'What will satisfy you?' Carr said sarcastically.

'Three things. I want a ten-thousand-dollar reward for telling you where to find LaMonica. I want my possession case in L.A. dismissed. I want the heat taken off my bar and my customers that were arrested, released. Without your promise on all three items, I can tell you right now that you will never find Paul LaMonica. I guess you know he has access to all the phony identification he wants. I guess you know that.'

'Where can you deliver him?' Carr said.

'Right here in Ensenada.'

'I want him in the U.S.,' Carr said.

Mora removed his sunglasses. There were red marks on the bridge of his nose. He massaged them and replaced the glasses. 'I might be able to work something out along those lines if everything else sounds right. And you'll dismiss my counterfeit case?'

'The U.S. attorney should go along with that in exchange for LaMonica.'

'And the ten-grand reward?'

'Ten grand is out of the question,' Carr said. 'But I can probably get you a grand. Money's been tight this year.'

'I need ten grand to pay my lawyer on the possession case.

'No you don't,' Carr said. 'You told the U.S. magistrate you were unemployed and he appointed the public defender for you.'

Teddy Mora rubbed the bridge of his nose again. 'You really do remind me of the old days, Carr.'

'Then we have a deal?'

'Snitching off LaMonica is not worth the risk unless you can guarantee that Rodriguez will take the heat off my bar.'

'I can ask him,' Carr said. 'He'll probably go along with the program.'

'Can you guarantee that?'

'I can't guarantee anything.'

'I'm not sure it's worth the risk. I'll think about it and let you know.'

Carr stood up and left.

Paul LaMonica lay on the storeroom cot where he had been since Teddy left, his feet resting on the black briefcase. His eyes were closed, and he could hear the murmur of the ocean. The hunger he had felt had gone away, as had the ringing in his ears he'd suffered from firing out of the car. The cot was firm and he was not uncomfortable.

A key slipped into the front-door lock.

LaMonica vaulted from the cot. He grabbed the briefcase and drew his revolver, aiming it at the door as he approached cautiously.

'It's me,' Teddy Mora said. 'Everything is okay.' Mora entered the room carefully, hands over his head. LaMonica stepped outside the door and looked around for a moment. He returned inside and stuffed the revolver back in his belt.

Teddy Mora grabbed some bar napkins off a table and wiped his brow. 'Relax,' he said. 'Teddy has this thing almost put together.' He looked at the napkins and wadded them in his hand. 'The man agreed to do a quick deal as a personal favor to me.' He turned and headed toward the bar. Having poured a shot glass of tequila and tossed it back, he coughed a string of saliva. 'Went down the wrong pipe,' Mora muttered as he pounded his chest. Taking a few deep breaths, he made his way to a cocktail table and sat down. He waved LaMonica to a chair.

LaMonica ignored the gesture. 'Let's hear it,' he said.

'Now all we do is head for the bank where I have my money on deposit. The manager is wired. He'll be expecting us. You make your deposit and then we wait at a pay phone for a call. The dope will be stashed in a car parked in the pay lot on the American side of the border. We won't even have to sweat getting the load across. One of their mules will have already taken care of that for us. It's their risk, not ours. This is the goddamn beauty of it. We take delivery on the U.S. side. We drive over, pick it up, and head for Hollywood. The Barber will be waiting. By ten o'clock tonight we'll be counting our shekels. The deal will be done. '

'Do you mean to tell me you've agreed to front the money on this side of the border?' LaMonica said. 'I don't like it. What if they just take our hundred grand and say thanks?'

'You know as well as I do that all deals down here involve front money,' Mora said. 'These Mexicans won't deal any other way.'

'I don't like it,' LaMonica said. He realized he was holding his briefcase and felt foolish. He tossed it on a chair.

'I'm already committed to the deal,' Mora said. 'My fifty G's are going up front. If you want to back out, I'll try to get credit somewhere for the other fifty. But give me an answer right away because I'm going to have to reach out quickly for the rest of the buy money. I'm committed to the deal and it's got to go.'

LaMonica stared at the briefcase for a moment. He looked Mora in the eye. 'And you are personally standing behind the deal?'

Mora stood up. He unzipped his trousers and adjusted his shorts. 'Yes, I am. I am that confident.'

Teddy Mora parked his camper truck in front of the bank, a brown brick building with a bay window.

LaMonica looked around carefully. He climbed out of the vehicle and waited for Mora to lock the car doors. Next door to the bank was a bluish neon sign balanced over a curtained entrance. The word Rene's flashed on and off. And on either side of the door were black-and-white photographs of women wearing sequined G-strings and pasties.

Though it was at least ninety degrees, LaMonica felt cold, as if a block of ice had been fastened to the small of his back. Icy headache. Frozen vertebrae. In prison he had lost full nights of sleep because of that sensation. He touched the butt of the revolver in his waistband. He followed Mora into the bank.

Mora spoke briefly in Spanish with a well-dressed young man sitting at a desk. Mora pointed to LaMonica's briefcase. More businesslike discussion. Mora nodded. LaMonica handed over the briefcase. The manager took it behind a teller's cage. After a while, he returned carrying a receipt and the emptied briefcase. He handed both items to Mora. The two shook hands and exchanged more words in Spanish. LaMonica followed Mora out of the bank. Mora handed the receipt to LaMonica. On it was written 'TRS714.' LaMonica questioned the notation.

'That's the license number of the car that the coke will be stashed in,' Mora said. 'He told me the car is a green Chevy and will be parked in the northwest corner of the border parking lot. Now all we do is have a drink and wait for final delivery instructions.'

LaMonica looked at his wristwatch. The cold feeling had not gone away. Teddy Mora led the way into Rene's, a dark place with a runway protruding from a tiny stage. Two old, overweight women wearing frayed chiffon cocktail dresses sat at the bar.

Mora shuffled to the end of the bar and took a seat near a pay telephone. LaMonica followed and sat down next to him. The bartender, a bloated man with thick, ebony hair that looked wet, set bar napkins in front of them. They ordered drinks. Mora pointed a thumb at the wall phone. 'Our call will be coming in on that phone,' he said. 'If they say 'George is home,' we head for the border. That's the okay signal. If they say anything else it means that the deal has been queered. We walk back into the bank and pick up our money. This is the beauty of the deal. The bank man looks out for everybody's interest. He's part of their operation, but he's a legit businessman. He's not going to do anything to piss anyone off and then sit there every day at his desk waiting for somebody to throw a bomb through his front window. Right?'

'If you say so.'

The bartender served drinks. Teddy Mora tossed the man a five-dollar bill and told him to keep the change. He sipped, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. 'Damn! I forgot to call one of the boys to have them open up the bar while you and I are in Hollywood.' He stood up and lifted the phone receiver off the wall hook. He dropped in a peso and dialed. Shaking his head, he hung up and removed the peso. 'I'd better use another phone,' he said. 'If they call in and this one is busy it could screw things up.' Mora headed for the door. 'Be back in a sec,' he said as he flapped through the curtain door.

Paul LaMonica picked up his drink and walked slowly to the door. He peeked out the curtain. Teddy Mora stood at a sidewalk pay phone across the street fumbling for change.

Вы читаете The Quality of the Informant
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