Put at fork in it, Mammonties. That’s a wrap. Or a draft anyway. If you’re looking for a valdedictory address or something, check back later. Right now, I’m just rolling out the end of the story. And yeah, it has a happy ending. So sue me.
If you want to download the whole deal, then click here. And remember, this is the first draft. I still got a lot of clean up to do, that whole writing is rewriting bear to wrassle. So if you’ve got comments, general reactions, whatever, now’s the time to unload. Those of you who’ve hung on for the whole ride are the ultimate Beta readers.
Now, without further ado, the last two chapters.
Shamus Fenn was out of the ICU and in a private room at Northwestern.
“You square things with Corsco?” Fenn asked. He was talking with Bernie Alger, his lawyer and agent.
“He’s on board,” Alger said. “Anything happens to you, we’ve got your notarized statement regarding Hardin. Pretty much no harm, no foul at this point.”
“No fucking foul my ass,” Fenn said. “I’m lucky I’m not dead.”
“Yeah, and now you gotta spin this coke deal. You were making progress with the whole abuse thing, and there’ve been a mess of TV shrinks ready to give you a pass on the OD, calling it some kind of post traumatic stress or some such. But we need to get our story straight on that, make sure we keep it all consistent.”
“Get that guy in from LA, what’s his ass, the one I’ve been seeing. I’ll play it out with him, and then we’ll get him to make a statement,” Fenn said.
“Yeah, OK. You’re clear on the Chicago end. They aren’t moving ahead with any charges. So you’re good there. Only free radical is this Hardin fuck.”
“What I hear, he’s got enough problems,” said Fenn.
They talked for a bit, working out their PR strategy. Suddenly Alger sat up in his chair.
“Jesus,” said Alger, reaching for the remote to turn up the sound. “That fucker Hardin. He’s on TV.”
Starshak and Lynch stood in the back row, the room the Feds were using for their press conference hot as hell, seeing as they had an overflow crowd, every damn network and cable outlet trying to cram a crew in, dozens of light rigs baking everybody. They’d rushed the show, getting it out just in time for the late news, network feeds getting it out everywhere. Controlling the story, getting the first draft out in front of everybody before the media had a chance to start developing theories. Also meant they were slapping a national security band-aid over the whole deal, good way to keep anybody from taking too close a peak at the forensics or anything, because God knows some of that was going to smell funny. Martin was in the back row with Lynch and Starshak, and not too happy about it. The story that Foucalt had put together, it was such a winner that the new Intelligence czar out of DC decided he’d been out in front of it the whole time. He was at the podium running the show.
Lynch and Starshak got the rundown earlier. How US intelligence in cooperation with the French DGSE had wormed Hardin in to the Al Queda food chain. How he’d got the diamonds out of Africa, this Al Din guy riding shot gun as his security, Hardin brokering the deal with the Cartel, Hernandez being their rep, the Feds ready to swoop in. But al Din had recognized one of the French agents at the hand off, a fire fight broke out, lots of details being guarded on account of national security and all, but Lynch and Bernstein we’re going to be the local poster boys, the guys who took out al Din, the Feds playing al Din up to some kind of Al Queda superman or something.
Hardin and Wilson were in the front row with the intel czar, guy spinning Hardin’s history, decorated US Marine, decorated veteran of the Foreign Legion chased out of his own country by the scourge of drugs, a living symbol of the world’s united front against the forces of darkness. And Wilson was a deep cover DEA asset, her fat all the way out of the fire, tossing a bone to the drug boys, giving them a hero in the deal.
Everybody said their lines, everybody took their bows. Fade to black.
“Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck,” Fenn said.
“What?” asked Alger.
“This guy, he’s like the French James Bond. You think he doesn’t know? We gotta do something.”
“Do what?” Alger said.
“I dunno,” said Fenn. “I dunno.”
Lynch and Starshak were at the French consulate, Foucalt making some introductions.
The guy with the short beard and the nasty scar running in front of his right ear and down his neck into his shirt grabbed Lynch by the shoulders, said something in French, then kissed him on both cheeks before grabbing him in a rough embrace and thumping him on the back hard enough to crack a couple ribs.
“This is Tudeau,” Foucalt said. “He says you have a big enough pair to be a Frenchman.”
“That’s swell,” said Lynch. “Could you maybe make a general announcement on the kissing, though? Next guy puts his lips on me, we’ll see what kind of pair he has.”
Foucalt laughed, said something in French, the other guys in the room laughing, too.
Hardin walked up, put out his hand. “I’m Nick Hardin,” he said. “Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet before the dog and pony show.”
“Ponies were fucking the dogs by the end of that mess,” Starshak said, shaking with Hardin, too. “Like some kind of Mother Goose tale.”
“Except everybody’s better armed,” Lynch said.
“Except that,” said Hardin. “Sorry to have made such a mess over here. Guess I made it a pretty tough week for you guys.”
“Pretty tough week for you, too, the way I read it,” Lynch said.
“True,” said Hardin, “but I’m being well paid.”
Hardin introduced Wilson, everybody chatting for a bit, then Lynch steered Hardin over to a corner.
“On the whole getting paid front,” Lynch said.
“You looking for a taste?” said Hardin. “Talk to Foucalt. DGSE probably ‘d be happy to kick out some kind of bounty on al Din. Not sure how that would fly over here, but you want to funnel it into Zurich or something, he’ll work with you.”
Lynch shook his head. “Actually, I was thinking maybe you could help out with Fenn and Corsco.”
“Ah,” said Hardin. “I hadn’t quite decided what to do there. I mean the whole trying to kill me thing, I take that a little personally.”
“Always been my policy,” Lynch said.
“And as long as we are sharing names,” Hardin continued, “have you ever heard of Bahram Lafitpour?”
They talked another twenty minutes.
Lynch stopped by Northwestern after the Consulate deal, just wanted to duck his head in on Bernstein, see how he was. Bernstein was wide awake.
“Thought you’d be out cold,” Lynch said.
“Caught me between doses,” Bernstein said. “Get my next happy pill in about twenty minutes.”
“They tell me fine. I’ll finally have some nice scars to show the ladies. Downside of my upbringing, you know. Golf, tennis, swimming, don’t pick up much scar tissue out at the club.”
“Always an upside,” Lynch said. “Missed you at the press conference. You know you’re a national hero?”
“Caught the replay,” said Bernstein. “People actually buying this mess?”
“They keep the forensics sealed and nobody spills, it just might work,” said Lynch. “And they threw a bone to everybody with any inside dope, so I’m figuring on a low spill factor.”
“That include us?”
“You got anything we can prove?” said Lynch.
Bernstein thought for a minute. “I’m kind of drugged up right now, but not off the top of my head. I mean not unless Hardin wants to play ball.”
“Hardin got a bigger bone than anybody,” said Lynch. “And as near as I can tell, he put this whole thing together. He gave me a name, though, somebody to keep an eye on. You ever here of Bahram Lafitpour?”
Bernstein nodded. “Venture capital guy, mostly off shore. Richer than shit, very secretive.”
“He was in this up to his eyeballs, according to Hardin,” Lynch said.
“So somebody to watch,” Bernstein said.
“Somebody to watch,” said Lynch.
“When you said you were going to hide behind Bernstein, I thought you were joking,” Johnson talking, her and Lynch sitting at his kitchen table. She’d flown in for the press conference. Now it was 2 am and Lynch was drinking a bourdon, too wired to sleep.
“Segregation of duties,” said Lynch. “He does the bullet catching, I do the shooting.”
“He’s OK though, right?”
“He’s fine. Got his man card punched. Got some nice scars now.” Lynch took a sip of his bourdon. “So how’s that camera story working out?” he asked.
“Like I’m going to get any traction on that now,” Johnson said. “I’m sure Hurley is going to play up the surveillance angle on the big terrorism win, leave me looking like some ACLU sky-is-falling idiot.”
“Maybe come back to it after this shit blows over,” said Lynch.
“Shit maybe being the operative word here,” said Johnson. “Whole thing has got a pretty rank smell to it.”
“If you’re looking from something on my end, I can’t help you,” said Lynch. “I’m smelling the same thing, but I’ve got nothing I can prove. I’ve been on the outside on this since day one.”
“Damn,” said Johnson.
“Although, speaking of the camera story, I recall mention of certain favors being owed,” Lynch giving a little nod down the hall toward the bedroom.
Johnson got up, headed down the hall, then looked back over her shoulder. “So this consulate thing,” she asked. “I hope you learned some French.”
Lynch stuck his head in Starshak’s office as soon as he got to the station.
“How’d we make out?”
“We?” Starshak asked. “We were up half the night with the DA, and then we had to pull a judge out of the rack at five AM. And I don’t even want to know how you made out.”
“I did OK,” Lynch said.
“Shut the fuck up. And get me some coffee.”
“But we’ve got the paper?” Lynch asked.
“You get the statement, you’ll get the warrant,” Starshak said. “Now coffee. I said coffee.”
Lynch swung by the consulate, picked up Hardin.
“So what’s it like?” Lynch asked. “Coming back after all this time.”
“Haven’t had a chance for a lot of sight seeing,” Hardin said. “But it’s weird. I mean I stopped into one of these Super Walmarts, with Wilson? I saw more consumer goods in 15 minutes than I’ve seen in the last 15 years. Ten different kinds of electric toothbrushes.”
“You counted them?”
Hardin shrugged. “I was curious.”
“What do I know?” Hardin said. “It’s too much shit, though. I mean all that crap in Walmart, then Corsco’s guys, they drag me down to the old US Steel site, and there’s nothing there, just concrete and weeds. Too much of one thing, not enough of the other. Something’s not right.”
“You work it out, drop me a post card,” Lynch said.
They pulled up at Northwestern. City still had a uniform outside Fenn’s door. Lynch badged him. “Gotta talk to Fenn for a few. You get any breakfast yet?”
“No,” the uniform said.
“Why don’t you run down and grab something. I’ll be here a bit.”
“Thanks” the uniform said. He headed for the elevator. Fenn was on his cell when Lynch and Hardin walked in to the room.
“Tell ‘em they can have the exclusive if . . .” Fenn saw Hardin and his jaw locked open. He froze.
Lynch could hear the voice on the other end if the call. “You there Shame? Shame?”
“Tell them you have to go,” Lynch said.
“I have to go,” said Fenn.
“Tell them you’ll call them back.”
“I’ll call you back,” said Fenn.
“Now hang up.”
Fenn snapped the phone shut.
“How’ve you been, Shamus?” Hardin asked. “Long time.”
Fenn sat in the bed, unmoving.
“You OK?” Lynch asked. “Need the doctor? Having some kind of flashback here?”
Finally Fenn spoke. “You can’t bring him in here. For Christ’s sake, you’re supposed to be protecting me.”
“From what?” Lynch asked. “Hardin? Why would you need protection from Hardin?”
“I just, I mean, you know, Africa. I kind of screwed him up over there.”
“Water under the bridge, buddy,” Hardin said. “No, it’s the contract with Corsco, I got the real problem with.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Fenn said.
“That’s fine,” said Hardin. “Thing is, I’ve got this policy. Nobody gets to try to kill me twice. If you’ve been paying attention the last day or so, then you know I got to a drug lord and an international terrorist. So what you gotta ask you self is how much trouble am I gonna have getting to you. Hell, Corsco damn near took you out with a hooker and a bag of coke.”
“Are you threatening me? Lynch? You hearing this?”
Lynch wiggled a finger up near his ear. “Been a lot of shooting lately. Hearing’s a little iffy.”
“Thing is,” Hardin said, “I’ve already got this.” Hardin pulled the digital recorder from his pocket, pressed play.
“Fenn?” Hardin’s voice. “Over a punch in the nose?”
Hardin’s voice again. “He tell you he was gonna toss your ass in a blender, do the whole Oprah thing?”
“No. That he did not.” Corsco.
Hardin again. “He’s a pussy, you know. He comes out of his coma, he’s gonna roll on you.”
“I have been assured that, with the drugs he took, even if he emerges from his coma, his mental faculties will be . . . well, will be impaired to the point where he is not a concern.”
Hardin clicked off the recorder. “There’s more, but that’s the gist of it.”
Fenn shaking his head. “No, no, no.”
“You gotta understand your position here,” Lynch said. “With the tape, and Hardin testifying, we got you and Corsco, and we don’t need to deal with anybody. But I don’t want you. You’re nothing. You’re just another Hollywood piece of shit. I want Corsco. I want him nailed down and bleeding from every extremity. I get you on top of Hardin, then it’s a lock. And I’ve already greased the skids on your deal. You roll, you walk. You don’t, then I take my chances with what I got. And maybe you end up in the pen, too. That’ll be something to see. People’s sexiest man alive on the yard with the big swinging dicks.”
“I figure what, two weeks before they can rent his asshole out for off street parking?” Hardin said. “But even if you beat it, pull and OJ can get some jury to suspend disbelief, then you still got me. So basically, you roll or you die.”
“I need my lawyer,” Fenn said. “I gotta talk to him.”
“You want to talk to somebody,” Lynch said, “then I got a stenographer and a video guy waiting downstairs. You wanna fuck around with your lawyer? Then I’m done.”
Hardin picked up the watch off the table next to Fenn’s bed. Top end Rolex. “Nice watch,” he said. “Take a look at the date. Six months. You take Corso down or that’s what I’m giving you. Some day in the next six months.”
Fenn locked his lips shut, his chin quivering. Then he started to cry. “It’s not fair,” he said.
“Screw fair,” said Lynch.
Forty minutes later, Lynch left with Fenn’s statement.
“So we’re good?” Hardin back in the car with Lynch.
“Got what I need,” Lynch said. “They’re getting the warrant on Corsco now.”
“And he’s who you wanted.”
“My town,” Lynch said. “The rest of this shit? Always gonna be another drug lord. Always gonna be another terrorist. But Corsco’s been shitting where I live.”
“Glad I could help,” said Hardin. “Now, I have a flight to catch,” said Hardin.
“Not leaving a forwarding address,” Hardin said. “But Foucalt will know where to find me.”
“Wilson going with?”
“Yeah,” Hardin said.
“Riding off into the sunset,” said Lynch. “Doesn’t work out that way too often.”
“First time for me,” Hardin said.
“Wish I’d had time to pack,” said Wilson. She and Hardin were in the embassy car on their way to O’Hare for their flight to Papeete.
“Foucalt tells me they’ve got stores there. Nice stores.”
“So we’re really rich?”
“Just talked with Fouche. Everything went through.”
Hardin heard Corsco’s name on the radio and asked the driver to turn it up.
“Corsco reportedly is expected to enter a plea and is cooperating with authorities on a number of open cases. US Attorney Alex Martin had this to say to reporters earlier today . . .”
“You can turn it off now,” Hardin said.
They rode in silence for a moment, Wilson leaning over and resting her head on Hardin’s shoulder.
“Think anybody will come looking for us?” Wilson said.
Hardin shrugged. “We won’t make it easy. By the way, you’ll need this.” He pulled two French Passports from his jacket pocket and handed one to her. She flipped hers open, then took his and looked inside.
“Cossette and Jean Valjean. Really?”
“Foucalt got them. He is, after all, the cultural attaché.”
“Cossette,” Wilson shook her head. “I may have to kill him some day, for that.”
“That may be harder to do than it looks,” said Hardin.
“Isn’t everything?” she said.