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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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If he dreamed, he did not
remember it when he woke up well past noon, feeling refreshed in
mind and in body. He drained the tub, put the money, which he was
confident was now safely clean, into a laundry sack, and left it to
sit and dry. He rinsed the tub three times and then stepped in to
shower.

Dressed and nursing his
coffee forty-five minutes later, he placed his cell phone on the
table, turned on the speaker function, and called Mr.
Nine.


Nice work last night,” said
the senior spy. “Are you glad you accepted my offer,
Monroe?”


I am,” Monroe said. “What
are the cops saying about Carney’s death?”


They haven’t got a clue,”
Mr. Nine answered. “Don’t worry yourself about it. There’s nothing
to tie you to him on paper and I know you weren’t stupid enough to
leave prints or obvious DNA. I wiped your file of any identifying
info as soon as I hired you, so you’re not on record specifically
enough for them to connect the dots. Anyway, why are you
calling?”


Two reasons, sir,” Monroe
said. “I have a present for you…and I have a big
request.”


I’ll send somebody to pick
up the computer,” Mr. Nine said.


How’d you know about that?”
Monroe asked.


I saw the list the
detectives made a few hours ago of Carney’s belongings at the
hotel. A travelling hitman masquerading as an attorney would not
leave home without ‘net access. It was quite obvious. Now what’s
this request you want to run by me?”


Garrett Khan,” Monroe said,
and he could not help speaking the name with a razor-edge to his
voice. “I want your permission to find him and kill
him.”


Ah shit!” Mr. Nine said.
“Carney gave you some juicy tidbit to try to buy his life back,
didn’t he? Let me guess: Garrett Khan ordered the hit on your
wife.”


According to Carney, yes he
did.”


And you believe
him?”


I know a lie when I see
one, sir,” Monroe said, “especially when a man’s life depends on
the next words to come out of his mouth. What Carney said, he truly
believed.”


Monroe,” the veteran
intelligence chief said, “I’m not going to stop you if you decide
to go off after Khan…and I might even support such an effort…but
this is a much bigger fish than Simon Scythe or Baltasar al-Hamsi.
You might even call him a shark. I’d hate to lose my new agent so
soon. You know how powerful Khan is, you know how far his reach
extends. How would you even begin such an operation?”


To be honest, sir,” Monroe
said, “I haven’t a clue, at least not yet, but I’ll find a way. I
have to.”


Then call me back when you
figure that out. Don’t waste my time until then. You can expect
that laptop to be picked up within two hours. The courier will use
the word ‘sandpaper’ as part of a comment he makes when you open
the door. If he doesn’t say that word, kill him.”

Click.

 

***

 

Boston, like any major
American city, has its rough spots, sections where crime runs wild
and some citizens fear to tread while others thrive. To such an
area, Richard Monroe drove several days after the conclusion of the
Simon Scythe affair. He had an idea.

Men like Monroe,
well-dressed and white, do not go to Archer’s Auto Body. When
Monroe did walk in through the open bay doors, he stood there
watching the six mechanics working on cars that were obviously
being repainted, adjusted, and otherwise disguised away from their
original and likely stolen forms. It took about twelve seconds for
one of those mechanics to notice him, cry out, “Five-O!” and have
the others all turn and surround the visitor menacingly.


We’re taking no new
clients,” one of the men said, his hand just under his shirt as if
to imply that he was armed. “And if you’re a cop, you better have a
warrant.”


And some backup,” taunted
another of them.

Monroe showed no fright, no
nervousness. He raised his hands to signal no ill intent, and
spoke. “Relax, gentlemen. I’m just here to see Mr.
Archer.”


Nobody gets to see the
boss!” shouted the one who had suggested backup. He stepped closer
to Monroe and said, “You got business with the boss, it goes
through me first.”

Monroe took a quick step
forward, threw a fist into the man’s gut, and watched him double
over. He whirled to face the others, who were closing in fast. He
dodged one punch but was grabbed from behind by a big brute of a
man. He was about to stomp down on his captor’s foot when a new
voice broke through the melee.


What is all this fuckin’
noise? Randolph, get up off the floor. What’d you guys do, catch a
white man where he don’t belong?”


Good afternoon, Spencer,”
Monroe grunted as best he could with his ribs being
squeezed.


Oh shit!” cried Spencer
Archer, and then, “Let him go, you idiot! Let him go! You all get
your asses back to work now!”

Monroe was released and
followed Spencer into a backroom office. They sat. The place was a
mess, with paperwork scattered about and pornographic calendars
hung in too many spots, as if Archer would have missed the previous
years’ girls if he had replaced them, so he just kept
adding.


Rick Monroe!” Spencer said,
exuberantly now. He was a tall, slim black man in his early
thirties with a thin moustache and a friendly face when he wanted
to be nice. “How you been? It’s been too damn long! What can I do
for you?”

Monroe laughed. “It’s good
to see you too, Spencer. I need a favor, if you still feel you owe
me one.”

He thought about how he had
come to know Archer. The memory flashed through his mind and it
was, in an odd sort of way, a happy reminiscence. Seven years
earlier, on what had been his last visit to Boston before being
stationed in Paris an attempt had been made to mug Monroe. Spencer
Archer, then a low-level hoodlum, had caught Monroe on a side
street, pulled a knife, and demanded cash. Monroe had feigned
reaching for his wallet, made a quick move, and easily disarmed the
thug. The result had been a complete turning of the tables. Archer
had wound up begging for his life, so impressed by Monroe’s skill
that he was sure he was about to die. Monroe, who at the time would
not kill unless duty ordained it, had spared Archer with nothing
worse than a sound thrashing and the two men had actually fallen
into conversation there on that Boston night. Unexpectedly, Monroe
had found Archer to be quite likable in a rascally way and had sent
him on his way after regaling him with a few choice tales of life
as an espionage agent. Archer, who had never been thwarted in such
a way before, had promised Monroe a favor in return should he ever
be in a position to grant one. Years had passed, and now Monroe had
come to collect, and Archer was fine with that.


How illegal is it?” Spencer
asked, laughing. “As you can see, I’ve got a nice shop set up here,
even if it is a little on the shady side.”


It’s not illegal at all,”
Monroe answered. “I just need some information on how things flow
in Boston these days.”


Will I get caught up in
your Big Brother business if I help you out?”


Not if I can help it,
Spencer. I play my games a little differently now. It’s just me
controlling the chessboard, just me with no little
pawns.”


So who’s the opponent this
time?”


Have you ever heard of
Garrett Khan, Spencer?”

Archer shook his head.
Monroe was not surprised. Archer was far too street-level to know
anything about Khan’s enterprises, but he would have bet the entire
sum of money reclaimed from Franklin Carney’s hotel room that
Archer’s auto theft ring was connected in some way, shape or form
to something with Khan’s prints on it somewhere along the
line.


Good,” Monroe said. “If you
had heard of him, I’d be worried you were climbing the food chain
too fast for your own good. Stay low where it’s fairly safe. But I
bet you know somebody who
has
heard of him. Khan’s got
things going on at almost every level of the kind of games
criminals play. Let’s see if we can figure out a few Boston
connections, okay, Spencer?”


Shoot,” Spencer said,
opening a refrigerator behind his desk and tossing a beer to
Monroe.

Monroe opened the can with a
snap and a fizz and tossed his first question at Spencer after
taking a sip of the bitter brew.


I can see you fly under the
radar here, but who really runs the auto trade in Boston? Who’s the
man who runs more stolen cars than anybody else?”


A Mexican,” Spencer
answered, “by the name of Caesar.”


All right,” Monroe nodded.
“What about prostitution? I don’t mean the corner skanks either; I
mean the high-class escorts, the imported goods: Asian, European,
the ones who could have been models in a better world.”


There’s a construction
king, guy called Benson. He runs a lot of building sites for the
city and takes care of the politicians’ sexual hobbies too,
provides girls for political parties and such, and they’re the kind
of girls who usually stay for the after-parties and after those
too.”


Spencer, old friend,”
Monroe said, “You really are a fountain of good information. And
now for the even bigger question: who’s top dog in Boston when it
comes to drugs? Who runs more kilos than anybody else? Who keeps
the supply chain moving? Who stocks the dealers and always gets his
way when it comes to all things contraband?”


The ball bounces a lot on
that court,” Spencer said. “There are two sides: Russian mob and a
Columbian operation. They’ve been fighting each other for control
for a couple years now and neither side ever seems to get the upper
hand, almost like there’s a third party that keeps either of the
others from winning the whole city, but I have no idea who that
third player is. I get the impression it would be a bad idea to
even start asking those questions anywhere you might be
overheard.”


Interesting,” Monroe said,
pausing to take another sip of beer.

The office door opened at
that moment and Spencer’s assistant, Randolph, recovered from
Monroe’s gut-punch, stuck his head in.


Boss, some asshole left a
brand new Lexus around the block. Want us to bring it
in?”

Monroe swiveled around in
his chair, pulled his jacket back to show his Glock, and said,
“Randolph, I’d much rather you stood watch over that car instead.
Don’t you agree, Spencer?”


Shit,” Randolph said, and
quickly shut the door.

Spencer Archer laughed, loud
and honest, smiling ear to ear.


Okay, Spencer,” Monroe
said. “You’ve given me some names. Now I want to try to put the
puzzle pieces together but I need a spot of glue to make everything
stick. I want you to try to think of anyone who has dealings with
all the big names in town, somebody who shows up a lot but doesn’t
really seem to take orders from any particular boss. Is there
anyone like that who comes to mind?”


Rick,” Spencer said, “you
have to understand, I don’t really run in the same circles as those
big shots. I mean I’ve been in the same room or the same club as
some of them a few times and I’ve even met Caesar a couple times,
but it’s a different world up there at the top.”


It’s all right, take your
time. Try to think about it. I’ll take anything you can give
me.”


There’s a woman!” Spencer
said. “I’m not sure who she is, but now that I think about it I
think I’ve seen her too many times for it to be
coincidence.”


Who is she, Spencer,”
Monroe asked, “somebody’s girlfriend or mistress, or one of
Benson’s girls?”


No,” Spencer shook his
head. “I don’t think so. She’s not banging anybody as far as I can
tell, but she always seems to be hanging out on the edges of
whatever’s going on with those guys. And she’s confident, you know,
in the way she carries herself. Like nobody gets to walk all over
her. I don’t know her name or what she actually does, but she’s
connected somehow.”


Good, good,” Monroe said.
“If I ran into her, how would I know her? Can you describe
her?”


The hair, Rick, it’s all
about the hair,” Spencer said. “She’s young, maybe thirty tops,
with a killer body, but she’s got snow-white hair. Pure white, like
really good coke, and it’s long and straight. Makes her look kind
of weird, but in a very sexy way.”

Monroe smiled his approval.
Any hint was better than nothing, and if it was a woman it was even
better. He knew ways to definitely use that to his advantage,
assuming he could find her.

The two men talked of
trivial things as they finished their beers and Monroe left the
garage feeling a bit of hope boiling in the back of his
mind.

Chapter 9: Sweet
Little Enigma

 

 


Do you have news for me?”
Mr. Nine asked.


I might have a lead,”
Monroe said into the phone as he reclined in what had become his
favorite chair, with the muted television glowing across from him.
“I’m not sure yet, but I’m willing to look into any little clue
that might lead me to whatever sliver of Garrett Khan’s business
has trickled into Boston; I might as well start at
home.”

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
9.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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