Betty almost killed me, I need a vacation. I met Ten at the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens where I settled my debt with him. The gardens there are so peaceful that it almost didn’t hurt to hand Ten all that cash; almost. France will have to wait, I got a frantic call this morning from a quite distressed sounding friend. Clyde managed to bribe a guard to borrow a cell phone to call me from his jail cell in Mexico City. He wants me to break him out of jail. France is so tranquil this time of year, but Clyde has bailed me out a few times, I owe him.
During the four hour flight from Los Angeles California to Mexico City I’m engaged in conversation with a lovely assassin. Lora is originally from Sanxenxo, a small seaside village in Spain. Lora employs a very convincing Mexican dialect of the Spanish language. Our conversation gives me a chance to brush up on my Spanish; I haven’t spoken Spanish since that job in Texas America back in ’90.
Olive complexion, very dark brown shoulder length hair, intense brown eyes, and curves in all the right places; Lora is as beautiful as she is deadly. I know Lora by reputation. My travelling companion invites me to join her in the mile high club. The offer tempts me to bend my “no dating assassins” rule. I decline. I happen to know there is an air marshal on board; and they have little compassion for passion.
Lora laughed as I told her about the shrine Winsel erected in his arms shop for her. A couple of photos and a hand written thank-you note from Lora, posted on a wall; but a shrine nonetheless. I mentioned to her that I’m in route to help an old friend out of a jam. Lora hinted that she was going to be in town for a few weeks, to beef up security for an exiled South American dictator visiting Mexico.
Landing in Mexico City, we exchange cell-phone numbers and make vague references about dinner in the future. On to business. Before I left Carlsbad California, I shipped the bulk of my clothes and arsenal to my Post box in Menton France. Unencumbered by luggage, I bypass the usual hotel check in and catch a cab directly to the Comisaría de Policía holding Clyde; armed with just the right ammunition I need to get him out.
12,064 Pesos to bail Clyde out. Clyde was hoping for something a little more dramatic, but Peso for Peso, bail was the cheapest, and easiest, solution. Despite it’s storied crime and corruption, Ciudad de México is a modern city. Gone are the adobe jails and old west style jail breaks using a mule and some rope. Besides, the civilised approach allowed me to see first hand what arms the local constabulary are carrying.
We chat, Clyde and I, as we walk from the police Station to the hotel. Clyde explains: The job he had signed up for originally, was handled by another company before he got to Mexico. He had only just enough resources with him to complete the original job. The payment he’d expected to get for the job he was in town to do would have funded a trip to Venezuela for more, lucrative work. Clyde was trapped in Mexico City.
Low on cash and hungry, Clyde checked around for work and got lucky. A deposed South American banana republic ruler, visiting the city for a wedding, needed to disappear; and Clyde was the man to do the job. Things were starting to look up for our hero. Clyde remembered he had a cache of cash, arms, ammunition, and supplies hidden in the wine cellar of a house. A house, on the outskirts of town, that had once been his.
One of the local governors decided Clyde no longer needed his home. The custom swimming pool surrounded by deciduous trees flown in from Crete, extensive wine cellar, and palatial main house; would be the perfect hideaway and playhouse for the governor and his mistress. The estate was taken by eminent domain, Clyde was given time to fight for his property, unfortunately for him he was out of the country that year.
The wine cellar was converted from a simple underground bunker built in 1847 during the Mexican–American war. Stocking the fully modernised lighting and climate controlled cellar took years of wine tasting, vintner research, and purchases from around the world; it was Clyde’s pride and joy. Behind the rack of pinot noir and Don Julio Real at the rear of the bunker is a removable wall panel, behind which is a gun safe.
Clyde got busted one night trying to sneak into the main house. He kept a copy of the bunker key under a loose kitchen floor tile. Although he verified both the governor and his mistress would be away, he didn’t count on the servants being there and calling the federales. Getting back to the hotel, Clyde took a much needed, shower. I checked the local sports schedule; I have an idea.
The Spaniard is a dedicated soccer fan. Jason, through his connections to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, was able to comp a dozen tickets to a Mexico National Futbol game, close by in Santa Ursula at Estadio Azteca. The unsuspecting staff was all too happy to leave when presented with the tickets. With the staff safely distracted, Clyde and I had unfettered, daytime access to the hacienda.
The servant’s entrance to the main house never locked properly, Clyde took advantage of this knowledge and let us in easily. Once inside the house Clyde detoured to the master suite; muttered he wanted to check on something. I headed for the kitchen. Even with the staff away, I didn’t like being in the house any more than necessary. If we are busted, who’s going to bail us out? Lora? Hardly.
Clyde returned wearing a huge grin and carrying a pillowcase full of cash. The wall safe hidden behind a Battle of Veracruz painting hanging in the upstairs hallway was predictably empty, but the floor safe, hidden beneath a dresser in a closet was undisturbed. It yielded the cash and 3 kilos of cocaine. Clyde relocated the drugs to a location that even the local police will be able to find, as they will after an anonymous tip is made.
The loose floor tile prised and the spare key now in our possession, we head for the bunker. Clyde’s security code doesn’t work of course, before I suggest we hot-wire the keypad; he remembers the master code. This works, the key unlocks the door, we’re in. The cache of arms was undisturbed, just where Clyde left them six years ago. We empty the gun safe; pistols, rifles, grenades, ammunition, everything.
We should have brought a car to carry all this stuff. Not a problem replied Clyde. To the garage. In the climate controlled brightly lit seven car garage there should have been six exotic cars and one old tan Chevy Vega. The exotics are gone, sold off or crashed; but the Vega was there and even had nearly a full tank of gas. We loaded our bounty into the get-away car and made good our escape.
The agony of leaving all that wine and liquor behind in the wine cellar was tempered by the three bottles of Pasion Azteca Tequila and a Dom Perignon 1959 we picked up on our way out of the bunker. Back at the hotel, I suggest to Clyde that he ditch the car; somebody’s going to be looking for it. Clyde refuses, I manage to convince him at least to park it out of site of the hotel. I ask Clyde, what is the plan?
Clyde considers my “Eccentric Elephant” suggestion, but decides there isn’t enough time to bring in the manpower needed to pull one off correctly. Clyde determines he can make a “Hostile Habanero” work. Together we work out the details; the pricey Tequila will come into play, we just need to acquire some of Havana’s best. Before we’ve gotten the whole operation figured out, I toss in the monkey wrench: Lora is in town.
“Lora’s here? Just my luck, of course she is. She better, for her sake, stay out of my way” Clyde retorts. A Hostile Habanero is a one man work. I should say my farewells to Clyde and vamoose; but with Lora in town, I know Clyde could use a little help. I assure him that when the time comes, Lora will be out of the way. One way or the other.
Lora was surprised to hear my voice on her phone. She figured I’d be long gone; I had told her I was overdue for a vacation and would probably be gone by week’s end. Despite her frenzied schedule, I managed to sweet talk her into having dinner with me. We decided on a nice Argentinean place on Dinamarca called El Asado Argentino. We dined on pascualina with huitlacohe. I queried Lora about this security gig; a waste of good talent in my opinion.
“I fell out of a tree while bow hunting moose in Canada. See this? It’s fake” Lora pops out her recently acquired glass eye. “Rookie mistake, I know. I released the safety harness to adjust my position and lost my footing. I can still shoot pretty good lefty but I decided the accident was a sign to get out of the business.” Lora explained. “Besides, I don’t want to retire in a body bag, like you will”.
Lora had heard about the contract on me, not surprising, open contract news gets around pretty quick. Unfortunately word of cancelled contracts doesn’t travel well at all. I have a Blood-Seal document from Ten, verifying the contract on me is cancelled, but it’s only useful if the assailant is close enough to be shown it. Good luck with that. The special security contracts are Lora’s ticket out of the fatality business.
Using her contacts in the professional assassin world, her knowledge and experience of techniques used from the perpetrators side, and a mordant business acumen; Lora should be very successful in her new venture. As I mull over the benefits of switching to security, and ponder whether I will pound Lora tonight, I’m struck by an epiphany; Lora and I are now professional adversaries. The protector verses. the hunter.
A moral conundrum. If I help Clyde by keeping Lora busy, she will lose credibility as a qualified provider of special security; and I’ll lose a potential resource. If I confide Clyde’s plans to Lora, I’ll burn an old friend; possibly creating another enemy were he to discover what happened. I could just leave town and let the two of them duke it out; but I gave Clyde my word I’d keep Lora occupied. What to do.
Lora and I stroll back to her hotel. The warm evening air smells of Dahlias. The quieter city evening allows me to think as we walk. Should I simply skip town, or keep my word and help Clyde, or… My thoughts are interrupted by the cell phone buzzing in my pocket. “Yeah” I say tersely, I don’t want to give away the caller’s name. “I’ll be there in twenty” I answer before snapping closed the phone and stuffing it into my pocket. It’s Clyde, there’s a problem. So much for a night of debauchery. Lora offers a raincheck and says “say hi to Clyde for me”. Damn, how did she know?
“The police found the car.” Clyde grumbled. OK we figured that would happen, that’s why we parked near the brothel. “Yeah, but the detonators and the Semtex were in the glove box. Without the plastics, I’ll have to completely revamp my strategy” Clyde protested. I’ve always believed in that saying “If life hands you lemons, break a few eggs and make a cake”. Clyde’s forgetfulness opens an opportunity.
“Are you crazy? This is no time to celebrate!” Clyde exclaimed as he emptied the glass of Dom Perignon down his gullet. I tell him that this will work to our advantage. Since Lora knows Clyde is here and why, it will be nearly impossible for him to get close enough to the mark to run the work. Instead, we cooperate with Lora, have her set-up an introduction with the dictator, and you can run the play. “You are crazy” Clyde snorts as he downs more champagne.
Naturally, Clyde wondered why Lora would help kill the person she’s protecting. My plan is simple. Lora introduces Clyde to the mark, Clyde runs the first part of the Hostile Habanero while in Mexico. When the dictator returns home, Clyde, now a part of the mark’s entourage, gets a free ride to South America, where he executes the second part of the work. Lora keeps her reputation, Clyde his, and I get to sleep at night.
Once convinced the plan would strengthen her credibility and by extension her business, Lora was onboard. The day of the wedding, Clyde, armed with bottles of Pasion Azteca and Havana’s finest, is introduced to the victim by Lora. The dictator had a smashing good time at the wedding, thanks in part to the £2100 Tequila. Following her success in Mexico City, Lora will certainly attain many new security contracts. I get to sleep at night. And the dictator dies at the treacherous hands of his new friend from Havana. All in all, a good day.