A couple of days later, Kevin called Nick Williams. He informed him that the gun was used to shoot the lock off of a safe at McDonald’s, in a burglary with the exact same M.O. as the Burger King.

He also got a departmental memo inquiring about interest in joining a fast food burglary task force. There appears to have been several after-hours robberies of fast food restaurants and other businesses using a similar M.O. Williams jumped at the chance to join. He said it was most likely that junkies were behind it in order to support their habit and his experience in narcotics could provide a valuable perspective.

Williams was accepted into the task force. At its first meeting, the leader said,:

“There seems to be no rhyme or reason to these crimes beyond the M.O., which is simple. After hours, the perpetrator, who is apparently already inside the establishment, smashes the cash register or safe with a blunt object and takes the cash. If that fails, the perpetrator uses a gun.”

“Why do you think it’s the same perpetrator or group of perpetrators?” asked an officer.

“Well, in a couple of cases, there seemed to be some attempt at smashing safes before using bullets to open them. In addition, the gun used was the same Smith and Wesson Model 15 most likely issued by this department. Do not reveal this to the media. We can’t create a panic.”

“Is that why this task force was called so quickly after only a few incidents?” asked another officer?

“Yes,” said the leader. “We have to get to the bottom of this quickly. This has the potential to be very embarrassing to the department. Look at the map. We must increase the frequency of stop-and-frisk in the areas surrounding these incidents.”

The officers chattered among themselves about how the civil libertarians were going to have a field day when this policy was implemented.

Detective Williams asked, “Do you have any paraphernalia the perpetrator might have left behind that provides clues as to who he is, or at least what he does?”

“I assume you mean what kind of drugs. You are free to look through any clues we have in our evidence room,” the leader replied.

Another officer asked, “How is this perpetrator or perpetrators stealing in this crude manner not being seen? Any beat cop can spot some desperate junkie looking for a fix a mile away. If that’s the crowd behind this, why haven’t we caught them?”

The leader said, “We believe this is a person who can hide in plain sight. It is likely the perpetrator lives in one of the neighborhoods of the restaurants that have been hit and is a regular customer and perhaps an employee at them.”

Detective Williams said, “Do you have any suspects at all?”

The leader replied, “We investigated a transient who worked at both the McDonald’s and Burger King, but that came to naught.”

Detective Williams said, “So, you think the perpetrator lives in the vicinity but the only guy you thought to investigate was a transient? You can’t tell if it’s one perpetrator or more than one? It seems like you have absolutely nothing and you’re grasping at straws.”

Just then, the door opened.

“Somebody close that,” the leader said.


Yvonne Jones heard a knock on the door. She assumed it was a john sent by Black Freddy.

“Come in,” she said as she unlocked the door.

She was stunned when she saw a boy who couldn’t be older than middle school, probably even elementary. She smiled as she greeted him and asked:

“What would you like to do? Do you want me to read you a bedtime story?”

“No, I am looking for an aunt,” the boy replied.

“Well, do you want your auntie to teach you about girls?”

The boy shook his head and said. “I am weary of living in the shadows. I want to go to the high school in this area. If I live with you, I can do that. You can pretend to be my aunt. I will pay you more than Black Freddy ever did. Please, you have got to help me. If you do, I can help you.”

“How do you know about Black Freddy? You were sent by him to test my loyalty! Get out now!” Yvonne said while trying to push the boy out, but he resisted with all his might.

“Goddamn it, hear me out. You’re my last hope,” he said.

Yvonne, tired of struggling, said, “Okay.”

The boy explained, “I need to find someone who lives in the better part of the San Fernando Valley to play my aunt so I can enroll in a good school. I need someone who needs money because I need a partner, not a parent. I also need someone white so our feigned relationship will seem plausible. Here is around $2,000 to start.”

“Where did you get this money?” she screamed.

“That is none of your concern,” the boy replied.

“If Black Freddy finds out about this I’ll be dead—and he will,” she said.

“Black Freddy is dead and so is Martel,” the boy replied. “You will see a story on the local news shortly about the bodies of two black men found in a Cadillac Fleetwood, which is what they drove.”

“No,” she replied. “Black Freddy has power over our dreams. He can’t die. He proved it to me.”

“Good grief,” the boy sighed. “If he had a talent like that, do you think he would go blabbering about it to all listeners? Black Freddy knew what you were doing because he had his car parked in the gas station across from this motel. He was testing you all along, but he isn’t any more. My mother did the same thing to me.”

Yvonne was clearly warmed by the money the boy put in her hands. She was beginning to trust him. She asked him, “So what exactly are you going to give me?”

“I will give you as much money as you want for food, rent, clothes, booze, rock, whatever that is and anything else you might need. In return, I need you to put on a grown-up face for the school, social workers, and anybody else. Sign the papers I tell you to sign,” he said.

“I don’t know,” Yvonne said, still scared of Black Freddy.

“Are you scared?” the boy replied. “I used to be scared, too.”

“Yes, I am,” Yvonne said.

“Don’t be. At least you are just scared. You can get over that. The problem is when you are so scared you love what scares you to cover up your fear. That’s why another woman I approached who met my criteria tried to kill me with her toenail clippers,” the boy said.

“Really?” Yvonne laughed. “Why don’t you come in and sit down?”

The boy sat in the chair.

“Can I ask your name?” Yvonne said.

“I have a birth certificate in my bag. It will tell you my name is James Reginald Thompson. I guess my friends call me Jim.” The boy showed her the document. “I think you should put this somewhere for safekeeping. I lose stuff.”

“Okay, Jim,” Yvonne said. “We’ll put it in my old leather satchel in the corner of the bottom drawer.”

Yvonne had no idea what to think about this. Here was a boy with the knowledge and poise of a grown man, or even something more than a man, yet still had the vulnerabilities of a child. She had no idea if he was telling the truth about her pimp, but he appeared to be sincere. The fact he had given her more money than she had seen at one time in her entire life motivated her to trust and like him. She said:

“I’ve never had anyone do anything for me like this. You must be an angel sent from God. I guess my father was wrong when he beat me and called me a godless slut for wearing too much makeup and a skirt too short for church,” Yvonne said.

“I’m no angel. I don’t know if there is a God, but I know if there is one, He doesn’t like me. It sounds like you could be the same way. The rules don’t work for us. We are Lucifer’s children, and we should embrace it and stick together on that account,” Jim replied.

Yvonne laughed again and told him, “I never had any use for that second bed, so I guess you can use that. We can go to that school next week and get you enrolled. How about now we just order ourselves a pizza?”

“That would be great,” Jim said. “One more thing.”

“What’s that?” Yvonne replied.

“If you know how to drive, could you teach me?  I’ll even get you a car,” said Jim.

“That would probably be like being taught to fly by a chicken, but I could try.”

Jim smiled and said okay. After that, they ate the pizza and went to sleep.


Detective Williams was read the riot act by his commanding officer for his outburst during the meeting. He apologized to the head of the task force and assured his superior he would be very dedicated to the task force in the weeks to come. He even wrote a written apology to the task force’s leader.

He looked through the collection of junk in the evidence room from the fast food restaurant cases. It all looked pretty worthless. It seemed like a bunch of stuff from the lost and found at any restaurant. He wondered if all of this hadn’t been a mistake and that it had nothing to do with him at all. He was about to put it away when he noticed a key. It was a key to a long-term hotel out in the valley. He remembered he had met an up-and-coming pimp and drug dealer calling himself “Black Freddy” there once to exchange money for drugs. This could be it, he thought. It is it. He said out loud:

“Got ya, asshole.”

He put the key in his pocket and left. He drove to the hotel and found the room whose number was printed on the plastic tag on the keychain. He put the key in the door. He saw a woman dressed to the nines, which seemed unusual for a place like that. She screamed. He ran up to her, grabbed her by the throat, and said, “Sit down and shut up, bitch, and if you scream again, I’ll kill you.” She complied.

Then he showed his his badge and police ID and asked her, “Where is he?”

“Where is who?” she asked.

“You know who,” he replied and slapped her across the face.

The woman put her hand over her face and began to cry. Thoughts were racing in her mind as she blurted out, “Do you mean Black Freddy?”

Williams slapped her across the other cheek and said, “No, bitch! I mean the bastard who killed Black Freddy! I know he’s here and I’m gonna beat your ass until you tell me.” Then he punched her in the face as she sobbed.

Just then, the door opened and the key was no longer in it.

Williams went out for a look and the door closed behind him. He tried the door and it was locked. He banged on the door and threatened the woman. He thought about shooting the lock off, but then thought what his commanding officer might think if word ever got back to him. He turned around, put his hands on the balcony, and stared for a couple of minutes. He told himself the bitch didn’t know anything and she was just another one of Black Freddy’s whores. He went back to his car and reached into his pocket for his car keys. They weren’t there and he surmised he left them in her room.

“Shit!” he screamed. Then he saw them on the ground. “Whew!” He exclaimed. He then got in and drove off.

He decided to go get a beer, thinking that’s what he needed to calm his nerves. He stopped at a convenience store, put his head on the steering wheel, and said, “Who the fuck are you?”

The last words he ever heard came from the back seat of the car.

“I’m Gyges.”



For all installments of “Who Am I?,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1