Gonna be that kind of week, Mammonites. Off on another multi-day business boondoggle, today devoted to delayed flights an entertaining the screaming one-year-old in the seat next to me. Tomorrow meetings all day with dinner, drinks and office politics for dessert, so the Mammon’s gonna be coming late every night. But I’m sticking to my plan. A chapter a day until I’m done.
So here’s today’s offering. Chapter 36 is live. If you need to catch up, you can download the whole shebang right here. And, as always, thanks for reading.
Tito Hartz wasn’t worried. Yeah, Corsco sent word out there might be trouble, but that’s why he was running book out of his four flat down in Bridgeport. Usually, he worked out of the back room of his brother-in-law’s bar over in Oak Lawn. Big night last night. NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, Cubs and Sox both playing, Sox in a twin bill making up a rainout back in April with the Tigers. Every single game broke his way, so the cash was rolling in. And it’s not like his address was out there on the street. Besides, this was fucking Bridgeport, ancestral home to the Hurley regime. Mess of Hernandez’s spics start cruising the streets looking for trouble down here, they’ll get their asses profiled right into county.
But he started worrying when he heard somebody fire a twelve gauge into his front door twice, taking out both locks and blowing the door open. Tito bolted for the back door and yanked it open. The man waiting their emptied his UZI into Hartz and left the body laying on the threshold.
Lil’ Mike watched his corner, keeping a eye for the five-0, also scoping out the traffic, looking for the buyers so he could signal back to the holder, have him run out to the curb. Keepin’ a tighter eye than usual. Big Boy dead, word out that the Ganster Disciples were gonna make a play, probably some of the other gangs, too. What Lil’ Mike was looking for was white guys in white guy cars with white guy money, driving down to score. And the Lexus SUV rolling down Madison looked ripe. Couple of white guys in their polo shirts, driven slow, looking, Notre Dame license plate holders. Lil’ Mike stepped out, the SUV pulled over. Lil’ Mike signaled for the holder. His holder was maybe 10 feet from the car when the back window went down and the gun came out and shot his holder right in the chest. Lil’ Mike got halfway turned to run when a bullet ripped into the side of his chest. The Lexus pulled away.
“Last thirty six hours, Martino goes down, LK’s get firebombed out in Aurora, Corsco’s bookie gets blow away, we got at least three drive bys on the West Side, but one of them was a mess of white guys in a Lexus. And that’s on top of the Ringwald and his family and that fucking OK Corral mess on the drive the day before that.” Starshak threw a mess of files down on his desk.
“Sounds like Corsco and Hernandez are taking it too each other,” said Bernstein.
“I thought gang crimes said their intel was Corsco was trying to smooth that out with the cartel,” Lynch said.
Starshak nodded, slurped some coffee. “That was the last I heard. You get anything from Perez on this bombing?”
“Yeah,” Lynch said. “Pipe bombs and homemade napalm. Guy knew what he was doing, though. Homemade shape charge, focused the blast right into the target. Cell phone ignitors.”
“Homemade napalm doesn’t sound like Corsco,” Starshak said. “He wants to make a bomb, he’d got the money and contacts to get some Semtex or something. At least some dynamite.”
“Sounds more like an IED,” Bernstein said. “Sounds like maybe something our friend al Din might do.”
“Why?” Starshak said.
“Trying to clear the playing field, maybe,” said Lynch. “We got him on the scene in Downers Grove. Looks like he was staking out Wilson’s place, then got tangled up with Hernandez people. We know he was getting intel off the City network from that Lee fuck, and it looks like he popped Garbanzo after that mess, so maybe Corsco queered his play that time. After the Lake Shore Drive thing, maybe he figures he gives Corsco and Hernandez a little push at each other, they’ll get out of his way on Hardin.”
“Whatever it is, he’s running up a body count,” Starshak said. “Martin’s got our hands tied on Wilson and Hardin. Let’s see what we can do with this al Din.”
Miko’s cell rang. He looked at the screen. The number was blocked. He answered.
“This is Nick Hardin. Put Hernandez on the phone.”
Miko held the phone away from his head, covered it with his other hand. “Jefe, he says it’s Nick Hardin.”
Hernandez narrowed his eyes and held his hand out for the phone.
“Who the fuck is this?” he said.
“Bullshit,” Hernandez said. “One of Corsco’s fucks up to something.”
“Your brother shot himself,” Hardin said. “I’d turned his gun down, and he blew a hole through his right thigh. Femoral artery. He bled out. Begging like the little pansy he was.”
Hernandez froze for a moment, his face a rictus of rage. “You will take so long to die, Hardin. I will do things to you you cannot imagine.”
“Yeah?” Hardin said. “How’s that working out so far? You lost what, four guys in Downers Grove? Four more on the Drive the other day. At least three I read about in this bombing. And have you asked yourself why I only shot out your tires? Could have taken you out, you dumb fuck. But I’m trying to get clear of this mess myself. So if you’ll get prick out of your ear, maybe we can deal.”
“How can I make a deal with a dead man?” Hernandez said. He hung up the phone and handed it back to Miko. It buzzed again. A text message this time, a link to a web page. Miko opened the link and then handed the phone back to Hernandez. Videos, all taken through a rifle scope. Hernandez’s wife on the veranda of the pool at their home in Mexico City. His son walking into his school. His daughter at the house of a friend. His mother, kneeling in the front of her church.
Miko’s phone rang again. Hernandez answered.
“So how’s that gonna look, dumbass? What are people going to say when I start taking out the rest of your family? You think people aren’t already talking? You think that crew on the West Side isn’t asking what they get out of playing ball with you other than dead? You think the rest of the cartel isn’t wondering what the upside to a war with Corsco is? Think watching their friends burn didn’t maybe plant a little seed with your LK punks?”
Hernandez waited, breathing into the phone. “What?” he finally said.
“OK, chief, here’s the deal. Sorry about your brother, but the kid was a rapist punk and he got what happens to dumb fucks like that. So you gotta do the Latin thing, swear revenge, save face with your knuckle-dragging friends. I get that. I didn’t come back here to cause any trouble with you. I just want to sell some diamonds. I’ve got some hot rocks worth north of a hundred million. My first buyer’s dead, and you keep getting in the way of my second deal, so I’m offering us both an out here. I sell them to you cheap, say ten million. You get to say I tried to buy you off on account of how scared I was. You can say you killed me, whatever you want. I won’t be around to dispute your story. So you get your rep back. You can stop tearing your organization apart and pissing off your cartel brethren. And I get enough cash to get gone. Everybody wins.”
Hernandez waited a long moment. “Even if we make this deal, some day I will kill you,” he said.
“Someday you’ll try, sport.”
“Call me again when you are ready.”