I know what you were thinking, Mammonites. That I finally punked out on you. All this big talk about days off being for pussies, then Sunday rolls around and no Mammon, day of rest and all that. Well fuck that. It may be late, but I’m squeezing it in under the wire. Chapter Fifteen, coming at you. If you’re new to the game and looking to catch up, you can read all fifteen chapters right here.
Liz left Lynch’s place early to tape a couple interviews downtown — a book promo and some commentary on the Clarke trial coming up. Starshak, Bernstein and Lynch sitting around Lynch’s table, some bagels Starshak brought in.
Bernstein took a sip of the coffee, looked up. “This is . . .”
“Spectacular?” Starshak said. “Magnificent? Orgasmic?”
Bernstein again. “Where’d you get this?”
Lynch shrugged. “Liz gets it somewhere – brings it back from DC. Won’t tell me where. Says it’s her way of making sure I never leaver her.”
Starshak took another sip. “You leave her before you find out where this shit is from, I’ll fucking kill you.”
Lynch filled them in on Fenn, the scene at the ballgame.
“Kind of lost track of him in this, didn’t we?” said Starshak. “So maybe this Corsco thing? Payback from Fenn?”
Lynch shrugged. “Corsco’s been ducking us. Lawyer says he’s out of town
“Worth a chat with Fenn, anyway,” said Starshak. “Corsco has to talk to us eventually, he knows that. Just getting his story together.”
“Yeah. Just wanted to let you know before I braced Fenn, possible PR fallout and all.”
“Another thing we haven’t thought enough about,” said Bernstein. “This second guy, Mr. 22.”
Starshak nodded again. “Ideas?”
“Refugee makes it Africa,” said Lynch, “And that makes it Hardin. Except this guy is shooting everybody but Hardin.”
“Which, if he really has diamonds, maybe makes it about the diamonds,” said Bernstein.
“What do we know about those?” Starshak asked.
“Checked on it a little,” said Bernstein. “Whole conflict diamond thing. It was way bigger ten, fifteen years back when the civil war in Liberia was still going good – how a lot of those guys got monery for their weapons. Still a lot of low-level tribal crap there, more of a criminal deal now. Your mainstream diamond guys, De Beers, the Russians and what not, they put this certification system in place. Kimberly Certificates, to cut down on the black market business. So if Hardin had some hot rocks, he’d have to work through an insider to get them into the system.”
“Stein an insider?” Starshak asked.
“His family started out in diamonds, back in New York. A lot of Jews in that business,” Berstein said. “He’d know people.”
“But how did Hardin know Stein?” asked Lynch.
Bernstein shrugged. “Don’t know. Stein, he was real tight with Isreal, travelled there a lot. Hardin, we know he was in the Middle East with the Marines, don’t know what he was up to for quite a while after the whole Hernandez thing.”
“So one way or another, Hardin got some rocks off of somebody,” said Starshak. “And this .22 guy, maybe he’s trying to get them back.”
“Something’s still off,” said Lynch. “Hardin had just left Stein when Mr. 22 showed up and popped him. Why not take care of all of it at once?”
“Don’t know,” said Bernstein. “One other thing? On the diamonds? The Lebanese have always been big in the diamond trade, guess they moved into West Africa way back as part of that. Hezbullah, guys like that, a lot of them are out of Lebanon.”
“So you got Stein who’s tight with Israel,” said Starshak. “You got maybe some terrorist types. And then you got this Hardin guy, and we got a big hole in his history.”
“Yep,” said Bernstein.
A little pause.
“Fucked up,” said Starshak.
“Yep,” said Bernstein.
“Lynch,” said Starshak. “I throw down on you, for the coffee, you gonna give it up?”
“Not a chance,” said Lynch.
Crew for Fenn’s picture had staked out the vacant lot on Wells between Randolph and Washington, mess of trailers parked there, semis loading and off-loading all day, fucking up traffic, chainlink fence up around the lot, keep the rubberneckers out. Lynch badged the guy at the gate, him and Bernstein getting shunted to some gopher, kid making half a dozen calls on his hand-held, finally taking them over to some trailer to see Fenn.
“Shamus Fenn,” Fenn getting up off the couch along the far wall, his hand out, wearing a pair of chinos and a dago-t, guy obviously spending some time on the weights. Half smile, just a regular guy. “What can I do for you fellas?”
Lynch caught the look from Bernstein. Fenn was playing it all wrong, trying to play it cool. Cops come to see you, you don’t know what it’s about, you’re supposed to be nervous.
“I’m Detective Lynch, this is Detective Bernstein. We’re working a homicide. A few of them actually.” Leave it there for a second, see where Fenn went.
Fenn turned his palms up. “I’m not following you here, guys. Somebody I know?”
Bernstein took a picture of Hardin from his pocket, screen grab off the Oprah video, handed it to Fenn. “Know this guy?”
Fenn took the picture in both hands, flopped down on the couch, head falling forward, elbows on his knees, picture dangling from his hand.
“Yeah. Yeah, I know him. Nick Hardin. He’s dead?”
“We don’t know. He’s missing.”
Fenn blew out a breath. “Look, you guys obviously know what went down with him and me or you wouldn’t be here. But I really don’t know what to tell you. I haven’t seen Hardin since, well,” Hardin help up the picture, “since this. Thought you said a homicide.”
“A few of them,” said Lynch. “Guy named Stein got shot at Chicago Stadium the other night”
“Saw that on the news,” Fenn said. “I was at the game, actually.”
“Yeah, we heard,” said Bernstein.
“Anyway,” Lynch said, “Hardin’s the last guy we know who saw Stein alive. Then we get a couple of dead guys down on the south side, mob muscle, soldiers for Tony Corsco. We get Hardin’s prints at that scene, too. And then we see this clip on Oprah, you and Hardin, and now both of you in town. Curious, you know?”
Fenn nodding for a long time, not like he’s just agreeing with Lynch, but like he’s agreeing with some conversation in his head.
“I can see you guys coming to talk to me,” Fenn said. “But I really got nothing for you. Honest to God, last time I saw Fenn, he was busting my nose. And I had it coming.” A sigh, a pause. “Look, you guys, you got real jobs, so I don’t expect you’re keeping up with People Magazine, don’t know what you heard about me lately. I’ve been a dick most of my life. Trying to get in front of that now. The shit I pulled on Hardin, back in Darfur? What can I say? Took the spotlight off the benefit there, God knows what that costs the poor SOBs over there in support. And this Hardin guy? He loses his gig over my shit. Seemed like a stand up guy. He ended up in something desperate, I mean on account of me, then I gotta carry that too, you know?”
Fenn looked up, eyes filling.
Lynch nodded. “How about Tony Corsco? You talk to him?”
“What makes you think I’d be talking to him?
“Because he sent his lawyer to brace you at the Cubs game last night. Gerry Ringwald. Saw you two chatting. You didn’t look real happy.”
Another nod from Fenn, a weak smile. “Your town, right? Gotta figure you’d have it wired. And I gotta learn that my shit is all gonna come back on me, all of it. Gotta stop trying to step out of the way.”
Fenn got up, went to a fridge at the back of the trailor, pulled out a bottled water. “You guys want anything? All I got is water and juice, trying to stay away from the booze for a bit.”
Lynch shook his head.
“OK,” Fenn said. “Tony Corsco. Made another picture here a few years back, Cal Sag Channel? You guys see that?”
Lynch shook his head again.
“Anyway, it was a mob pic, and we had Tony in as, I dunno, kind of a consultant, I guess. What I heard, also he maybe had some money in the picture, I don’t know. Anyway, me and Tony, we hit it off pretty good. This was back in my asshole days, OK? Seemed like a safe source of coke, knew places in town where you could . . . well, let’ s just say misbehave. He likes the ladies. I’m ashamed to say, a couple of the girls working the picture, not the a-list talent, you know, but the kids with two lines, trying to break in, the ones that got hired on their looks, think they’re gonna grow up to be Meryl Streep? They see me hanging with Tony, and Tony’s making his play on them, and I’m going along with it, not exactly saying it’s gonna help them out, you know? But not not saying it either. Anyway, I know he did at least a few of them. And he came out to LA a couple of times, looked me up, we’d party, girls would see us . . .” Fenn looked up. “I really need to go on?”
“Need to tell me what Corsco wanted here, yeah,” Lynch said.
Fenn nodded. “We set up here for this shoot, and I start getting the calls from Tony. And I’m not returning them. I mean I’m trying not to be who I was, I don’t need Tony Corsco in my life. Guess I should have at least called him back, though. This guy last night, what’d say his name was? He didn’t introduce himself.”
“Ringwald,” Lynch said.
“OK,” said Fenn. “He’s at that box—local guys with money in the picture – he pulls me aside asks me who the fuck I think I am not returning Tony Corsco’s calls. I should have manned up, talked to the guy, I guess. Anyway, this Ringwald, I told him, I was out of that shit, to tell Tony.”
Fenn looking up now, the tears again, holding Lynch’s eyes. Lynch thinking you could put this guy on a box and he’d flatline the sucker. That right now, Fenn probably actually believed this shit.
“See, what I was thinking?” Lynch said, “This Darfur thing? You took quite a beating over that. Heard your career was on the skids for a bit. Got to thinking maybe you blame Hardin for that. Maybe you see Hardin here in town. Maybe you think a guy like Corsco, he could even up the score for you.”
Fenn sighed, “One thing I’ve learned through all this, can’t help what people think. And some of the shit I’ve done? People are going to think some bad stuff. I’m a changed man, Detective. You believe, you don’t, nothing I can do about that.”
“You don’t really know much about Hardin, do you?” said Bernstein.
“Just he was Gerry’s fixer over in Darfur,” said Fenn.
“Before that, he was in the Marines for two tours, including Gulf War I, scout sniper. Know about scout snipers?” Bernstein asked.
“What we hear, the French Foreign Legion after that,” added Lynch. “Those are some bad-ass boys, too. And we know this. Two of Corsco’s soldiers picked up Hardin. They were armed, he wasn’t. He killed one of them with a ballpoint pen, disarmed the other and bounced rocks off the second guy for a while before the second guy got shot. Gotta figure he knew who they were working for before he was done. So this Hardin? He gets the same idea about you that I got, it may not matter a whole lot whether it’s right or not, you know?
Fenn’s head down again. “You reap what you sow. Still learning that, Detective.” He looked up again. “Is there anything else?”
“Not at the moment,” Lynch said. “We think of anything, we’ll be back.”
“Unless we get called back before that,” Bernstein said. “You know, after Hardin kills you.”