Home > I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(6)

I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(6)
Author: Chris Carter


Ricky scratched his chin.

One more quick look at his watch. ‘OK, so just wait right here for five minutes. I’ll go pick up John and come back. You can meet him first, then you decide.’

‘He likes comic books?’ Ricky asked.

The man chuckled. ‘That’s putting it mildly.’

Ricky shrugged. ‘He sounds like he could be a cool guy.’

‘He is. He really is.’

‘OK then,’ Ricky conceded.

The man smiled and carried Ricky’s bike across the road. After placing it in the back of his car, he got into the driver’s seat.

‘We still have to get those hands and knees properly cleaned up,’ the man said as he geared up and got the car in motion. He turned right, then at the end of the block he swung left.

Ricky frowned as the man drove past the entrance to Morningside school.

‘You just missed the school.’ Ricky turned to look at the driver.

The man was looking at him with an evil smile on his lips.

‘Relax, kid.’ His voice had changed. Gone were the warmth and the soft tones, substituted by a firm, cold and throaty voice.

‘There’s nothing anyone can do for you now.’

 

 

Four


The crammed, open-plan space that formed the LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division was located just down the hall from Hunter’s office. There were no flimsy partitions or silly booths separating the messy labyrinth of desks. Identification was made either by desk nameplates, when they could be seen, or by shouting a detective’s name and waiting to see who would raise their hand and shout back ‘right here’.

Even at that time in the morning, the RHD sounded and looked like a beehive, alive with movement and buzzing with incomprehensible noise that seemed to come from every corner.

Captain Barbara Blake’s office was at the far end of the floor. It wasn’t a large room by any means, but it was spacious enough. The south wall was taken by bookshelves overflowing with hardcovers, the north one by a few framed photographs, commendations and achievement awards. The east wall was a floor-to-ceiling panoramic window, looking out over South Main Street. Directly in front of her mahogany twin desk were two bourbon-colored, Chesterfield leather armchairs. A rectangular black and white rug centered the room.

Hunter gave the door three firm knocks. A second later, he heard a voice from inside say, ‘Come in.’

Captain Blake was sitting behind her desk, with the phone receiver held firmly to her left ear.

‘I couldn’t care less how you do it,’ she said into the mouthpiece, lifting a hand at Hunter, ushering him inside and indicating that she’d be two seconds. ‘Just get it done . . . today.’ She slammed down the phone.

At least in here, nothing has changed, Hunter thought.

Barbara Blake had been captain of LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division for the past five years. Upon taking over from the previous captain, it hadn’t taken her long to establish a reputation as a no-nonsense, iron-fist leader. She certainly was an intriguing woman – tall, elegant and very attractive, with long black hair and piercing dark eyes that could either calm you or make you shiver with a simple stare. Nothing and no one intimidated her.

‘Robert,’ she said, getting up. She wore a tailor-made, light-gray suit with a white viscose blouse, black shoes and a thin black belt. Her hair was styled into a bun, and her small pearl earrings matched her necklace. ‘Welcome back.’ She paused for a short instant. ‘I’m sorry that your vacation didn’t turn out to be a vacation at all.’

Despite not knowing the true extent of the revelations brought on by the investigation Hunter had been involved in during his short time with the FBI, there was real sentiment in Captain Blake’s tone of voice.

Hunter’s reply was a simple nod.

The captain walked around to the front of her desk and paused, her forehead creasing slightly.

‘Where the hell is Carlos?’ she asked, instinctively tilting her body to one side to look past Hunter.

Hunter mirrored her questioning look.

‘He’s down the corridor, in the office, packing.’ He used a thumb to point over his shoulder.

‘Packing?’ The forehead creasing turned into an even more bewildered look. ‘Packing what?’

Hunter looked just as confused – Garcia had to have spoken to the captain about his transfer.

‘His stuff.’

The captain’s stare turned blank.

‘San Francisco? Their Fraud Division?’ Hunter said with a subtle headshake. ‘Just like our WCCU?’

Blank morphed into total perplexity.

‘What the hell are you talking about, Robert?’

Right at that moment, the door to Captain Blake’s office was pushed open and Garcia stepped inside.

‘Sorry I’m late, Captain. I had to sort out a few things on my desk.’

Looking completely lost, Hunter turned to face him.

‘Wow,’ Garcia said with a prankster’s smile on his face. ‘You ate up all that crap like a hungry baby, didn’t you? Frisco? Their Fraud Division? Really, Robert? C’mon!’

Captain Blake stiffened a smile. She didn’t have to ask. She had already figured out what had happened.

‘Son of a—’ Hunter said before a huge smile appeared on his lips.

‘Maybe you’re getting old, buddy,’ Garcia joked, tapping Hunter on the shoulder as he moved inside. ‘Losing your touch and all. I thought you’d be able to call my bluff straight away.’

Hunter bowed his head, accepting it. ‘Maybe I am getting too old for this.’ The smile was still on his lips. ‘I really never saw this coming. Even after you mentioned the fraud division. That should’ve been my clue.’

‘Or maybe I’m just that good,’ Garcia said, renewing his smile. ‘That hug at the end was a great touch, wasn’t it? A few more seconds and I would probably have managed a few tears too.’

‘You didn’t have to,’ Hunter said. ‘I had already bought the whole thing by then.’

‘OK,’ Captain Blake said, breaking up the joke, her tone quickly moving from playful to serious. She reached for two files that were on her desk. ‘Playtime is well and truly over, boys. Welcome back to the UV Unit.’

‘So what have we got, Captain?’ Garcia asked.

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