Shambala Mystery Series -
Shambala Mystery Series -
Story: TAYLOR BANKS is a 29 year old rookie detective in the Portland Police Bureau. Captain JIMMY MERIWEATHER is a few months shy of retirement, when the Chief assigns her to him. She wants homicide and he will only accept easy to solve missing person cases, to keep her from complaining. Four elderly people have disappeared from a Portland dementia facility, and the Chief gives the case to Jimmy. He reluctantly takes it, only to give Taylor something to do. During their investigation, with the help of Lucky Two Crows, they discover that one of the elderly is ROBERT ST. CLAIR, the recluse billionaire owner of Shambala Natural Foods, the largest natural food market in the world. They also discover that the other elderly man, Robert’s best friend HOWARD JOHNSON, has been accused of a double homicide. The Police Chief orders Jimmy to bring them back no matter what it takes, before it becomes front page news. Jimmy and Lucky Two Crows are Aikido sensei. When they find out the old folks are in China, Lucky goes with them. On Mt. Kunlun they meet a young (looking) Immortal Master, who tells them why they are really there.
This novel has been written and is ready to be edited.
Not content inside a box.
A brink wall shatters.
After nearly forty-five years of police work, Captain Jimmy Meriweather was three months shy of retirement.
Sitting on his futon, he looked around his office, remembering how it used to be before he finally turned the mess of banged-up police furnishings into his personal Zen retreat. Gone were his framed diplomas and certificates, the twelve most wanted posters, the beyond repair pressboard shelves stacked with decades of case files--paper references to another era, the classroom sized green chalkboard scribbled with names, clues and guesses, lines leading to Scotch-taped photos of people and places, scribbled names on yellow Post-its--and its companion cork-board, cluttered with push-pinned memos, notes and mostly ignored inter-office such and such that went into the trash at the end of the month.
That was all gone; over thirty years of Jimmy’s police history now rested in peace, in a dark corner of the bureau’s archive basement.
Jimmy smiled and looked at the street and office windows covered with noren curtains. Shakuhachi flute music filled the darkened space, contrasting the world outside his door, the crazy chaos of a metropolitan police bureau in full swing. Relaxed in his serene ambiance, he eyed his shiny black marble-top desk, barren except for a centrally placed eighteen-inch silver reclining Buddha, softly illuminated by the glow of an over-hanging white paper-ball lamp. Behind the front door-facing desk an ancient samurai sword rested on its black lacquer display. The one shelf of the black bookcase held just five books, guarded by two fierce-looking celadon dragons: The Art of War by Lao Tzu; A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi; The Way of Zen by Osho; The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba; and a tattered Many Gods, One Heart by Lama Chogyal Da. Within the covers of these books was just about all Jimmy needed to know, or so he thought.
He looked across the room to a white silk kimono which hung from a horizontal bamboo pole. It was embroidered with a green-eyed red dragon, dominating the right-to-the-entrance-door wall. He then glanced at the white rice paper lamp to his right--painted with the black kanji for honor, and the one to his left, painted with surrender. They sat on shiny black end tables, guarding Jimmy’s favorite resting place, the white futon couch.
It was almost eleven o’clock on a Thursday morning; he had nothing more pressing to do for the rest of the day besides listening to flute music and sipping green jasmine tea. Jimmy had already retired in his mind and, although his body showed up for work everyday, his spirit for police work was long gone. He had proven his worth after decades of exemplary service; so the Chief tolerated his captain’s daylong retreats in seclusion. They had agreed: No new assignments. Period. No new partners or further captain responsibilities. A senior officer had already been promoted to take his place, freeing Jimmy to ride out his time with no questions asked.
But that’s not what happened. The Chief broke his word.
Three months previously, a new crop of rookies had graduated from the Police Academy, and among them was an attractive woman named Taylor Banks. All of the graduates were given street assignments with a senior officer, but not her. She was immediately made a detective, and assigned to partner with the bureau’s second most senior police officer, Captain Jimmy Meriweather.
Present time. Taylor Banks:
The sky was full of ominous gray. A steady drizzle of rain bounced off my black umbrella as we headed to Starbucks for our morning coffee. Jimmy braved the rain with his wide-rimmed oiled leather fedora and a long coat of the same material. He looked a bit like a 19th century black long-rider. I stopped and commanded my partner’s attention, disregarding the water dripping from his brim, “Why is this happening to me, Jimmy?”
He lowered his eyes and half-smiled. “There are no external happenings, Taylor.” He enjoyed answering in cryptic puzzles, my baffled look always eliciting a smug grin. Even in the steady drizzle he stood erect, as if the rain wasn’t falling, his solid chest and flat belly in display of exceptionally excellent health for a sixty-four year old man.
I liked Jimmy; respected and admired him, even though my own secret snooping proved he didn’t support my immediate aspirations. I wasn’t supposed to be in his world, one which didn’t require an assistant at all. Apparently, after my academy graduation, a heated discussion with the Chief ended with an agreement: I was assigned to him and he would keep a close eye on me until his retirement. And, as became apparent after my first month, that meant that I was supposed to be a good girl, to sit there and mind my own business. No homicide investigations whatsoever would cross his desk. No work for him meant no work for me. He told me on my first day, that until his retirement I would be given an occasional missing person assignment, under his supervision. For the past three months I’ve been given four or five simple cases to solve; that’s it. The last one, The FBI chief Tim Hawkins threat against Jimmy’s friend Lucky, was swept under the rug. Another nothing case. This is why I complain.
I can’t imagine any woman needing a babysitter. The idea of a man keeping an eye on me, Taylor Banks, is ridiculous. I’m a high wired and strong willed woman, more than anxious to get down and dirty with police work. Jimmy agrees with me about my detective potential. “One day you’ll make a fine detective,” he has often said to me between his zen breaths.
But what about today? I have a Master’s degree in Behavioral Science, graduated near the top of my police academy class and come from a high profile family. My father is the commanding general of the Oregon National Guard, for Christ’s sake. I have good genes. Jimmy made some sort of deal with the Chief. A political payback? I don’t know. But teaching his new detective assistant anything what-so-ever was obviously not part of the deal.
My only recourse has been a constant request to be reassigned and placed in homicide. Jimmy always patiently listens. I learned a few tricks in graduate school. I thought he would understand my female and ethnic discrimination pleas, since he began his career on the force as a minority. He was the first and only African-American to receive the rank of senior captain in the history of the Portland Police Bureau. As the semi-retired commanding officer of Homicide and Missing Persons, he still has the power to put me wherever he wants. He’s just not the kind of man who is easily manipulated.
So, all my requests have been ignored. He continues to advise patience, and tells me that rookie placements in homicide are rare, although he admits I wouldn’t be the first. The persisting bureau rumors depict me as under-qualified, arrogant and presumptuous; suited for a street beat and nothing else. Jimmy agrees. He says the street is the best place to begin. But he’s not one to join in the gossip or other negative office chatter. In our personal talks, he disagrees with my insistence that I was born to be a detective and ready for murder. To him, nobody should be ready for murder, or the least bit interested in it. Most of all, he admitted that he doesn’t want to become attached to me, or anyone in the bureau for that matter. He wants his days until retirement to pass quickly, without any new obligations. He plans on retiring with a clean slate.
I’m aware that as a rookie I’m in no position to be complaining at all. Never-the-less, I have whined about my doing nothing plight to every lieutenant and desk sergeant in the Bureau; a vain attempt to find a way to be transferred to homicide. Unfortunately, my maneuverings have only created more resentment. Everyone seems to presume I’m a privileged detective, being mentored by the Captain, because my Army general father is buddies with Portland’s mayor. I whine because I’m a spoiled Army brat, they think. These rumors exaggerate the facts, and although Jimmy has no interest in them, the facts or the rumors, they continue to disturb his Zen nature.
“Come on, Jimmy, you know what I’m talking about.” I paused as he studied my strong facial features, considered by men as both handsome and beautiful, neatly arranged and genetically tanned, but hardened in a way that would take more than a few hours on the couch to analyze, or so I’ve been told. “It’s been weeks since that kid took off in his father’s Porsche. I spend my days sitting outside your office staring into space. What am I supposed to do? I’ve done my office socializing. I pretty much proved the point that nobody around here likes me, but I don’t care. Bunch of idiots.” As we walked into Starbucks, I continued, “I swear Jimmy, one more game of computer solitaire and I’ll go postal.”
“A bit dramatic. Postal after only three months?” He took off his wet fedora and brushed the rain off his shoulders as we took our place in line. “Practice patience. It’s not very long till I retire.”
“You sound like a broken record. It’s not right, Jimmy. Another three months of this will drive me crazy. Make that two venti vanilla lattes,” I said to the girl behind the counter. ‘Your treat today, Jimmy.”
He nodded, handing the gal a ten dollar bill. “You’re young, Taylor. What’s three months? Relax.” He smiled at the counter girl. “Keep the change.” The bill was over ten dollars, so he asked to borrow a couple dollars from me.
“I can’t relax,” I said as I handed her the money. "I’ve always wanted to be a detective and solve murders. Don’t you see? How can you tell me to relax when the streets are filled with low-life drug dealers, rapists and scum-bag murderers?”
“We choose our reality, Banks,” he said as we walked to over to wait for our order. "The myriad of things in life are only as real as you want each one to be. I’ve come to realize that homicide is all about people being who they aren’t. People playing out their nightmares, choosing a self-destructive reality. You need to understand, it’s their nightmare, their bad choice, not mine. I no longer wish to participate in this way of being. I’m not interested in being attached to that frequency . . .”
“What frequency?” I was confused by his vocabulary.
“The frequency of polarity. Perpetrator and victim. Good and bad, right and wrong. I’ve moved on. Homicide is like a bad dream, and I’m done with it. I’m ready to rake my Zen garden, feed my koi fish, teach a few local kids how to make a balanced choice, contemplate my navel. Eat sushi. Maybe I’ll write my memoirs. Something simple. Jimmy’s Haikus.” He paused to make up a haiku. Nothing came. "Do you hear what I’m saying?”
“Taylor. Two venti vanilla lattes,” the barista called out, even though we were standing right there.
“No, I don’t,” I pleaded as I put the lid on my latte. “I’m not you. You’re like an old walrus lying on the beach, and I’m the beach bunny ready to go surfing. How about this haiku? Old walrus lying. Beach bunny running. Get me some damn work.”
“That’s not a haiku.”
“Doesn’t matter. Do you hear what I’m saying? There’s a big difference between your three hundred years on the force and my three months. I’ve had what, four or five missing-person cases since I’ve been here? If you remember, I figured all of them out right away. I’m good. I knew that kid didn’t run away. The mother was all upset like her baby got abducted by aliens, the hundred thousand dollar Porsche and all. He went to his old man’s hunting lodge. Took daddy's Porsche to impress the girl. Why do you think the old man bought the car in the first place? As if his country club wife doesn’t know about the bimbos, the hunting lodge and fuck all. I’m sure the kid scored. Good for him. It took me five minutes to figure that one out. What about good for me? Come on, Jimmy. I know the Chief gave you orders to hold me back, but you have to give me something worth coming to work for, worth my level of intelligence. I need to be out there earning my stripes.”
“Have you considered going into law, or using your master’s degree to actually help normal people?”
“No. I’m here because I want to be here. I want to solve murder mysteries. I want excitement. I want a life living my passion. I set my goal. Met all the requirements, only to hit a brick wall. What the hell? Sitting around all day with a wannabe Zen master is not part of the plan, it’s not my idea of passion.”
“Hmmm,” Jimmy thought as put on his fedora and opened the door for me to walk through. “Her passion, chaotic desire, a brick wall. Give me a minute. There’s a haiku coming.”
Back in Jimmy’s office, I sat at one end of his futon and continued, “I don’t care if its me that sounds like a broken record, Jimmy, there’s gotta be something, someway, somehow; another option for me. What about hooking me up with another partner?”
“We’ve been over this, Taylor . . ,” he said as he poured the paper cup of coffee into a big mug, and took a sip.
“I don’t care who it is,” I interrupted. “Except Carlson. He’s a pervert.” I moved closer to get full eye contact. “What do you want, Jimmy?” It was a rhetorical question, which I didn’t hesitate to answer. “I know want you want. You want to be left alone. You want to spend your days meditating. You want to feed your fish and dream about sushi. You want to write your book of haiku poetry. Maybe you want to run off with a geisha. I don’t care what you do, Jimmy. Do whatever floats your sampan. I’m all for it. You have three months, then you’re out of here. That’s great. But that’s no reason to penalize me. I don’t know why you don’t understand. I’m here to work. While you’re trying to haiku up chaotic desire with a brick wall, I’m sitting here wasting my talents. You need to get me out of your hair, so both of us can do our thing. Get the picture?” There was a long pause as I took a big swig of my latte.
“You are a piece of work, Banks.” Jimmy smiled. “OK. I get the picture. Maybe I do have something for you to do.” He pulled his Apple laptop from the side table and turned it on. “Got an email from the Chief this morning.” He paused, “It’s kinda, well, hang in there with me. It’s another missing persons case. I know it’s not what you want, but . . .” He jotted something down on his notepad. “. . . somebody has to go check it out.”
“It better be good. I’m going to scream if it’s another boy and Porsche alien abduction case. Wouldn’t it be great if I found the missing body, and nailed the creep who put the bullet in her head?” Jimmy closed his eyes and almost imperceptibly shook his head. I calmed down, continuing, “At least it’ll be something to do and not another round of computer solitaire. What is it?”
“Four dementia patients are missing from a gated facility.”
“You heard me, Banks.” He looked up, only with his eyes, as he sipped his latte.
“You’ve got to be shitting me! You can’t be serious. Hunt down four half-wits? Is this some sort of sick joke?”
“That’s OK. You don’t have to do it,” Jimmy answered calmly, “Go back to your computer games. I won’t bother you again. I’ll send Carlson.”
“No, no, no,” I objected, seeing the set up, adding my own, “I’ll go, but you gotta come with me. I’m still a rookie you know. Can’t possibly do any real detective police work all on my own, you know what I mean?”
“All right,” Jimmy grinned, and then made up another haiku. “‘He removed all pretense. Inside his mind. Emptiness’ . . . Let’s see what you can do.”
“You got it, boss. Just watch how fast I figure this one out, and after this you gotta get the Chief to let me in on a real homicide. That has to be the next thing that happens.”
Jimmy rolled his eyes. “Bring the car around. I’ll meet you out front.”
As I walked to the office door, I heard him say, “In passion, chaotic desire. A brink wall. Shatters.”