He sat there like a statue of carved flesh. I saw him blink occasionally, seriously once a minute or so, as he stared a hole through the two-way mirror. He’d been as docile as a doe since we came into his crappy apartment to slap cuffs on him, so now we let him sit silently at the cold bare metal table in interrogation chamber #4 with his hands folded demurely in front of him like he was front-row in an honors class. Those hands were the first thing that caught my attention about him. Long, pale, and thin. A pianist’s hands. Or perhaps he spent too much time in front of a computer monitor.
When I first came to hammer on the door with my warrant in hand, I could see him through a grimy window, sitting the same way at mottled wooden desk in what passed for a study in one of Temple City’s lower-income areas. I’ll never forget the way his narrow eyes flashed up at me, piercing me like skewers. Those eyes. Coal black, smoldering every bit as much as the filterless cigarette perched between those dainty fingers.
He strode efficiently to the door at the call of Sheriff’s Office! He pulled it open with less emotion on his face than a coma patient. I immediately noticed a small, unremarkable suitcase up against the wall a few feet behind him. He made no effort to hide it.
“Shinichi Nakamura?” I inquired. He exhaled a cloud, nodded. Dropped the butt on the ground in his own apartment and squashed it with his loafer.
“You planning a trip, Mr. Nakamura?” He shrugged. “Well I’m afraid you’ll have to put it on hold for a while until you come talk with us.” Still, he remained silent. Just held his hand out for the warrant. I stood patiently in his doorway besides two deputies for a full sixty seconds while he frowned at the papers, his eyes blurring. At last, with an inaudible sigh, he handed everything back and limply held up his thin wrists. I pointed a finger down towards the ground and spun it in a circle. He grudgingly turned around, clasping his hands together as if in prayer. I should have been the one praying; I didn’t have a damn clue if we could nail him.
A funny thing happened while we were pulling away from his little hovel. An anonymous little sedan, maybe an old Camry or a Crown Vic, pulled up in front the complex. I spied it in the rearview but never mentioned it. After about five seconds, the driver shifter back into gear and zoomed off.
I slammed the door behind me, trying not to make it seem like I put my back into it. Nakamura didn’t flinch. I pulled the chair out opposite of him and slouched down into it. I could smell the coffee on my breath and my ears filled with the buzzing of the cheap fluorescent lighting. Nakamura looked at me, clearly bored.
I decided it was time to break the ice. “You know, Shinichi… can I call you Shinichi?”
Somewhere in the room, a pin dropped.
“You know, Shinichi,” I continued, “We took a look at that little suitcase you had all packed up and ready to go in the hallway.” One of his eyebrows rose half an inch.
“Found a Japanese passport in there. Birthday April 5th, 1975. Stamps for America, all over Europe. Sound familiar?” He shrugged.
“So you were born in Japan then? Raised there?” Nakamura nodded.
“Where’d you learn English?”
“Here. In California.” The only accent I could pick up on was a faint hint of his homeland. I pulled out my phone and opened a page on Chrome. “This your LinkedIn?” He nodded suspiciously. I highlighted a stretch of text in the “About me” section with my thumb, then I slid the phone over to him.
“You write this? Gushing about your love for mathematics and whatnot?”
Nakamura fixed his eyes on me. “Most of the staff at CalTech’s physics department loved mathematics too.”
“I’m sure your love for quantum computing made you a lot of friends. I do have a question, though. How many American English-speakers abbreviate the word like this?” I countered. His eyes slid down the highlighted text again: maths. “That’s how they say it in the United Kingdom,” I informed him. “And also, I believe, in Australia.” His mouth pursed, almost imperceptibly. I pressed forward.
“Ever meet a fellow named Craig Steven Wright?”
“No,” he muttered.
“But you know who he is?”
“An Australian. He claimed to be one of the few original progenitors of Bitcoin. He even tried to provide evidence of such, like a fool. Nobody believed him.”
“He even registered copyright here over it, which amounted to nothing,” I agreed. “But it got me thinking.
“Some of the smartest crooks out there are the ones who convince the world that the evidence against them is rubbish.” Wright was supposed to be working with another man, named David Kleiman, dead now for years. Stories were published about it, and he really knew his stuff. Would he have let his business partner make a fool of himself in public like that? ‘Over my dead body,’ he probably thought. But did someone else give Wright bad advice about proving himself?
“But now the only known brains of the supposed operation are dead, and the surviving partner discredited. I ask you, if a third man was involved, a man who had the knowledge to orchestrate this kind of world-changing blockchain technology and the nerve to pin it on two patsies, would this fake passport be the first nail in his coffin?”
I slapped the report from the forensic examination on the passport on the table. He looked at it and smiled.
Last Updated on 03/23/2022 by Emmanuel Motelin