The Harry Bosch Novels is a Webnovel created by Michael Connelly.
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“You are refusing my direct order to return?”
“Look, Chief, I don’t care what some bartender is telling you, you know I wasn’t the doer.”
“I never said that. But your conversation already reveals that you know more about this than you should if you were not involved.”
“All I’m saying is that the answer to a lot of questions – about Moore, Porter and the rest – are down here. It’s all down here. I’m staying.”
“Detective Bosch, I was wrong about you. I gave you a lot of rope this time because I thought I detected a change in you. I see now that I was wrong. You fooled me again. You -“
“Chief, I am doing my -“
“Don’t interrupt me! You may be unwilling to follow my explicit commands to return but don’t you interrupt me. I am telling you that you don’t want to return, fine. Don’t. But you might as well never return, Bosch. Think about that. What you had before won’t be waiting when you get back.”
After Irving hung up Bosch picked a second bottle of Tecate from the bucket and lit a cigarette at the window. He didn’t care about Irving’s threats. Not that much, at least. He’d probably draw a suspension, maybe five days max. He could handle that. But Irving wouldn’t move Bosch. Where could he send him? There weren’t very many places lower than Hollywood. Instead, Bosch thought about Porter. He had been able to put it off, put it out of his mind. But now he had to think about Porter. Strangled with baling wire, left in a Dumpster. Poor b.a.s.t.a.r.d. But something in Bosch refused to let him grant the dead cop sympathy. Nothing about it touched his heart the way he thought it would, or should. It was a pitiful end of life. But he felt no pity. Porter had made fatal mistakes. Bosch promised himself that he would not and that he would go on.
He tried to focus on Zorrillo. Harry was sure that it was the pope who was manipulating things, who had sent the a.s.sa.s.sin to clean up the loose ends. If it was likely the same man had killed both Kapps and Porter, it was then easy to add Moore in as a victim as well. And possibly even Fernal GutierrezLlosa. The man with three tears. Did that leave Dance off the hook? Bosch doubted it. It might have taken Dance to lure Moore to the Hideaway. His thoughts rea.s.sured him that he was doing the right thing staying. The answers were here, not in L.A.
He went to his briefcase on the bureau and took out the mug shot of Dance that had been in the file Moore had put together. He looked at the practiced sulk of a young man who still had a boyish face and bleached blond hair. Now he wanted to move up the ladder and had come south of the border to make his case. Bosch realized that if Dance was in Mexicali he would not blend in easily. He’d have to have help.
The knock on the door startled him. Bosch quietly put down the bottle and took the gun off the night table. Through the peephole he saw a man of about thirty with dark hair and a thick mustache. He was not the room service waiter who had brought the beer.
“Bosch. It’s Ramos.”
Bosch opened the door on the chain and asked for some identification.
“Are you kidding? I don’t carry ID around here. Let me in. Corvo sent me.”
“How do I know?”
“Because you called L.A. Operations two hours ago and left your address. I tell you, I really get f.u.c.king paranoid having to explain all of this while standing out in the hallway.”
Bosch closed the door, flipped off the chain and reopened it. He kept the gun in his hand but down at his side. Ramos walked past him into the room. He walked up to the window and looked out, then he walked away and began pacing near the bed. He said, “Smells like s.h.i.t out there. Somebody cooking tortillas or some s.h.i.t. Got any more brew? And by the way, the federales federales catch you with that piece and you might have trouble trying to get back across. How come you didn’t stay in Calexico like Corvo told you to, man?” catch you with that piece and you might have trouble trying to get back across. How come you didn’t stay in Calexico like Corvo told you to, man?”
If he had been anyone other than a cop, Bosch would have figured he was c.o.ked to the eyelids. But he decided it was probably something else, something he didn’t know about yet, that made Ramos seem wired. Bosch picked up the phone and ordered a six-pack from room service, never taking his eyes off the man in his room. After he hung up, he put the gun in his waist-band and sat down in the chair by the window.
“I didn’t want to deal with the lines at the border,” he said in answer to one of Ramos’s many questions.
“You didn’t want to put your trust in Corvo is what you mean. I don’t blame you. Not that I don’t trust him. I do. But I can see the need to want to go your own way. They got better food over here, anyway. But Calexico, there’s a wild little town. It’s one of those places, you never know what kind of s.h.i.t is going down. You hit that place the wrong way and you go into a slide, man. I like it better over here myself. Did you eat?”
For a moment, Bosch thought about what Sylvia Moore had said about the black ice. Ramos was still pacing the room and Bosch noticed he had two electronic pagers on his belt. The agent was hyped on something. Bosch was sure of it.
“I already ate,” Bosch said and moved his chair near the window because the room had taken on the tang of the agent’s body odor.
“I know the best Chinese food in two countries. We could pop over for -“
“Hey! Ramos, sit down. You’re making me nervous. Just sit down and tell me what’s going on.”
Ramos looked around himself as if seeing the room for the first time. He dragged a chair away from the wall near the door and straddled it backward in the middle of the room.
“What’s going on, man, is that we are not too impressed with the s.h.i.t you pulled at EnviroBreed today.”
Bosch was surprised the DEA knew so much so fast but tried not to show it.
“That was not cool at all,” Ramos was saying. “So I came here to tell you to quit the one-man show. Corvo told me that was your bag, but I didn’t expect to see it so soon.”
“What’s the problem?” Bosch said. “It was my lead. From what Corvo said, you people didn’t know s.h.i.t about that place. I went in there to shake ’em up a little bit. That’s all.”
“These people don’t shake, Bosch. That’s what I am saying. Now look, enough said. I just wanted to say my little piece and to see what you have going besides the bug place. What I’m asking is, what are you doing here?”
Before Bosch could answer there was a loud knock on the door and the DEA agent jumped off the chair, coming down in a crouched position.
“It’s room service,” Bosch said. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Always get this way before we jam.”
Bosch got up looking curiously at the DEA agent and went to the door. Through the peephole he saw the same man who had delivered the first two beers. He opened the door, paid for the delivery and gave Ramos a bottle from the new bucket.
Ramos chugged half the bottle before sitting back down. Bosch took a beer back to his seat.
“What do you mean by ‘before we jam’?”
“Well,” Ramos said after another swallow. “The stuff you gave Corvo was good info. But then you canceled that out by cowboying it over there today. You nearly f.u.c.ked things up.”
“You said that. What did you find out?”
“EnviroBreed. We ran down the info and it’s a direct hit. We traced ownership through a bunch of blinds to a Gilberto Ornelas. That’s a known alias for a guy named Fernando Ibarra, one of Zorrillo’s lieutenants. We are working with the federales federales on getting search approvals. They are cooperating on this one. This new attorney general they got down here is clean and mean. He’s working with us. So it’s going to be a major jam, if we get the approval.” on getting search approvals. They are cooperating on this one. This new attorney general they got down here is clean and mean. He’s working with us. So it’s going to be a major jam, if we get the approval.”
“When will you know?”
“Any time. One last piece has to fall.”
“If he’s moving black ice across the border in EnviroBreed shipments, then how is he getting it from the ranch to the bug house? See, we’ve been watching the ranch and would’ve seen it. And we’re pretty sure it’s not manufactured at EnviroBreed. Too small, too many people around, too close to the road, et cetera, et cetera. All our intelligence says it’s made on the ranch. Underground, in a bunker. We got aerials that show the heat patterns from the ventilation. Anyway, the question is then, how’s he get it across the street to EnviroBreed?”
Bosch thought about what Corvo had said at the Code 7. That Zorrillo was suspected of helping to finance the tunnel that went under the border at Nogales.
“He doesn’t take it across the street. He takes it under.”
“Exactly,” Ramos said. “We are working our informants on it right now. We get it confirmed, we get our approval from the attorney general and we go in. We hit the ranch and EnviroBreed simultaneously. Joint operation. The AG sends the federal militia. We send CLET.”
Bosch hated all the acronyms law enforcement agencies cling to but asked what CLET was anyway.
“Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team. These guys are f.u.c.kin’ ninjas.”
Bosch thought this information over. He didn’t understand why it was happening so quickly. Ramos was leaving something out. There had to be new intelligence on Zorrillo.
“You’ve seen him, haven’t you? Zorrillo. Or somebody has.”
“You got it. And that other little white squirrel you came down looking for. Dance.”
“We have a CI inside the fence who saw the both of them outside the main compound shooting at targets this morning. And then we -“
“How close was he? The informant.”
“Close enough. Not close enough to say ‘Howdy do, Mr. Pope’ but close enough to make the ID.”
Ramos cackled loudly and got up to get another beer. He threw a bottle to Bosch, who wasn’t yet done with his first.
“Where had he been?” Bosch asked.
“Christ, who knows? Only thing I care about is that he is back and he is going to be there when the CLETs come through the door. And by the way, you better not bring that gun with you or the federales federales will hook you up, too. They are giving a special weapons privilege to the CLETs but that is it. The AG is going to sign it – G.o.d, I hope this guy never gets bought off or a.s.sa.s.sinated. Anyway, like I’m saying, if they want you to have a gun, they’ll give you something from their own armory.” will hook you up, too. They are giving a special weapons privilege to the CLETs but that is it. The AG is going to sign it – G.o.d, I hope this guy never gets bought off or a.s.sa.s.sinated. Anyway, like I’m saying, if they want you to have a gun, they’ll give you something from their own armory.”
“And how am I going to know when it goes down?”
Ramos was still standing. He jerked his head back and poured down half the bottle of beer. His odor had totally filled the room. Bosch held his bottle up near his mouth and nose so he’d smell the beer instead of the DEA agent.
“We’ll let you know,” Ramos said. “Take this and wait.”
He tossed Bosch one of the pagers off his belt.
“You put that on and I’ll give you a buzz when we are ready to rock. It will be soon. At least before New Year’s, I’m hoping. We gotta move on this. There is no telling how long the target is going to stay in place this time.”
He finished the beer and put the bottle on the table. He didn’t pick up another. The meeting was done.
“What about my partner?” Bosch asked.
“Who, the Mex? Forget it. He’s state. You can’t tell him about this, Bosch. The pope has the SJP and the other locals wired. It’s a given. Don’t trust anybody over there, don’t tell anybody over there. Just wear the pager like I said and wait for the beep. Go to the bullfights. Hang by the pool or something. h.e.l.l, man, look at yourself. You could use the color.”
“I know Aguila better than I know you.”
“Did you know he works for a man who is a regular guest of Zorrillo’s at the bullfights each Sunday?”
“No,” Bosch said. He thought of Grena.
“Did you know that to become a detective in the SJP, the promotion is bought for an average of two thousand dollars, not based on any skill in investigative technique?”
“I know you didn’t. But that’s the way it is here. You’ve got to understand that. Trust no one. You may be working with the last honest cop in Mexicali, but why bet your life on it?”
Bosch nodded and said, “One more thing, I want to come in tomorrow and check your mug books. You have Zorrillo’s people?”
“Most of them. What do you want?”
“I’m looking for a guy with three tattooed tears. He’s Zorrillo’s. .h.i.t man. He hit another cop yesterday in L.A.”
“Jesus! Okay, in the morning, call me at this number. We’ll set it up. If you make an ID we’ll get the word to the AG. It’ll help us get the search approval.”
He gave Bosch a card with a phone number on it, nothing else. Then he was gone. Harry put the chain back on the lock.
Bosch sat on the bed with his beer, thinking about the reappearance of Zorrillo. He wondered where he had been and why he had left the safety of his ranch in the first place. Harry poked at the idea that maybe Zorrillo had been in L.A. and that it had taken his presence there to lure Moore to the motel room where he was put down on the bathroom floor. Maybe Zorrillo was the only one Moore would have gone there for.
The sharp sound of squealing brakes and crashing metal shot through the window. Before he even got up he heard voices arguing in the street below. The words grew harsher until they were threats being yelled so fast Bosch could not understand them. He went to the window and saw two men standing chests out beside two cars. One had rear-ended the other.
As he turned away he detected a small flash of blue light to his left. Before he had time to look, the bottle in his hand shattered and beer and gla.s.s exploded in all directions. He instinctively took a step back and launched himself over the bed and down onto the floor. He braced himself for more shots but none came. His heartbeat rapidly increased and he felt the familiar rush of mental clarity that comes only in situations of life and death. He crawled along the floor to the table and pulled the lamp plug out of the wall, dropping the room in darkness. As he reached up to the table for his gun, he heard the two cars speeding away in the street. A beautiful setup, he thought, but they missed.
He moved beneath the window opening and then stood up while pressing his back to the wall. All the while he was realizing how stupid he had been to literally pose in the window. He looked through the opening into the darkness where he believed he had seen the muzzle flash. There was no one there. Several of the windows of the other rooms were open and it was impossible to pinpoint where the shot had come from. Bosch looked back into his room and saw the headboard of the bed splintered at the spot where the bullet had impacted. By imagining a line from the impact point though the position he had held the bottle and then out the window, he focused on an open but dark window on the fifth floor of the other wing. He saw no movement there other than the curtain swaying gently with the breeze. Finally, he put his gun in his waistband and left the room, his clothes smelling of beer and with small slivers of gla.s.s embedded in his shirt and p.r.i.c.king his skin. He knew he had at least two slight gla.s.s cuts. One on his neck and one on his right hand, which had been holding the bottle. He held his cut hand to his neck wound as he walked.
He had judged that the open window belonged to the fourth room on the fifth floor. He now had his gun out and pointed in front of him as he moved slowly down the fifth-floor hallway. He was debating whether he should kick the door open but found the decision academic. A cool breeze from the open window flowed out through the open door of room 504.
The room was dark and Bosch knew he would be silhouetted by the lighted hallway. So he hit the room’s entrance-light switch as he moved quickly through the doorway. He covered the room with his Smith and found it empty. The smell of burned gunpowder hung in the air. Harry looked out the window and followed the imaginary line down to his own third-floor room’s window. It had been an easy shot. It was then that he heard the screeching of tires and saw the taillights of a large sedan pull out of the hotel parking lot and then speed away.
Bosch put the gun in his waistband and pulled his shirt out over it. He looked quickly around the room to see if the shooter had left anything behind him. The glint of copper from the fold of the bedspread where it was tucked beneath the pillows caught his eye. He pulled the bedspread out straight and lying there was a sh.e.l.l casing that had been ejected from a thirty-two rifle. He got an envelope out of the desk drawer and scooped the sh.e.l.l inside it.
As he left room 504 and walked down the hallway, no one looked out a door, no house detectives came running and no approaching sirens blared in the distance. No one had heard a thing, except maybe a bottle breaking. Bosch knew that the thirty-two fired at him had had a silencer screwed to the end of its barrel. Whoever it had been, he had taken his time and waited for the one shot. But he had missed. Had that been intentional? He decided it wasn’t, to make a shot that close but intend to miss was too chancy. He had simply been lucky. His turn from the window at the last moment had probably saved his life.
Bosch headed back to his room to dig the slug out of the wall, bandage his wounds and check out. Along the way he started running when he realized he had to warn Aguila.
Back in his room, he quickly dug through his wallet for the piece of paper on which Aguila had written his address and phone number. Aguila picked up almost immediately.
“It’s Bosch. Someone just took a shot at me.”
“Yes. Where? Are you injured?”
“I am okay. In my room. They shot through the window. I’m calling to warn you.”
“We were together today, Carlos. I don’t know if it’s just me or the both of us. Are you okay?”
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