I give you this day your daily MAMMON. If you need to catch up, you can download all 23 chapters right here. If you got a comment, question or good manfood recipe, let me have it. And hey, thanks for reading.
“I don’t know,” said Alex Martin. “This Wilson throws a wrench in things. We don’t know what the deal with her and Hardin is yet, but Marks tells me she knew we were going to bag him.”
Bahram Lafitpour stirred his coffee. He and Martin were back at Lafitpour’s condo.
“So we have to assume that Hardin knows I betrayed him,” said Lafitpour.
“You worried he’s going to make a run at you?” Martin asked.
Lafitpour shook his head. “I am confident in my security. I’ve had people making runs at me for thirty years. Besides, Hardin isn’t an ideologue, he’s just trying to sell the diamonds. There is no margin in making a move on me. The question becomes whether we still have a play with him.”
Martin took a sip of the coffee, careful putting the cup down. Thing seemed about as substantial as an eggshell, looked like some kind of museum piece. What’s wrong with a damn mug?
“Some of this maybe works out for us,” Martin said. “I mean this Downers Grove thing? We decide to go public with the Husam al Din guy, then we start putting some Al Queda stink on Hernandez, make a claim this was some sort of dispute between those two.”
“Do you have anything to substantiate the claim? Any solid evidence on al Din?” Lafitpour asked.
Martin shook his head. “Just got the .22 business at this point. But us knowing it’s him and proving it’s him, those are different things. We showed his picture around out there, got a couple maybes. We put the right photo array in front of the right witnesses, I know we can get an ID on the guy.”
“You put the right photo array in front of people, you can get them to say anything you want,” said Lafitpour.
“Hey, you know that. I know that . . .”
“And the media knows that,” said Lafitpour. “At least some of them.”
Martin nodded. “Gotta work with the right media,” said Martin. “Some of these right-wing talk radio yahoos, I slip a possible Al Queda/drug connection into the pipeline, they’ll whip up the frenzy for us.”
“Of course,” said Lafitpour. “Make every Hispanic that’s crossed the border looking to work for a dollar an hour into a terrorist. You can win the PR battle easily enough. But that will get others digging. When they do, you have to have something for them to find.”
“We got a couple things,” Martin said. “You heard about the other deal, out in Aurora?”
“al Din was tied in there somehow,” Martin said. “Otherwise how would he know to go after Lee? So we’re thinking MOIS or somebody was paying Lee for intel. We’re trying to back track that. Be another brick in the wall.”
“But also tenuous. If it is MOIS, they almost certainly used a cut out,” said Lafitpour. “In the end, we need the diamonds. Which means we still need Hardin.”
Brad Marks tossed a manila folder on Starshak’s desk. He’d stopped by to update Chicago PD.
“Jeanette Wilson used to be Juanita Sandavol,” Marks said. “Right there in our HR files from when she signed up down in Texas. Maiden name and everything.“
“Sandavol as in ‘look ma, no eyes’ Sandavol?” Lynch asked. “The guy with Hardin back when he took out Hernadez’s kid brother?”
“Yeah,” said Marks. “His sister.”
“This never bothered anybody?” Starshak asked.
Marks shrugged. “Should somebody have made the connection? Yeah, I guess. Thing is, the Jeanette Wilson deal? The was all legit when she signed on. Changed her name when she married, then got a divorce. She came out of the Wichita PD, they vetted her then. Degree was out of Wichita State. We get a female recruit that can pass for Hispanic that’s fluent in Spanish, maybe we didn’t look at the teeth quite as hard as we could have. I mean, she should have said something. She’d be in deep shit for that if she wasn’t pretty much drowned in shit already.”
“So she’s been after Hernandez all along?” Bernstein asked.
“Hard to say,” said Marks. “She was in Texas, closer to him there than she would be up here. Got a full scale drug war going on along the border down there and he’s one of the major players. Then again, she’s from up here, maybe has some contacts, who the hell knows.”
“But she and Hardin go back,” said Lynch.
“Yeah,” said Marks.
“I’m getting old,” said Starshak. “So lemme just recap here, make sure I’m keeping this straight. We got this Hardin, who ain’t really Hardin, who ripped some diamonds off from Al Queda and wants to sell them. We got this Mr. .22 guy, sword of whatever, who’s after Hardin and who’s racking up a body count like he’s Chuck Fucking Norris or something. We got this Wilson, who ain’t really Wilson, who’s after Hernandez. Hernandez has a hard on for Hardin. Hardin is with Wilson. Corsco’s got some kind of angle we can’t make no sense out of, except maybe it involves Joe Hollywood, who is currently impersonating a houseplant up at Northwestern. I missing anything here?”
“Well,” said Bernstein, “You had that Lee guy, out in Aurora, who it turns out was watching our TV.”
“Right,” said Starshak. “We got that. Thoughts?”
“Fucked up,” said Lynch.
Starshak got up, picked up the spray bottle off his credenza, spritzed the fern in his window, picked off a couple dead leaves, dropped them in the garbage.
“So you’re the one coordinating with Martin on this,” he said to Marks. “Why aren’t we putting the full-court press on Hardin and Wilson? She can’t use her ID, we’re pretty sure we’ve got a line on his, they’ve gotta be hiding somewhere. We get an APB out, get their faces up on the tube, we probably get a line on them pretty quick.”
“That’s how’d I’d play it,” Marks said. “But Martin doesn’t want to spook them. He says Hardin can take his diamonds and run, we might never find them. We leave them some room, maybe they make a play on Hernandez, maybe we find this al Din, maybe they try to make another sale we can track.”
“And maybe Martin’s got some kind of angle he’s not telling us,” said Lynch. “”Cause he’s not stupid and that doesn’t make sense.”
“What I figured,” said Marks.
Husam al Din felt some pain from the leg with each step. He put his bag on the bed in the Marriot in Schaumburg, Illinois. After yesterday, it was time to move again. He’d returned his rental car at one airport and taken the Chicago’s train system to the other, where he rented a new vehicle. Now, he was Eduardo Silva from Sao Paulo. He made a note to charge Tehran for another ID.
The leg would heal, and it was functional. It was harder than he thought to extract the fragment from his calf. A piece of concrete with some carpet stuck to it that had turned sideways after it went in. Removing it had been painful, and he had to make sure he didn’t leave any pieces or the wound would fester, but it was just the usual sharp pain from a normal flesh wound. None of the numbness or tingling associated with nerve damage, none of the sudden nausea or systemic weakness from the onset of shock that would indicate major damage. Some blood, but none of the spurting or persistent flow that meant an artery or major vein. He’d irrigated the wound with disinfectant several times, then used some Super Glue to seal it shut and had bandaged it tightly.
It seemed that at every business in America you could go online for free. He made a point never to go online from his hotel. If someone got a handle on his IP information, it would make him too easy to find. He drove a several miles west out another of the interstates and found a large shopping area. It had taken less than an hour at a bakery to learn about this Wilson, to learn her history with Hernandez, her early tie to Hardin. All through public records – nothing anyone with a Lexus/Nexus account couldn’t have learned years ago. Was it any wonder that he felt no true allegiance in this world? The entire planet was run by fools. He didn’t know how the information would help, only that somehow it would. It is always better to know than not to know.
Hardin and Wilson stopped at another winery in Door County. It was a pleasant day, sunny, warm but not hot, the third winery they had been to that morning.
“Getting a little buzzed here,” Hardin said. “Better get some lunch.”
“Ah geeze, don’t tell me you’re some kind of light weight,” Wilson said.
“Hey, at least when I shoot some guy, I don’t hit him in the hip,” Hardin said.
“Running target, fifteen yards, go for center mass, make sure you put him down,” said Wilson. “You can always clean up later.”
“And you did,” said Hardin.
“That’s right,” she said. “I did.”
Coming back down 42, Hardin picked up a couple more throw-away cells at a convenience store. He and Wilson both had a phone they would use only to call each other. Hardin needed to start working on a new deal.
“You sure you can trust this Fouche?” asked Wilson.
Hardin shrugged. “If I can’t, we’re fucked. I mean unless you’ve got some contacts.”
Wilson nodded. She reclined her seat a little, nudged her widow halfway down, leaned back in the seat. “Nice day today, anyway. If it’s all we got, it ain’t bad.”
Hardin took her hand, and they drove on, looking for a place for lunch.