Burning Man
jealous of him.”
    “Such as?”
    “I really couldn’t say. Paul sometimes acted cocky, though, and there might have been one or two kids that weren’t from old Beverly Hills that he rubbed the wrong way.”
    “What do you mean by old Beverly Hills?”
    “People from around here.”
    “I’m still not following.”
    “There are a lot of kids at our school that go around speaking different languages, like Farsi.”
    “And Paul didn’t like that?”
    “Lots of people in Beverly Hills don’t like it. A few years back there was this big fight when election ballots came out in Farsi. And the people of Beverly Hills got so sick of houses being torn down and Persian Palaces being put up that the zoning laws were changed.”
    “Persian Palaces?”
    “Everyone calls them that.”
    “So Paul didn’t like these newcomers?”
    “What he didn’t like was when they acted like they were still in Tehran. When he heard kids speaking in Farsi, he’d start talking real loud in pig Latin.”
    “He targeted Iranian students?”
    Jason shook his head. “It was more like a joke.”
    “But others might not have found it funny?”
    “I don’t know. You wanted to know if anyone could have disliked Paul; that’s all I could think of. But I don’t think his speaking pig Latin is the kind of thing that could have gotten him killed, do you?”
    I almost said, “There are some people you’d be advised to not say ‘Uckfay Ouyay’ to,” but instead I just asked him another question.

CHAPTER 7:

TOWER OF BABEL, TOWER OF HOPE
    Gump and Martinez were still working the case at two a.m. when I took my leave of them. None of us had turned up any real suspects. Paul’s friends—I had talked to all five members of the Agency—couldn’t think of anyone that would have wanted him dead. The only person that had offered a motive for Paul’s death was his father. Adam Klein said he believed his son’s death and crucifixion were payback from organized crime.
    “This is the Mob’s way of getting back at me for making Traffic King ,” he told me over the phone.
    “I am not familiar with Traffic King ,” I said.
    “That’s because its release date is two weeks from tomorrow. The story is about human trafficking, about the modern slave trade.”
    “Your film is about present-day slavery?”
    “That’s right. The Traffic King is a modern-day slave lord. He collects and sells human beings. He ravages lives.”
    “What does that have to do with your son’s death?”
    “It’s organized crime retaliating for my putting the spotlight on their activities.”
    “Is Traffic King based on a true story?”
    “I would call it more of a composite story. In sheer numbers, there is more human trafficking going on today than ever before.”
    “But your movie is fictional?”
    “That doesn’t take away from its inherent truth.”
    By that point in our conversation, I had stopped taking notes. Before reaching him by phone, I had heard Klein selling this same revenge theory to the media. It had sounded out there, but at the time I thought grief was coloring his thinking. Now I wasn’t so sure, but I hoped he believed in his theory. If he didn’t, that meant he was using the death of his own son to promote a movie.
    “I think it’s a stretch that your son would have been targeted because of this movie.”
    “That’s because you don’t know how despicable and violent the modern slave trade is. It would be just like them to exact revenge for my having exposed their methods. When you see the movie, Detective, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. They are afraid of their house of cards toppling. That’s what happens in the film, and as a result their slave trade is severely disrupted.”
    “And how does all of that come about?”
    “A woman whose girl is abducted by slave traders gets vengeance against the human traffickers. Getting her daughter back isn’t enough; she goes after the Traffic King.”
    I held the phone away

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