Whadaya expecting Mammonites? Weekends off? Days off are for pussies. Chapter Fourteen, comin’ at ya. If you’re new to the story, you can catch up here — all fourteen chapters in PDF.
Tony Corsco felt that little knife pain in his gut again. Damn gallstones probably. Maybe a year ago it had been real bad, woke up feeling like he’d been gutshot, went in to the ER over at Northwestern, docs showing him the MRI or whatever the fuck high-tech picture they took of his innards, the stone blocking some tube somewhere, telling him too much high-fat food, too much booze, all the shit he had to give up if he didn’t want them cutting him open and yanking his gallbladder out. Like he was gonna do that.
But he’d feel it sometimes, during a good eat maybe, or like now, when someone was yanking on his sack.
“Yeah, OK, we made a run at the guy,” that fucking spic Hernandez on the phone. “Nothing to do with your brother, I can tell you that. Friend of ours called me about him. Guess this Hardin makes a habit of dipping his wick in the wrong people’s business.”
“Who called you?” Hernandez asked.
“You know I’m not gonna tell you that, c’mon. But you want us to play ball with you, we’ll play ball. We get a line on the guy, we’ll steer you in. Happy to let you handle it. Just remember, we got a guy willing to pay for him dead, so he ends up dead, don’t be trying to cut in on my payday, OK?”
Little grunt from Hernandez. “You think I need your spare change, Corsco? You hear something, you tell me. Be sure you do. This is very important to me. I will remember who helps. I will remember who doesn’t.” Hernandez hung up.
Fucking spic, talking to him like that. Little twist in the gut again. But it was good news, actually, the more Corsco thought about it.
Couldn’t believe that fucker Fenn. Calls him up, takes the paper out on this Hardin guy. Tells him he’s just some reporter punk or something, didn’t say anything about him being fucking Rambo. Fine. You do business with your friends when you can. Then this shit Fenn? He turns up on Oprah, runs that home movie Africa crap the same fucking morning that this Hardin puke is taking out two of Tony’s guys. Fuck was he thinking, sticking me in his mess like that? Corsco had ducked the cops so far, but he’d have to talk to them. Needed to get word to Fenn first, though, make sure the dumb fuck didn’t roll – needed to make sure he knew what would happen if he did.
Now, this Hernandez thing? Not like this was some kind of state secret. Corsco’s crews had already picked up word on the street. Spic had a hard on for this Hardin bad. Gave Tony an out. Hey, detective, his boys had to make a living. Spic gets in touch, throws them a little coin for a favor, they take a side job. Not like Tony knew – not like he’d have OK’d it if he did — but shit happens. Of course he’ll keep his ears open. Hears anything he’ll pass it along. They were his boys, after all, even if they shouldn’t have taken no wet work from the Spic.
Just had to make sure Fenn knew he’d got lucky. Cops come around, all he’s gotta do is play dumb. Shouldn’t be much of a stretch. Let all this shit fall on Hernandez.
Lynch was ducking out a little early. Liz was in for a couple days, maybe through the weekend. Taking in the Cubs game tonight – and not that damn Tribune box they usually ended up in, Liz in the back chatting up the media whores while Lynch watched the game. He had his Uncle Rusty’s seats – first row, upper deck, right at third base.
Starshak ducked his head out his door. “Say hi to the blonde for me.”
“How’d you get that, Cap? Just talked to her to set this up.”
“You don’t read your girl’s Twitter shit, Lynch?” Starshak looked at the screen on his phone. “‘Going to Wrigley with my man. Going to be a good night.’”
Lynch just shook his head. Fucking brave new world. Wasn’t sure he had a place in it.
A couple down for an autograph, getting their picture taken with Liz. Earl and Debbie, in from Iowa. Debbie was a huge fan, picked up Liz’s Tweet on her iPhone and Earl had spotted her from all the way over by by first base. Liz being her usual gracious self, Lynch trying hard for civil. Seventh inning, fourth time somebody’d stopped by.
“OK,” Liz said after they left. “The Tweet was a bad idea.”
“So you owe me one?”
“I do. Got any ideas?” Little evil smile.
“Thinking on it.” Gave her thigh a little squeeze.
Pujlos hit on right on the button, but straight at Lee. Lee gloved it to end the Cardinal’s seventh. Game tied at four. Announcer came on the PA.
“Tonight’s guest conductor for the seventh inning stretch, Oscar winning actor Shamus Fenn!”
Lynch looked up at the booth, Fenn hanging out the window. Guy actually had a decent voice, the crowd getting into it, gave him a standing O when he finished. Guess this abuse PR thing of his was working for him, always funny how fast somebody can move up and down that food chain, Lynch thinking for a minute that Liz had a lot shit to balance that he didn’t even know about.
Also thinking that, with all the shit they’d dug up the last day or so on Hardin, he hadn’t thought as much about Fenn as he should. Guy had a history with Hardin, now him and Hardin are in the same place at the same time? Kept an eye on the booth, Fenn in with the TV guys through most of the bottom of the inning, then ducking out of the booth. Lynch watched as Fenn headed down the ramps, phalanx of security guys with him, into one of the luxury boxes on the first base side.
“Let me borrow your glasses,” Lynch said. Liz always brought a small pair of binoculars to the games, Lynch always gave her shit about it, asking was she checking out the players’ asses or what?
She handed them to Lynch. “Theriot. Check out Theriot. Nice tight set of buns on him.”
Lynch focused in on the luxury box. Fenn must have showed up just in time for his stretch gig, stopping down at some corporate box after, sponsor deal or something, still getting introduced around. Things finally calming down a little, some guy taking Fenn’s arm pulling him off to the side, guy had his back turned mostly toward Lynch. Could see Fenn clear enough. Fenn didn’t look happy. Finished their chat, guy left the back of the box. Lynch picked him up on the ramp. Gerry Ringwald. Tony Corsco’s lawyer.
“Hey,” Liz said. “Theriot’s up. You’re missing him.”
Lynch handed the glasses back to Liz. “That’s OK. Found a bigger ass.”
Jeanette Wilson took Nick Hardin’s face in both of her hands, kissed him gently, but for a long time.
“Last time you did that you were saying goodbye,” said Hardin.
“Not going anywhere this time,” she said, rolling off the bed and standing up. “Just to the john.”
She was naked. Hardin watched her cross the room, the dim light through the blinds falling in stripes across her back like the contour lines on a map, Hardin holding it in his mind, knowing what a perfect ass would look like if you ever mapped one. Felt the sheen of sweat drying on his skin. Remembered that last night, with her, with Estaban, all that had happened since, an emptiness for a moment, a sense of loss, his friend gone, all those years gone.
They were at her place, a condo in Downers Grove right on the Burlington tracks. She’d found him easily enough – of course, she knew where to start looking. Nobody’d be looking for him here.
He’d told her all of it. And she had told him. Hernandez never came for her, of course. She was just another puta. Her parents had both died within a year, after Estaban. They never came back from that. She couldn’t stand to look at the town anymore. Got in her car one day, started west on 88, turned south on 35 at Des Moines, car broke down in Wichita. Got a job waitressing, started taking classes at Wichita State, married some guy who worked in the Raytheon plant down there. Criminal Justice degree at WSU, got on with the Wichita PD, husband feeling emasculated having a cop for a wife, marriage coming apart pretty quickly, mostly because she really didn’t care, but she was Jeanette Wilson by then. Started with the DEA in Texas, been up in Chicago the last two years.
Toliet flushed, she came back to bed, laying next to him, no move to cover herself, her head on his shoulder like a part of him that had been missing his whole life.
“You were probably supposed to tell them, huh?” said Lynch. “About Hernandez?”
“Reason you didn’t?”
A pause. “Options, I guess. Some part of my mind, I always figured there might come a day where things could go one way or the other. And if they went a certain way, maybe it would be better for me if a review board wasn’t pawing through my baggage.”
“Pretty sure you’re supposed to tell them about me, too.”
He ran his hand across her face, brushing her hair aside. She kissed his palm.
“So where do we go from here?” she asked.
“South Pacific, Tahiti, in around there. Lots of places down there where my French papers will fit in good. Especially when I’ve got ten million to go with them.”
“Gonna teach me French?”
“Seems like you know it,” Hardin said.
She smacked him on the arm, then she ran her hand over his chest, it resting right over his heart. “Beach bums, huh? Not going to get boring? After the Legion and everything?”
“I’m willing to give it a try,” he said. “We can always look up the local DGSE guys, go sink a Greenpeace boat or something. If we get bored.”
She didn’t say anything for a moment, her hand opening and closing on his chest.
“But after we kill Hernandez,” she said.
“Right,” said Hardin. “After that.”