It was just after five o’clock on a Thursday morning in June. It was chilly in downtown San Francisco, famous for its bridges, parks, and fog. The S.F.P.D. detective received a call from Sgt. Sanchez, and ten minutes later he screeched to a halt in front of the Bixley Tower, a complete cluster fuck of a building. The Bixley family had built it just a few years ago and now the fifty-eight, eight-story condominium project was leaning, our own Italian Pisa.
The street was awash in police cars with lights blazing. My god, what happened? Captain Keen thought.
A barricade of black and white cop cars had cordoned off the entire 201 Mission Street block. In the condo entrance, a gathering of uniforms crowded around, checking people’s ID coming in and out of the building, and waving away the onlookers.
Keen badged his way into the lobby. Two uniformed men he recognized were standing in front: Sanchez, in his last year before retirement, and his skinny, partner, Sullivan. Keen asked Sullivan to bring him up to speed.
“Captain Keen, what I was told is that Gerald Bixley was found murdered in the penthouse suite. His wife and child were out of town. We’re trying to locate them and bring them here.”
“Okay, who’s lead on this one?”
“I believe you are. Detective Lopez is waiting for you up there.”
“Close all entrances and exits immediately. Call the Homeowners Association and get the name of the president. See if he or she has a list of all the owners.”
The trail of cops led the captain directly to the penthouse. He ran into the Crime Scene Unit crew chief lugging in his bulky cases with two technicians following, each carrying cases of their own. This had to be a big case. Keen guessed he was supposed to know who this Gerald Bixley was.
Stepping through the double doors he saw the Bixley body being lowered from the top of the balustrade to the ground. He had been shot. The captain took a deep breath, this wasn’t going to be pretty.
“May I introduce you to Gerald Bixley, of the Bixley Family Fortune,” Lopez, one of the local detectives, said with a smile. “Guess someone wasn’t happy with the shortcuts the family took in building this albatross.”
“Who found him?”
“The maid. There was a note left on the bar from the wife letting the husband know she was visiting her sister in Foster City.”
Captain Keen got up from his crouching position and looked around the penthouse. It opened up into a stylish museum of Oriental art: chairs and couches decorated with imperial court scenes.
Scanning the condo, he saw a picture of a little girl looking up but not smiling, and of a woman, must be his wife, with a cut on her lower lip. The place was immaculate, no kids’ toys lying about.
It sent a wave of curiosity racing down his spine. This wasn’t a happy household. “Lopez, check hospital records on Mrs. Bixley.”
“It’s the husband that’s dead.”
“Yay, I know, call it a hunch.”
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