Nightshine, p.26
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       Nightshine, p.26

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
Page 26


  A hand covered with bleeding scratches pushed the door closed, and he turned to find Charlotte beside him. “I told you to wait. ”

  “I yelled, but you couldn’t hear me over all the noise. ” She pointed toward the house. “Our Peeping Tom is back. ”

  Samuel swept her off her feet and carried her through the saw grass back to safer ground, and then scanned the area. “Where is he?”

  “He went inside the house. ” She caught his wrist. “He wouldn’t walk right in there for kicks. Maybe he wants to talk. ”

  “The sun has set. ” He eyed the dark windows. “You still can’t read his thoughts now?”

  She shook her head. “It’s like he’s some kind of phantom. ”

  Samuel didn’t believe in ghosts. “Then it’s time we find out why he’s haunting us. ”

  Chapter 11

  Cold water flooding over his face hurtled Jonah Genaro back to consciousness.

  “Get up. ”

  The boot that collided with his ribs was neither vicious nor merciful; its owner used just enough force to inflict the maximum amount of pain without causing serious injury. Genaro felt no surprise when he looked up to see rusting bars and the bored features of the uniformed prison guard.

  “Get up,” the guard repeated. “El jefe wants to see you. ”

  Genaro made a personal inventory as he stood; they’d taken his shoes, socks, belt, tie, and jacket. He’d also been stripped and re-dressed; his shirt remained crookedly buttoned. The air in the cell stank of old urine and despair; graffiti that ran the gamut from pathetic to obscene littered the cracked paint covering the cinder-block walls.

  The last thing he remembered was drinking some water while he waited for Energúmeno in his dining room. Whatever drug they had used, it had been completely tasteless.

  The guard kept one eye on him as he unlocked the cell door, and then stepped back to make a terse gesture for Genaro to go out first. He walked over the filthy concrete floor into the outside corridor. Wherever he was, it was a popular dumping ground; at least ten men occupied each of the other cells, all of which had been built to comfortably accommodate only two.

  Every eye watched them as they walked down the corridor; not one of the inmates uttered a sound.

  The guard escorted him through a maze of cell corridors, holding areas, and guard stations, using different keys to gain access whenever they came to another barrier. On his hip he wore a truncheon that needed cleaning and a . 38 automatic in an old leather holster; the outlines of a backup clip bulged in his pocket.

  The guard knocked on a door that had been painted more recently than the fifties, and waited until a voice called out something in Spanish. He opened the door and gave Genaro a push inside.

  The office contained all the cheap trappings of desperate self-importance: framed official-looking documents and photos of minor politicians smiling stiffly at the cameras, their hands clasped in the big-knuckled grip of a pudgy, balding man in an ill-fitted suit. The Mexican flag stood proudly displayed next to a small shrine to the country’s current president. A glass-fronted case held the curiosities of the confiscated: homemade tattoo machines, electrical wire garrotes, and blades fashioned from toothbrushes and utensil handles.

  Behind the desk sat the pudgy man featured so prominently in the wall photos. Today he wore a slightly better suit, but his comb-over was disordered and a red welt marred his right, pockmarked cheek.

  “I am Warden Delgado. ” The warden did not look up from the paperwork he was pretending to read. “Sit down. ”

  Genaro glanced at the stained leather upholstery of the chair in front of the desk, and saw how many gouges had been left in the wooden arms. The guard shuffled forward to stand behind it, fingering the grip of his truncheon, and glare at Genaro.

  “Do you know who I am?” Genaro asked the warden.

  “You are a prisoner. ” Delgado sounded bored. “If you do not sit down in the next five seconds, you will be a prisoner with a crack in his head, bleeding on my floor. ”

  As soon as Genaro occupied the chair, the guard cuffed his right wrist to the chair and withdrew from the room. The warden continued his farce of busywork until the door opened again, this time admitting Carasegas.

  “You remember our police chief?” The warden stood, stacking some papers that he tucked into a folder before he walked around the desk. To the chief, he said, “He is waiting for your call. ”

  Genaro noted the shift in the warden’s tone as he spoke to the chief. Delgado was trying to project machismo when in reality he was terrified—and not of Genaro or the chief.

  Carasegas nodded. “I will contact him as soon as I’ve finished with the prisoner. ”

  Genaro watched Delgado leave and the chief take his place behind the desk. “Why am I here?”

  “You were arrested for murdering Pedro Tacal. ” Carasegas tucked his hands behind his neck and sat back, idly rocking in the executive chair. “With great remorse you confessed to me the details of your crime, and tomorrow you will plead guilty before a judge. You will be sentenced to life without parole and placed in solitary confinement. ”

  “Why am I being framed for this murder?” Genaro asked.

  “You will have no phone or legal privileges,” the chief continued, as if Genaro hadn’t spoken. “Any records pertaining to you and your incarceration will be destroyed. By next week no one, not even I, will know where you are. ”

  Genaro inclined his head to acknowledge the chief’s threat. “Is there some sort of financial arrangement we can make in order to divert this unhappy fate of mine?”

  “You think your money can buy you anything, eh, gabacho ?” Carasegas indulged in a big belly laugh. “Maybe it can in America, but you are in my country now. ” He snapped his fingers. “Like that you could be gone. Forever. They wouldn’t even find your bones. ”

  “If you intended to keep me incarcerated,” Genaro said, “you would have taken my clothes and left me to rot. If you wanted to kill me, I’d already be dead. So tell me, who is your employer, and what does he really want from me?”

  A flicker of unease passed over the chief’s features before he leaned forward to put his folded hands on the desk. “You will give me the names and current locations of all the people you intended to use for this special project of yours. ”

  Energúmeno must have arranged this, Genaro thought. No one else had the knowledge or the resources to pull it off. “Is that all?”

  “You also have a scientist working for you. ” The chief took a folded note from his pocket and read from it. “Dr. Eliot Kirchner. You will call him and tell him to come to Manzanillo. ” He pushed the phone on the desk to the edge. “Now. ”

  Genaro picked up the receiver with his free hand and dialed a number. “Eliot? There’s been a complication. I need you to fly down to Manzanillo. ” He listened to the empty line for a moment. “It can’t wait. Take the next flight out. I’ll have someone meet you at the airport. ” He paused. “Good, then I’ll see you tonight. ” He hung up the receiver and regarded the chief. “I’ll need access to a computer to retrieve the data you want. ”

  “There are no computers here. ” Carasegas frowned. “Call the doctor back. Tell him to bring it with him. ”

  “Kirchner doesn’t have access to my personal database. No one does except me. ” He twisted his cuffed wrist. “If you want the data, I need to use a computer with Internet access. Perhaps if we were to return to my hotel, I could—”

  “I’ll take you back to the station,” Carasegas decided. “You’ll use my computer, and if you try anything, anything at all . . . ” He snapped his fingers.

  The police chief made two calls while a guard arrived with Genaro’s shoes and jacket. He was uncuffed only long enough to put them on, but as soon as he smoothed down his lapels he held out his wrists.

  As Genaro suspected, the jail was some distance from the city, and
it took Carasegas thirty minutes to make the drive back. Along the way he told Genaro how little his power, influence, and wealth meant south of the border.

  “You Americans always come down here expecting movie Mexicans in their sombreros and ponchos, holding their dirty hands out for a few pesos. ” He snorted. “We are smarter than you thought, eh?”

  “You’re certainly more resourceful than I anticipated,” Genaro conceded, keeping his eyes on the rearview mirror. “Does your employer plan to collect my targets himself, or send you after them?”

  Carasegas’s smug smile evaporated. “That is not for you to know, gabacho. As soon as you give me the list of names, you are leaving Mexico, and if you are smart, you will never return. ”

  “I’m sure this will be my final visit. ” Genaro saw a white cargo van come up alongside the chief’s car, where it paced him for a moment before dropping back and merging into the traffic behind it. “I think I’m having a reaction to the drugs you gave me. Would you pull over?”

  “No. ”

  He produced a liquid cough. “Then you have no objection to my vomiting on your seats?”

  Carasegas swore as he veered off the road and came to a stop on the shoulder. He marched around to the back door, opening it to pull Genaro out.

  “You Americans with your weak bellies,” the chief started, only to stop and look back as the cargo van pulled up behind them. The driver climbed out and called something in Spanish, to which the chief answered casually. The distraction kept him from noticing the second van that pulled off the road in front of his car.

  Genaro watched his men pour out of both vans; all of them were armed with automatic weapons. By the time Carasegas had gotten out his pistol he was surrounded.

  The police chief eyed him. “How did you send for them? Did you use some code when you called the scientist?”

  “I never actually called Eliot, and I believe it’s my turn to ask the questions. ” He held out his wrists, and one of the men removed the handcuffs. “Who are you working for, and where is he?”
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