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“Downers Grove Illinois, my friends. Downers Grove Illinois.” Hardin and Wilson were cruising Door County, Hardin poking around the radio dial, looking for something to listen to. The town name caught his attention. One of those right-wing radio hosts, the guy who liked to dress like a Nazi on his book covers.
“That’s not Juarez, people. That’s not Tijuana. That’s not even El Paso or Nogoales or some other border town. That’s a real nice place. I’ve been there. Folks like you, real Americans, church-going people, just trying to raise their families, hoping they can still make their house payments and pay their kids’ tuition after Washington’s through picking their pockets. Folks that are living by the rules. This isn’t some slum, these aren’t bottom feeders, these aren’t the miscreant sire of some welfare queen who’s cranking out kids with every brother on the block to pad her government check. These are honest, hard working, patriotic Americans. And now they’ve got the drug gangs turning their quiet little burg into a free-fire zone. If you don’t get it yet, let me spell it out for you. I don’t care where you are right now, I don’t care what you paid for your home trying to move away from this kind of stuff. If this can happen in Downers Grove, Illinois, then it can happen anywhere.
“And I wish it was just about the drugs, people, I really do. I’m hearing things. I have sources. You know I have sources. There are people inside the wire on this, honest folks like you and me who still know what the flag means, people still in the belly of the beast, that bloated, voracious Leviathan we call a government, and they get word out to me when they can. And you want to know what I’m hearing people? Are you sitting down? Are you ready for this? It wasn’t just the drugs. This was a Mexican drug king having a dispute with Al Queda over money. That’s right. The two greatest threats to our Republic are teaming up. So the next time you hear some bleeding heart talking about immigration reform, you better ask yourself just who they want to let over our borders. You think a brick of dope is the only thing they might carry across our joke of a border? How about a chemical weapon? How about a dirty bomb? How about a real live nuke?
“It’s time to get real, people. You are at war, and the enemy is bringing the battle to you. And every one of those people who violated out trust, who wiped their feet on the Statue of Liberty by sneaking in the back door when all they had to do was ring the bell like anybody else, well every last one of them has always been nothing but just another criminal, just another lazy punk who won’t do the work to follow the rules. Sure, they always could have been the slime bag outside your kid’s school, the one trying to get your children to throw away their lives for a nose full of crap. But now they may just be something more. Every last one of them could be Osama Bin Laden’s trigger finger. Every last one of them could be the bastard with his finger on the switch that’s going to turn one of our gleaming alabaster cities into a radioactive crater. That’s right, people, that poncho might just as well be a burqa. And if this doesn’t have your attention, if this doesn’t have you ready to take your country back from the liberals and the apologists and the diversity freaks and the live-and-let-live, let’s legalize-every-damn-thing hippies, then I don’t know what will. Back after this word.”
Hardin flicked off the radio. “Seems a little worked up,” he said.
“Yeah,” she answered.
“That make any sense to you?” He asked.
“That’s politics. Alex Martin, he’s the new US Attorney for Chicago, he was just nosing in on this – I know he called the meeting where my boss got word they were going to take you down. He’s always looking for some way to make a bigger splash. Sounds like just his sort of thing.”
“So he’s trying to warp this whole thing up in the flag? Drag it all in to the War on Terror tent?”
“Be my guess. Somebody had to whisper in this yahoo’s ear. Even for talk radio, that was a bit out there. One more thing, though. You sure it’s all the way wrong?”
“Not following,” said Hardin.
“Look, somebody shot Stein, right? And since you knew to go to him with the diamonds, somebody else could have know too. Somebody’s been following you around. Somebody shot Corsco’s guy. And somebody had to be shooting inside that building yesterday. News said what, two drug guys and an old lady?”
Hardin nodded. “I figured they’d send somebody, just they were on me way quicker than I expected. I thought I’d be cashed out and long gone be the time they got around to looking.”
“Shit happens,” Wilson said.
Hardin thought for a moment. “Gives us a play, though.”
“Screwing you my friend?” Fouche shouting into a phone somewhere across the Atlantic, Hardin actually holding his throw-away cell out from his ear for a moment. He and Wilson were sitting on a picnic bench overlooking a cliff that fell away to Lake Michigan. “Screwing you? A day ago, I’m expecting my cut on this deal. Now, I’ve got the Russians I roped in to it making angry Russian noises, and these are the wrong sort of Russians, those Eastern Promises types, gonna show up in the sauna, cut my schlong off for me. And you wanna know am I screwing you?”
“Sorry man,” said Hardin. Reaction he needed. He knew Fouche. If Fouche had played it cool, Hardin would know something was up. “But I had to ask, you know? And I’m getting a little short tempered over here myself. Second time in a couple of days I’ve had somebody trying to kill me.”
“Somebody’s trying to screw you, it’s that fucker Lafitpour,” said Fouche. “Maybe you should pay him a visit.”
“Actually trying to keep it civil with him, Pierre, he still may be my out. Was wondering if you could call him again for me.”
Pause on the line, some transatlantic hum filling the void. “You want me to go back to that son-of-a-bitch after he hung out both our asses?”
“Let me ask you this. You said he was Iranian, right? SAVAK guy? One of the old Shah’s people?”
“Think he still has a hand in back in the old country? Maybe looking to restore the Peacock Throne?”
“Would he like it? Sure. Is he working on it? I don’t know. I mean look at any of the old monarchies, how long did you have Russians wondering around hoping to dig up Anastasia so they could toss out the Bolsheviks and put the Romanov’s back in power.”
“I think he was looking to trade me in to put a little stink on Iran. They’re the bankroll for Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is the diamond pipeline for Al Queda. I’ve got a little personal business over here from back before the Legion . . .”
“I remember. You told me the story.”
“Yeah, well, that guy knows I’m in town, and he’s looking, too. So I think Lafitpour went to somebody here, sold them this drugs and terrorists deal, and I was supposed to be his bona fides.”
“And you think he’ll still want to make that play?”
“This thing blew up on them pretty good yesterday, and today they’re leaking it to the media. They still want to make that play. Just this time, they’re gonna have to make it with me on the inside.”
“Leverage,” said Faust.
“Yep,” said Hardin.
“So you don’t mind if I look to move that ten million figure a little, bump up both our ends.”
“Don’t mind at all. Oh, and, Pierre?”
“If they need some coke, you know, for stage setting, lend a little verisimilitude to the enterprise, let them know I’ve got a Kilo of Hernandez’s blow.”