'I'm not sure,' Mora said with a sincere expression. 'But he does keep in touch. I'm asking you, do I sound like someone who isn't willing to cooperate? Why should I take heat for LaMonica? He isn't shit to me.'

'I'm going back to L.A. tomorrow afternoon,' Carr said. 'Phone me at the police station before I leave or you're through down here. Rodriguez will run you and all of your asshole biker friends straight across the border. And when you come across, I'll be waiting there for you.'

Carr turned and walked back into the bar. Customers were still spread-eagled along the walls. Rodriguez sat at a cocktail table examining a pile of guns and knives. Near the front door, a group of bearded men stood handcuffed to one another. Rodriguez nodded and a policeman ushered the chain of men out the door.

A policeman held open a gunny sack next to the table, and Rodriguez slid the weapons into it. Mora came in the back door. He approached the detective meekly. 'Mr. Rodriguez, can I ask what this is all about? I've never had any trouble here before.'

Rodriguez pointed to the gunny sack. 'You don't call that trouble?' he said. 'This is Mexico. We don't like pendejos who carry guns.' He stood up. 'Does that tell you what this is all about, cocksucker?'

Mora's head was down. Rodriguez stood up and shoved him out of the way. He barked orders in Spanish. The officers headed out the front door. A police van pulled up. The prisoners were loaded into it.

The raiders piled into their squad cars and departed.

'What do you think?' Rodriguez said as he steered onto the highway.

'Hard to predict,' Carr said. 'What Teddy does will depend on what he's got going with LaMonica right now. He'll probably turn him in if it won't cost him any money.'

It was almost closing time for the bars. A camouflage of fog had wafted in from the ocean. Hugging the streets here and there, the cold smoke had turned Ensenada's simple streets into a maze.

Paul LaMonica drove slowly through the motel parking lot. All the rooms were dark and the gold Cadillac wasn't there. He drove out of the lot, turned north, and followed the main road, which wound through the deserted shopping district all the way to the bar district at the edge of town. Three people lolled about on the sidewalks in front of barrooms cloistered on a side street blocked off to vehicular traffic. The only light came from a few streetlamps that hung from heavy electrical cord across the thoroughfare. He steered around the corner and into an alley that paralleled the rear entrances to the drinking spots.

Mr. Cool's gold Cadillac was parked in a tiny lot behind the third bar from the corner.

LaMonica pulled into the lot and parked next to the driver's side of the Caddy. After turning off the engine, he rolled down all the windows in his sedan. He removed his windbreaker and folded it into a makeshift pillow. Arranging the jacket on the driver's side, he lay back on the front seat. There was not enough room to stretch out completely, so he positioned his legs at an angle to the passenger door. The only sound in the lot was that of muffled rock tunes coming from inside the bar.

In one motion, LaMonica pulled the.38 from his waistband and sprang upright in the seat, pointing the gun out of the passenger window. He lay back on the seat. After a while he sprang up again. He tucked the revolver back in his waistband and reclined on the seat to wait. A pair of cats shrieked as they fought up and down the alley. This went on for what seemed like a long time. The noise ceased as a man and woman exited the bar. LaMonica peeked over the seat. Standing just outside the door, they exchanged drunk talk and crotch gropes for a few minutes. The two were young and wore matching cowboy hats with feather bands. The woman giggled as the man pulled down his zipper and urinated against the door of the bar. 'Someone's going to see you. Someone's going to see you,' she said in slurred tones. Finally, the man zipped up his fly and they staggered down the alley.

LaMonica lay down on the seat again. He closed his eyes and his mind drifted to the mountain cabin near L.A. He was alone and trapped. His finger was crushed between printing-press rollers. He managed to open a pocket knife. He sawed on the finger and the pain reached up his arm and spread to every part of his body, including his teeth. Finally he saved himself. Blood squirted all over the place.

Paul LaMonica held up the hand with the missing finger and looked at his wristwatch. It was 3:30 A.M. He heard footsteps coming out the back door and heading in his direction.

Mr. Cool stood at the driver's door of the Cadillac, fumbling with car keys.

Using both hands to hold the pistol, LaMonica sprang up in the seat. He held his breath. Aiming the revolver out the window, he fired three shots as fast as he could pull the trigger. With an animal yelp, Mr. Cool slammed forward against the side of the Cadillac and dropped to his knees. LaMonica fired again. As if the fourth shot were charged with electricity, the black man came to his feet and staggered toward the alley. LaMonica fired again but missed. He dropped the revolver on the front seat and started the engine. He flew out of the parking space and accelerated into the alley. Mr. Cool had fallen with his back next to the wall on the left. He moaned. LaMonica pulled up next to him and slammed on the brakes. He grabbed the gun off the seat and took aim out the window. Mr. Cool held out a hand. 'No more,' he said. LaMonica pulled the trigger again and the black man's head exploded. He kicked the pedal to the floor and zoomed down the alley and around the corner.

Chapter 25

One by one, the men arrested at Teddy's Bar had refused to talk.

Carr sat with Rodriguez and Kelly around a wooden table in the police station's interview room, waiting for the last prisoner to be sent in. The cubicle, its unfinished plaster walls bearing some indentations with red marks that Carr thought might have been made with a human head, was filled with the odor of fresh oranges. Like a ritual, Rodriguez had peeled and gobbled one orange after each unsuccessful interview.

Rodriguez thumbed his hat off his forehead. He massaged an orange and ripped it in half. Leaning over the wastebasket, he chomped. Juice dripped into the basket. 'I told you none of them would tell us anything,' he said with his mouth full.

Carr shrugged. Kelly yawned. Rodriguez finished the rest of his orange.

A guard opened the door. He shoved a thirtyish man dressed in greasy Levi's and leather vest into the room. The man had an untrimmed beard and a head of long and knotted hair like a collie's that needed brushing. He was tattooed on both arms, wore an earring, and his hands were chaffed and gray with dirt.

Rodriguez pointed to a chair. The man sat down at the table across from him.

Carr showed the man his badge. 'We're U.S. Treasury agents,' Carr said. He flipped over a mug shot of Paul LaMonica that was lying on the table. 'Do you know this man?'

'I don't know what you're talking about.'

'We're not trying to hassle you,' Carr said. 'The man is a murderer. All I'm asking is that you take a look at the photograph and tell me if you recognize him.'

The long-haired man stared Carr in the eye. 'I don't see no photograph, pig.'

'You might be in a jam because of the guy that you people beat up at Teddy's,' Carr said. 'You might find yourself doing a little time down here for it. We can help with that if you want to cooperate.'

The man glared at Carr, then at Kelly. 'Like I said, I don't see no goddamn photograph.'

Rodriguez ripped open another juicy orange. 'Are you saying that you really can't see the mug shot?' he said angrily. 'You actually can't see the mug shot even though it's sitting right there in front of you on the table?' He made an exaggerated expression of disbelief.

'You heard what I said, greaseball.'

With a catlike motion, Rodriguez reached over the table and grabbed the prisoner's hair. He yanked him fully across the table and locked the man's throat in the crook of his arm. He squeezed and the prisoner gasped for air. With his free hand, Rodriguez mashed the orange pulp into the man's eyes. 'Maybe this will help you see, pendejo!'

The man made a stifled yelp. Rodriguez squeezed harder. More orange juice ran into the prisoner's eyes. He struggled frantically. Without releasing his grip on the prisoner's neck, Rodriguez stood up and walked to the door with the struggling man. Having opened it, he punched and kicked the blinded man out the door and into the arms of a uniformed officer. He yelled something in Spanish, and the guard dragged the man away.

Rodriguez pulled out a handkerchief. He wiped his hand carefully.

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