your people pick up the cash, I load up the goods, and you guys start setting up bank accounts for your old age. And if everybody stays happy with the deal, we start weekly pickups, five hundred pounds a whack. Is that the way you understand it?'

'Sound's right to me,' Kleinfelter said. 'Back room okay?'

Lightstone shrugged. 'Yeah, sure. Why not?'

'Then let's do it.'

Lightstone and Kleinfelter worked their way through the crowd, then stepped into a long, narrow hallway that was closed off at either end by steel doors. About halfway down the narrow hallway, a pair of support beams stuck out from either side, leaving only enough room for one person to walk by at a time. No lights or buzzers went off when Lightstone walked through the narrow opening, but he figured there was a scanner and men with firearms on the other side of the doorway.

'You getting paranoid in your old age?' Lightstone asked, tapping his knuckles against the solid surface of the second door.

'It's the only way I know to get old in this business,' Brendon Kleinfelter said as the second door was pulled open from the inside.

At least half of the floor space beyond was taken up by stacks of stainless-steel kegs and shrink-wrapped pallets containing hundreds of cases of Bud, Miller, Moosehead, and Stroh's. It was obvious that the High Horse Saloon would not run out of beer, no matter how long the winter season lasted this year.

'Nice operation,' Lightstone said.

'First-class. That's the way I like it,' Kleinfelter said as a man with a scanner wand came forward.

'Any objections?' the outlaw gang leader asked.

'Be my guest,' Lightstone shrugged.

He held his arms up while the scanner ran under his armpits and across his chest. It registered nothing at all. Same reaction for the buttocks, hips, and crotch. No guns, no knives, no beepers, recorders or transmitters. It was only when the device was brought down along the front of Lightstone's long leg that it emitted a shrill beep.

'Right boot,' Lightstone said calmly. The man operating the scanner squatted down, lifted up Lightstone's pant leg and carefully removed the loaded. 38 five-shot Chiefs Special from the boot holster. The weapon was handed up to Kleinfelter, who glanced at it, then looked over at Lightstone quizzically.

'You always carry a shit-ass piece like this?'

'That's right.'

'What for?'

'Handy for bears,' Lightstone shrugged, returning the outlaw biker's calm, icy stare.

'Yeah, right,' Kleinfelter chuckled. 'A thirty-eight's gonna have a serious impact on a thousand-pound grizzly. Didn't anybody ever tell you about Magnums?'

'I don't like big guns,' Lightstone said. 'They make too much noise, and they don't fit in my boot.'

Brendon Kleinfelter gave him an evil smile, then tossed the handgun back to Lightstone, who fielded it one- handed, then slid the still-loaded weapon back down into his boot holster. The rest of the search turned up nothing of interest.

Kleinfelter opened another door, and Lightstone entered a smaller warehouse. A dozen people, most of whom Lightstone recognized from the bar, were surveying at least a hundred and fifty military ammo crates with rope handles on the sides. Standing next to a small stack of the ammo crates were the two clean-cut newcomers. The one who looked like a cop was holding a small crowbar in his gloved right hand.

'What the hell are they doing here?' Lightstone demanded, glaring at Kleinfelter.

'You mean Paul and Carl?' Kleinfelter asked. 'They're what you might call your competition. You think you're the only guy who ever came up to Alaska looking to make a deal?'

'Are you trying to tell me I've got to stand here in front of an audience and bid for this shit?' Lightstone couldn't believe what he was hearing.

'That's about it,' Kleinfelter told him.

Lightstone nodded toward the newcomers. 'So why don't they have to get their nuts fried in a goddamned X- ray machine?' he demanded.

'I've been dealing with Paul and Carl for a couple of months now,' Kleinfelter said. 'I know a lot about them. But you're new.'

'Fucking incredible,' Henry Lightstone muttered.

'To tell you the truth,' Kleinfelter said, 'I don't think you're really going to be competitors anyway.'

'Mind telling me why?' Lightstone asked.

'Take a look at the merchandise.'

They all watched as Carl crowbarred open the top of the ammo crate.

'What the hell's that?' Henry Lightstone asked, staring into the open container.

Carl smiled. 'That, my friend, is what Mr. Kleinfelter likes to refer to as Alaskan White.'

'But that's a… a…'

'An ivory carving?' Paul suggested as he picked one of the carvings out of the crate.

'I don't believe this,' Henry Lightstone said.

'You got a problem with it?'

The voice behind Lightstone belonged to the biker named Popper.

Turning around, Lightstone snarled: 'Fuck off.'

He froze when he heard the distinctive click of a six-inch knife blade snapping open.

Spinning to his left, Lightstone shoved the thrusting knife hand aside with his open right palm, brought his left hand up to catch the wrist, and then twisted hard.

The crack was audible above Popper's choking scream.

For a long moment, everyone simply stared.

Lightstone retrieved the open knife. Closing the blade, he tossed it to the ex-Raider-turned-bouncer, who had stepped in between Kleinfelter and Lightstone.

Catching the knife, the man stared at Lightstone appraisingly, as if trying to decide which limb to rip off first.

'Man, I'm really going to enjoy this one,' the bouncer finally said.

'I shouldn't have let it get out of control like that,' Lightstone forced himself to say, even though no one seemed to care about the injured biker, who thrashed on the concrete.

'Popper'll survive,' Brendon Kleinfelter said. He motioned to a pair of his men, who picked the man up off the floor and carried him out of the warehouse. 'The question is, will you?'

Kleinfelter was smiling, but his eyes were expressionless.

'None of this would have happened if you'd given me some kind of warning,' Lightstone said.

'When Brendon offered to sell you a thousand pounds of Alaskan White,' Paul said, 'you weren't expecting to purchase ivory, were you?'

'Not hardly,' Lightstone replied.

'I don't suppose your people have any drugs around here that you might offer this fellow instead?' Paul laughed as he turned to Kleinfelter. 'Some cocaine, perhaps?'

'We could probably lay our hands on a kilo or two,' Kleinfelter shrugged.

'Oh, yeah-' Lightstone started to say. Kleinfelter held up his hand.

'But I don't think it's smart selling cocaine to an undercover cop.'

Lightstone's knees sagged.

'Are you sure about that?' Paul asked.

'Oh, I'm sure,' Brendon Kleinfelter said. 'This guy is Henry Lightstone, homicide investigator for the San Diego Police Department. Soon to be ex-homicide investigator.'

Lightstone thought about the Chief's Special in his boot, but he was suddenly aware that all three bouncers were now holding baseball bats and that the eight remaining bikers had unzipped their black leather jackets to reveal an assortment of handguns.

'Homicide?' Paul said, his eyebrows raised in surprise. 'I would have thought narcotics, surely?'

'No, the man's definitely homicide,' Brendon Kleinfelter shook his head. 'See, about six or eight months ago, some homicide dick named Bobby LaGrange was rummaging around the harbor area, trying to figure out why some

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