Continued from Chapter Six - A Death in the Family.
To start at the beginning see Chapter One - The Last Target.
A train rattled its way overhead, causing various bits of newspapers and other detritus to swirl up in little tornadoes. Constantine stood in silence, occasionally checking his watch. The air was crisp and the wind bit at his face, but he couldn’t be troubled with that now. He lit a cigarette – his one last vice – and watched as the smoke was sucked away into the night sky.
A snowflake landed on his face, and before he knew it he was surrounded by swirling white dots. It was the first snow, and against his better judgment, it made him think of his baby sister. She always loved this time of year, and as a child she would drive their father crazy by running off into the forest to shake the snow from the tree branches. Since he became a detective he had learned detachment – shutting off parts of your mind as a way of dealing with the harshness of the job. It was a high cost to pay, one that most wouldn’t or couldn’t.
Despite himself, he pictured Elisabeta there with him in the snow, laughing and twirling. Damn it, he missed her.
Car tires crackling through the thin layer of snow on the ground brought Constantine back to reality. A sleek black Humvee slowly pulled into the vacant lot. The low thump of music playing from inside broke the stark silence of the scene, until the driver killed the engine.
Four men got out, three of them surrounding Constantine with rifles aimed, and the fourth wielding a metal-detecting wand. Constantine spread his arms and looked upwards while the thug passed the wand over his body, chanting scripture. Once the thug was reasonably assured that Constantine was unarmed, he stepped back, and his cronies lowered their weapons.
Then, out of the car stepped Benedikte Vladu.
“It’s a shame about Teodor,” He said, knowing it must be a sore subject, “such a promising young man.”
“Don’t patronize me Ben,” Constantine shot back, “it doesn’t become you.”
Benedikte laughed. He always appreciated directness. “We should be expeditious. I’m sure many of my associates would be uncomfortable with my meeting you like this. What is so important that you felt you needed to turn to me?”
“We go back a long way, Ben.” Constantine dropped his cigarette into the snow. “We went to academy together, cut our teeth during the labor riots, but then you took a different…”
“Path?” Benedikte snorted back. “Your diplomacy is noted, but unnecessary. Unless you need it to help you forget just how alike we are.”
Constantine nodded slowly. He too respected directness. “It’s Reveeka. She killed Elisabeta and Uriel is next.”
“Believe what you want, but since Alexander is gone, Uriel is the only one in her way. You can’t dispute that.”
Benedikte waived his guards away, and they reluctantly shuffled back into the car. “Why would I want to stop her? Our… association is quite lucrative for me. Certainly if would be double so if she were to become Governor.”
“You know better.” Constantine walked toward his erstwhile ally. One of the car doors opened, but Benedikte raised a hand, and the door closed. “You can’t let her kill your son.”
Benedikte’s eyes widened, just for a split second. It was rare that he was truly surprised, even rarer when he showed it. He started to deny it, but he knew Constantine all too well. He had just lost the initiative. “So if I help you, what do I get in return?”
This was the part Constantine was dreading. “I can give you certain concessions. Reduced patrols in the southeast, and fewer spot inspections on the docks.”
Constantine sighed. “I will be in debt to you. A chip that you can cash in later.”
Benedikte smiled. There wasn’t a cop in the city he trusted, but he knew Constantine was a man of his word. What a tragic flaw, he thought to himself. He extended a tattooed hand. “Then I will do what I can. I make no promises, but I should be able to find young Uriel.”
With that, he spun on his boots, and strode back to the car. In a matter of seconds, Constantine was once again alone in the dingy lot, with only the swirling snow and rustling trains to keep him company. He knew that he would be carrying the weight of this night’s deal with him for many years to come.
Jorgen held the street urchin by his neck, and pressed him up against a cold brick wall. “Your numbers aren’t lining up, Pitre!” Jorgen pulled his fist back, and cracked the smaller man’s nose with it. He whimpered, crumpling to the ground. “Mr. Vladu has placed a lot of trust in you. I have placed a lot of trust in you. When you start using sloppy math, it makes me and Mr. Vladu look stupid. I hate looking stupid!” With that, he delivered a swift kick to Pitre’s midsection. The bloody and battered man howled in pain as Jorgen’s men laughed.
Jorgen’s handset began ringing. He slipped it from his coat pocket. “That must be him now. I hope for your sake he’s more forgiving than I am!”
“Jorgen, I have a new job for you.” Benedikte’s voice was calm and direct. “Drop what you’re doing and find Uriel Dumitru. I’m transmitting a file now. Once you find him, send the information to the address in the file. Don’t fail me, Jorgen.”
“Of course, boss. When have I failed you?” Jorgen cracked a smile, causing his men to stifling laughter.
“Plenty of times.” That wiped the smile off his face.
“And Jorgen – he dies, you die.”
To be continued...
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