Carr made some notes, then put the pen and pad away.

'I've set it up so he'll be coming over here tomorrow afternoon. You can arrest him when he drives up,' Linda said.

Carr stood up and sauntered to the door. 'I'll check the fugitive files.'

Linda was looking at her hands. 'If you arrest him, can I get my reward the same day? I've got a few bills to take care of.'

'That should be no problem,' Carr said.

Carr yanked open a file drawer labeled 'Fugitive.' He pulled out a stack of brown manila envelopes and spread them out on his desk. It took him an hour to determine that three out of seventy-odd files related to males with the first name Paul. Only one, Paul LaMonica, fit the general description. Carr's finger traced the fine print of the section marked 'Physical Characteristics.' The amputation was described as 'LFT/little/missing.' The last line of the rundown sheet read: 'Check NCIC for warrant validity.' Carr folded the file and slid his chair to the Teletype machine a few feet behind him. He typed in LaMonica's name, date of birth, and social-security number, copying the information from the file. He pressed the 'end of message' button and waited.

Minutes later, the machine rattled to life again. It typed:


The machine stopped. Carr leaned back in his chair and read the rest of the file carefully. It included a 'Synopsis of Investigation,' which read as follows:

LaMonica was the principal in a scheme to cause the distribution of extremely high-quality counterfeit hundred-dollar bills. He was able to transact a number of large purchases of diamonds from legitimate jewelers with the bogus notes. He resold the diamonds to other jewelers. LaMonica worked alone in the confidence operation and is believed to have printed the counterfeit notes himself. During the course of the scheme the subject used various forms of well-made counterfeit identification. LaMonica has contacts in Mexico and is believed to be in biding there.

There was a mug shot photograph of LaMonica stapled to the inside of the file. Carr ripped the photo off and put it in his pocket.

It was almost 5:00 P.M.

The atmosphere in Linda's apartment was uneasy. Carr had been there since noon. Linda was sitting on the sofa, thumbing through a fashion magazine. They had run out of small talk. Carr paced in front of the window. Outside, in a courtyard decorated with dying Oriental trees in planter boxes, an old woman with brown spots on her back floated around a swimming pool on an inflated rubber mattress. There was no other activity. The mold- colored apartment doors surrounding the swimming pool might as well have been nailed shut. Through the wrought-iron fence enclosing the entrance to the complex Carr could see Jack Kelly leaning back in the driver's seat of the G-car.

Linda picked up the mug shot that was on the coffee table. It was next to a walkie-talkie radio stenciled PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVT. 'His hair is grayer than in that picture,' she said. 'I think he dyes it.'

'It would have been better if you had set up a meeting somewhere other than your apartment,' Carr said. He was still looking out the window.

'No matter where or how you arrest him, no matter what time of day or how you do it, in the long run he's going to figure out that I did him,' she said.

Carr turned to face the woman. 'After we arrest him we can say that we followed him from-'

'It doesn't matter what bullshit story you give him,' Linda interrupted. 'He'll figure out that I was the snitch.

He's not dumb. I'm not worried as long as he goes back to prison. I'm moving to another apartment next week anyway.' She ran her hands through her hair, took a deep breath, and exhaled. 'How about some coffee?' she said.

'No thanks.'

She picked up the walkie-talkie radio and pressed the 'transmit' button. 'Cup of coffee, Jack?'

'No thanks,' Kelly said.

Linda put the radio down. 'I hate all the people where I work,' she said. 'There's no one that's normal. Even the bartenders are ex-cons. Deals go down in there every minute of the day: dope, funny money, hot jewelry, you name it. I don't know how I find these kind of places; come to think of it, they seem to find me. Everyone trusts me because I was married to Richard. They think I'm solid.' She laughed without smiling.

Nothing was said for a while. Linda flitted about the apartment picking things up, emptying ashtrays. She wiped off the kitchen sink with a sponge. Drying her hands, she turned to Carr. 'May I ask you something?' Her tone was soft.

'Shoot,' he said.

'After all these years, why haven't you ever made a pass at me? Other men find me attractive Her smile was wry.

Carr fidgeted. 'I guess it's because I don't like to mix business with pleasure,' he said.

'Other cops do.' She turned to the sink again and filled a coffeepot with water. 'You're right,' she said. 'It would never work. I wouldn't trust you afterward. It's the way I feel about most men who-'

'I think it's him,' Kelly blared over the radio. 'He's parking across the street … getting out of his car.'

Carr snapped the blinds closed. He grabbed the radio off the coffee table and pressed the transmit button. 'Roger,' he said. He leaned close to the blinds and peeked out.

'This is the part I can do without,' Linda said. She put the coffeepot down and hurried into the bedroom.

'He's comin' atcha,' Kelly announced. 'I'll be behind him.'

Carr pulled his revolver out of its holster without taking his eyes off the space in the blinds.

The gray-haired man opened the wrought-iron gate and stopped. He looked around for a moment, then strolled to the apartment door and knocked. Carr swung open the door and pointed his revolver at the man's face. 'Federal officers, LaMonica. You're under arrest.' LaMonica raised his hands. Kelly approached at a full run. He snapped handcuffs on the man's hands.

Linda Gleason came out of the bedroom, a sheepish look on her face. Paul LaMonica stared at her the way inmates stare at prison guards: enmity without expression.

Carr sat in the backseat with LaMonica on the way to the Field Office for the usual processing.

LaMonica was slouched down in the seat. 'I wanna do a deal,' he said.

Carr was looking out the window at nothing in particular. He didn't answer.

'I know what you're thinking,' LaMonica said. 'You know my record. I've never cooperated in the past, so why should I now?' He squirmed.

Carr nodded.

'It's because I have enemies at Terminal Island this time. If you send me back there it's the death sentence. I'll get shanked in a week. One of the prison gangs has a contract out on me.' LaMonica's eyes were wide. 'That's why I had to escape. It was a matter of survival.'

Carr reached across the front seat and pulled a booking form from above the visor. He took a pen out of his pocket and filled in LaMonica's name.

LaMonica stared at the form. 'I have something to offer, but once you book me it will be too late. Can't we just pull over and chat for a few seconds?'

Carr wrote 'Camel's-hair sport coat, brown pants' under a column marked 'Prisoner's Clothing.' 'Mr. LaMonica wants to chat,' Carr said without looking up.

Kelly laughed.

'I've got a hundred grand in twenties stashed here in L.A.,' LaMonica said.

Kelly stopped laughing. His eyes met Carr's in the rearview mirror. Carr nodded. Kelly steered off the freeway and into a supermarket parking lot. He stopped the car and turned off the engine.

'Where's the stash?' Carr said.

Вы читаете The Quality of the Informant
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