Got a big ol’ mess o’ Mammon for you today, peeps. Time to get the guns out and start killing folk off. Heading in to the final stretch here.
“Anybody gonna find your prints on this?” Starshak holding up the Tribune. Big headline. SURVEILANCE FOR SALE. He’d called Lynch into his office as soon as Lynch got in in the morning.
“You see any?” Lynch said.
“No,” said Starshak.
“OK then,” Lynch said.
“I got no problem this being in the papers,” Starshak said. “Probably something needs to get done about it. Just don’t need any leaks points back at my squad.”
“Got it,” Lynch said.
Starshak got up, sprayed his fern. Sat pack down, took a sip of his coffee.
“So Fenn’s talking?”
“Yeah,” Lynch said. “Just not to us.”
“What the docs were saying, I figured the guy was fucked. Probably ‘cause he’s an actor. Brain’s so damn small, plenty of room for it to swell up without crushing anything.”
“Must be it,” Lynch said. “I figure he’s gonna reach out to Corso, tell him he keeps his mouth shut if Corsco leaves him alone. Corsco makes another try, even if it works, Fenn’ll have it set up so that everything comes out. We gonna at least press him on the drugs?”
Starshak shook his head. “Talked to the DA. Hurley doesn’t want to touch it. Fuckin’ Fenn’s like some kinda martyr now, with the whole child abuse thing. Got shrinks on all the talk shows saying how the drug thing was probably some kind of flashback or stress reaction or some shit. Guess it makes us Nazis if we try to enforce the law or something.”
“Even with what we got with him and Corsco?” Lynch said.
“Yeah,” said Starshak.
“I was kind of hoping it might shake him up. I mean he had weight in that hotel room. We could have gone felony. Maybe make him rethink his position on things.”
Starshak just shrugged. “Above our pay grade.”
“At least we’re getting somewhere on this al Din fuck.”
“There’s that,” Starshak said. “What’s the play?”
“We got the make, model and license on the car, got the card he used to rent it. Either one pops, we make our move.”
“I knew him, you know. Hardin.” Martin Trudeau talking to Foucalt while he set the GIAT FRF2 up on the bipod on the desk in the empty office at the southeast corner of the French Consulate. 7.62 mm, ten-round box, APX L806 scope. From the window, Trudeau would be able to cover from just east of Hardin’s position down to Michigan Avenue and south into the park.
Trudeau nodded. “He was the senior NCO in 2nd Coy my first year in the unit. Rode my ass pretty good.”
“You deserve it?”
“So you’re good here? Any questions?”
Trudeau shook his head. “I’m going to be right here on French soil, mon ami. You’re the one that has to go out and play in the street.”
Harriet Larson sat on the train, watching the suburbs roll by. She was sixty-two. After she’d gotten the call the day before, she went and got her hair done, nice tight gray perm. She preferred pants, personally, pants or sweats. She still got into the gym pretty much every day. But she had a couple of dresses back in the closet, found one that had the right matronly look to it. With that, the cardigan over the shoulders and the Queen Elizabeth handbag, she’d pass.
Of course the hand bag had the hinged panel on the side. She could get the silenced .32 out, hit her target and get it back in the bag before anybody looked twice at the little old lady. Nice little payday to augment her agency pension. Little frisson, not nervousness exactly, just the tension you had on a job. It’s not like it was her first time. She’d done this what, fifteen times when she was still on the payroll? And this would be her third post-retirement contract gig. Had to cancel the zoo trip with the grandkids, but there was plenty of summer left.
Hernandez and Miko had everybody in the Hernandez’s suite at the Palmer House. They’d all come down the night before, had a mess of cars stashed in lots around the Loop.
“OK,” Hernandez said. “Let’s run through it. Who we got on the north end?”
Two of the guys put up their hands. “Corner of Michigan and Randolf,” one of them said. “They go on foot that way, then we got them. Got a mess of those transit passes, too, in case they hop a bus or train or whatever.”
“South end?” Hernandez asked. Two more guys. They’d be waiting by that Bean statue, pick them up if they headed that way. Miko had one more team teed up in case they cut east toward Columbus. Last two guys would be cruising, couple of big SUVs. Hardin takes off in a vehicle, one of them follows, the other one picks everybody up. They all had cells with push-to-talk radio features. And guns. They had plenty of guns.
The ten million was in two back packs, two thousand packs of one hundred dollar bills. Hernandez opened one of them, showed the men the cash. “Remember,” he said. “One of these bags is for you.”
“And the woman?” one of them said.
“And the woman,” Hernandez said.
“No woman gonna live through that,” the man leered. “We gonna tear that bitch all up.”
“She’s not supposed to live through it,” Hernandez said. “In fact, make sure she don’t.”
“Wish it was a little cooler,” Hardin said. “Could wear a jacket, use a shoulder rig.” He had the 9mm in the small of his back, inside-the-waistband holster. He was wearing jeans, a black t-shirt and a white Oxford open over the T. Covered the gun.
“That’s why you need a purse,” Wilson said. The S&W was in her bag. It was the only thing in her bag. That and two spare clips. “I don’t like you doing the small-of-the-back thing. You gonna be able to get that out quick enough?”
“We know what’s coming, they don’t,” Hardin said. “Should give us enough edge.”
Wilson pursed her lips a second, thinking.
“Come here a second,” she said. She was sitting on the edge of Foucalt’s kitchen counter. She patted the spot next to her. Hardin popped up on the counter. She put his arm around him. He smiled.
“Don’t have time for this,” he said.
She slid her hand down his back, grabbed the 9mm, yanked it out, leveled it forward. Snake-bite quick.
“Got time for that?” she said.
“Slick,” said Hardin.
“So I wear my purse on your side, we cuddle up while we’re dealing with Hernandez. Foucalt takes his shot, I pull your piece, you pull mine.”
“I like it,” said Hardin. “But let’s put mine in your purse and I’ll wear the Smith. Both be shooting what we’re used to.”
They switched guns.
“Like getting your class ring or something,” Wilson said. She gave Hardin a quick, hard kiss. “Let’s go.”
Theo Michaels and Laura Ruddy sat on a blanket on the grass back toward the bandstand. The colonnade was maybe sixty yards away. They had a small picnic laid out, their duty weapons and their DEA credentials in the empty ice chest. Micheal’s was pushing 40, balding, a bit of a gut poking out. Ruddy was a red head, just hit thirty and was still a hard body.
“Just another old married couple, out for a romantic picnic,” Michaels said. “Probably oughta neck a little, you know, sell it.”
“If we’re an old married couple, I should probably just start saying how you’re a useless piece of shit, limp-dick mother fucker, only thing you can get up anymore is your blood pressure. I mean if we want to sell it.”
“Or I guess we can just sit here, pretty much ignore each other.”
“Always worked for my folks,” she said.
“Pass me one of them sandwiches,” he said.
“You’re actually gonna eat?”
“If we aren’t gonna neck,” he said. “Gotta do something.”
Hank Snelling lay on the roof of the Chicago Cultural Center tucked into his Remington 700, scanning the park through his scope. Bob Davis, his spotter, worked the scope next to him. They were the Chicago PD SWAT resources on loan to Martin.
“Got the DEA guys, couple on the blanket?” Davis said.
“Got ‘em,” said Snelling. “You got our principals yet?”
“Not yet,” said Davis. “Take a look at the corner, though, over by Randolf.”
Snelling swung the weapon left.
“The two Hispanic guys?”
“Yeah,” said Davis. “Probably ought to keep an eye on them.”
“Got a hit on your car.” The IT guy calling Lynch.
“Where at?” Lynch said.
“Grant Park Garage, back where all this shit started. Northwest corner, just a couple spots up from the entrance.”
“You able to pick him up from there?”
“Looks like he’s getting a little smarter about this. Had a hat on down low leaving the car, dark jacket. I’ve run through the exit shots, can’t pick up that combo anywhere. Probably changed the hat and dumped the jacket, maybe in one of the stairwells. Parked it yesterday, I can give you that. Just before dinner.”
Lynch grabbed Bernstein, filled him in on the way downtown.
“Got another hit on his card, too,” said Bernstein. “Just came in.”
“What?” asked Lynch.
“Virgin Atlantic. Booked a flight out of O’Hare to Heathrow for three pm.”
“If he’s planning on blowing town, then he’s making his play on Hardin today.”
“Looks that way,” Bernstein said.
“Gonna need his car,” said Lynch.
“You’d think,” Bernstein said.
“So we’ll go sit on that.”
At 11:30, Foucalt grabbed a seat on a bench along the walk that split the park. The colonnade was fifty yards to his two o’clock. Al Din would have to come from his left or right, he’d have eyes on him for a good distance before he could reach Hardin and Wilson. He had his Baretta folded in the Tribune, which he set on the bench to his right. He some cheap paperback he’d picked up in the shop in the lobby of the consulate building and a pack of Marlboros. He would have preferred a copy of Le Monde and some Gauloises, but one made do.
Foucalt scanned the park, then pulled out his phone and called Hardin.
“Are you in bound?” he asked.
“Yeah,” said Hardin. “On schedule. How’s it look?”
“There’s a couple having a picnic. Could be police of some kind, or perhaps they just don’t like each other. It’s so hard to tell with you Americans.”
“I think Hernandez has a couple of guys on the corner. They’ll be behind you. Michigan and Randolf. Tan windbreaker, black White Sox jersey.”
“OK,” said Hardin.
“And a handsome woman jogging.”
“Is that germane?” asked Hardin.
“It is to me,” said Foucalt. He hung up.
Harriet Larson joined the small crowd admiring the Bean statue, watching across the park for the target to arrive at the colonnade. The Agency had sent four photos, three men and a woman. The four were expected to meet at the colonnade, and the Agency didn’t want anything to happen before they met. There was the possibility of violence. If that happened, and the target was killed or injured, then she was just to leave. She assumed they’d made arrangements if he was injured. But the target was not supposed to leave the park.
“Time,” said Hernandez. The driver swung the SUV off of Adams on to Michigan, cruised past the park to Randolf, turned east, and dropped Hernandez and Miko off halfway up toward Columbus. They wanted a short walk to the meeting spot, give them a chance to eyeball things on their way in. Each carried one of the backpacks. Both wore oversized shirts over the guns on their belts.
Hardin and Wilson got off the EL on State, taking the tunnel down along Randolf, coming up across the street from the park. Hardin carried the pack with the cocaine and the diamonds in it in his left hand.
“See them?” Wilson said.
Hardin nodded. “Getting out of the black SUV. Timing’s just right. You OK?”
“Never better,” she said. Something in her voice made him turn. He’d seen that look before, one or two of the guys he’d been in the Legion with. Guys you knew were going to go the distance every time. Never seen it on a woman before.
Foucalt watched the runner in the black tights and the yellow sports bra. She had her dark blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail that swayed between her shoulders and wore a pair of those blued, google-like sun glasses. It was her third circuit of the park. Her skin was evenly tanned, almost olive. Her stomach was flat, rock hard, the legs inside her tights corded with muscle. Even her arms were tight and toned. What was it with these American woman? All these hours in the gyms, all this running, burning off every curve and soft place. Did they want so badly to be men? She had some breasts, small though, but even those she had lashed down under the tight bra, nothing to bounce or sway, nothing to entice a man. She could be so beautiful if she were not so hard.
Hardin and Wilson reached the colonnade first and sat toward the south end. Wilson put her arm on Hardin’s back. Hernandez and Miko walked up.
“Beautiful day,” Hardin said.
“Shut up,” said Hernandez.
“What do you want me to do, mime my way through this?” Hardin asked.
“You got your end?” Hernandez said.
Hardin nodded toward the bag by his feet. “You?” he said.
Hernandez and Miko shrugged off their packs. “You mind opening those?” Hardin said. They did, giving him a glimpse of the bundled twenties.
Hardin reached down and unzipped his bag. Hernandez could see the bundle of coke. Hardin reached in, pulled out he small fabric sack that held the diamonds and handed it to Hernandez. He looked inside.
“Don’t look like diamonds,” Hernandez said. “Look like chunks of glass.”
“They’re raw stones,” said Hardin.
Hernandez handed the sack to Miko, who took out one of the stones and a small mirror from his shirt pocket. He ran the edge of the stone along the mirror, leaving a deep grove. He tried again with a second stone, same result.
“It is what we were told to look for, Jefe,” he said. He handed the bag back to Hernandez who dropped it into the backpack and zipped it closed.
“So, we done here?” Hernandez asked
“Just let me check a few of these bundles,” said Hardin, resisting the urge to look for Al Din. Where the hell was he? Couldn’t drag this out much longer.
Lynch and Bernstein turned off Monroe and into the garage, driving all the way back to the northeast corner. The car was still there – black Camry, right plates. Lynch cruised past it, found a spot a few rows back behind a pillar where anyone going to the Camry wouldn’t have a clear view of the Crown Vic. Just a waiting game now.
Foucalt saw Hernandez and another man walk up to Hardin and Wilson, watched them start the exchange. If al Din was coming, it was time for him to make his move. Foucalt scanned the park again. A tour group on those Segway things was coming toward him on the walk that split the park up the middle from north to south. The couple on the blanket were watching the colonnade a little too carefully. Definitely cops. An older lady was walking past Foucalt toward the colonnade, in her sixties. And the jogging woman woman was coming around for the fourth time, running like a metronome, like she could do that all day. She didn’t even run like a woman, didn’t have that little angle in from the hips that would make her ass twitch the way Foucalt liked, especially if she put on some heels. The woman ran past the line of Segways, then she cut left, off the walk onto the grass, speeding up, heading straight for Hardin and Wilson, her hand tearing open the fanny pack she wore on her right hip, the pistol coming out. Foucalt grabbed the Baretta from inside the paper, jumped to his feet, angling right so he’d have a line for a shot away from the tour group and without hitting Hardin or Wilson.
“Al Din!” he shouted, snapping off a shot that went wide, smacking into one of the pillars in the colonnade. He set his feet to fire again, taking aim, as al Din turned to return fire.
Hardin saw the woman turn off the walk and start sprinting toward them, saw Foucalt jumping to his feet. Hardin set a the bundle he was riffling through back in the pack, sat up, his right had resting on Wilson’s purse, felt Wilson’s hand on his back, creeping down.
“I guess these look good,” he said.
Foucalt shouted and fired, the bullet hitting the pillar just next to Hernandez. Al Din spun and fired back, still running backwards toward Hardin, Foucalt firing again, al Din staggering a little as a chunk blew off the outside of his left arm, Foucalt going down.
Hardin snatched the 9mm from Wilson’s purse, felt the S&W as Wilson tore it from his waistband, Hernandez and Miko both going for their pieces, but too slow. Hardin pulled the trigger as the gun swung up, Miko only three feet in front of him, no need to aim, the first round catching Miko in the gut, Hardin still pulling, putting three into the man’s chest. Miko crumpled to the ground, the gun he had half out of his belt falling to the cement.
Hernandez had seen he had no chance, tried to close on Wilson, tried to grab the weapon, actually had a hand on it, but she put a round into his hip, his hand fell away, and she walked the S&W up his torso, rounds hitting his lower gut his diaphragm, a couple through is sternum, one in his throat, one in his face, Wilson emptying the rest of the clip into his head, thumbing the release, the empty clip clattering to the ground, snatching one of the spares from her purse in place, yanking back the slide, turning to face the park.
Lynch and Bernstein sat in the Crown Vic, keeping an eye on the Camry.
They heard a shot, a pause, then a fusillade of shots, muffled a little coming through the cement, but pretty much right over their heads.
“Jesus!” shouted Lynch, bolting from the car. He and Bernstein sprinted for the stairs that led up to the park.
Al Din had run past Foucalt twice. The disguise was perfect. He had used it before. With his slight build and fine features, he could be very convincing as a woman. And it felt good to run outside. For more than a week now, his only exercise had come on treadmills in a series of hotels. But now it was time. Hardin and Hernandez were together by the columns at the end of the park, Hardin handing a pack to Hernandez. That would be the bag with the diamonds. Al Din measured the geometry in his head. Another ten paces, then break toward the target. Foucalt did not have a gun in his hand yet. Al Din would be directly in line between Foucalt and Hardin with the Segway tourists in the way. Foucalt would have to move to have a shot. With any luck, al Din would be able to shot Hardin, spin and fire on Foucalt. Three, two . . . al Din broke left and sprinted toward Hardin, his hand snatching his weapon from the small pack on his hip. He heard Foucalt shout his name, heard the shot, actually felt the round tear past his head, saw it slam into the pillar. Damn. Foucalt was too fast. Al Din spun, fired just as Foucalt fired. He saw his round hit Foucalt in the right leg, Foucalt going down, but felt the tearing burn as Foucalt’s shot ripped through his left arm. He could hear more firing behind him, spinning back, Hardin and the woman killing the Hernandez and the other man, but both with their weapons out now, too late, no chance for the diamonds. Al Din cut right, running for the entrance to the garage.
Hardin tracked al Din, holding his fire as al Din passed in front of a family, taking one shot just as al Din reached the garage entrance, leading him just too much, his round hitting the cement next to al Din’s head. He heard the scape of shoes on the cement behind him, remembered what Foucalt had said about tan jacket and black White Sox Jersey.
“On our six!” he shouted, spinning, but Wilson had already whipped around. The guy in the black jersey had his gun up, the other guy had it in his hand, coming up. Wilson shot the guy in the jacket, was turning toward the White Sox guy, Hardin trying to get his gun around, but could see he was going to be late, could actually see the guy’s finger start to tense on the trigger . . .
“Who’s my target?” Snelling shouted, watching the chaos unfolding in the park.
“Sox jersey,” Davis said.
Snelling tweaked the Remington left, picked up the two on the walk, both of them closing on columns, saw the guy in the tan jacket go down, got the dots on Sox boy, and fired.
Hardin heard the crack, recognized the sound as rifle fire, and watched the guy in the Sox jersey drop straight down, the top right quadrent of his head bown out in a red cloud. He looked at Wilson.
“You hit?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “You?”
“Close thing, though,” she said.
More noise behind him. The couple that had been on the blanket on their feet, shouting.
“DEA! Drop your weapons and get on the ground!”
Hardin set the 9mm on the edge of the colonnade, knelt, then lay on his stomach, arms out. Wilson did the same.
“Friends of yours?” he asked, his face turned toward hers.
“The woman’s named Ruddy,” she said. “She’s OK. The guy’s a prick.”
Harriet Larson was in perfect position. During the shooting, she’d moved up along the walk on the Michigan Avenue side, moving in the shuffling run of an old woman, just another frightened pedestrian unsure of where to go. Now she was ten feet from the target. He and the woman lay on the ground, their feet toward her. The couple on the blanket had announced themselves, but now that their suspects on the ground, the man was on the radio and the woman closing slowly on the prone pair. But the edge of the colonnade would block her view of Larson. She slipped her hand through the hinged panel, slipped out the slim, silenced automatic and quickly raised it toward Hardin’s head. An easy shot from this distance.
Martin Trudeau watched the scene unfolding through the scope of his FRF2. He’d been about to fire at the man in the black shirt when the man’s head exploded. And then he saw the old woman. She’d caught his attention earlier because she was moving toward the firing, not away from it. He saw no other threats, so he kept his reticle on her, center chest. When she pulled the automatic from her purse and began to raise it, he fired. He swung his scope back up toward Foucalt. He’d seen him go down earlier. Foucalt was sitting on the bench, holding the newspaper around the wound on his leg with his left hand and lighting a cigarette with his right.