Backing out of the apartment’s parking lot, Mr. Hill filled Lilly in on the details of his conversation with Sarah Carrig: “She said that not long after they arrived home from services, Manchu was called by the young woman who came to Jesus last night. Her great grandfather was extremely ill, and she asked for Pastor Manchu to come to their house and be near him if indeed it was her great grandfather’s last hours. Manchu left for their house around midnight, leaving Sarah behind to get some rest. When she awoke this morning, she was greatly disturbed to find out that he hadn’t returned.”
“Bizarre,” Lilly commented. “He looked the picture of health last night. I mean, for a guy like way up the ladder in years.”
“Yeah,” Mr. Hill agreed. “However, he might have been struggling with some disease internally. Or, perhaps, all the excitement got to him last night. The guy could hardly contain his happiness.”
Lilly nodded. “So where are we headed? To Sarah’s or some place else?” She dumped a handful of rice krispies into her mouth. The box of cereal was the handiest breakfast she had been able to snag from the Suns’ kitchen. No utensils were necessary. Only certain body parts were required.
“Not to Sarah’s,” Mr. Hill answered. “I believe the best point to commence this investigation is at great grandfather Mitsubishi’s place. We’ll find out whether or not he arrived; and if so, what went on when he left. Wherever those clues lead, we’ll follow or fly.”
“If only we had wings,” Lilly sighed.
Mr. Hill smiled. “More or less.”
“Do you already have Mitsubishi’s address?” Lilly asked.
“Yes. Sarah sent it to my phone. They live in a fishing village near the mountains a ways from the city.”
“O.K., but couldn’t Sarah just call them?”
“She did. The phone went to voice mail.”
“She called him as well—multiple times. It just rang out. I’m pretty sure she’s trying again even as we speak.”
Mr. Hill and Lilly rode in thoughtful silence for a while longer until suddenly Mr. Hill leaned forward exclaiming, “That looks like a nasty accident up ahead! Wait! Is that–?”
“Manchu’s car?” Lilly interjected. “Yes! Yes, it is!”
The driver in the car behind them beeped furiously at Mr. Hill for slowing down. Mr. Hill deftly swerved out of the lane and parked on the side of the road. He and Lilly got out and approached the scene of the car accident. It appeared as if Manchu had tried to escape the oncoming car but despite the effort, the two collided head on. The front end of both cars were smashed into each other and glass from the decimated headlights was strewn about.
“Excuse me,” Mr. Hill said to the policeman who appeared to be in-charge of the situation. “Can you tell me what went on here?”
The man who had cheeks so sunken that even if he tried to fill them with air they would not puff out, looked at Mr. Hill questioningly. “An auto accident—that happened,” he said.
“O.K. That’s obvious. Can you give me any details?” Mr. Hill asked.
“No,” the man said. He proceeded to give some details anyway. “Looks like the person in this car drove the wrong way.” He pointed to Manchu’s car, then to the other car with his head. “Person in this car drove the right way. Wrong-way driver hit right-way driver’s car. The collision caused the cars to spin around in this awkward position.”
“How do you figure that it was this car coming the wrong way?”
“I think,” the officer said. “Imagine them spinning. If it was the other car headed the wrong way, they would be in totally different positions.” He waved his arms about wildly as if it was silly. Mr. Hill had doubts about what he was saying. “Perhaps he was drunk and did not have his lights on like a good driver!”
“That isn’t him at all,” Mr. Hill muttered. “Was there any identification in the vehicle?”
“Yes.” The officer called to another officer and spoke to him in Chinese.
He left for his car then returned handing him a plastic bag filled with documentation. “Here,” the first officer said showing the contents.
Mr. Hill took one look at the driver’s license. “Manchu Baltimore Carrig,” he read. “That’s him. Was there any identification in the other car?”
“No,” the police officer answered looking askance. “Besides, what relation are you to him? Who are you?”
“Well, I am a lawyer and a friend of Manchu.”
“And do you practice law in these parts?”
“No. I reside in America. I’m visiting here for Manchu’s sake. That’s why this accident is of such concern to me.”
“Oh, was he having legal troubles?”
“You not eager to speak of his troubles? Why? Sir, you care for friend, Manchu. Then tell me every suspicious wart, or you’ll fall under suspicion.”
Mr. Hill threw his head back and let out a laugh. Lilly couldn’t suppress a smile at the absolute absurdity of the officer’s last words.
“Trying to imply that I am a suspect does not threaten me in the least,” Mr. Hill said resolutely.
The officer responded with a smirk.
“Excuse me,” Lilly said. “I assume no bodies were found in the cars, right?”
The officer’s sunken eyes now rested on her questioningly. “Assumption correct,” he said.
“Come on, Lilly,” Mr. Hill said. He walked closer to the damaged cars and began taking pictures with his phone. Lilly did the same with her phone, but from different angles.
“Please…no contamination of the scene,” the officer said following them around.
“Of course not,” Mr. Hill replied. “But, just in case, this should make you feel better.” He pulled out a pair of leather gloves from his coat pocket, put them on his hands, and resumed taking pictures.
“I think I’ve covered everything,” Lilly said eventually. “Your pictures can serve as backup.”
“So that’s how it’s going to be,” Mr. Hill said, patting her on the back. “Good job, Lilly!” He thanked the officer for his help as they returned to their car. The officer didn’t respond and only called to another officer to get a towing company on the phone.