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Authors: Edwin Attella

Tags: #crime, #guns, #drugs, #violence, #police, #corruption, #prostitution, #attorney, #fight, #courtroom, #illegal

THE FOURTH WATCH (37 page)

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
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"We was jus' partyin' is all," she said, "and I
say somthin' about Mr. Knight bein' okay, getting me out of a jam,
heppin me out, and he say 'That fucker be pushin' da buttons on da
wrong dude', like dat. And dats it."

"And you didn't ask him what he meant by that?
Is that what you want me to believe.”

''I don gib a shit what .... " She stopped when
she saw Walter's eyebrows go up.

"Course I ask 'im. 'Wacha mean?' you know, but
he jus say, 'Dat motherfucker best watch his ass, and dats all it
was, we didn't talk no more about it."

Walter chewed on the side of his lip and
watched her for a minute, squatting on his haunches and looking
into her eyes. He thought about what she said, and although it
didn't make any sense to him, he believed that was all she had.
Finally he stood up and threw her box of works back on the table,
looking down at her on the floor cowering among all her demons, a
little sad to be one of them. "Well it was really nice to see you
again, Missy. I'm sorry I had to smack you around a little, but I
don't think you understand the seriousness of this situation. I
sure hope I don't have to do that again. I hope you didn't just lie
to me though. That would be bad."

"I ain't lyin'. Jus' don get me kilt by runnin'
your mout' bout what I tol' you."

''Don't you worry about that," Walter said,
smiling. He pointed a finger down at her and the smile left his
face. "But don't let me find out that you called Tell Me and told
him about our little visit."

She shook her head. "No way I'm gonna do
dat."

*****

JACK HEALY COULDN'T
get Mike Knight out of his mind. He was of the
same mind as Walter when it came to the police 'gang crossfire'
theory - he didn't believe it. Walter had told him about how Arthur
Donovan had gone to the scene and hung around after the shooting,
and how none of the witnesses had suggested that any of the shots
had come from anywhere but the dark colored car that drove on by.
He remembered his conversations with Kato. The questionable police
investigation into Red Whorley's death, the purchasing agents
speculation about Red's suspicions of corruption in his
international procurement organization, the 'whispers' in Seattle
that Kato's old law school friend had mentioned. What it all boiled
down to was that Kato and Carolyn Whorley had an informal murder
investigation in progress that was interrupted by the attempted
double homicide.

And somehow the police were refusing to draw
the connection.

Jack couldn't just sit still. He was confident
that Walter would cover the local bases. In fact he had spoken to
him, and he knew that Walter was off working on his own. Jack had
called the purchasing man at The Loading Dock, Jed Archer. He
identified himself as an associate of Attorney Michael Knight. He
convinced Archer that he knew the details of Mike's investigation
and talked about the plans Mike had made with Archer to meet with
the Far Eastern buyers on their return to Seattle. The second leg
of the trip was gone, now that the window of opportunity that the
show in Taipei had presented had closed. But Jack wanted to go in
Kato's place to Seattle. Archer agreed to arrange it. Next he
called Louis Smythe, Kato's reporter friend in Seattle. Smythe had
left a dozen messages on Kato's machine when he didn't show up in
Seattle, wondering where he was and why had he left him sitting at
the airport. Smythe was rattled by the news of Kato's shooting.
Jack referred to himself vaguely as a friend, helping out in the
investigation, and let Smythe draw whatever conclusions he might
from that. He didn't want to tell him that he was a Priest on the
phone. That tended to make people uneasy, although he could never
figure out why.

''I was thinking I might want to come out and
see you in Mike's place," Jack told him. ''If that's
alright."

"Of course. Whatever you need," Smythe said.
"Should I book you a room?" There was no humor in this
conversation.

"Yes, thanks. Whereever Kato was staying will
be fine."

''I'll take care of it."

''I'll call you with my flight details, and
thanks again."

"Its nothing at all, If you see Kato, I mean if
he comes around, before you leave, tell him that ... I mean ... "
Louis said, struggling.

''I know," Jack said ''I will," and replaced
the receiver in it's cradle. Sweet Jesus, watch over me, he
prayed.

25

Los Angeles, 1973

SAL MOLTINALDO WAS
as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of
rocking chairs as he piloted the 26-foot Grady White away from
Hermosa Beach in the ink black night. Jesus God, he thought, what a
way to make a living.

He had worked the rented powerboat down the
coast from Marina Del Rey, 500 yards off shore, and followed
instructions, turning for deeper water at Hermosa. Behind him
another man fidgeted in his seat, getting up and down and running
his hands through his hair and chewing a nail ragged. "Shit, Sal,"
the man said, "maybe this isn't such a great idea, you know? These
guys could be fuckin' pirates or something."

"Shut up, Carlos," Sal said, but he was
thinking the same thing.

As he edged carefully through the dark, running
lights off, his way illuminated only by the phosphorescent turn of
waves caught in faint, cloud-dimmed moonlight, he reflected on his
situation.

Business had been quite good for Sal since his
return from South East Asia. The deal consummated in the sweltering
jungles of Laos had proved to be very profitable. When he returned
to the streets of LA, he became a mid-level supplier of quality
heroin almost over night. The Major had been quite delighted with
the distribution network that Sal had pieced together while in
country, and with the way he had orchestrated a smooth transition
of the operation to the Major's hand picked successor. When the
time came for Sal to leave the theater, he had gone with the
Major's blessing, and with the name of a contact in Chinatown
through whom he would be supplied. But getting started had not been
without it's problems. He was operating in a messy, high-risk
arena. The people he dealt with were Chinese nationals, most in the
U.S. illegally, that lived in Chinatown clans and worked out of run
down warehouses along the waterfront. The Major had given him a
line of credit and Sal had pieced together a moderate bankroll
while in Laos, to get things started. Sal recruited a small band of
trustworthy old friends, like Carlos, to act as suppliers. Each put
together a team of street dealers, and within one hundred days of
his product hitting the streets, Sal was a player.

But the business was extremely dangerous. He
was personally responsible for pick up of the product. The Major
insisted that product would only be turned over to him. The message
was clear; Sal was responsible to the Major personally. This meant
making pickups in Chinatown in the dark of night from middlemen he
didn't know. Sneaking home through the streets with a couple
hundred thousand dollars worth of product that he had thirty days
to pay for, hoping not to get rolled by rival factions, or the
operatives of traitorous allies, jealous of his sudden appearance
on the scene. At first he was stashing the stuff in his parents
garage, constantly worrying that his mother would suddenly have an
urge to go hunting around for an old photo album. In the beginning
he also faced personnel problems, when his street dealers started
turning up dead, and others quit the team to avoid the same fate.
Sal struck back quickly, killing opposition dealers and their
handlers and using the corpses to send grim messages to the local
La Cosa Nostra competition. But this backfired badly, and Sal and
his lieutenants had to go into hiding until the Triad Chiefs and
Capos could work out a deal for his turf and protection.

Sal's infrastructure was in constant flux.
Junkies killed key dealers, or dealers had to be eliminated for
theft or treason and replaced, and insiders had to be watched and
cautioned against their own ambitions, and of course street cops
had to be bribed to stay out of the flow of commerce. But the
biggest problem he faced was uninterrupted supply. When deliveries
were delayed by customs seizures or big busts resulting from DEA
investigations, or even when dumb locals stumbled across bulk
product by accident, everything got screwed up, and people had to
take unnecessary risks to protect their business. When product
dried up at street level, users scattered and were siphoned off by
competitors. The end user, as in any business, was the key to a
successful enterprise, Sal knew. It was a simple supply and demand
thing. The users always kept their end of the bargain; their demand
was constant, their lust for the white powder insatiable, and
infinite. When the supplier couldn't meet his obligations, they
went elsewhere. They scattered like rats going into old walls, and
the only way to lure them back was with cheese - like discount,
high spark smack. But marketing techniques such as these, even when
successful, could ignite turf wars, which would stir up the press,
who would report the body count, which would force the police into
reluctant action - which would all be very bad for business. So
when the flow of product was interrupted, you had to take dangerous
risks, like the one he was taking now.

Approximately a mile off shore, holding course
as instructed, he saw two short strobes of light pierce the
darkness. His heart began to race. With sweaty palms he checked the
nine shot Barretta 9mm in his waistband and flicked the safety off.
He made a slight adjustment in direction and slowed the motors and
worked his way carefully toward the dark silhouette of a fishing
trawler.

Sal heard Carlos cock the action on his own
weapon and chamber a round behind him. ''Man, I don't like this,"
he said.

Sal didn't like it either, for many
reasons. This was not a consignment drop. His regular shipment had
been seized by customs the week before. The Major had made
arrangements for an emergency delivery to Sal through associates.
But the associates would require payment for the goods at time of
delivery. As a result, he had fifty-thousand dollars in cash in a
waterproof gym bag inside the door of the crafts cuddy-cabin. Not a
huge sum, but enough to make him jumpy. Sal went through the math
again in his head. He was getting 20 pounds of heroin. Supposedly
the same quality that the Major supplied. He was paying $2,500 per
pound, which was about $156 an ounce or almost $5.60 per gram. He
shook his head again. He never paid more than $4.00 a gram. He'd
have to eat the difference because if he passed the increase on to
his suppliers, they might start worrying about his source of
supply. It wasn't the end of the world. It wasn't like he was going
to
lose
money. As
the fishing boat drew nearer he continued with the math. He could
step on the product once. He then supplied the stepped on heroin at
$225 an ounce, but after stepping on it (which he did at a ratio of
two parts pure to one) he ended up with thirty pounds. So at
sixteen ounces to the pound, you had 480 ounces at $225 each,
that's $108,000. Just barely over 100% return on his money. With
all the protection he had to pay for, and risk he had to take, it
was barely worth the effort! Still, he had to keep the supply line
open. Sal usually didn't buy in such small quantities. The overhead
costs didn't vary much, and he usually paid a lot less. It was also
not unusual for the Major's people to advise him to cut the heroin
in half, meaning that he could step on it at a 1:1ratio, because of
the higher quality of some of the shipments. So often times, his
return was much better.

But he sure did hate this 007 shit out here
with the pirates.

As they drew along side the fishing boat, Sal
saw the figures of three men along the rail above him. There were
two grappling hooks lying alongside the hull. "You make fast,
heya?" one of the figures called out. Sal nodded and looped one
hook over the chrome safety rails around the cockpit. Carlos
attached the other hook towards the stem. "You Missa Sal?" the same
voice called.

"Yes," Sal told him. The boats were port to
port. Sal's craft pointing out to sea, the fishing vessel pointed
at shore.

"You bring money?" the voice called, the pidgin
lilt to his speech grating on Sal's nerves.

"You bring white powder?" he called back,
mocking the pidgin. The three figures along the rail
laughed.

"Jesus, keep your eye on these fuckers," Carlos
whispered. His voice was thick with fear.

Sal just nodded.

"See money now, heya?" Sal could see them now
in the moonlight. The one doing all the talking was a wrinkled,
weather-beaten old dog with long, wispy white hair and a scruffy
beard around his jaws. His two companions were shorter and younger.
One just a boy, maybe fifteen or sixteen years old with clear skin
and black eyes. The other was a fat man with a shaved head and a
thick scar across his cheek and nose.

"Okay," Sal called, "I have to reach into the
cabin, alright?"

They didn't move or respond in any way.
Carefully Sal reached inside the cabin. He withdrew the gym bag and
zipped it open. The cash was in bundles of two thousand dollars in
twenty's. A flashlight beam licked quickly over the mouth of the
bag and went off. There was a grunt of satisfaction from above. The
man motioned with his hand for the money to be passed
up.

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
12.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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