Chapter Forty Five
Janah, "Mini called. Dell Morgan was described to him as a flaming asshole, even in a group of assholes like the DEA. He's willing to do anything to get an arrest, plant evidence, always uses parallel construction."
"What's parallel construction?"
"One line is what happened, they used illegal surveillance, wiretaps and phone monitoring to collect evidence, usually from the NSA. The official report is for judicial consumption, information came from investigation, interrogation, leads from informants. The beauty of alleged informants is you can make them up, nobody can know who they are or they lose value as informants."
"That never occurred to me. Cop says he got such and such from an informant he never has to reveal, and couldn’t if he wanted to, said informant doesn’t exist. So it circles back to shortcutting the job by stepping all over the Constitution, to insure continued funding to support more parallel construction that violates rights."
"Pretty much it. All of which could be solved by making drugs legal, monitoring users, developing less addictive alternatives. Of course, the drug enforcement industry, gun manufacturers, the judicial system, corporations that run for profit prisons, make bulletproof vests, helmets and other SWAT stuff, all lose that easy highly profitable business. So legalization isn't likely to happen. They're already fighting marijuana tool and nail."
"Oh yeah, that."
Janah, "We need to dig into Dell Morgan. Guy like that has to have spots on his drawers. I'd make him a refocusing target, but I don't want to go there yet, not until we have a handful of evidence."
"We're going to surveil the serveiler."
"Yes. But considering the target, I'm not inclined to use Society Surveillance, I think it's a job for monks."
"Black and Chan."
"Read my mind."
They arrive in an hour, when Janah calls, Black and Chan drop whatever. They entered the temple with us when they were kids, Black's a bit older, Chan was eight when he started, Black was fourteen. Black is black, six-six of muscle and speed. Chan brushes five nine, built like a refrigerator with steel beams for arms and cast iron skillets for hands. He's a qi master and like Janah, trained with Master Tan, the mystic monk who lived in a small hut at the back of the temple. Until Janah caught his attention, Tan trained no one in his skills. Trained is inaccurate, the skill is transmitted, mind to mind. It nearly wiped Janah. He took Chan under his wing and created a marvel of powerful qi energy.
Physically, Chan is the strongest person I've ever met. Bench five hundred for reps, curl one fifty dumbbells, squat who knows what, I've seen nine hundred, the bar couldn't take anymore plates.
Chan taught and still works with Daria and Dasha. Dasha is good, Daria is deadly dangerous.
Janah, "Thank you for coming so quickly. I have a project that may take some time, but I also have support for you, we're going to investigate a DEA agent."
Black grins, he likes challenges, Chan is impassive. If Janah said we were going to sneak into the White House and snatch the nuclear launch code, Chan would be impassive.
Black, "You gonna hack him as well."
"Sure, hack and track, with the drone and GPS trackers. Everywhere he goes, he's on record."
Chan, "What did he do?"
Chan doesn't care what he did, Janah wants him followed, Chan will follow. He asks only to get an idea what Morgan is up to. Janah explains the situation with Gennaro.
Black, "So this is to determine if he's needing a refocusing?"
"Yes, if we get video or audio evidence, we can send it to the press, but it has to be incontrovertible. You aren't going public, or testifying. If he's marginal, in other words, no worse than the average DEA clown, Gennaro might have to figure it out on his own. We start refocusing bad cops I don't have enough Social Skills teams if we had ten times as many."
"Gennaro is busted for receiving stolen auto parts, but the container was full of cocaine. He got the container from contacts he'd done business with before, never a problem. The DEA shows up five minutes after they drop off the load, but the contractors weren't busted, just Gennaro and a couple of guys in the warehouse with him."
Black, "Which means the DEA knew what was in the container, either from the contractors or from somebody else."
"Yes, but there was no indication the container had been opened by the contractors, Gennaro is convinced they had no idea. They get stuff off a truck or a rail car, bring it to the warehouse. Sometimes the container says what's in it, sometimes it's a blank. Truck drivers have a manifest that describes the load, what he's hauling. Rail cars do, but the manifest is with the railroad, not laying around in the rail car. This load came from a truck, and the contractors had the manifest. Other than the tainted auto parts, the additional two containers were clean, bunch of flat screens, other electronics. The rest of the load was pallets of tires, which they didn't bother with."
Chan, "If the contractors aren't lying, the DEA knew about the cocaine all along."
Janah, "Exactly. Say they got tipped on the container, had a GPS on it, the GPS would record that the truck stopped, but not necessarily that the container changed trucks. They didn’t want the tires, so they unloaded this time, didn’t swap trailers. The short distance from the back of one trailer to the back of another isn't going to show up on the average GPS. They wanted to track the coke to the intended recipient, make the arrest. The second scenario is that the DEA was the intended recipient in the first place. When they figured out the container had been diverted, they followed it to Gennaro's warehouse."
Black, "Who better to sell cocaine than the guys who know the product and the players?"
"If Dell Morgan wasn't leaning so hard on Gennaro, I'd go with the first scenario. Whoever the intended recipient was would likely have a record, or been under suspicion. Gennaro never touched drugs. Morgan is treating him like a Colombian drug lord, why?"
Chan, "Better to get busy finding out. What if we find Gennaro knows more than he's saying?"
"Then he's on his own."
"Janah has Morgan's location and a photo, a monk has already placed a tracker on his car, these phones will show his movements. Use them only to follow him. Use these encrypted sat phones to contact each other and to check in here. The number is also a sat phone, they don't use towers, it would take anyone interested weeks to get coordinates, this will be over before that. Disguise and use these caps," I hand them two baseball caps.
"They have embedded LED lights. The lights don't show up to the eye, but they do to cameras. All the camera will see is bright light instead of your face. Use your training to alter your gait, both of you are unusually big, can't be helped. I suggest baggy clothing, sunglasses, we have Kevlar vests for you, should add a bit of bulk. I'll be around, so will Zi. You don't know us, if you spot us, ignore it. The target won't spot anything."
Chapter Forty Six
Black checks the tracking phone, car's on the move in Brooklyn, Black's hood.
"I know the area, industrial, auto repair, warehouses, parts stores. Basically a junk heap. Car's stopped, let's see," he taps the phone, "warehouse between repair shops. Maybe I can get there before he checks out."
Janah, "Both of you, no Zi, less physically intimidating."
Zi, "I'm ready."
Black, "I'm on my bike, you good with the back of a Harley?"
"Sounds like fun, never been on one."
She's dressed like a slim man, same LED cap, sunglasses, Kevlar vest under a sweatshirt, jeans, boots. Black suits up, they leave for a tour of Brooklyn.
Chan, "What do I do?"
"Let me check with Daria, see if she's turned up anything?"
"Daria, you been able to dig out anything on Dell Morgan or his pals?"
"Da, coming down."
She joins us with Dasha and Eloise, "Morgan has a good arrest record, good meaning a lot. Number of cases tossed out for questionable procedure. He's been written up for brutality twice, but the last was two years ago. Several agents refuse to work with him, the ones who do center around two men, Salvatore Menendez and BJ Maloney. Here are photos," she turns the laptop towards us. Menendez look like a Menendez, mini moustache, black hair slicked back. Maloney is the anomaly, black guy, looks big, pockmarked, wide nose that looks as if it's taken hard shots.
Dell is Irish to the core, reddish short curly hair, rust complexion, blue eyes. Has a small scar on one cheek, noticeable, likely can't work undercover anymore if he ever did. Menendez and Maloney were former cops, New Jersey and the Bronx. Morgan is ex-military, former MP, resigned six years ago under murky circumstances. He busted a private for marijuana, two joints, which the soldier said were planted. Kid had no prior history of drug use, tested clean and was released. Subsequently found with a needle in his arm OD’d on heroin.
"Good job Daria, Morgan and his buddies bear no resemblance to the Partridge Family. Anything on the other two?"
Daria, "Menendez quit the Newark police, one citation for bravery, no other mentions or problems. Maloney had issues with command, a half dozen complaints, nothing came of it. He walked one day and was a DEA agent the next. Has an ex-wife that accused him of abuse, didn't stick, apparently is good at fathering children with a variety of women. Child support running two thousand a month, which he pays or doesn't. He misses a few months, then out of the blue comes up with ten thousand to cover. Menendez is undercover, nothing on him, his records are harder to get to. His undercover name is Jose Gonzales."
"Not very original."
Daria, "From the records, it looks like he's going to have to pull out soon. A string of arrests by Morgan and Maloney where Menendez was in the mix, lot of Ms."
"The three MuskaMs. Drug guys are going to be all over their tribe trying to figure out who was where when the arrests were made. Can't take forever for the finger to point at Menendez."
"He got busted twice, sprung on bail, didn't give up anyone publicly, made him look like a solid criminal citizen, he's gotten a pass for now."
"Any mention of the auto parts dope bust?"
"Just that it happened, report says tip from an informant, which is what they all say. We don't know anything about the people who shipped the drugs in the first place."
Janah, "This is way good enough to get started. Can you get to bank accounts for any of them? Don't make extraordinary effort, I doubt they have offshore accounts. They may have a cash problem, as in too much of it. But from the looks of things, I'd say if they're skimming or intercepting relatively small time. I suspect four hundred street value would be a big score. My bet is they've been stealing ten, twenty grand's worth and reselling. Menendez gets wind of a dealer coming for a pickup, or someone offering to sell, passes it to Morgan, they swipe it. What's the dealer going to do, say the DEA stole my dope? They may not even operate as DEA, just know where the dope is going to be, swoop in and take it. When they do go for an arrest, it's no big deal to disappear a kilo or two from the evidence."
"Chan, there's nothing for the present. Black and Zi will need to be relieved. He'll call you with an update, or me and I'll call you. You and I may need to swap with them in a few hours. You are welcome to stay here and wait."
Chan, "I told Ning it could be a while, no point in going home and leaving again. Maybe I could get a refresher on the drone, work with the girls on qi."
"Good idea, Eloise, can you run him through the operation again while we have light left?"
Eloise, "Let me get Oceane to her room, come up in five."
That means our space cadet is up there in her nothing, Eloise will get her dressed and park in her room or she'll come down here.
Oceane comes down her steps while Chan goes up ours to find Eloise.
Oceane, "The big man is full of powerful light," I hand her a cup of tea, big man passes through her mind and vaporizes, "sweet flower, jasmine, the cup says you feel concern, Daphne, danger."
"Not for you."
"Not for me," she touches my chest, "I am in your heart."
Chapter Forty Seven
We wait, Dasha thinks over ordering Empire Szechuan, then remembers Chan and Ning own two Chinese restaurants, switches to Westville Market. They deliver, which is handy, soon we're having really good sandwiches, turkey chili, veg chili, and tasty smoked mac and cheese. Waiting to hear from Black or Zi.
Chan, "This is good, when did this place come along?"
"A few months ago. It's on our street a block down, right across Bleeker, handy.
There's no Sylk Street, clearly an oversight.”
Amaya, "There should be an Amaya Avenue, much better than merely 5th."
Nikko, "Considering what you spend there, you have a point."
Amaya, "I don't do that much on 5th, better on the Upper East, lots of interesting boutiques. True, I do buy the twins' stuff at Neiman and Saks sometimes, yours too Nishiko, and do you not always radiate elegance?"
"Where's Chloe's stuff come from?"
Amaya, "Hah! Designers give her most of it. At least for her interviews and TV appearances. A mention on Today or some late night thing is worth ten times the cost of the dress. And she is always complimented on her look. What a joke, Chloe's look is raggedly jeans and a torn t-shirt. I have to keep after her like I keep after Dasha. Daria has learned the value of a chic business presentation. Dasha is unteachable."
Chan, "This goes on all the time?"
Dasha, "Eemaya ees make us peerfect, comb hair, feex making up, change color, I haf to be mahgahzine model to go to deli or she will not let me leaf house."
Chan smiles, "Sounds a bit like Daphne."
Dasha, "Da, Dahfoney ees always also haf to be peerfect. Eemaya even feex her before we leaf, Janah haf one hair out of place, Eemaya ees attacking heart."
Amaya, "Heart attack Slavic slob. My work, Chan, is never ever done. Daphne is the best of the lot, well, Nikko is easy. Zi cues off her. Eloise is generally a mess, but she stays hidden most of the time. Oceane is simplicity itself, her presence is elegance, thus minimalist outfits, airy breezy, like her brain."
Oceane is studying her grilled salmon salad, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, fresh mint & mixed greens with balsamic lemon dill vinaigrette, “fish swims in garden.”
Chan, "She is sensation, feeling."
Amaya, "She is a precious gem, lost in space, a gem nonetheless. Brilliant artist, prodigious linguist, out of touch with a moment ago, no conception of a moment from now."
Chan, "She is Buddha."
We are quiet for a time. He has, of course, deconstructed Oceane in three words.
I resist the urge to cry, barely, then she shatters my rectitude, lays her hand on Amaya's chest and smiles at Chan, "I am in her heart."
While my tears fall, Chan nods, "Then you are in the best possible place."
Chapter Forty Eight XIII
Sat phone rings, it's Black, "Zi says Morgan is dark, not a true Shadow. She also says he's a fan of what he's hired to protect the citizens from. He and Maloney met with four guys in the warehouse. I could see most of it, fair amount of yelling, accusations and denials. Details we didn't get, it's noisy around here, but nobody was happy. The two agents left, drove to a district office on Long Island. We're there now, no way in I can see."
Janah, "It could be hours before they move again, could be minutes, it's near eight o'clock, what do you want to do?"
Black, "We'll hang. They aren't likely to sit around an office at night, matter of fact, they're leaving now, call you later."
Janah clicks off, "May be a long night, our targets are on the move again."
We watch TV, noodle around, Eloise has the drone overhead. We watch Black ‘s Harley follow Morgan’s car to an industrial site, warehouses, heavy equipment, oil drums, a few widely spaced streetlights, half of them out.
An SUV appears from alongside a warehouse, comes crawling down the block. Two men get out of the car, two more from the SUV. Then flashes of light, pop, pop, audible from the drone microphone. Two men down, the other two take a bag of something, get into the sedan and screech off. The drone follows Morgan’s car on I-495 about twenty miles, left on N. Broadway into Hicksville, a few minutes later the car is stationary. Black and Zi down the street, invisible in the shadows.
Phone rings, "In an apartment complex, number two two six, second floor corner. No simple way to peek in. I can go to the door and listen, if they suddenly come out, it's a problem, someone else comes along it's another problem."
"Any windows open, as in able to see inside?"
Black, "Shades drawn."
"Back off and wait. The drone is over the location now," Eloise hands off navigation to Zi, we watch and listen.
Zi checks all the available windows. One in the kitchen has blinds partially open, she drops the mike, focuses the camera. Two guys having a beer, Morgan and Maloney. Four bricks of coke stacked on the kitchen table.
Janah calls Black, "I'm expecting Jose, stay out of sight."
Jose shows fifteen minutes later, more beer, conversation.
Morgan, "Shit's primo, got to bring twenty per. Eighty grand for ten minutes work."
Gonzales, "Ten minutes for you, three years for me homes. I gotta get outta this, I'm getting the looks. This gig ain't worth dyin' over."
Maloney, "Come on, bro. We need a score, like that auto parts deal, except not just five kis off the top, the whole load. With that one gone, Buster, he gonna be lookin' to make it up."
Gonzales, "Buster be lookin' crosswise at the whole crew. Right now, he focused on finding out what went down. Only good thing is you manage to frame the Italian instead."
Morgan, "See? All cleaned up. Look we walked away from four-five hundred large to cover your ass and didn't have to off anyone to do it. If the deal had gone down as planned, we’da had to kill the Mexicans and make it look like somebody else's rip off. And we still got a hundred grand of coke to peddle. Tonight's snatch got another eighty."
Maloney, "Not as good as four hundred."
Morgan, "I can do the math fuckhead. If you kept your ass out of Atlantic City, you wouldn't be dick broke all the time."
We see Morgan pull a bag from his pocket, dump a small pile of white powder on the table, make four lines with a playing card, "Anyone else?"
Two heads shake, "More for me then," He does the four lines, one after another.
Gonzales, "Fuckin' shit gonna explode your brain bro."
Morgan stares at the ceiling, smile across his wide head, "I'm the fuckin' king of dope busts, no motherfucker is gonna mess with me. They love the stats, I am Da Maaaannn."
Janah, "Not for long."
Gonzales, "We done here, I got to deliver this shit, where's my cut from the warehouse?"
Morgan, "We just fuckin' stole it, it ain't sold yet...tomorrow, we cash in both tomorrow."
Gonzales, "And remember, I'm disappearing, and soon, enda the month, I'm out, WITSEC a couple years, then back home. What I got, I can live in Mexico til I'm shriveled from the sun and my liver explodes from cerveza."
He takes off, Morgan says, "Funk ain't goin' to WITSEC, unless they gotta program in hell. He's toast by the end of the week. Taggin’ the dago won’t hold up long."
Maloney, "And Buster will be happy, found his mole, put' em in a hole. Too bad, but he's a loose end. Ain't gettin' my ass hung on a loose end. Cept, what we gonna do when he's gone, got no inside man."
Morgan, "We got snitches, we know the territory. Until we get someone else inside, we do our sideline, make an arrest, skim a ki or two, keep the cash flowing. Won't be quite as easy as Gonzales feeding us intel, but it is what it is. Can't turn him loose. What if he turns, cuts a richer deal? You wanna be his sacrifice for first class?"
Maloney, "Fuck that."
Janah's been on the phone with Black. Gonzales leaves the apartment, climbs into a pickup of undermined vintage. Just as he goes to shut the door, a fist resembling a bowling ball turns his lights out. Black shoves him across the seat, wraps picture wire around his wrists and ankles a half dozen loops, stuffs a rag in his mouth and blindfolds him with another.
Zi gets in and takes the wheel, follows Black on the Harley back to Brooklyn.