Chang is a New Yorker, a native son of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. His debut novel “Chinatown Beat” garnered high praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, among others.
The door at the top of the first flight of rickety stairs was slightly ajar. Yellow Crime Scene tape crossed it’s frame.
Jack pulled the tape back and took a breath. He pushed the door gently, stepping into the space illuminated by dim fluorescent light. The old apartment was a typical Chinatown walkup: a big rectangular room, sparsely furnished, with a kitchenette and a small bathroom against a long wall. Worn linoleum covered the floor. The rest of the space was open. A little table nestled in the corner to his left, a puffy jacket draped over a chair.
The place looked neat; there were no signs of a struggle.
Even in the half-light, Jack saw them right away: two bodies, holding hands but sprawled apart, on their backs, across the width of a bed in the far corner. Their legs dangled off the side of the bed. One man, one woman, Chinese, as far as he could make out in the shadowy distance.
The woman still had her quilted coat on.
There was a lady’s handbag placed neatly against the foot of the bed.
On the linoleum at the headboard end was a small clock radio, crash-tilted at an angle to the floor, its digital display frozen at 4:44 AM.
As Jack stepped closer, he figured the dead couple to be in their mid-thirties. He couldn’t find a pulse, but the bodies were still warm to the touch. Rigor had not set in.
Dead less than two hours, Jack thought.
He pulled the plastic disposable camera from his jacket.
The man still had two fingers of his right hand on the butt of a gun, a small black revolver, just at the end of his grasp, dangling askew off the duvet cover. He was grimacing; dark blood spread from the back of his head. In the firm grip of his left fist was the woman’s right hand, their fingers laced, as if he was taking her with him somewhere. There was blood on the back of her right hand, blood on the comforter that had come from inside her palm, and a small red hole in the center of her forehead. Beneath that, a puddle had formed in the turned-up collar of her coat. Her eyes were open and her lips slightly parted; she wore a look of disbelief.
In the space between the two bodies was a crumpled business card. Protruding from the man’s shirt pocket was a folded piece of notepaper.
At 4:44 AM, the woman wasn’t going out, Jack thought. She’d just come home. And he was waiting for her, his puffy jacket draped over the chair. No sign of forced entry. He’d had a key. Or she’d let him in.