The Ruby Dawn descended through the thick clouds above the Valley of Mexico and banked towards the airport. Dr. Orange increased the flaps while Betty, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, spoke to the control tower over the radio.
The Electra skimmed lightly over the runway before touching down with a gentle bump and taxiing to the hangar.
[I normally don’t call for Pilot checks for long-distance travel, but Mexico City is a notoriously difficult place to land, so I figured it was worth having whoever was the pilot have to spend some points to simulate that. With RP out, Dr. Orange got to show off his piloting skills.]
After decamping to a large hotel paid for by Jimmy’s checkbook, they set out to chase down their only lead—the post office box of Luz Discos.
“Have you heard from Ruby?” asked Jimmy as they drove into the Zocalo.
“Her last telegram said she and the Captain were headed to Puerto Vallerta. That must be the post office ahead.”
The building was new, done up in the full Art Deco style. The post office boxes lined the walls of the lobby, and it was easy to locate Box 1629. Opening it was somewhat greater a challenge.
Millicent sidled up to the counter, trying to remember what Ruby had taught her about bribing people. She pulled her blouse a little lower and caught a clerk’s eye. “Señor, por favor, es muy importante—”
“I speak English,” said the clerk in a bored, disdainful voice. “I go to movies all the time. Humphrey Bogart. Bang Bang.”
“It’s really important that we get into our box, but we lost our key—”
“There’s a hundred peso lost key fine.” The clerk rummaged in a drawer and tossed a key down as Millicent passed him some bills. “Give it back when you leave, I don’t want to get into trouble.”
[Bargain use by MP.]
Inside they found an old power bill for Luz Records. The address listed on the bill was 33 Morelos Avenue.
“We found them,” said the doctor, quite pleased.
There was also a letter from Samson Trammell, asking about where the “product” was and when he could expect his next record.
Millicent brought back the key and another hundred pesos. “Can you look up the name on this box?”
“What, you don’t know who you are anymore?” said the clerk. He slid the money onto his lap. “Card says it belongs to a Jonathon Brooks of Luz Records. Now hit the bricks, kid.”
Jimmy looked closer at the power bill. “They’re using a lot less power,” he said as Millicent came back. “Like they haven’t been using it for a while.”
“Consumption like that means they’re not really running anything,” said Dr. Orange.
[Accounting use by JP—who had specifically used XP to get the skill; we rationalized that having found out uncomfortable truths about his accountant, he was sharpening his old forensic accounting skills. Electrical Repair as an Investigative skill gave them the info on the power consumption.]
Luz Records wasn’t much of a going concern—it was on the second floor of a stucco office building, across from a shoe store and a tacqueria, whose owner remembered the people from Luz.
“Yeah, they moved a bunch of stuff out a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t seen them since. Good riddance, bunch of Communists anyway.”
“Communists?” said Jimmy.
“Yeah, Senor Brooks? They call him the John Reed of Mexico.”
“Wasn’t John Reed the John Reed of Mexico?” asked Millicent.
The man shrugged. “All I know is that’s what people said. Well, at least he said. Now, you want to buy some tacos? They’re really yummy. If you spend another ten pesos you get special toppings, like I don’t tell anyone you came.”
A few tacos later, Millicent used her skeleton key to pop open the door to Luz Records.
“Not much from the inside either,” said Jimmy. There were a bunch of empty file cabinets and a few desks. The room had the desolate feeling of a public space that had been abandoned suddenly.
On the back wall was a large poster in the Socialist Realist style, showing a handsome man holding the red hammer and sickle flag of the Soviet Union. Under it was written “Partido de los Trabajadores Internacional de Mexico.”
“Never heard of them,” said Geronimo. “And I’m reasonably up on my Socialist parties.”
“Didn’t Trotsky just come to Mexico?” asked Millicent.
“Yes. Supposed to be staying Diego Rivera and his wife.”
Millicent found some copies of Brooks’s books. “These aren’t very good,” she told Geronimo after flipping through a couple.
Jimmy found some invoices and bills in a wastepaper basket. “Looks like they were pricing album covers. Five and six disks. And seems they recorded some place called Estudio de Mañana. 1220 Morelos Avenue, not far from here.”