the bus from the pen and got off in San Gabriel. I picked up a piece a guy was holding for me, and stuck up the first bank I saw, then caught another bus. My parole was revoked two months later for some minor shit, but they never made me on that bank job. Never. It was as if it was free. You know, like you do five and get one free. I had a real good feeling for that job, just like I do today. I just knew things were right.'

'It's confidence, baby. It's because you've got a whole bucket of balls. That's why you and your old Red buddy are going to move up the ladder. Because of mental speed and balls. There is nothing, I mean nothing we can't do. We've got what it takes. The ingredients are there.' Red looked at his watch. 'It's ten minutes to seven. Any questions, baby?' He cleared his throat.

Ronnie shook his head no. He followed Red into the hotel lobby.

At a bank of elevators, Red pushed an Up button and put his arm around Ronnie. In a fatherly manner he whispered, 'You've got to get the drop on 'em as soon as we're inside. That's the important thing. As soon as we clear the door. I know you can do it, babe.'

Ronnie smiled. The elevator door opened. They stepped in. So did a bellhop with a tray, and two men in sports coats. One man looked seedy. Had they met him in Terminal Island?

Inside the elevator Red pushed the button for the twelfth floor. The elevator rose smoothly, stopping twice to let off the others.

At the twelfth floor, they got out of the elevator and walked along the hallway to the door of room twelve nineteen. It was open an inch. Red knocked lightly.

'Red, is that you?' The voice was from another room in the suite. 'Come on in! I'm just getting dressed!'

Red pushed the door open slowly. He nodded to Ronnie. Ronnie stepped in first, his feet sinking into the thickest carpet he had ever felt.

'Now!' whispered Red. 'Get it out!'

Ronnie unlatched the case. The shotgun was in his hands. He crept through the living room, Red following close behind. They were at the bedroom door when Tony shouted matter-of-factly, 'Come on in here, Red.'

Ronnie's fists gripped the shotgun firmly. His finger caressed the trigger.

Red leaned against the doorjamb and turned the doorknob. The door flew open violently.

Explosions of steel fire crashed through Ronnie Boyce's teeth and chest. He was on the floor, sinking into the carpet. Bullets were deep in his chest and head.

More explosions. Red gave a woman's scream.

Blood surged into Ronnie Boyce's mouth and lungs. He felt nausea, then dizziness. His tongue was keeping air from his lungs. He tried to move his head to the side but it didn't work. Ruined. More ripping explosions. There was only blackness.


Carr, with Kelly two feet behind him, burst from the stairwell door holding his revolver in combat stance. Approaching the room door, he saw a bullet hole.

'Let's kick it,' Kelly said.

'Take cover! They'll be bailing out!'

They hugged the walls on either side of room twelve nineteen.

Down the hallway a woman's voice shrieked, 'Operator! People are shooting guns! Send the police!'

The two men who stumbled out of the room were not Boyce and Diamond. They ran toward the elevators. Carr and Kelly cut them off. 'Federal officers, lads,' Kelly said. 'Down on the floor and spread.'

After handcuffing both men and securing them in a room a maid had been working in, Carr went back to the room where the shots had been fired. He pushed open the door carefully with his revolver. Red Diamond lay next to the sofa, face down, feet twitching. Boyce was sprawled on his back in front of the bedroom door, the shotgun next to him. Carr bent down. His hand moved to Boyce's throat to test for a pulse.

He pulled the hand back before touching, stood up, walked to the phone, and dialed. 'Let me have Central Homicide.'

A half hour later Detective Higgins arrived. He looked at the bodies and went into the room where Kelly and a uniformed policeman held Tony Dio and his stocky bodyguard. Carr followed.

'I'll tell you exactly what happened,' Dio said to Higgins as he sat on the bed. 'Two bastards come up to my room to snuff out me and my friend here and we defended ourselves. I got a right to have a gun. It's registered. I was in my own hotel room. They came to do me in. To waste me.' His hands were shaking.

'What happened?' Higgins said to Dio.

Carr leaned against the wall with Kelly.

'We were sitting in my room having a drink and I get a phone call. I didn't know who it was. Man's voice. He says, 'This is a friend. Red Diamond and another guy are coming up to your room to rip you off. The guy with Red has a sawed-off in an attaché case.' Then he hangs up.'

Kelly's jaw dropped. He turned toward Carr.

Higgins made notes on his clipboard. 'So what did you do then?' he said.

'Me and my friend here go in the bedroom and wait. My friend's got a piece because I carry large amounts of cash now and then.' He looked at the bodyguard. 'L.A. is a high-crime area, right? I peek out the bedroom door and I see these two guys come in the front door. One guy is carrying a sawed-off piece. So my friend here opens the bedroom door and lets loose. I mean, what would you do? It was simple self-defense.'

'That's what it sounds like,' Higgins said. 'I'll have to ask you to come down to the station to make a written report, but by the physical evidence, it looks like self-defense. The dead guys did have a shotgun. No charges will be filed.'

Higgins stepped out into the hallway. Carr and Kelly followed.

'We had Diamond and Boyce under surveillance,' Carr said. 'That's how we happen to be here.'

'That's all I need for my report,' said the detective. He walked across the hall into the room with the bodies.

It was four hours before the case was wrapped up.

Delgado arrived and chewed Rolaids while Carr explained what had happened. Per standard operating procedure, Carr and Kelly wrote statements, which would serve as their report of investigation. The statements were concise and almost identical. 'Occurrence during a Routine Surveillance' was the title block. Delgado headed back for the field office to send a teletype to Washington, D.C.

They checked the serial numbers of the money in Ronnie Boyce's wallet and found that the numbers on his six tens and two fives matched Rico's marked money.

Higgins unloaded the sawed-off shotgun and put it in a plastic evidence bag.

The bodies were removed to the L.A. county morgue.

After all the details were completed, Kelly suggested Ling's. Carr accepted.

The drive to Chinatown was pleasant. Little or no traffic, and the heat wave seemed to have given way to cooling, smogless sea air.

'The wife and I are thinking of having a little get-together at my place for you before you go,' Kelly said. 'You know, steaks and beer. I figured I'd ask five or six couples. Ling and his wife said they'd like to come. Couple of the narcs.'

'That'll be real nice,' Carr said. 'I'll bring Sally, if she still wants to see me.'

Kelly stopped for a red light at Hill and Alpine and looked both ways. He drove through before the light changed. Down the street he pulled into a curb parking space two doors from Ling's.

'Charlie,' Kelly said.


'How did you know that Boyce was…' He turned off the engine. 'Oh, never mind.'

They got out of the car.

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