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Trouble on Temple Street: An Officer Ellie Rush Mystery

Chapter 3

My cheeks are still a bit flushed from the beer from the Far Bar, but I make sure that I’m fully sober before getting on my bicycle. I’m Hapa and have inherited the Asian flush from my mother’s side. California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 pretty much says that you can get a citation for riding a bike under the influence. And since a bike is essentially my work wheels, I have to make sure that I don’t end up like my arch enemy Officer Mac Lambert, who had one too many drinks in a Frogtown bar and ended up rolling into the Los Angeles River on his bike. Luckily it was in the summer, so the concrete channel was bone dry and all Mack got was a bump on the head, all documented by dozens of posts by drunk hipsters on social media.

When I get home to my apartment, Shippo, the fattest Chihuahua mix west of the Rockies, is patiently waiting for me. During our late-night walk, I do my best bag-lady impression by talking to my dog. “Have you heard of something so silly—a robot cat, Shippo? I mean, if you’re going to make a robot pet, it has to be a dog.”

Shippo doesn’t seem too interested in what I’m saying and pees on a dead palm frond instead.

When we are back home, I text my boyfriend Cortez, but no response. He’s probably been called into this Atom McDonnell’s murder, even though he’s working on some other top-secret case that I don’t even know about.

While lying in bed, I scroll through the latest news on my phone. No media outlets, not even the site that my best friend Nay works for, have reported anything about Atom McDonnell’s death yet. It’s Friday and Anime Expo is going on downtown. People, even reporters, are either partying or stuck in gridlock. If you die in Los Angeles, make sure that it’s not on a Friday night.

* * * * *

The next morning, I bring Shippo—along with a week’s worth of laundry—with me to my parents’ house. I know that it’s lame, but the washer in my rental house is on its last legs and leaves black marks on the ends of my long sleeve T-shirts. Besides, it gives me a chance to catch up with la familia.

I come into the house with my overflowing laundry basket. Shippo is a couple of feet behind me. “Where’s everyone?” I ask my brother Noah who has put two Eggos in the toaster.

“Mom went running and Dad went to the hardware store. By the way, I saw you last night.”

I put the laundry basket on the floor. “Where?”

“On Snapchat.”


“There was a dead Doraemon, right?”

Why does everyone know this made-up creature?

My grandmother, wearing fuzzy shark slippers, walks into the kitchen.

“Grandma, have you heard of Doraemon?”

Grandma Toma gives me a blank look, so at least I’m in the same league as an eighty-something year old woman. She goes straight to the refrigerator and opens its door to get some orange juice.

“It was by the Go For Broke monument, right?” Noah says.

“Aren’t you the L.A. historian?”

“Well, Dad took us enough times, remember? Plus we had to go on a field trip in elementary school. Me and Brad Simmons tried to walk up one side of the monument and we almost got expelled.”

That sounds more like Noah Rush. I can’t believe he’s in college now and actually attending my alma mater, Pan Pacific West, right here in downtown Los Angeles. With all his straight A’s, my mother was hoping for Harvard, Stanford, something she could put around her car license plate with pride, but he, like me, let her down. No wonder she’s gone back to running.

“Have you heard of a guy named Atom McDonnell?”

“Sounds familiar.”

“He some kind of rock star?” Grandma Toma asks after taking a sip of her orange juice.

“No. He’s the founder of 2ibon.”

Grandma Toma shrugs her shoulders and makes her way back to her room with her glass of orange juice. I hear the TV blasting down the hall.

“Oh, that guy? Didn’t he just get busted for leaking a bunch of celebrity naked photos?” The Eggos pop up and Noah tosses both on a plate.

“So you know about 2ibon?”

He squirts some maple syrup onto his waffles. “I mean, I don’t go for that dark net stuff. It can really mess with your computers. And there are real sickos on those sites, anyway.”

“Hey, something about your Atom Boy is on the morning news,” Grandma Toma calls out.

Noah, carrying his plate of waffles, and I head over to her bedroom. The volume is on so high that it hurts my ears.

“Hey, there’s Cortez.” Noah calls out, his mouth full of Eggos. I, too, see his figure in the distance behind the news reporter. The broad shoulders, the tight oshiri. I know that I shouldn’t objectify a person, but he is my boyfriend, after all.

“Oh, look, Aunt Cheryl.”

I frown. No. Aunt Cheryl is too high level for something like this.

I take a few steps towards the TV. Noah’s right. It’s her—she’s in her black uniform, her black, dyed hair perfectly coiffed. And the news graphic has correctly identified her: LAPD Deputy Chief Cheryl Toma.

“Cheryl,” Grandma Toma points at her favorite daughter, almost knocking down her orange juice from her TV tray onto her shark slippers.

“We’d just like our visitors to L.A. know that this area is perfectly safe,” my aunt says, sounding more like a politician than a cop. “This incident is an isolated case and I’m confident that we will find who is responsible for this crime.”

The news ends and then a rerun of the show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan comes on.

I’m confused. First of all, why hasn’t Cortez texted me back? And why was Aunt Cheryl, a deputy chief whose pay grade is way beyond this, at the scene of the crime?

Chapter 4 >>


© 2017 Naomi Hirahara

doraemon Ellie Rush fiction little tokyo mystery naomi hirahara Trouble on Temple Street

About this series

LAPD bicycle cop Ellie Rush, first introduced in Murder on Bamboo Lane (Berkley, 2014), returns in this special serial for Discover Nikkei.

Ellie, who has been on the force for two years, finds herself in the middle of a Little Tokyo murder case that may potentially involve the people she loves most—her family. Will she be able to connect the dots before the killer harms her aunt, the deputy chief of the LAPD? Where does Ellie’s allegiances fall—the truth or family loyalty?

Read Chapter One