The Innocents: Part Fourteen

Click here for previous installments   TWENTY-SIX   Rain bent the camphor tree branches, swirled under the streetlights, danced and sheeted on the pavement. It ran off the shake roof of the big Craftsman as Wil pulled into the driveway and under the portico. Drawn curtains glowed upstairs; he could hear Guerra’s big sound system playing. He got out of the car, thumbed the safety off the .45, and held it down at his thigh. The front door was unlocked. He slipped inside, scanned it from a crouch. The living and dining areas were dark except for miniscule greens and reds on the stereo panel. The furnishings were lumpy shapes. Light...

The Innocents: Part Thirteen

Click here for previous installments   TWENTY-FOUR   Saturday morning brought thundershowers, rain falling and the sun shining, then the last of the clouds crowded out of the L.A. basin east toward Arizona. By nine the sky was clear and blue, odd contrast to the flood warnings broadcast for some canyon and low-lying areas. After dozing intermittently, Wil turned the clock radio from low to off, shook the cobwebs out, and took inventory. He was much sorer than yesterday. His knee was puffy and reluctant and tweaked him getting out of bed despite its Ace bandage. A centipede crawled in his scalp wound, evidence of healing. After...

The Innocents: Part Twelve

Click here for previous installments   TWENTY-TWO   “She’s at Guerra’s, dammit. What more do you need?” For an hour they’d kicked it around, Wil thrusting, Epstein parrying. “You know damn well,” Mo came back. “Even if the DA likes it, we have to convince a judge to sign a warrant. And you want Freiman, one of your big fans, to kick it off?” Mo took a swig of High Life. “Terrific. You ever think that maybe Guerra has grandchildren?” “Hard without a wife, Mo, remember? Besides, a grandfather might buy toys. A playpen maybe. But the rest—all at once like that? Give me a break.” “So we check it out.” “And two days later, the little...

The Innocents: Part Eleven

Click here for previous installments   TWENTY   The cemetery lay on land a developer would die for; oaks grew there and cypress trees and, beside the bluff overlooking the ocean where the five were gathered, purple-flowered succulents. Wil parked the Harley on the downslope and walked the rest of the way, gloved hands in the pockets of his overcoat. Worse places, he kept telling himself. He shook hands with the caretakers and the two longtime friends of Paul’s who still lived in town. After a few attempts, small talk ceased as they waited for the family to arrive. Lisa kept her eyes on the ground. He felt like shit. Parts that...

The Innocents: Part Ten

Click here for previous installments   EIGHTEEN   The day had been mierda, the aroma of soiled diapers well suited to the degenerating tenor of their confrontation. First there was Bolo’s incredible macho stupidity in revealing himself to Hardesty—something Bolo insolently shrugged off, but which may have doomed them all. Then this new thing with the child. Leonardo Guerra sank back in the leather chair, thirty-year-old Fundador offering scant solace for Bolo’s insufferable strut, the words that still rang in his ears: “Whose do you think she is, goddammit? Find room!” He felt like a man sinking inch by inch into quicksand. He...