Read Determinant Online

Authors: E. H. Reinhard

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Serial Killers, #Thrillers

Determinant (17 page)

BOOK: Determinant
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He checked his pants. The pantyhose mask made a bump in his right front pocket. He checked his holster. The Desert Eagle stayed at the house. In its place was a Taser X26 brought to the house by one of Viktor’s associates.

Viktor gave simple instructions. Hit the cop with the Taser gun and bring him back. Don’t get seen. Don’t screw up. Ray wouldn’t fail in bringing Lieutenant Kane back to the house. If Ray didn’t come through, he’d be sent back to Viktor’s nickel mine in Norilsk. It was a common punishment dealt out by Viktor. The Russian mine was managed by those that had let Viktor down. They needed to prove their worth to be accepted back. If they didn’t, they were killed. Norilsk was hell—a wasteland city frozen solid in the Arctic Circle. The city had no trees or plants. They refused to grow there. Ray spent two years working the mine. He filled his lungs with toxic fumes for ten hours a day. Weeks passed without seeing daylight. He’d die before going back.

Ray spotted headlights coming in his rearview mirror. The lights sat lower to the ground and appeared wider apart than an average car. He saw a flash of a white in his side window, followed by a rumble of a car’s exhaust—the lieutenant. The Corvette made a right ahead of him. Ray started the car and pulled out. He followed the cop to the right. The lieutenant sat at the gate for the underground parking. Ray got behind him.

Chapter 27

Headlights caught my rearview mirror. A car had pulled up behind me. I looked in the side mirror. A grill from a Lexus filled it. I didn’t recall anyone in my building that drove a Lexus. I pulled down through the gates. The car bypassed the keypad and followed me in. I drove to my assigned parking stall in the back corner. I turned sharp to back the Corvette in. The Lexus fell back.

I glanced over. The car sat in the center of the lot. The engine ran. It was a big black sedan with dark windows. The lights shined at me. I backed the Corvette into its normal spot and killed the motor. The elevator and stairs sat toward the underground lot’s entrance. I know I didn’t recognize the car. I’d talk to them as I passed and see if they belonged here. If it was someone from the building, they’d understand and thank me for stopping. If it was someone who didn’t belong there, a flash of my badge would send them on their way.

I picked up the laptop from my passenger seat and grabbed the door release to get out. I heard an engine rev. Headlights came at my window. I leaned toward the passenger side just as the driver’s window exploded in on me. Headlights blinded me. The car backed away. I looked through the shattered glass and sunken in door. The Lexus retreated and stopped. The lights went out, and the door opened. A giant of a man stepped out. He walked toward me holding a gun. The weapon looked odd. I tried getting a look at the guy. He wore a stocking over his face. My eyes dropped back to the weapon and to his wrist—tattoos. It was Ray Azarov. He got closer. The weapon got clearer. I recognized it. I’ve felt its force in training.

“Shit!” I scrambled to get the laptop up into the window. I heard the familiar pop as I shielded myself with my computer. The probes of the Taser gun hit the bottom of my laptop. I tossed the computer out the window and tried to open the door. I thumbed in the button. It did nothing. I reached for the manual latch. The door wouldn’t budge. The force from the Lexus ramming my car had pinned the Corvette against the wall. I was trapped inside.

Azarov walked toward me. I reached inside my jacket for my service weapon. A massive hand reached through the window and grabbed me by the front of my suit. He pulled my two hundred forty pound body through the broken window like I weighed nothing. He dropped me to the ground outside my car. I went for my weapon again.

A kick sent my arm and gun flying. My pistol skidded across the concrete. I tried getting to my feet. He planted a giant fist into my midsection. It took all the air out of my lungs and put me to my knees. He lifted me to my feet by the shoulder of my jacket and delivered another right to my torso. I felt ribs crack. I dropped again. He snorted like a bull. I’d been hit before, many times. Nothing that I remembered caused this much pain—massive force mixed with something else. He took a step back. I looked at his fists. They were the size of softballs—both of them wore brass knuckles.

He laughed. “Real tough cop. You’re a pussy. Look at you. Your girlfriend put up more of a fight.”

His voice carried a Russian accent. I had no doubt this was Andrei Azarov. I looked to see where my service weapon had slid to. Fifteen feet away, I spotted it. I was unarmed and unusually out muscled.

Ray bounced. He took three quick steps toward me. His body swung to the side. A right knee came toward my face. I dove to the left. His knee sunk into the crushed car door. I sprung up and hit him with a quick right to the side of the jaw. I followed it with another, as hard as I could muster. It would have knocked anyone out cold. In this instance it did nothing. Ray turned his head toward me. He pulled the pantyhose mask off. Anger burned in his eyes. His rocked his jaw back and forth and spit a tooth to the floor. He stuck his tongue in the bloody hole. I’d just pissed him off. He swiveled his entire body toward me for another attack.

I used a time tested strike—a move that had worked since the invention of man. I kicked him as hard as I could in the groin. All the muscles and bulk in the world couldn’t protect him from a shoe square to the nether regions. He folded, but held himself up on the crushed door of my car. I clasped my hands together and struck him in the back of the neck. His forehead crunched into the broken glass remaining in the window frame of the door. He turned and looked at me. Blood ran down his face. I had opened a horizontal cut three inches long above his eyebrow.

He swung with a quick left, faster than I expected, into the side of my ribs. It caught me clean and sent me sprawling down the side of the car.

I composed myself as he came at me. His arms were spread wide. I reared back and fired a right into his nose. It broke into a spray of blood. He stumbled back, if only for a second, and continued his charge. He took me under the arms in a bear hug and crushed me into the concrete wall. My head bounced off the cement. I felt the warmth of blood run down the back of my neck.

I swung lefts and rights into the sides of his head. The way he held me made it difficult to put much behind them. He squeezed harder. The air left my lungs. I stiffened my neck and brought my head down into his broken nose. His head jerked back. His grip lessened. I drove an elbow into the top of his head. He let go and swayed.

He was dazed. It was time to attack. I put a left and two rights into his gut. It was like punching a cow. His muscle was thick. I drove an elbow into the side of his jaw. It seemed to snap him out of his daze. He grabbed me by the arm and yanked me toward him. His right fist cocked. He’d kill me if he got a head shot. I threw my left arm up to block the impact. The corner of his brass knuckles glanced across the side of my scalp. He threw a left. I blocked it and jammed my thumb deep in his eye. He reached for his face.

I shoved him to the side. I needed my gun. The longer the fight lasted the worse my chances would get. I lurched forward only to be grabbed and jerked back from behind. He put his arm around my throat and leaned back. His elbow was under my chin. I swung back with my left arm in an attempt to elbow him in the face. I hit nothing. My feet came from the ground. I swung back with my right. Nothing. I fired my head backward and connected. He let out a grunt in pain but didn’t let go. He spun me around and held me by the shoulders.

“You like head butting!” he yelled.

His head jerked back and came forward into mine. I saw bright lights followed by a moment of darkness. My suit in front of my chest got tight. A hand grabbed me between my legs. My vision came back. I saw my car, then him, then everything upside down. I was weightless. It ended in a violent, abrupt crash. A jolt of pain spread across my body. I stared at the ceiling of the parking garage. To the right, I saw the roof of my car. I rolled my head against broken glass to the left—the hood. Ray had lifted me and threw me through the windshield of my Corvette. I pawed at the hood to pull my body from the car’s dashboard. A fist came from above. Everything went black.

Chapter 28

Ray pulled the cop from windshield of the car. The strike he had delivered knocked the lieutenant out cold. He yanked him across the hood of the car and let him fall to the ground. Ray took the cuffs from the back of Lieutenant Kane’s belt and linked his wrists behind his back. The lieutenant was scooped from the ground and carried to the trunk of the Lexus. Ray opened it up and flopped his body in.

Ray stared in at the cop. It could be a problem. The last blow to the lieutenant ripped a gash down his forehead. It would be hard to get past another officer without him asking what happened. He slammed the lid.

Ray looked over the lot for anything that could lead back to him. It was no use. There was blood everywhere. He grabbed the stun gun, computer and the lieutenant’s pistol. He tossed them in the Lexus. Ray pulled the knife from his pocket and went back to the Corvette. He went to his knees at the rear of the car and then dropped to his back. Ray pulled his lighter from his pocket and flicked it underneath the car. He spotted the driver’s side fuel tank beneath a metal heat shield. The lighter got jammed back into his pocket. Ray reached the knife underneath and started stabbing the side of the fuel tank that was assessable. Gas splashed the ground. Ray continued stabbing holes. The fuel began to puddle. It ran underneath the car toward the front and spread.

Ray stood and pulled a crumpled cigar from his pocket. He lit it, drew in the smoke and exhaled. A small white object caught his eye at the side of the car—his tooth. Ray walked over and scooped it up.

At the front of the car, Ray lit the gas. A trail of flames chased to the car. With any luck, all the blood left behind would be wiped out by the flames or the fire department’s hoses. He hopped in the driver’s seat of the Lexus and pulled to the exit. He waited for the door to rise and pulled through.

Ray dialed Viktor. He picked up.

“Do you have him?”

Ray stopped at the red light. “He’s in the trunk.” Ray ashed his cigar out the window. He spit a mouthful of blood on the road. “I’m heading back now.”

“Was it clean?”

“I got him in his parking garage. I had to light a fire to cover my tracks.”

“Fire? You’re kidding, right? Hit him with the Taser, bring him back. I guess I should have known that it would be too difficult for you.”

“I tried getting him with the Taser gun. He blocked it, so I had to use force. I lit the fire to cover the blood.”

“Blood? How bad is he?”

“Not that bad. I only hit him in the face once.”

“Then why would you need to light a fire?”

“He tagged me a few times—broke my nose. I wasn’t going to sit there and try to clean up each drop of blood that came from me.”

Viktor let out a puff of air in disappointment. “Just get your ass back here.”

He hung up.

The light changed and Ray continued forward. He looked at himself in the mirror. Blood covered his face. His nose was pushed to the side—broken. The cop had caused a fair amount of damage, but Ray wasn’t the one knocked out and cuffed in the trunk.

Ray made a right on Bayshore Boulevard and pushed on. The lieutenant’s house was four miles away from the rented mansion. Ray hit the button to open the gates in front of the house. He pulled through. Ray backed the Lexus into the garage and stepped out. He went to the trunk and removed the cop. He draped him over his shoulder and entered the house.

“Viktor?”

“Bar in the back.” The response was faint.

Ray carried the cop through the house. Viktor was in the same spot he was when Ray left. He sat at the bar with a half empty glass of wine before him. Callie had been stood back up on the chair. She was awake. Her body began to jerk. The tears came as soon as she saw Ray carrying Kane. Ray dropped the cop to the ground at the base of her barstool. She screamed into the tape on her mouth.

Ray smiled. “Your boyfriend is a pussy.”

Callie screamed something at him. The tape muffled her words.

Viktor sipped his wine. He stared at his brother. “You look worse than he does.”

Ray smirked. “I’m not the one unconscious.”

“Go clean yourself up. Get two straps so we can tie him to a chair.”

Ray disappeared into the house.

Viktor walked to Callie. He pulled the tape from her mouth. Callie jerked away. “Carl!” she yelled.

He didn’t respond.

“Carl! Oh my god! Carl!”

She yelled at Kane lying at her feet. His face was covered in blood. His eyes were closed.

Viktor raised the back of his hand at her. “Quit your screaming.”

“He has nothing to do with this, Viktor.”

“You called him. You brought him into this.”

“Carl!” she yelled.

Viktor grabbed her by the throat. “Shut your damn mouth.”

Ray returned with a pair of orange ratchet straps. The two men lifted the cop onto the bar stool. They snugged the straps tight. The lieutenant began to come to.

Chapter 29

I opened my eyes. My vision blurred. I heard voices. A familiar voice screamed my name. I squinted and tried to shake the cobwebs away. Someone yelled my name again. I looked to my right. I squinted again. My vision began to come into focus. I saw Callie. She was alive.

“Carl!” she yelled.

I shook my head. I stared at her. She was strapped to a high backed barstool. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“I’m so sorry, Carl.”

“What the hell is going on?”

I felt a shove to my chest. The room spun, and I went over backward. I couldn’t brace myself. My hands were cuffed, and I was strapped to the stool. I hit the ground with a thud. Callie screamed. I saw feet come to my head. A man hunched down. I looked up at his face. His nose was crooked, his face cut.

“Remember me, Asshole?” Ray asked.

He grabbed me by the jacket, pulling me and the stool back to vertical. He slid me toward a man at the bar. The guy wore a suit and looked like a three quarter scale model of Ray—which put him at my size. He stood behind the bar drinking from a glass of wine.

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