three homely brothers.

Ling, a middle-aged man sporting a clip-on bow tie and granny glasses, stood by a sink at the opposite end of the bar giving cocktail glasses his usual one quick dip and drain treatment.

'Any case Bailey touches is destined to turn to shit,' Kelly said. 'You can ask anybody in here… he never comes across with the whole story. Never. I'll tell you right now, the first thing he's going to say is that his informant is super-secret and the case is the biggest thing that ever came down the pike. It's his M.O. The man is a known bullshitter…a weasel. Working with him is like being a mushroom; he keeps you in the dark and feeds you shit.' Kelly took a big drink of scotch. 'It wouldn't surprise me if he had his finger in the till somewhere. He's definitely the type.'

'It wouldn't surprise me either,' Carr said, jiggling the ice in his emptied glass.

'And he doesn't drink,' Kelly said. 'Think of it. Have you ever met a man who wouldn't take a drink that could be trusted?'

Carr shook his head.

Travis Bailey moved past the inner door of hanging beads. His sport coat looked tailored and a red silk handkerchief was perfectly positioned in the lapel pocket.

Kelly slid over one stool and made room for Bailey to sit down. The men shook hands. Bailey ordered a straight soda. 'I'm glad I was able to get in touch with you fellas,' he said grimly as he adjusted his gold cuff links. 'This thing is for real and I don't like to work with people I don't know.' He glanced around the bar furtively. 'They're going to hit the bank president at his house. The word is they're going to kill his old lady too if she's there. They don't want to leave any witnesses. The informant was very sure of that.'

Carr sipped his drink. 'Who let the contract?' he asked.

Bailey shrugged. 'Unknown at this point, but it's definitely family. A Mafia contract all the way. No doubt about that.'

'Tony Dio?' Kelly said.

'It could very well be Dio,' Bailey said. 'Just a supposition, but judging from where my info came from, I'd say Dio would be a very good guess.'

'Where did the information come from?' Carr said, looking Bailey in the eye.

'My informant has proven reliable at least twenty times in the past,' Bailey said. He sipped soda. 'If he says something is going to happen, it happens. I've locked up loads of people behind his information. Loads. His word is good enough for a search warrant.'

The three men were silent for a while, each mulling over what was about to go down. The blondes at the end of the bar giggled loudly about something while someone else dropped coins in the jukebox, bringing the noise back up to its earlier level. Carr waved at Ling for another round. 'Hartmann was approached by one of Tony Dio's lawyers and a couple of muscle men,' he said. 'They tried to force him to switch three hundred grand in cash out of the vault for three hundred grand in phony twenties. Dio figured that even with a big investigation, the last person they would suspect would be the president of the bank. He offered Hartmann the choice between a trip to Forest Lawn Cemetery or a loss for which the bank was fully insured. Hartmann did the right thing and came to us. We wired him, made some tape recordings when they met again and arrested Dio's lawyer and one of his gunsels. As usual, we couldn't make a case on Dio himself. He was too well insulated.'

Bailey nodded. 'It all fits.'

'Fits with what?' Kelly said.

'With what the informant told me,' Bailey said. 'It all fits.'

Kelly was expressionless, sipped his drink.

Bailey glanced at his wristwatch; Carr realized it was something he did frequently.

'I've got another meeting with the informant set up for tonight,' Bailey said. 'I wanna make sure there are no last-minute changes.'

'Have you notified Hartmann that he's on somebody's list?' Carr said.

'Finally reached him by phone an hour ago,' Bailey said. 'He's on vacation in Palm Springs. He said no one knows he is there. I told him to stay there until I called. He agreed. I'm planning to be inside the house when the hit man comes in to do the job…arrest him for attempted murder. I'd appreciate it if you fellas could help me on the stakeout. We're shorthanded.'

Carr didn't answer. He lit a cigarette and blew out the smoke. 'How do you know that the hit man is going to do the job at Hartmann's house?'

'My informant is right in with these people. I really can't tell you any more at this point without revealing the snitch's identity…but I will tell you again that the information is solid. You can bank on it. I mean really bank on it. I'm telling you that the hit man will make his move tomorrow.' He looked at his watch again. 'I've really gotta run,' he said. 'Should I count you gents in or out?'

'What's the hit man's name?' Kelly asked, pressing him.

Bailey eased himself off the barstool. 'That's unknown at this time,' he said, turning to Carr. 'I can sure use the help tomorrow…and I'm sure you're interested in protecting your witness.'

Carr looked at Kelly. Kelly nodded. 'Count us in,' Carr said.

Bailey winked. 'I'll give you a ring tomorrow morning. We'll go for it.' He looked at his watch again and hurried out the door.

Kelly stared at the door. 'I wonder what he's up to?'

'I don't know,' Carr said, 'but we have to go with it. Hartmann is a federal witness. Good info or bad, we have to protect him.'

Because of the late hour, it took Travis Bailey less than twenty minutes to drive from Chinatown to Beverly Hills. He steered off the freeway and onto a deserted Wilshire Boulevard. As he passed a Beverly Hills City Limits sign, he stopped at a service station. He stepped into a telephone booth and dialed Lee Sheboygan's number. The phone rang seven times.

Lee Sheboygan yawned into the phone before he said hello.

'I need to meet,' Bailey said.


'I'll see you at the same place as last time.' Bailey hung up the receiver. He returned to his car and climbed in. Having cruised a few blocks, he turned into an alley that paralleled some small stores facing Wilshire Boulevard. He parked under an awning at the rear of a pizza shop that was closed for business and turned off the engine. He leaned back in the seat. Less than fifteen minutes later, Lee Sheboygan pulled up behind him in a Mercedes-Benz coupe. The diminutive man, attired in a green jump suit, climbed out of the sports car. His Greek fisherman's hat and neatly trimmed black beard gave him a Middle Eastern appearance. Sheboygan looked both ways in the alley before he climbed in next to Bailey.

'Hi, guy,' Bailey said as he slid into the seat.

Sheboygan's face made its usual twitch to the left. 'You woke me up.'

Bailey took out a pad and pen. 'When I tell you about the goodies, you'll thank me for waking you up.' He drew a square on the blank paper and made X's on three sides of the square. 'Three entrances,' he said. He drew an oval. '…A swimming pool in the backyard.' He pointed to the X between the pool and the square. 'Sliding glass doors. This is where you should go in.'

'What kind of goodies are we talking about?' Sheboygan asked. His face went through two full twitch cycles.

'Gold Krugerrands,' Bailey said smugly. 'At least a hundred grand's worth and a stamp collection that is probably worth about that much. The man doesn't trust banks and keeps his goodies in a cabinet under an aquarium.' He pointed to the diagram. 'The aquarium is next to the sliding glass doors, across from a bar.'

Sheboygan's eyes were riveted on the diagram. 'I love it,' he said. 'What about servants?' He dug a pack of filter tips out of a pouch in his jump suit and lit up.

'No servants,' Bailey said. 'That's definite…and the owner will be in Palm Springs. This has been verified.'

Sheboygan's face twitched again. 'Dogs?'

'No dogs.'


'I saw tape on the windows, but nothing on the sliding glass doors,' Bailey said.

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