So you finally caught me Mammonites. I get on my high horse, give my little sermon about moving the ball every day, and I promptly break my string, take a couple days off. So shoot me.
But I guess that’s the other thing. You’re gonna have days where you just don’t get it done. Where you should do something, but you don’t do nothin’. Just don’t let them turn into weeks where you don’t do nothin’.
So here you go, today’s offering. If you need to catch up, you can download all 38 chapters right here.
“You’re talking what? Three days ago? Man, you got any idea how many fares I pick up each day?” Lynch and Bernstein were talking to Randall Jackson, burly black guy with a shaved head. They’d tracked him through the number on the cab from the video. His dispatcher had him stop by the station.
Lynch showed him the picture. “This help any? It’s time stamped. 11:17 am.”
Jackson took at look at the picture. “Yeah, OK, maybe a little. I mean I got stuck on a lot of short hops up and down Michigan for a bit there. I mean daytime, you know? You get the MILFs in from the North Shore or whatever, don’t wanna walk three blocks, they flag you down just to take ‘em from the 900 shops up to Water Tower, ya’know? And then they tip you like nothin’. So I remember I see this guy down by the garage, and I blew off a couple of chicks out front of Water Tower and zipped down to get him. I mean he had the sport coat on and all, so I’m thinking maybe he gets me down to the Loop, maybe I can get a decent fare out to the airport or something.”
“Yeah, OK,” Lynch said.
“So anyway, he has me take him to Water and Columbus, which was a little weird. I mean you got like three hotels around there, right? Got the Hyatt, got the Fairmont, got the Swissotel over a bit. Then you got like the Aon building down there, but there ain’t nothing right on Water and Columbus, you know? I mean when he got in, and he says Water and Columbus, I’m figuring ok, he’ll tell where to pull up when we get down there, just he only remembers the intersection, but we get there and I’m like where you want me to drop you and he’s like this is good here. Just a little weird.”
“You see where he went?” Lynch asked.
“No man,” Jackson said. “I mean I drop the guy, run his card, I headed over to the Hyatt to get in the taxi line.”
“He paid with a card?” Bernstein said?
“Yeah,” Jackson said. “Don’t go askin’ me the name or nothin’, though, OK? But the picture says I picked him up at 11:17. Midday from Water Tower down there, you figure maybe ten minutes? Call dispatch, they can patch you through to whoever keeps up with that shit, but you got my cab number, you got the time, shouldn’t be hard to run down the receipt.”
“Thanks,” Lynch said. “That’s major. That’s a real help.”
“So, you guys call me down here, you take me out of circulation for like half an hour, I get something for my time?”
Lynch gave him a twenty and his card, wrote his cell on the back. “You get pulled over on some bullshit, you have the uniform call me. I’m not talking a DUI or anything, but, you know, you get nailed for 10 over on the way out to the airport, or hanging in one of the bike lanes or something, I’ll get you some rhythm.”
Jackson gave him a big smile. “You OK, dude, for a police. That’s fuckin’ gold to me, baby.”
“Where did you get this information?” Husam al Din was on the phone with his contact at MOIS.
“A boy, a runner for one of the dissident groups. He overheard the plan. He was in the backroom at his uncle’s shop. We believe his uncle has ties to Bahram Lafitpour. The boy didn’t really understand what he was hearing, but I suspect that Lafitpour may be playing broker in this.”
“And the boy, he came in with this?” al Din said.
“No. We got a tip. Someone made a new DVD of that Neda. Some kind of music video. We heard a shop downtown was getting a delivery, and the boy pulled up on his scooter. He was delivering the DVDs.” Neda was the young woman shot to death during the street protests the year before and had become the symbolic martyr of the resistance movement.
“So no one pointed you at him?” al Din said.
“No. He just happened to be the delivery boy. We made arrests at four different shops, picked up four different runners, all off the same tip.”
“Did he volunteer this information?”
“We didn’t even know to ask for it. We were asking for the usual, who gave him the DVDs, where else had he made deliveries. Frankly, by the time he spoke of this, we were just making sure there was nothing else of value to be gained from him.”
“Making sure how?” al Din asked.
“In the usual ways. By the time he gave us this, he had already given us enough to take his uncle and two more men in Lafitpour’s network. We had broken him before we got this. Everything else he has given us has been verified.”
“And the boy said Million Park?”
“Yes. Noon tomorrow.”
Husam al Din hung up the phone. Million Park had to be Millennium Park. He thought for a moment about the pedigree of the intelligence. No one had pointed MOIS at the boy. No one had tipped them to ask about this meeting. This information had the feel of the sort of true accident that al Din trusted.
The park was within walking distance of his hotel. Time to take a look.
Miko hung up the phone.
“Noon tomorrow, the u-shaped colonnade at the north end of Millennium Park. Hardin brings the diamonds and the cocaine, we bring the ten million. He says it will be just him and Wilson.”
“How many do we have in town so far?” Hernandez asked.
“Eight. All good men.”
Hernandez nodded. “Do we have the cash?”
“Yes. But I wasn’t sure if you were actually planning on bringing it,” Miko said.
“Hardin isn’t going to give up the diamonds and the drugs without it, and this park, we can’t kill him there. The men will have to be ready to follow him. When they get to the right place, then they bring the money back. The money, Hardin and the woman. Tell the men they will share the money, and they can share the woman for as long as they like. Hardin is mine.”
Lynch and Bernstein were at the Hertz lot at O’Hare. Some accounting type at Yellow ran down the charge receipt, turned up an American Express card belonging to Ricardo Orendain, which had also been used at a couple of hotels in the area. Al Din had used the card when he checked out of the Hyatt the day before, and then dropped a rental back at Hertz later in the day.
Skinny white kid with bad skin was on the lot, checking the cars in. Manager said he would have been the one on duty when al Din brought the car back.
“I don’t look at anybody, you know?” the kid said. “I mean I scan the code on the car, take a quick look, make sure there’s no dents or anything, check the gas, then I print out their bill, they sign for it, and they grab the shuttle over to the terminal.”
Lynch showed the kid the picture. “So you don’t remember this guy?”
Kid just shook his head. “It says I checked him in, then I checked him in.”
Lynch turned to Bernstein. “So what’s his play here? He’s been pretty mobile, so he needs a car. I mean unless he’s blowing town.”
“Yeah,” said Bernstein. “But he’s only had this one since the day of that Downers Grove thing. And we know he’s been in town longer than that. Checking out of the hotel, bringing the car back, maybe he’s changing IDs again.”
Lynch turned to the kid. “How do you get to the other rental places?”
Kid shrugged. “We got the bus that takes you back to the terminal. Avis, all the rest of them, they got their own buses, too. You get back to the terminal, you could one of their buses back out, I guess.”
“What do you want to bet we got all that on video?” Bernstein said.
“Now that I can do.” The IT guy back at the Chicago’s surveillance command center. Lynch gave him the time the car was dropped off and asked him to run their most recent screen grap on al Din throught the system, watching the Hertz bus. “Give me maybe 30 minutes.”
Lynch and Bernstein drove to the terminal, grabbed a bite. Lynch’s cell buzzed.
“Got him,” the IT guy said. “Al Din grabs the bus at the Hertz lot at 2:43, gets dropped at Terminal 1 at 2:51. He walks over to Terminal 3, hops the Alamo bus at 3:17, gets dropped off at Alamo at 3:26.”
“Son of a bitch,” Lynch said. “We may actually get this fucker.”
“High noon,” said Lafitpour. “How dramatic.”
“Fucked up is what it is,” said Martin. “Weather’s supposed to be nice tomorrow, park’s gonna be freakin’crammed.”
“I supposed Hardin finds a little security in an audience.”
“Yeah,” said Martin. “Upside for us is it will make it easier to hide our people.”
“And who will our people be?” Lafitpour asked.
“Using some of the DEA guys,” said Martin. “They got a dog in the fight, and they’re on board with the whole idea, can’t wait to play a little hardball with our cartel buddies. Some of the three-letter types out in DC, they say they’ll be ‘monitoring.’ No way to know what the hell that means. Gonna use some Chicago PD resources, some of their SWAT guys. Want to have a couple long guns with overlook, just in case. Just got to keep the line cops off this. Lynch, Starshak, that crew, I’ve worked with them before. Just don’t need them in this.”
“I assume you are coordinating with Hardin?”
Martin shrugged. “Within reason. I mean he gets out of this with his money, he’s a happy guy. I gotta make sure I got the right bodies in the net when we’re done. He knows what he needs to know.”
“Let’s not aggravate him unnecessarily,” said Lafitpour. “He could make things unpleasant for us.”
“No shit,” Martin said.
“Of course, it will be a complicated situation tomorrow,” said Lafitpour. “We’ll have to see about whom we still need to worry. After all the smoke clears.”
Lafitpour gave his little smile again, made Martin’s sack tighten up a bit. Not even gonna ask, Martin decided. Don’t want to know.