Carlos stood for several seconds. Then his legs began to wobble. The strength he projected before began to dissipate. He collapsed back in his chair.
“You sound like my wife.”
He sat motionless for several moments. Samba assumed he’d passed out. She pressed her hand against the grate.
“I know you’re there.”
Samba froze. He wasn’t looking her way. How could he have known? The grate faced away from him, at an angle he couldn’t see inwards.
“Speak of the devil. Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
She looked around the room. No one else stood in the office. Carlos sat alone.
“Oh, that’s so easy for you to say, isn’t it?” he said. “Life’s so easy when your daddy gives you everything.”
Samba realized he spoke to someone only he could see in his mind. He gestured violently, pointing at the invisible accuser.
“You’re born with nothing, you’ve got nowhere to go, then they tell you it’s your fault.”
He swayed his arms back and forth, speaking in a sarcastic tone.
“Why are you still poor? If you had any motivation, you’d be rich. It’s not society’s fault, you’re just lazy.”
He reached for his bottle. He held it over top of his glass.
“Start showing me some respect. Stop treating me like a child.”
Before he could pour another drink, he turned suddenly.
“It’s not an excuse if it’s true!”
Carlos threw the bottle at some unseen target. For the second time in a short period, the sound of shattering glass filled the room.
The sudden violent movement dislodged his mask. It fell to the ground.
Samba tried to get a look at him. His long, disheveled hair block most of his face. He fell to his knees.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
With that, his whole demeanor changed. To Samba, he sounded like a different person. He began to murmur. He reached down and picked up the mask.
“I just miss you. I don’t want to be alone.”
He placed the mask back upon his face. After a quiet moment, e stood up.
“Need to quit drinking. Getting too sentimental.”
His voice changed, returning to the cocksure attitude from before.
“Ah, who am I kidding.”
He walked back to his chair, using his desk to steady himself. He sat back down, slumping in his chair. He began to murmur.
“I want to talk to my daughter. Baby, it’s your daddy. I know it’s been awhile, we haven’t talked…”
He droned out, his head tucking into his chest.
Samba watched him for a moment, then began to crawl back.
“Where are you going?” said Lupin. “This is our chance.”
“We’re going back.”
Lupin’s mouth dropped open.
“You can’t be serious?”
Samba looked back.
. . . .
Jazz wondered how much more agony he could take. The office’s awkward silence reached its breaking point.
Before him the Chief pored over a stack of files. She stared with such intensity he half expected them to burst into flames. At least he wasn’t alone.
Waiting with him for the inevitable chewing-out session was the Montenegro unit. The oddballs of the force, the four detectives had taken up the strange habit of color-coordinating their otherwise identical collared shirts and vests. They also called each other by only by their colors, a practice they thought made them cool. To everyone else, it just made them dorks.
After the point Jazz felt he couldn’t take it anymore, the Chief lifted the files over her head. She slammed them down on her desk, scattering papers and notes across the floor.
Jazz couldn’t help but smirk at her antique choice of swear words. The Chief didn’t notice, too busy venting her anger.
“The two biggest names in thiefdom, in the same room, and my only officer there is too busy shaking his tail feathers, or twerking, or whatever they’re calling it now.”
She peppered the last part with unsubtle sarcasm.
“A five-star hotel trashed, blimps over the city, and the mayor is on my butt. All the day before Carnival. I want answers!”
She turned to her four multicolor detectives.
“Montenegro unit! Where in the world is Carlos Montenegro?”
The four detectives began to snap their fingers in rhythm.
“Doo-wop, doo doo da doo way,” they sang. The red-shirted detective stepped up first.
“Well we chased him around the world, from Beijing to Tijuana…”
Yellow picked up the baton.
“Picked up on his trail at the San Francisco zoo.”
Next up was Green.
“He took us for a ride from North to South Carolina.”
All four came together for finale, doing the robot, Purple capping it off.
“Tell me where in the world is Carlos Montenegro.”
“Knock it off!” said the Chief. “If you spent half as much time investigating as you put into you’re a capella group, this case would be solved already.”
“Sorry, Chief,” they said in harmonious unity.
“I haven’t been around this many colorful idiots since I DJ’ed for New York City gangs in the seventies. Start showing result before I bust you all down to gumshoe!”
“And you, Foley,” she turned her attention to Jazz, “what are you doing in here? Get back on the Gentleman case.”
“Chief,” he said, “all three of them are connected, and the girl is the connection. I overheard Carlos saying that they’re rounding up all the thieves for some final showdown. Something is going to go down during Carnival.”
“And you have evidence? What about the Gentleman?”
“He may have been at the party.”
The Chief waved her hands in front of her.
“Oh, he might have been.”
She continued her unyielding sarcasm.
“And a battle might just break out tonight, by a bunch of weirdoes dressed flamboyantly during Carnival. That’ll be easy to spot.”
The Chief shuffled through several papers, pulling out a memo.
“According to your report, Carlos said they were meeting in November.”
She placed her emphasis on the date. Jazz shook his head.
“Every cop in the city will be near Apotheosis Square. It’d be easy to slip in members with the tourists. If Montenegro and Taiko are ending their feud, tonight is the perfect time. Maybe middle of November is code.”
Green spoke up out of turn.
“The fifteenth of November does have great significance for Brazilians.”
Everyone turned to stare at him.
The Chief reared up. With an unwarranted burst of strength, she cleaned and pressed her desk, lifting it above her shoulders. Jazz and the other detectives cowered in awe. She motioned towards the door.
“Enough conjecture! All of you, out! Come back when you have hard evidence.”
Jazz retreated to the temporary desk he’d commandeered. He produced a single file from under his arm. Looking around to ensure no one noticed he’d pilfered it from the chief, he flipped open the file.
Inside lay a picture clipped to a sparsely-filled dossier. Jazz pulled the picture. It was a picture of Samba, in the company of Noah, a wide smile on her face.
The sight of her took him back to thoughts of them dancing together. When he had held her in his arms, even now the feeling made his heart beat faster.
That brown hair that caught the moonlight ocean breeze, chestnut eyes you wanted to fall into. A dancer’s body, with long, strong legs.
When she smiled, it was warm, caring. But he couldn’t help but think there was a hidden sadness underneath it. When he thought of her, he swore he could hear music.
Jazz snapped out of his daze when he realized he really did hear music. Behind him the four members of the Montenegro unit sang a doo-wop song.
“Woa, woa, woa…” they sang, snapping their fingers.
“Guy’s, c’mon,” said Jazz, “this is a workplace.”
“Sorry,” said Red. “We need time to practice.”
“Well at least sing something Brazilian.”
The four huddled up, conferring amongst themselves.
“One, two, three,” they started. “Her name is Rio and…”
Jazz waved his arms.
“Stop. Just stop.”
The four of them stopped mid-breathe. Giving Jazz a rotten look, the four of them slinked back to their desks with heads down and hands in their pockets. As Green passed him, Jazz remembered his off-hand comment.
“Hey greenhorn, what’d you mean by the fifteenth of November being significant?”
Green stopped and turned towards his seat. A corpulent detective, his figure wasn’t helped by his slouched stance. When he spoke, his words came out in a slow and somewhat dim-witted drawl.
“If you are implying that my chosen moniker is a reflection of my age or experience level, you’re wrong. I would be more amenable if you addressed me by name.”
Jazz was taken aback a bit.
“Well, I’m sorry about that. It was wrong of me to misjudge you. What’s your real name?”
“Green,” said the detective. “But that’s not the point.”
Jack rolled his eyes. He tried to humor the man.
“Can we get to the point? What’s the significance of the fifteenth?”
“The 15th of November is the day Brazil became a republic. The changeover took place in the square in Centro,” said Green. “Although it was really a democracy in name only, as the country went through a series of military juntas, at least until the seventies when…”
Green looked dreamily up to the ceiling as his thoughts became more unfocused. Jazz held up his hands again to try and stop the meandering historian.
“That’s interesting, but it doesn’t help with my investigation. Anything you can think of that connects with Montenegro?”
Green looked up to the ceiling, his mind in thought. After a moment, he returned to reality. He shook his head.
Jazz leaned back in his chair. This brainstorming session was going nowhere.
“Well, thanks anyway.”
Green tipped his hat and made his way back to the Montenegro case desk, where his compatriots were in the midst of practicing their scales. Jazz tried to get his mind back on track by sorting through last night’s events.
Try as he might, Jazz couldn’t help but keep coming back to the thought of Samba dancing with the Gentleman. The sight of the two of them together initially hit him hard, to the point where he had given up his quarry just to get away.
A gut feeling called him back to the party, fortuitously returning just in time to hear Carlo’s proclamation. His instincts were still good, except when it came to her. Why?
A lone picture adorned his desk. In it his kid self wore Gousseau’s hat for the first time, the titular detective beaming over his shoulder. He tried to remember his mentor’s teachings.
“’Oou could solve un thousand cases before ever solving une femme,” Jazz said, using the fakest French accent he could muster.
Turning serious, he sat up straight, placing his hands palms extended on the desk. He began to breathe slowly, speaking his mantra.
“The only person I can control is myself. The only person I can control is myself.”
He attempted to focus, pushing out all thoughts except for the necessary details.
“I tried doing my duty, just like my father…figure valued. If she’s surrounded by danger, she needs to know who to trust. Maybe loyalty meant more to her than duty.”
He rubbed his head, mad at his own ignorance for missing the obvious.
“I blew her trust.”
He knew he’d have to win it back. Mentally sorting the information away for later, he turned back to Gentleman case. Specifically Montenegro’s cryptic message.
“Hunch they’ll meet back,” he muttered to himself, “with open arms.”
He stared at a postcard pinned to his desk, an aerial shot of Rio. The Statue of Christ the Redeemer was prominently featured. Jazz focused on the statue, and the mountain it topped.
“It can’t be that easy, can it?”
Jazz pulled up his seat and queued up his Portuguese translator. He spoke as he typed.
The results displayed. He jumped out of his seat.
“I knew it! It was a code.”
He paced around his desk, treading circles into the carpet.
“But why wait till November?”
Forcing himself to stop behind his desk, he went back to his mantra, controlling his breathing.
“Remember Gousseau’s teaching. Stay with your original theory; work it to the logical conclusion. It has to be tonight.”
He opened his calendar, flipping it to November.
“The middle of November is the fifteenth. The fifteenth of November holds great significance for Brazilians.”
He reopened the case file, looking through the spare details constituting Samba’s bio.
“Samba’s father is Brazilian.”
Jazz remembered Green’s words. A light appeared at the end of his mental tunnel. He tried to walk his thoughts towards the light.
“If he knows his people’s history, he would know the revolution took place in a square…”
He brushed the papers off his desk. In their place he spread a map of Rio city.
“Middle can also be used to describe a location. As in center.”
He ran his finger through the downtown area. He stopped on the central landmark in the historical city center. A name in Portuguese stared up at him.
“As in Centro!”
Jazz filled with elation. Grabbing a pencil, he furiously drew a circle. Grabbing the map, he started to move towards the Chief’s office, and then stopped.
“Still need evidence.”
He looked down at his desk, focusing on his beloved snapshot. A smile appeared on his face.
“What I need is someone who’d believe me.”
He grabbed his coat off the chair, holding it under his arm. Grabbing his hat, he placed it on his head as he passed by the Chief’s office. As if on cue, she appeared at her door, temper already boiling over.
“Foley, where do you think you’re going?”
Jazz picked up speed as he passed by the Montenegro unit. He threw the map down on their table.
“Gotta make a phone call,” Jazz said. “Thanks for the help!”
“You’re leaving?” asked Green.
Jazz opened the door to the office. He held his arms out at his sides.
On the map, under the hastily drawn circle, was a name. Praca Quinze de Novembro.
15 November Square.