Your daily dose, Mammonites. And you can get all sixteen chapters in order right here.
Alex Martin dabbed at the corner of his mouth with a napkin that felt like it had twice the thread count of his shirts – and he spent a lot on his shirts. Always felt a little like a hick with Lafitpour, couldn’t figure why, except that Lafitpour had more money than God. Been some kind of quasi-royalty back in Iran, Martin had heard, still acted like it.
“Wonderful meal, Bahram. Unusual. Never had anything like that before,” said Martin. Some kind of chicken thing, cherries in it, some kind of spice base that Martin couldn’t place. Good, but a little odd. Martin was more a T-bone and martini guy.
“Albaloo Polow,” said Lafitpour. “My granddaughter is learning some of the recipes of my youth. A touch heavy on the saffron, but she is learning.”
“How is Hilary?” Martin asked. He’d heard rumors, maybe a suicide attempt, some kind of health crisis. She had been in and out of the dining room of Lafitpour’s condo, serving the meal, clearing the plates, which Martin found a little odd, given the size of the staff Lafitpour had. She used to be a fixture on the Chicago party scene, little Paris Hilton streak in her. Then this incident, whatever it was, maybe a year back. And now here she is, serving dinner.
“Thank you for asking, Alex,” answered Lafitpour without answering. Martin knew better than to press. You could talk to Lafitpour all day, leave not knowing what month it was. Lafitpour raised his voice slightly, said something in Persian. Hilary brought in a new bottle of wine, pouring a sample for her grandfather, waiting for his nod, then pouring a glass for Martin and Lafitpour before retreating to the kitchen.
“Shiraz,” said Lafitpour. “I am partial to this vinter.”
“It’s very good,” said Martin.
“Shiraz is named for the Persian city, did you know?”
“We have been making wine in Persia for more than seven thousand years,” said Lafitpour.
“Probably not so much anymore,” said Martin.
Lafitpour’s eyes flashed a little, just a hint. “One of the benefits of a culture seventy centuries old is the ability to take the long view,” Lafitpour said. “You Americans, always so impatient. These Arabs and their religion, probably visions Mohammad had in a fever after catching a disease from sleeping with his camels. Look at them. A century of oil wealth now for these ridiculous herdsman, and they have done nothing. Built palaces to hold their egos. Take their oil away, they will be back living in tents and fighting over their patches of sand in a decade.”
Martin let that ride, took in the view of the lakefront, sweeping south toward the Loop. Lafitpour had the top two floors in one of the best addresses on Lake Shore Drive. Martin knew he was here for a reason, and that Lafitpour would get to it when he got to it.
Martin was the new US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He’d done Yale law, a couple years with Justice in DC, State’s Attorney in New York, a few years in the FBI. Martin understood the game. It was all about name recognition. High profile cases, that was his ticket, and he intended to ride it all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue. Bagged some big name Wall Street types in New York, got his face out in front of this huge deal in Chicago a little over a year back – took down Hastings Clarke, ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Paddy Wang, who was wired into every circuit of the global power structure. Trials for those two were coming up, and the US Attorney would be center stage for that. Martin had plenty of dirt on the sitting guy coming out of this Chicago thing – he’d made Hurley roll over on pretty much everybody just to keep his ass out of a sling on the Clarke deal. So he’d had a quiet talk with a few guys, sitting US Attorney steps down for health reasons instead of Martin doing the perp walk with him, Martin gets the seat just in time to run the Clarke trial. That would be a solid year of network coverage. Had about a year after that before it would be time to throw his hat in the ring for Clarke’s old senate seat – guy the governor had parked there was a seventy-year-old hack just looking to double up his pension. No way he was running again. And Martin had enough in the hopper from Hurley to roll out an indictment a month, keep the PR engine turning over. All he needed was something national, international even better. So when Lafitpour called, he was all ears.
“Alex, I have been approached about something that may serve both our purposes,” said Lafitpour.
Martin just nodded. Two hours in this damn chair, finally getting to it.
“You’ve read about the Stein murder, I’m sure,” Lafitpour began.
“Yeah,” said Martin. “Been watching that. You got a way in, I can pick up some face time there.”
“Have you heard the name Hardin?”
Martin thought a minute. He got briefings from a lot of people – some formal, a lot of them informal. People knew Martin was a mover, so he had a lot of stars trailing his wagon. He’d seen the name, he knew, just hadn’t really tracked it yet.
“Know I’ve seen it, can’t remember where.”
Lafitpour filled him in – Hardin and the diamonds, his deal with Stein, the killing, also the noise that had filtered in around the mob killings, and now this Hernandez business.
“Somebody’s having a bad week,” said Martin.
“That’s what the police know, and the DEA. Here is something they don’t know. This other man, the second shooter? My sources in Iran have given me a name. Husam al Din.”
“It means the Sword of God. He is very skilled. Hezbullah, Al Queda, the Iranians, the all use him. “
“So he’s after this Hardin, too?”
Lafitpour took a sip of his wine. Paused a moment. “It is more complicated than that. Al Queda has money, billions from Bin Laden alone. But it is impossible for them to move it in traditional fashions.”
“Sure,” said Martin. “After 9/11, we froze any account anywhere that even had their scent on it.”
“Diamonds are one of their options. They are small, they are very valuable, they are easy to transport. Hezbullah, by extorting Lebanese connections in West Africa, is able to procure diamonds. Al Queda has found parties willing to assist with circumventing the certification process designed to keep such diamonds off the market. Hezbullah sells the diamonds to Al Queda, Al Queda launders them and then uses them as a way to move money to support their operations.”
“And Hardin stole some of their diamonds?” Martin asked.
“Not just some. Jews all over the world are involved in the diamond trade, so Mossad caught wind of the strategy. Stein was working with Mossad to set up Al Queda targets – setting up the exchanges at which the Al Queda couriers were killed and their diamonds taken. So Al Quea had stopped taking delivery from Hezbullah for several months until it was sure it had arranged a safe exchange. This shipment Hardin hijacked? It was worth well over $100 million.”
Martin let out a low whistle. “No wonder he’s attracted so much attention.”
“Yes,” said Lafitpour. “The gravity of mammon.”
“OK, but you said both our interests. What’s in this for you?”
“Iran,” said Lafitpour. “Terhan is as close to an official handler as Husam al Dim has. MOIS is his point of contact. You get Hardin, the diamonds, an Al Queda scalp for your collection. And you make sure Iran is front and center in the story. I’m already dealing with elements in your government that are open to the idea of a secular government in Iran. ”
“Oh, I get more than that,” said Martin. “I get Hernandez.”
Lafitpour shrugged. “Dessert, I suppose. No real concern of mine. Some personal business with this Hardin as I understand it.”
Martin shook his head. “No, the way I see it, what I have is a drug lord involved in an Al Queda financing deal. Hernandez and his organization, they aren’t criminals anymore. They’re enemy combatants. We get to take the constitutional gloves off and go bare knuckle on them. I’m gonna be the guy who wins the War on Terror and the War on Drugs.”
Shamus Fenn sat in his room at the Pennisula plowing through a bottle. He’d blown takes all afternoon, shooting a scene along the lake front, his lover leaving him over all the blood on his hands, tricky emotional stuff – needed his focus. And all he could think about, looking around at the park and the buildings in the distance and everything else, was all the places that Hardin could shoot him from.
So what were his choices here? Call this Lynch back and roll over on Corsco? Right. Then what? Witness protection? Get a job as a fry cook in Omaha or something? Where the hell was Shamus Fenn supposed to hide?
Corsco’s mouthpiece had told him Tony was pissed, Fenn getting him into this, then doing the Oprah thing, Fenn pretty much putting his hand up saying he had a beef with Hardin the same day Corso’s guys are trying to kill the guy on his dime. Dumb move. Fenn could see that now. But nothing to be done. Good news was this drug lord was after Hardin. Got Corsco off the hook, the lawyer had said. Got Fenn off the hook. All they had to do was sit back and wait. Also he had no idea that Hardin was some kind of killing machine. But then he remembered the scene in that tent, Hardin trying to back out, Fenn pushing it, then all of a sudden Fenn is on his back, his nose is busted, and he’s picking high-ball shards out of his lats. Fenn had been through plenty of fight training, working with martial arts guys on lots of films. Nobody ever done anything like that to him.
Fenn had called Corsco earlier, Tony pretty much laughing at him. Telling him he was a big pussy. Telling him this Hardin had a full-time job not being dead, didn’t have any time to think about Fenn, and probably thought Tony’s guys had been working for Hernandez anyway.
But Hardin wasn’t sold. If this cop could put it together, then Hardin could put it together.
Knock on the door, Fenn almost shit himself. He ignored it. Knock again. Woman’s voice calling out.
“Mr. Fenn?” Little giggle.
Fenn padded to the door, looked through the peephole. He was on a suite at the end of the hall, the door looking all the way down to the elevators, so he had a clear shot. Nobody out there but a couple of hot looking chicks, a blond and an Asian. Fenn had a thing for Asians.
“Yeah?” he said through the door.
“Tony said maybe we should stop by? Thought maybe you might be a little tense? No hard feelings, he says.”
Fenn thought a minute. He’d had to keep his pants zipped, at least by his standards, during this whole abuse thing.
“And he sent a present,” girl holding up a little baggie of powder.
And he sure as hell couldn’t chance hitting any of his usual connections for some blow. What he needed, probably. Put some mayo in a little girl sandwich, do a few snorts. Tony was right. This fucker Hardin had his hands full anyway.
Hardin opened the door.
Lynch looked at the clock when he heard the phone, Liz groaning next to him. Jesus, 4:15.
“Get your ass up Lynch,” said McCord. “I’m down at the Pennisula. Your buddy Fenn just OD’d.”