, I'm okay. I found Jade Chen's palace of prostitution. And I got Blaze out of there. We're at the hospital."
I heard her stirring. "I'm coming down there. Which hospital?"
"There's no point in it. Blaze's father's is here with her. How about I come to you?"
We went into Blaze's room. She was lying there asleep and looked as innocent as a baby lamb. I couldn't even imagine what she'd been through the past couple of months; getting addicted to heroin and then having to find a way to feed the habit. I just hoped we could get her clean and she'd stay that way. She had too much life ahead of her to waste it slowly descending to Hell one syringe at a time.
Her eyes popped open and she saw her father.
"Daddy?" she asked in a sleepy voice.
He went to her side...
"I just can't believe it," Mr. Miller said like you would expect a father to when he'd just found out something dreadful about his daughter.
I looked down the hall. They were wheeling a gurney topped with an unconscious man toward the operating room.
"I wish I didn't have to tell you all this, Mr. Miller. But listen, we can get Blaze... I mean Susan, the help she needs now. It's going to be a long road ahead for the both of you, but it can be done."
I could see in his eyes he was at his breaking point...
Blaze's father was at the hospital in a matter of moments. He had a look of cautious optimism on his face. He came up to me and shook my hand so hard I had to look when he was done to make sure it was still attached to my arm.
"Look, Mr. Miller. There are some things I didn't tell you on the phone."
His face looked crestfallen. "You said she was alright!"
"I said 'for now she's alright,' Mr. Miller. But she's addicted to heroin. And when I found her she was working in a whorehouse."
He looked sick...
I waited until I was sure Jade Chen's men had left the vicinity before I got back on the road for the hospital. I knew it would not be long until the cops saw all the bullet holes in my car and before you know it I'm a contestant on a quiz show called Beat The Rap, where if I don't answer the questions correctly I win an all-expense paid trip up the river.
We arrived at the General Hospital at about 11:40 pm. After I got Blaze admitted, I made a much anticipated phone call to Mr. Miller...
I was making tracks for the General Hospital, and Jade Chen's men were still bird-dogging me, occasionally hurling some lead in my general direction.
A few blocks before we reached the hospital I saw a beacon shining like a lighthouse in the fog. I cut the wheel and pulled into the parking lot of the police station, which happened to be the time of the shift change, and the place was crawling with fuzz. I exited the car and gave the royal wave to Jade Chen's men.
They slowed down but kept on trucking right past the cop shop...
Jade Chen's boys were staying right on my tail. I was weaving in and out of traffic, zooming around corners, but I couldn't seem to shake them. I saw one of them leaning out the window and I told Blaze to duck. She looked extremely frightened. What she didn't know is that I was too, I just didn't show it.
I heard the popping of gunfire and the back windshield of my car shattered. I intended to make Mr. Li pay for that. One way or another.
I figured there was only one way to get them to back off...
We transferred from the delivery van into my Pontiac Bonneville quickly. I cranked up and peeled out of the alley like a greased lightning bolt stuck in the backside of a cheetah being pursued by a swarm of angry bees. A car rounded the corner of Pico and Alvarado practically on two wheels. I got a glimpse of the inside of the car, which looked like Charlie Chan's family reunion.
I headed toward State Street, where the General Hospital was located. I wanted to get Blaze checked in, but had to lose the flying moo goo gai pan brothers first...
There was a guard outside, who woke up when the van went backing through the garage door. He was dressed all in black and looked like the Green Hornet's sidekick. But, unlike Kato, this Asian carried a gun. He started firing at the van as we drove away.
I saw we were on Wilshire, which was just a few miles from Pico. So we did drive around the block several times on our way to Jade Chen's.
We made it to Pico swiftly. I didn't see anyone following. But apparently my powers of observation had deteriorated somewhat over the years...
I knew we had mere moments before we had half the Chinese population of L.A. looking for us with intent to do bodily harm.
We reached the garage that was storing the delivery van that brought me there. I'd left my car behind the bowling alley on Pico, and I didn't know how far away that was. I was pretty sure we drove around the same block multiple times, so I didn't think we were far.
I looked in the delivery van; the keys were in the ignition. We jumped in, cranked up and backed right through the garage door...