Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two Guns 23 - Der Kommissar

The cold wind that grabbed Queens in general haunted the Flushing Meadows in particular. Mark grabbed the sides of his trench coat, drawing it closer to his body. He didn't need to glance at his watch to know he'd spent ten minutes on this park bench; assassination requires a good sense of timing. All things considered, he had a rather good spot, owing to the largely empty park; his vantage point gave him a direct look at the Unisphere. Just for kicks, Mark looked at the giant globe and tried to mentally place all African countries in their correct positions. It was slow going, especially after South Africa, but he persisted until he heard approaching footsteps.

Captain Paul Whitton sat down on the bench, joining Mark in looking at the gargantuan steel globe.

"Looks like shit now, doesn't it?" Whitton said.
"I appreciate a good piece of steel," Mark replied.
"Yeah, but this used to be a lot better. Did you ever see it lit up?" When Mark confessed that he hadn't, Whitton sighed. "My Dad took me here for the World Fair. The globe looked fantastic. The real sun was slipping behind the Manhattan skyline, and I watched all the capitals light up, the soft shadows...that had to be like the astronauts looked at the world, you know? Awesome...but small."
"We need to talk about Karen Ayers," Mark said, matter-of-factly. Whitton nodded softly, but said nothing. "Can't we get rid of her somehow?"

Whitton clicked his tongue dismissively.

"What do you wanna hear? That you should go out and kill her?"
"Because that's right out," Whitton said sharply. "I like the agreement as much as the next man, but I'm here to save lives, not to cover my ass."
"I appreciate your idealism, Captain," Mark said. "Really, I do. But the way I see it, something's got to give. I've thought about it, and every other way, somebody important gets thrown to the wolves..."
"And you don't think that Ayers lady is important? You figure everything's gonna be fine if I let you be the wolf?" Whitton replied. "Let's say I forget my personal moral standards and nod off on this, what do you think the DA's office is going to do, huh? Tuck their collective tail between their legs and forget that they have dirt on us? You do that - you just touch her, let alone kill her - they'll go nuclear on us. That doesn't help anybody."

Mark didn't say anything. His train of thought kept running into concrete walls, no matter which track he travelled down.

"Well, you watch yourself, Simmons," Whitton said, finally breaking the silence. "I'm going home."
"Have a good day, Captain," Mark replied.
"You too."

Whitton got up and walked, footsteps crunching the snow and gravel below his shoes. Mark sat there, head cocked to the side, watching Whitton leave. He heard the approach of his second appointment in the distance; another figure on that bench, just three minutes after Whitton had gone.

"Did you get anything?" Karen Ayers asked; there was a click from within the pocket of Mark's coat, and then he handed her a small tape recorder.
"He didn't go for it," Mark said. "I can still get you other dirt on him, but I need more time..."
"Time is what we don't have. What you don't have."
"I just need more time," Mark insisted.
"Simmons, let's not forget one thing here: I'm doing you a favor here. You called me. You want to deal, okay, let's deal, but what are you offering me? You want to give me Alfredo Ingues without the cartel or his daughter, and what good is a case against a dead man?"
"I can't..."
"Yeah, that's a fair assessment, you can't. I come here and this is the way you want to get me Paul Whitton?"
"I will get you Whitton."
"That's good. You for Whitton, that's fair."
"That's not the deal we were talking about."
"That's the deal you're getting. You want to protect that little cartel of yours? That's a juicy, obvious target. You're trying to convince me, Simmons, aren't you? Give me something juicy, something I want."


"Boris Dolvitch," Mark said through clenched teeth. "I can get you Boris Dolvitch and the rest of the Russian Mafia."
"We're going to get them anyway, once the cops finish sifting through your wreckage at the BAT. You do know that you screwed yourself with that one, don't you?"
"That was a different group of Russians, I can get you evidence to nail Dolvitch and everyone he works with."
"What about you?"
"What about me? Do I look like I need protection? If I go down, then that's how it's going to be."
"Tough words, Simmons."
"I'm more than words, Ayers," Mark said, glaring at her.

Then it was his turn to get up and walk away. With every step there was a sting in his belly, his guts churning and twisting into knots. Whitton he could stomach, though it was a crying shame to feed a good man like that to the grinder. Boris, though...Mark felt sick at the thought, but at the end of the day, Boris was just a friend. Boris wasn't family. And Mark was doing this to save his family, he told himself, nothing too extreme to save the family.

He thought about Sharon.

He'd have to tell her after this, about the choices. She...she'd understand, surely. It's not like Whitton was innocent, nobody was getting framed here; she would have to understand eventually that this was for her sake, too. The inevitable fall of Paul Whitton, without dragging her down. And the family, well, that was a no-brainer. With all the other organizations out of the way, the cartel could lay low, play it legit, watch the heat die down. Mark pictured a nice, long vacation in a non-extraditing country with Sharon, all expenses paid by Senora Ingues. A sacrifice, sure, but that's how the family took care of its own.

It wasn't what Jesus would've done, Mark reflected with a bitter smile. But it would do.


Captain Paul Whitton drove home, engine purring and smooth jazz pouring out of the radio like a steady stream of sonic nougat crème. Traffic out of Queens was light, but he drove slowly over the slippery roads, not wanting to chance a loss of control. He was considering things, which meant further loss of pressure on the gas pedal, and he wasn't looking forward to the pot roast for dinner at all.

He turned the radio down and reached into the bag on the passenger's seat. His hand snaked past his badge and issue Glock before grabbing onto a small moleskin notebook; he rested it on the steering wheel, flipped it to Page 7, then grabbed the receiver from his dash-mounted car phone and punched in the number on that page. Red light ahead; Whitton stepped on the brake well in advance, accounting for the lack of traction and bringing the car to a gentle stop. The speaker pressed to his ear reproduced a ring tone, the little representation of potentiality: a call neither taken nor denied.

A click, then a voice. The signal went green. Whitton stepped on the gas.

"Chief, the situation is out of control," the Captain said, not bothering with pleasantries. "We need to move fast on this one."


Shuffling through Mark's pad, Sharon walked in fur slippers three sizes too big for her, having rapidly exhausted the entertainment possibilities of the place. The doors to the garage and basement were locked, she wasn't in the mood for reading and there was only so much amusement she could glean from Mark's record collection. Fortunately, she had found a police scanner in a cardboard box of fresh surveillance gear Mark had left in the kitchen; it felt comforting to listen to some chatter with familiar lingo while she assembled the turkey sandwich to end all turkey sandwiches. To that end, she had opened a fresh package of sourdough bread and cut off a few slices with the most unintentionally sinister kitchen knife she'd ever seen; now the task was to pile on turkey cuts, cheese and, well, some slices of ham - for flavor. She watched her creation with distrust, not quite certain of its structural integrity, questioning her decision about having six layers of meat. She grabbed the knife to cut the creation in two, but felt the sandwich slipping at the slightest touch.

A ham too far?

Cussing under her breath, she held down the top slice of bread with her left hand. With the knife sinking in, she could see the sandwich's contents trying to spill out to the sides, but they could not, would not escape her. With a final push, the sandwich laid bare before, cleft in twain with a mail-order ginsu knife. Sharon's triumph was dulled momentarily when she realized that she's forgotten to apply the mustard beforehand and would now have to engage in the culinarily suspicious act of flavoring the halves separately.

One minute later and she'd forgotten all about being hungry.


"Dispatch to all units, we have a BOLO on a Mark Simmons, aka Marcus Aaron Simmons, Caucasian male, age 46, about six feet, brown hair, described as muscular, probably wearing long black clothing. He was last seen in the Flushing Meadows Park. Simmons is wanted in connection with last night's killing spree at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. If identified, do not approach, I repeat, do not approach. Suspect is considered armed and dangerous, call dispatch if identified. I repeat, we have a BOLO on a Mark Simmons..."

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