Hey look! The day after Jack Bauer bids adieu, and we’re on Chapter 24! It’s kismet! Of course, that means somebody’s gonna get tortured . . .
Need to catch up? You can download all 24 chapters right here. And hey, thanks for reading.
“How’s it look?” Lynch was lying on his side, tapping shims under the new cabinets he was installing in his mother’s old house. He inherited it after she died the year before, and was rehabbing it to put it up on the market. Lynch was handy with tools, had done almost everything in his building on the Near North Side where he lived.
“Maybe another tap,” said Liz Johnson, who was watching the level set across the top of the cabinet. Lynch rapped the hammer against the shim one more time. “Perfect,” said Johnson. “Can we eat now?”
“After I anchor it in place,” Lynch said, getting up. “Jesus, I’m doing the heavy lifting here, I should be the one whining.”
“The mental work is always more exhausting,” she said.
Lynch brought some Thai in, both of them sitting at his mother’s dinette, Johnson eating hers with chopsticks.
“Chopsticks are a little swishy, I mean for my mom’s kitchen, anyway,” Lynch said.
“Practicing,” said Johnson, pinching a shrimp. “Never used them much up in Minneapolis, but these New York types, we get out, they’re waving them around like Jackie Chan or something. Keep waiting for someone to grab a fly out of the air. Just trying to knock a little of my hayseed off.”
“Sucks to be you,” said Lynch. “I mean, aside from being hot as hell, being this big-shot author, your new TV career, and, you know, having this hot stud for a boyfriend. Other than that, it sucks to be you.”
“Sure,” said Johnson. “When I’m alone at night in another four-star dump after another hundred dollar dinner, I stare up at the ceiling and lament my condition.”
“”Cause I’m not there. To comfort you.”
“Must be it,” she said.
Lynch had eaten all his Pad Thai and half of whatever Johnson ordered. They were finishing the wine.
“This mess with your mysterious diamond guy and the drug lord,” Johnson said. “Somebody’s looking to play the press organ on it.”
“Word is, some of the Fox guys are going to start dropping hints that Al Queda’s in bed with the drug kingpins, some kind of money laundering angle. And that’s going to throw some fuel on the whole immigration fire for sure. Which is what they want out of it, give all the tea party yahoos some new dance music.”
Fucking Martin, Lynch thought. “Anybody say where it’s coming from?”
Johnson shrugged. “I figure Martin.”
“Yeah,” said Lynch. He drank some more wine, thinking. The whole camera thing, ever since that Jenks guy had shown him Lee’s hack, was eating at him. As a cop, he loved it. But the Big Brother side of it, and now knowing that anybody with the right contacts and the scratch was using it too, that wasn’t right. And if there wasn’t something in the news cycle to compete with this immigration BS . . .
“You know what I’d be looking at, I mean if I were an intrepid reporter?”
“What?” said Johnson.
“Hurley and his damn spy cams. I just don’t think people get it. I don’t think they know what we can see.”
Johnson nodded. “We’ve beat on that pretty good a couple times, but nobody seems to care. I mean the red light cams, people get tickets, so they get their Irish up over that a little, but the other stuff? Editors aren’t going to bite.”
“What if it wasn’t secure?” Lynch asked. “What if guys like Corsco and Hernandez are buying access to the system?”
Johnson set her glass down, looked across the table at Lynch.
“Are we on the record here?”
Lynch thought for a minute. Sticking his neck out, and not how he liked to play things. But people should know this.
“I’m not,” said Lynch. “But the information is. if I were a reporter, I’d be asking.” He told her about Lee. “IT guys are taking his system apart, so we should have some names soon.”
“Jesus,” she said.
“Yeah,” Lynch said. “You think of a way to play it?”
She was still for a moment. “Sure,” she said. “This Aurora killing, I mean White Eagle’s not the type of place that stuff happens, so we act like we’re just digging at that. Then we turn up that Lee was on the team that put Hurley’s spy palace together, that he’s got a contract with the city to work on it, pull his financials apart, start asking where the money’s coming from, wondering why somebody would cut his toes off . . .”
“That cut-his-toes off stuff, that’s not out yet,” said Lynch.
She smiled at him. “ME’s office out in Kane County? C’mon, you know it’s all over there by now. I drive out there tomorrow, I bat my eyes at a few guys, somebody’s just waiting to spill that, somebody who wants a famous friend.”
“That’s a little evil,” said Lynch.
“Yep,” said Johnson.
They were quite for a minute, finished the last of the wine. She reached over, dragged a fingernail softly down his forearm.
“Want to know something else a little evil?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said.
“Getting a line on a big story makes me horny.”
Lynch smiled at her. “Let’s drive down to my place.”
She got up, walked toward the hallway at the mouth of the kitchen that ran back toward the rest of the house, pulling her t-shirt over her head as she went. The stairs to the master bedroom were to her right.
“Really horny,” she said over her shoulder.
Lynch got up from the table, following. “Ah Jesus, Johnson, what are you trying to do to me? That’s my mother’s bed up there.”
She stopped in the hallway, turned in to Lynch’s old room, his old bed still in there, his old high school and college shit still laying around, slowly unbuckling her belt, unfastening her pants, pulling the zipper down.
“This isn’t,” she said. “You going to tell me you never dreamed you were going to score in here?”
Lynch feeling seventeen again, and it showing. He stepped into the room, past Johnson.
“Close the door, will you?” he said. Not sure why, just that was his mother’s room up the stairs.
She turned her back to him, shut the door quietly, unfastened her bra, her back still to him, the bra falling down her arms and then to the floor, slowly started to slide her pants down over her hips, the old Billy Williams poster still on the back of his door, Sweet Swingin’ Billy looking out at him over Johnson’s shoulder, her pants off now, Johnson hooking her thumbs into the waistband of her panties, keeping her knees locked, bending forward as she worked them down, Lynch feeling like he was in high school again, dreaming all this, almost afraid to breathe like it would break the spell.
The Wilson cunt was Sandavol’s sister. Hernandez knew that as soon as he saw her. And he could have killed her easily, years ago. Why hadn’t he? Just another puta, that’s why. Just another warm, wet hole that caught his brother’s eye.
The kid hanging from engine hoist was moaning again. Miko knew. He’s seen Hernandez like this before, and he knew. Until the boss blew off his rage, he wouldn’t be able to think. So he’d talked to the head of the LK crew, got a name. Just a street dealer, dropout that ran a couple corners in Aurora near one of the high schools. But he’d gotten a little greedy. They all skimmed something – almost couldn’t trust them if they didn’t. But they had to know where the line was. This kid had crossed it. Maybe only put a toe over it really, kind of thing usually you just throw a scare into him, but the boss needed a punching bag, so the kid’s wrists were cuffed together, the cuffs over the hook for the engine hoist, the hoist holding him a couple feet off the floor. The LK crew were lined up in the back, bearing witness.
Hernandez picked up the bat again. He started with the kid’s legs, but those were pretty well pulped now. And Hernandez’s head was clearing, most of the poison sweated out. The kid was conscious again, looking at him, face streaked with dirt and sweat and tears. Hernandez felt something like shame, just for a moment, knew the kid wasn’t that far out of line, knew what Miko was doing, and then just pity.
“Jefe,” the kid blubbered. “Please, Jefe . . .”
Enough, thought Herandez. End this here. Hernandez drew the bat straight back over his head, all the way back until he felt the fat end tap his back, and then snapped it down hard onto the crown of the kid’s skull, that crunching, slushy sound he knew too well. The kid hung limp from the chain, blood coming from his ears, his eyes, his nose. Hernandez dropped the bat to the floor, turned and walked from the garage, out into the parking lot, waited while Miko came around and opened his door, sat in the back of the new Mercedes the local crew had provided. Miko got in the front and started to drive.
“Thank you, Miko,” Hernandez said.
“De nada, Jefe.”
“Let’s get to work on Sandavol. We find the bitch, we find them both.”
“Wilson, Jefe,” said Miko.
“Whoever she’s got left can work that out, decide what to put on the stone. Just find me that bitch.”