The Innocents: Part Eight

Click here for previous installments   FOURTEEN   It was the honking that brought him out of it, forcing him to notice the guy behind him in the jacked-up stepside. The driver was gesturing at the car’s length that had opened up, leaning out now, yelling loud enough for Wil to hear. “Fuckin’ car phones. Move your ass, goddammit.” Beating back the impulse to stay on the line, Wil killed the connection and dialed 911. As he waited, he fumbled for the Angel’s Bar address, then 911 answered and he told them. Next he dialed Vella, praying that he hadn’t left work yet; five rings, then Vella was there, listening, questioning, promising...

The Innocents: Part Seven

Click here for previous installments   TWELVE   The man in the ragged fatigue jacket sidled over to the white car and eased in. “Classy,” Wil said. “Explains the naked vagrant I saw back there.” Mo Epstein eyed Wil’s stained bomber jacket, jeans, and scuffed boots. “Go ahead,” he said, “spend all your money on clothes.” He examined the interior of the Bonneville. “Nothing sadder than a concours without d’elegance.” “You’d fit nicely in the trunk. What are those?” Epstein showed him a stack of photocopies: sketches of Bolo Zavala with an inset of the razor blade tattoo, his description, and a phone number. Wil glanced at one: odd...

The Innocents: Part Six

Click here for previous installments   TEN   Wil aimed the .45 and fired; a plume of reddish dirt rose and fell with a clatter of stones. Aiming again, he squeezed off another round: Fifty feet away, the soup can jerked in the air and clinked against the hillside. He replaced the clip. Reaching into his duffel, he pulled out the beer cans, lined them up slightly apart on the fallen cottonwood. Twelve paces he stepped off, closer this time. Assuming a two-handed stance, he let loose all seven rounds at the six targets. Four spun off as the sound rolled away down the canyon. Most of the time he hadn’t much occasion for the .45. But...

The Innocents: Part Five

Click here for previous installments   EIGHT   Leonardo Guerra put the phone back in the onyx cradle. Sunlight slanting through the French doors illuminated the smoke from his cigar, an exceptionally fine Havana. For a moment he watched it waft upward toward polished wood beams, then he rose from the desk. Father Martin was right. They were going to have to raise the stakes for Hermosillo; the work there was too important, the old facilities inadequate. The run-down hotel they’d converted was beyond repair, the orphanage similarly decrepit. They needed another drive, another huge effort. Money and a great deal of it. He flicked a...

The Innocents: Part Four

Click here for previous installments   SIX   Paul was up and glad for the company; as he listened to Wil’s plan to meet Freiman and Vella, he blew on decaf, then offered his opinion. “Sheeit. Probably just my Hispanic instincts about cops, but I’d be careful, I was you.” Wil said he would. Paul looked skeptical then brightened. “Hey, I got through to my sources. Two’re researching, but my Border guy knew Zavala. Some bad mother—got into a scrape with some of my guy’s people near Calexico. Early seventies, it was, after they got a tip he was coming. Four in the morning they spring an ambush. Zavala opens up on ’em, using his...

The Innocents: Part Three

Click here for previous installments   FOUR   Wil covered the seventy-five miles to the San Fernando Valley in just over an hour. Winter Santa Anas had blown out the usual murk leaving a tapestry ringed by unexpected mountains, the effect one of revelation, like focusing a lens or seeing the girl next door in a party dress. Sharply defined, the Valley, like L.A., wasn’t pretty—he’d never call it that—but it made you look. For over a year now, most of his jobs—those that panned out—had taken him south, away from the local rep he earned during the two-year tailspin after Devin. Anything to cut the pain, slice through the black...