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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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Piece of cake; not even a
whole piece: just a few crumbs. It’s that easy,” Mr. Nine said.
“What exactly am I listening for?”


If it happens,” Monroe
explained, “and I’m ninety percent sure it
will
happen as
I’ve planned, an adult male, probably Caucasian, probably somewhere
over thirty, will either call an ambulance or get to a hospital
under his own power. He’ll complain of symptoms that will include
some, and maybe all, of the following: severe headache, dizziness,
abdominal pains, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, numbness in the face and
extremities, chest pain, and maybe even a nosebleed.”


Is there a certain time
frame?” Mr. Nine asked.


Soon, I hope,” Monroe
answered. “I can’t imagine he won’t try to count the money. I
expect it to happen not later than four or five hours from now even
if he waits for the symptoms to be almost unbearable before he
calls for help.”


I assume we’re talking
about Simon Scythe.” Mr. Nine said. “What did you do to
him?”

Monroe laughed, cold and
hard. “I found him, called him, hired him, paid him, and served him
a special cocktail of my own recipe. Once he takes a sip, he’ll be
a fish in my barrel.”


Excellent,” Mr. Nine said.
“I’ll hang up now and go plug in so I can keep an ear out for your
sick little friend.”

Click.

 

***

 

It took five hours. Mr. Nine
called back at two-thirty in the morning.


Did I wake you,
Monroe?”


What do you
think?”


Of course I
didn’t.”


Has he shown up on the
radar?”


I think we may have a
winner. A white male, forty-five, was admitted to Massachusetts
General Hospital right there in beautiful Boston just about an hour
ago. The patient seems to have complained of a nice assortment of
the symptoms you listed for me earlier. He’s been put in a room, a
private one, not in intensive care since he’s listed in serious but
not critical condition. They’ll certainly hold him for at least a
day, maybe more. They don’t think he’s in any danger of dying, but
I don’t think they’ve figured out what happened to him other than
guessing at exposure to some nasty substance.”


Excellent,” Monroe said.
“Do we have a name?”


We certainly do,” Mr. Nine
said. “The patient’s name—the one he’s using today at least—is
Franklin Carney. He’s an attorney, or at least that’s his cover
story, and if it is a cover, it’s a good one. As soon as I got the
name, I checked up on him and found records of a successful
practice based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s apparently running two
careers simultaneously, one as a lawyer and one as the
suicide-hitman you’ve been chasing. So you’ve got him in your web,
Monroe. Will you be paying him a visit?”


Of course,” Monroe said,
“and I’ll finish the job while I’m there.”


Excellent,” Mr. Nine said.
“Send me a confirmation text when it’s done.”

Click.

 

***

 

Monroe eliminated the itchy
scruff he had accumulated while playing the suicidal widower. After
the shave, he took a long hot shower. He dressed in a shirt and tie
and grabbed the credentials he had used in New Haven, drove to
Massachusetts General to be admitted to the building as Richard
Madison, licensed physical therapist.

Getting in was easy. It was
very early morning and the receptionist seemed bored, half-asleep,
and happy to see an unfamiliar face. It was far past visiting hours
and even staff was at a low. Monroe presented his forged
credentials and was readily accepted as what he claimed to be. He
went straight through the reception area, cruised by two
coffee-drinking security guards who paid him no mind, which was
good since he was armed, and found an unoccupied
computer.

The patient, Franklin
Carney, was in Room 667, still listed in serious condition, and
monitored but not under constant observation as his condition was
not thought to be life-threatening. Monroe now had all the
information he needed. He took the elevator up and walked slowly
down the almost deserted hall of the sixth floor after nodding and
flashing a smile at the obese nurse who seemed quite absorbed in
her crossword puzzle.

Monroe entered the room and
found it dimly lit by a single bedside lamp, the ceiling lights
turned off to let the patient rest. Monroe stood in front of the
bed and looked at the occupant. Franklin Carney was a little weasel
of a man, slight in build, going bald but not there yet, and
pointy-nosed. A pair of glasses sat on the small table beside the
bed. Wires from monitors ran onto the edge of the bed with their
ends taped to Carney’s arms and chest to keep careful watch on his
heartbeat and breathing. Monroe nudged the end of the bed slightly
with his knee, just enough to jiggle the mattress and cause enough
vibration to wake the sleeper.

Carney groaned, opened his
eyes, groaned again, reached for his glasses, put them on somewhat
crookedly, and squinted at the standing visitor.


Richard.”


Hello, Simon,” Monroe said.
“Or Franklin or whoever you want to be today. How do you
feel?”


Like shit,” Carney said. “I
thought I was dying, you son of a bitch. What did you do to
me?”


My own recipe,” Monroe said
with a grim smile.


Who the hell do you work
for?” Carney asked. “True CIA would never mention CIA and the FBI’s
too scared of the CIA to pose as them. I know you were CIA once,
but you’re not anymore and I walked right into your trap because I
knew the regular agencies would never reveal so much. Who pulls
your strings now?”


No strings attached
anymore,” Monroe said. “All I get is a nudge in the right direction
and then I’m on my own. I’m the kid who gets to color outside the
lines.”


Then you’re here to kill
me,” Carney said. It was not a question. He knew.


I haven’t decided yet,”
Monroe lied.


Yes you have,” Carney said,
“but maybe I can change your mind.”

Monroe laughed. “And how
would you do that?”


You lied to me on the
phone, Richard. You told me you never found out who killed your
wife. But I knew who Baltasar al-Hamsi was and I notice he’s
dropped out of sight recently and I think I’ve put two and two
together and come out with the fact that he took the Paris job and
you killed him for it. Since you’re going to kill me anyway, can I
ask if I’m right?”

Monroe nodded. “Exactly how
much do you know about Paris? You’re holding something back, Simon!
If you know something I may be interested in, I’d suggest you share
it now and I might rethink the rest of this meeting.”


Will you let me
live?”


I’ll break your fingers so
you won’t ever pull a trigger again, but you can go practice law
all you want…if you give me something of value, real
value.”


I know who hired the Syrian
to shoot your wife.”


How the hell would you know
that?”


He tried to hire me
first.”


You only do suicide
cases.”


And that’s precisely what I
told him, so he got al-Hamsi instead. It’s a shame too; I’ve never
been to Paris, but rules are rules.”

Monroe took his gun out, let
Carney see it. “I want a name now.”

Carney acquiesced, not that
he had another option.


Garrett Khan.”

Monroe knew the name, knew
enough about the man to whom the name belonged to realize the
plausibility of Carney’s claim. Monroe nodded once and shot Carney
in the forehead. Blood struck the wall and stained the pillow. The
sound of the shot was immediately followed by the monitors beeping
flat-line.

Monroe holstered the Glock,
spun, grabbed the small bag of the patient’s personal effects that
sat on the table next to where the glasses had rested, and fled the
room. The obese nurse would never catch him, the security men would
be sluggish and tired at this point in their shifts, and hospital
layouts were not hard to predict if one had any idea of the
standards. With stark efficiency, Monroe flew down the hall,
through a door, down several flights of stairs, out of a
little-used rear exit and disappeared into the Boston night, soon
reaching the Lexus that sat waiting for him a few blocks away. He
would have to trust Mr. Nine to use his influence to see that the
Boston police found little of use in the surveillance
tapes.

He sent the promised text
signaling the completion of his mission. Once that was done, and as
he continued to drive, Monroe reached over and dumped the bag of
Carney’s belongings. The wallet contained ID in the Carney name and
Monroe tossed that out the window after taking out the several
hundred dollars cash. The next item was what he really wanted: a
room card for the local Hilton, access to the room lately occupied
by the visiting suicide-hitman.

Headed for the Hilton,
Monroe ran through his mental file on Garrett Khan.

Chapter 8:
Friends in Low Places

 

 

The facts as Richard Monroe
knew them: Garrett Khan was young for an international crime lord,
only in his thirties, yet every major law-enforcement or
intelligence agency in the world had a fat file on his activities.
At least those acts and properties that had not been sufficiently
hidden from the sight of even the sharpest eyes.

An English-born man of
Mongolian ancestry, Garrett Khan, which was probably not his real
name, claimed to be a descendent of Genghis Khan although he had
never publicly presented any real evidence to back his genealogical
boast. A busy criminal, Khan had his dirty fingers in every
imaginable pie the underworld had to offer: drugs, prostitution,
theft and the various black markets for stolen merchandise, the
sale of information, some ties to political assassinations in
several nations were suspected but unproven, and there were plenty
of other things too on the list of his nefarious accomplishments.
He employed, at the best guesses of those who followed his games,
well over a thousand people, most of them under the table and off
the record. He rarely got his own hands bloody, preferring to let
others do the nastiest jobs for him. He had offices and rings of
underlings in over a dozen countries worldwide and his ill-begotten
fortune was estimated to be worth as much as several billion
dollars.

As for Monroe’s connection
to the Garrett Khan Empire, that was clear. Three years earlier, a
large joint operation had taken place, a triple knockout punch,
simultaneously set in motion in three nations, and shut down Khan’s
operations in three major cities. The FBI had hit hard in New York
City, MI6 had done the work in London, and Richard Monroe in
liaison with the French had delivered a potent punch to the Paris
face of Khan’s crime machine. While that had been a bad day for
Garrett Khan, he had operations in enough other places around the
globe for that effort to have put only a small dent in his
works.

Monroe had not particularly
suspected Khan’s involvement in Genevieve’s murder, but was not at
all surprised to hear the helpless Franklin Carney utter that name.
He would discuss this new information with Mr. Nine as soon as the
opportunity presented itself, but he had other business to attend
to first. Something that belonged to him was in need of
retrieval.

 

***

 

Monroe reached the Hilton
without incident, made his way uninterrupted to the room that had
been occupied by Franklin Carney, and put on gloves and a mask as
he entered. The briefcase was easy enough to find. Carney had
apparently fallen so ill so fast that he had neglected to hide it.
Monroe opened it, peaked inside just long enough to see that most,
if not all, of his money was present, and slammed it shut again. He
would take it home and thoroughly wash that cash.

He took one more item with
him: Carney’s laptop computer. There might be a wealth of
information about the activities of Simon Scythe on that hard
drive, Monroe knew. He would see that it made its way into the
hands of Mr. Nine.

Driving back to his
apartment after the Hilton, Monroe had to smile. Things were going
wonderfully so far. He had fired the first bullet of his new
occupation and it had been perfectly placed in its target. The
first mission had gone off without a hitch, his finances were
intact, and he had been thrown a most unexpected bone by fate. Now
he just had to decide what to do with the information, and he hoped
Mr. Nine would let him do what he was already mostly certain he
wanted to do.

 

***

 

Monroe filled the bathtub
with hot soapy water and dumped the contents of the briefcase in.
He used a broom handle to stir the soup and left it to soak for a
few hours. He put the briefcase, which was probably also dusted
with the poison, into a garbage bag and took it out to the
building’s dumpster. Returning to his penthouse, he crawled into
bed and left the waking world as soon as his head hit the pillow,
for he had no pressing problems to keep him up.

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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