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“What does that fuck Corsco want with Hardin that’s worth going to war over?” Hernandez had finally calmed down. He was back in Aurora with Miko and the LK crew, not sure what was going on, but pretty sure he wanted more guns around him.
“He doesn’t want a war, Jefe, it doesn’t make sense,” said Miko.
“Hey, was that Hardin hanging out the window of Corsco’s car shooting at us?”
“Sense or no, Corsco’s in bed with the son of a bitch over something,” Hernandez said. “ Fucking tried to kill me. I’m not sitting back, waiting for his next play. We’re going after the fucker. And Hardin’s probably with him.”
Miko couldn’t think of any argument, so he stayed quiet. But it didn’t feel right. Something was going on, something they didn’t know.
“We need more men,” Miko said. “The Chicago crew, they have lost too many.”
“We’ve got men here,” Hernandez said.
“Boys, mostly,” Miko said. “We need experienced men. From home.”
Hernandez started to talk, then stopped. Silent a moment. Then he nodded. “You’re right. We would have ended this yesterday, we weren’t working with those assholes. Make the call.”
“And the cartel?” Miko asked.
“What about them?” said Hernandez.
“Do you really want to start a war with the Italians without talking to the others first?”
“I’ll take care of the others,” said Hernandez. “Just get me more men.”
“How many?” Miko asked.
“Everybody we got,” Hernandez said.
“Where the hell is Ringwald?” Corsco asked. He’d called all his lieutenants to his house. This thing with Hernandez, it was going to get ugly now.
“Not answering his phone,” said Martino. “Can’t get him at the office, can’t get him at his place. Isn’t picking up his cell.”
Corsco pointed to Lazzarra and DeMarco, two of his younger soldiers. “You two, one of you check his office, the other one check his house.” They nodded and left.
Corsco spent some time going over security. He wasn’t going to stay at the house. He had a place downtown that he kept quiet, take a few men, hole up there. But he would leave people at the house in case Hernandez made a move, maybe take a few of them out.
“So what’s our play, boss?” Martino asked.
“Carmello, out in Vegas? He’s tight with some of the cartel players,” said Corsco. “He’s going to reach out, see if we can put this genie back in its bottle.”
“And if we can’t?” Martino asked.
“Then we hit him before he hits us,” said Corsco.
Corsco’s cell rang. Lazarra. “Yeah?”
“Ringwald’s dead boss, him and his whole family.”
Jesus, Corsco thought. So it was going to be like that.
“What do you mean no warrant?” Starshak asked. He’d put through the paperwork on Hardin and Wilson the night before, figured he have a warrant first thing. Wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, but he had them on tape kidnapping Corso’s guys. With all the shit that had gone down the last week, it was time to put the net out for those two. Instead, he, Lynch and Bernstein were sitting in his office listening to Alex Martin do a song and dance.
“I understand your frustration Captain, but there are larger issues at stake here,” said Martin. “This connection between the cartels and Al Queda presents a unique opportunity, and it is something we have to approach with a little tactical discretion.”
“Unique opportunity for whom?” said Bernstein.
“Pardon me?” Martin asked.
“Thing is,” Lynch said, “We know Hernandez has a beef with Hardin over his brother. And we think maybe Hardin’s got some diamonds he stole from some bad guys over in Africa. What we don’t see is any evidence that the one thing’s got anything to do with the other. But you keep telling us there’s this grand conspiracy. So what Bernstein’s asking, I think, is we see an opportunity for you, we’re just wondering how it works out for anybody else.”
Martin smiled. “it works out for everybody who’s on the team, Detective. I should think you’d be pleased with the idea of taking the gloves off with the drug lords for a change.”
“Just raises all those line-drawing questions,” Lynch said. “Slippery slopes and all that. But what the hell, I mean it’s just the Constitution, right?”
“Oh my,” said Martin. “Playing the Constitution card already? I suppose I should go home and polish my jackboats. You really worried if we dot every I and cross every T for a guy like Hernandez?”
“Yeah, and the cameras all over town are nothing to worry about if you’re not up to anything,” said Lynch. “Then we find out the whole thing’s out there on pay-per-view and Hernandez is one of the guys with a subscription.”
Martin got up, buttoned his jacket. “Gentlemen, I didn’t come here to argue the point with you, just thought I would do you the courtesy of informing you in person. No warrants or APBs on Hardin or Wilson unless they go through me. You’re good cops. A little near sighted perhaps. And there will be credit enough to go around when this I over. It is an imperfect world, I’m afraid.”
Starshak’s phone rang. He picked it up. “Yeah?” He listened for a moment. “You’re shitting me,” he said. He listened for a moment longer and then hung up.
“Somebody broke into Ringwald’s place last night, taped him and his family to their dining room chairs, and shot all four of them to death,” Starshak said.
“An imperfect world and more so all the time,” said Bernstein.
Husam al Din watched the three cars leave Corso’s residence. Several other cars remained behind. He decided to follow the three that were leaving. He knew where Corsco’s house was. He could always return there.
The cars picked up the Kennedy expressway and headed toward the center of the city, turning west just before the downtown area and then pulling into the underground garage of a building that looked like it housed perhaps four apartments. Al Din drove past the front of the building and wrote down the address. Corsco would be in one place or the other.
Now to find Hernandez. Al Din had been close to Hardin twice. Once, Corsco’s men had intervened, and once he was interrupted by Hernandez’s people. It was time to give them both something else to do. After the incident yesterday, they would be suspicious of each other. It should not be hard to make them more so.
Hardin’s cell rang. Wilson. “Martin’s back in his office,” she said.
“OK,” Hardin answered. “I’ll make the call.”
Hardin sat in the window of the Starbucks across Adams Street from the Rookery, where Lafitpour kept his office. It was only a few blocks from Martin’s digs in the Federal Building. Martin had tailed the silver Bentley south from Lafitpour’s condo early that morning. The driver dropped Lafitpour and his bodyguard off at the door and then drove away. Hardin was watching to make sure Lafitpour stayed in the building. At least the silver Bentley would be easy to spot. Hardin called Fouche.
“You ready?” Hardin asked.
“Of course,” said Fouche.
“Remember, tell them I want them on the line together.”
Martin’s cell buzzed. He checked the ID. Lafitpour.
“Fouche called. Hardin wants to deal directly. He will call in one hour.”
“OK,” said Martin. “Let me know what he says.”
“He wants both of us on the phone. I can conference you in if you like, but it might be more secure here.”
“Yeah,” said Martin. “Not really a call I want to take in the office. See you then.”
“He’s leaving,” Wilson calling Hardin again. “Maybe three minutes to your location.”
Hardin hung up and crossed Adams, ducking into the alley on the east side of the Rookery Building. He watched the reflections in the plate glass across the street. When Martin was about five yards from the alley, Hardin stepped out.
“Hi there,” Hardin said.
Martin took it in quickly, began to reach for his belt.
“Don’t,” said Wilson. She was right behind Martin
Martin put his hand down.
“Look, I’m trying to work with you here,” he said.
“Let’s go see your buddy,” Hardin said.
Martin nodded. They stepped into the building.