When the Caddy slid in front of me and slowed down, I followed its lead and pulled onto the shoulder. On one side of the road was a brown house with huge windows that was built to resemble a Swiss chalet. On the other side was a long wooden dock. A blue and white canvas canopy had been erected at the tip. There was a boat beneath it.
I sat in the Lexus for a moment before deciding it would be rude of me to wait for Arnaldo since he had the broken leg and all. So I left the vehicle—after first checking the load in the SIG Sauer and shoving it between my jeans and the small of my back. I slipped my sports jacket on as I exited the car, walked around the back bumper, and approached the Caddy from the passenger side. The window had been rolled down. I noticed that Arnaldo wasn’t wearing his seat belt and the door was unlocked—facts that I kept to myself.
Arnaldo gestured toward the driver. It was the same man who had been driving when they had followed me to Dunn Bros.
“We’re getting better,” Arnaldo said.
“So you are,” I said.
The driver grinned at the compliment.
“To what do I owe the pleasure this time?” I asked.
“You made promises…”
“We’ve had this conversation before, Arnaldo.”
“We’re having it again. We’re gonna keep having it until you do what you said you were going to do. You think you can make promises to the Nine-Thirty-Seven and not keep ’em, McKenzie? Is that what you think?”
“It’s not what I think.”
“Why didn’t you call us, then? Huh? Navarre, whatever Abana calls himself, his boat was docked at the restaurant, wasn’t it? When were you gonna tell us about that? Huh? Huh? We hadda find out on our own.”
Maria, my inner voice said. Remember what Cesar told you—don’t get involved.
“I promised to find Navarre, not his boat,” I spoke aloud.
“Don’t fuck with me, McKenzie. You think you can fuck with me? I will cut off your balls and feed ’em to you.”
“Arnaldo, when you say real stupid shit like that you ought to smile so a guy knows you’re joking, otherwise bad things could happen,” I said, although the man had a legitimate point. It would be dangerous to break my word to the Nine-Thirty-Seven. Arnaldo was as frightening as a summer cold. If Cesar should take offense, though …
One problem at a time.
“Where is he?” Arnaldo asked. “Where is Jax Abana? You said you’d deliver him up. Where the fuck is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You don’t know? It’s been three fucking days.”
“How long have you been looking for him? Hmm? Back off, Arnaldo.”
“You fucking telling me what to do?”
“No one fucking tells me what to do. ’Specially some white-ass motherfucker. I’m tired of waiting. I am fucking tired of you. You know what I’m gonna do? You don’t deliver Abana right fucking now, I’m going to pay your woman a visit. Yeah, that’s right, Nina Truhler. Think I don’t know her name? Think I don’t know where she lives? Lives in fucking Mahtomedi. Yeah, I’ll go pay her a visit. She’ll love a visit from us. Won’t she?”
Arnaldo glanced at his driver and hit him playfully on the arm. The driver didn’t appear happy. I think he realized that his buddy had gone too far over the line, even if Arnaldo did not.
“Yeah, she would,” he added. “Give her some dark meat…”
You did warn him, my inner voice said.
I yanked open the Caddy door and grabbed Arnaldo by the throat.
I dragged him from the car and threw him into the ditch between the road and the shoreline.
He hit the ground and rolled down the modest hill, the cast on his leg bouncing off the rocks, dirt, and tuffs of grass.
I slammed the car door shut and pulled the SIG Sauer out from under my sports jacket. I pointed it through the open window at the driver.
“Get out of here,” I said.
The driver stared at the gun as if he had never seen one before.
I put a round through the driver’s-side window. The safety glass shattered into a thousand tiny shards that flew all around him.
The driver quickly started the Caddy and drove off.
I turned toward Arnaldo. He was trying to stand but was having a tough time managing it with the cast.
I used my shoe to push him back down onto the ground.
He cursed me until I pressed the barrel of the SIG Sauer against his cheek. The muzzle was still hot and burned a small circle into his flesh that I knew would probably disappear in a few days. He whimpered at the pain just the same.
“I’m going to say this slowly in words that you’ll understand,” I told him. “If you go near Nina I will kill you. I will kill your sister. I will kill your driver and every one of you Nine-Thirty-Seven pukes. I will kill your mother. I will kill your father. When your brother gets out of stir, I’ll be standing on Pickett Street waiting, and then I’ll kill him, too. You go tell Cesar I said so. Be goddamn sure you tell him why I said so. Go ’head, Arnaldo. Make him proud.”