And the hits just keep on coming, Mammonites. Chapter Nineteen up and running. Need to catch up? You can download all nineteen chapters right here. Got a comment? Question? Let me have it.
Lynch, Bernstein and Starshak walked into the room full of suits on the second floor of the headquarters building on South Michigan. At the front of the room, the new US Attorney, Alex Martin, was backslapping a handful of brass.
“Should have fucking known,” said Starshak. They’d worked with Martin at the tail end of the Clarke thing a little over a year ago. He was with the Bureau then, and he delivered, but he was political as hell, always looking for a camera.
“Back down the rabbit hole,” said Bernstein.
“Back down the asshole, more like,” said Starshak.
Martin did the introductions.
Brad Marks from the DEA was there, gave Lynch a nod. Martin’s replacement at the Bureau, little guy named Tate, one of Martin’s coat tail riders. Handful of other suits, just introduced as “out of DC.” Could mean anything. Bernstein eyeballing one of them. Some guys in from a couple of the larger suburban PDs, Perez, guy from Aurora that Lynch knew. Joliet, Elgin.
Martin hit a switch, dimmed the lights, brought up a Powerpoint show on the screen, same split screen shot Lynch had used, Hardin in his Marine Blues and the cop cam grab.
“Gentlemen, Meet Nick Hardin . . .”
Martin made his spiel, his DC suits chiming in to back him on a couple points. The diamonds, Hezbollah, the Al Queda connection. Threw some kisses out to Starshak and Lynch, blew a little smoke up their asses, kudos for spotting Hardin, running all this shit down in just a few days.
Popped a new shot up on the screen. A little grainy, a blow-up picture of some guy taken from a long ways off. Olive skinned guy, dark hair, on the slight side, little Omar Sharif vibe to him. Guy in a sport coat, open shirt, outdoor café somewhere, chatting up a looker in a sundress. Lynch noticed one of the suits, the guy Bernstein had been eyeballing, tightening up just a touch.
“Husam al Din,” said Martin. “Translates to the Sword of Faith. Intel we’ve got says he’s the go-to shooter for Terhan, does a lot of work for Bin Ladin and his boys. ” Martin looked to the back of the table at the Chicago PD contingent, “Lynch, we’re pretty sure this is your .22 guy.”
“When you get this?” Starshak said, little edge to it.
“Relax, Captain,” said Martin. “This is brand new. We have a dossier for you guys. Sharing everything we’ve got.”
“Where’d you get it?” asked Lynch.
“Except that,” said one of the suits. “We aren’t sharing that.”
Martin made his case on Hernandez, claiming this whole Hardin thing was more than payback, that Hernandez was playing ball with the Arabs, had his fingers in their financing trail.
“We’ve got two huge criminal organizations, both with substantial reserves of cash, both looking for laundering and transit options, liquidity options,” said Martin. One of the other suits piped in, some guy from Treasury, bouncing through a few spreadsheets, banks where they’d found overlap.
Starshak leaned over to Lynch. “Buying this?”
“Seems like a half-assed attempt to paper up a theory,” said Lynch. “Bernstein?”
“It’s BS. That much dough, of course there’s overlap. This isn’t proof, it’s spin.”
When Martin was done, Marks piped up. “Feels kind of out there, Martin. We’ve been working Hernandez forever. Never caught a whiff of anything like this.”
Tate, Martin’s new Bureau boy, cut him off. “There are other elements of this we can’t share. But if we can put Hernandez and this al Din together, then we can throw the War on Terror net over the whole lot of them.”
Marks shrugged. “Good by me. I’ve lost enough people to this asshole. You guys want to take him off and water board him for a few days, I’m not crying over it.”
“Hardin is the key, gentlemen,” said Martin. “The good news is, we should have him in the bag tonight.”
Meeting wrapped up, a little milling around, Starshak, Lynch and Bernstein edging out. Near the door, they were next to the Washington suits. Bernstein said something to them in Hebrew. One of them turned, opened his mouth like he was going to answer, then just smiled and shook his finger at Bernstein.
“What was that all about?” asked Starshak.
“I do the Israel thing with the family every year, spent enough time to pick up that IDF feel on somebody. I told him to say hi to Dagan for me.”
“Who’s Dagan?” asked Lynch.
“Head of Mossad.”
Seephus Johnson stomach was twisting on him. After a while, seemed like he shouldn’t just sit at the station anymore, so he walked across to a coffee shop, still had an angle on the condo, yuppies ahead of him ordering this shit in French or whatever, something-cinos, half this, dusting of that. Fucking coffee, Seephus needs a bump, he get a Red Bull maybe. Got to the front of the line, ponytailed white chick in the apron looking at him.
“That sounded good,” Johnson said. “Have me one of those.” The chick putting this and that in a cup, running it through a blender, spraying shit on top. Plopped a big-ass cup, some kind of plastic dome thing on it, down in front of him.
“That will be $6.50,” she said.
Normally, Seephus would give her some shit over that, get in her face a little. Knew places on the west side he could get his hose drained for six fifty. But he just handed over the coin, got a seat outside, took a sip. Fucking coffee milkshake or something. Weird shit these fuckers do out here. Hardin guy still on the deck, reading his damn book
Another hour until Hernandez was supposed to show. Supposed to watch for a black Escalade, would come down Warren, turn off on Main, park out of sight of the condo. Meet up with them there. Meanwhile, just supposed to keep an eye out.
After a bit, he was done with his drink, already read what he could out of the paper, reading not being a big thing with him, starting to get looks from the ponytail chick, it coming up on lunch, people waiting for tables. So he went across to this pizza place, got a slice. Couldn’t see the condo from there, so he took it back over by the station, found another bench, ate that there.
Then that Hardin fuck went back inside the condo. Door on the side of the building, on Main, Seepus could see that. But big ass building like that, must be a lot of doors. So he started walking around, watch the front, watch the side, the ca-ching sounds in his head gone now, replaced with thoughts about what the fuck is Hernandez was gonna do to his ass, he shows up and I lost this Hardin. Pizza and the damn coffee shake rolling around in his gut now, on top of the malt he’d throated last night.
Wilson walked back into the condo, been downtown at the DA’s office, deposition for an upcoming trial. Hardin was back inside, standing by the sliding door to the patio, looking out across the tracks.
Wilson’s phone rang. She pulled it out, listened for a moment.
“OK,” she said. “We providing back up on this or anything?” Listened again. “They say where?”
She hung up the phone. Turned to Hardin.
“How well do you know this Lafitpour guy?”
“Don’t,” said Hardin.
“And he told you Oak Brook, right? The Terrace Tower?”
“Yeah,” said Hardin, still looking out the window.
“Sold you out. They’re supposed to pick you up there tonight. Marks just called. I’m supposed to meet the team downtown, some kind of debrief clusterfuck when they bring you in.”
Hardin nodded, still looking out the sliding door. “Might have a more immediate problem,” he said.
Hernandez sat in the passenger seat of the Escalade, Julio driving, Miko, Gomez and Roberto in the back. They were dressed to mix, but Hernandez worried a little about them all being in long sleeves, it being pretty warm, but the ink the rest of them had up and down their arms, anybody knew how to decode that, they’d have Five-O up their asses in a heart beat.
He had the picture a picture of Johnson from the guy who ran his west side crew, Julio cruising down Warren, a little under the limit, starting to back the traffic up behind them. Saw Johnson, off to the right. Told Julio to turn down Main, saw Johnson get up, start to follow. Julio cut into a little alley on the left, Hernandez and the three in the back getting out, Julio getting ready to drive on, start circling, wait for Hernandez’s call. Johnson turned the corner, jogging up .
“I’m Jamie,” Hernandez said, putting out his hand. Seephus put his out, Hernandez taking it, holding his forearm with his other hand. “I owe you, brother. You ready to do this?”
Seephus nodded. “Got my nine in the bag here. Thought maybe I should toss the bag in the car, though. Got that brick in it still and all.”
Hernandez nodded. Seephus shucked off the backpack, dropped it on the passenger seat, unzipped the top, pulled out his Browning Hi-Power and shot the door. Julio took off.
“What I want,” Hernandez told them, “Is to spend some time with this guy. So we go up to his place, show him he got no chance, we call Julio, he pulls up, and we walk the fucker out.”
Seephus nodded. “What if he don’t play, though?”
Hernandez shrugged. “Time with him is what I want. What I need is the fucker dead. He don’t play, we put his ass down.”