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Bye Bye, Baby

Categories: Case Histories

By Stabernide, (c) 1999

Newton pulled up on East Colorado Boulevard, strode into Fat Sam’s, and ordered fried chicken and a bottle of Pale. He took a cubicle and waited till a waitress called Candy came over with his meal. He didn’t really think too much about anything until he was nearly finished, but as he sat picking the chicken out from between his teeth and sipping at the cold beer, he reflected on how life was good. Working narc in this part of town was hardly taxing; especially since the state’s ‘semi-legalization’ of hash. He considered his biggest headache to be deciding which snitch he was going to screw that night and then where to go for dinner after.

Best of all, it had been a long time since Delta Green had come knocking on his door with more of their weird-assed voodoo bullshit.

Five summers ago, an east-coast syndicate had decided to move in on some of Cali’s major players. They brought serious out of town muscle with them. Less leg-breakers though; more soul-takers. Delta Green sent in an agent to ‘observe’ and report back with all the gory details. A crazy, short-assed white canuck Newton had not liked. The lunatic half-wit went off half-cocked and got himself involved. Still alive and well – just minus about a yard of intestine. Newton became the unlikely hero of the hour–then working Vice–when he turned up at the scene, thought what the fuck, and emptied his .357 into something that looked like it belonged in a seafood salad. He sent it to Hell and never looked back.

Delta Green went sweet on him after that; apparently he’s a ‘friendly’ now – the first time he’d been ever been described as such (“bad motherfucker”, yes, but….) More importantly though, the west-side players the thing had gone up against–Marcos, Hooky, DeCanio–they’d been extremely grateful. Newton could finally afford to kick the old lady out of the house and bag his dream job – Narco in Pasadena. There had been that shit with Black Annie and those gypsies last year, but yes, life was sweet. At the periphery of his thought, he became aware of the phone ringing at the counter, and a waitress called Angela answering it.

“Phone for Carl Newton?” she enquired loudly. Shit. Newton shifted his bulk across the diner and told Angela it was for him. He ordered another Pale before he answered.

“Newton.”

“I hear it’s been a fairly constant 72-73 degrees throughout October over there. Lucky you.” His Delta Green contact. Christ.

“I’d prefer it if there was more of a breeze. How the Hell did you know I’d be here?”

“Must be around brunch-time out West. That would mean Sammy’s or Moji’s. You shouldn’t be such a creature of habit, Carl.” Newton generally admired his contact’s extensive and countrywide knowledge of eating places, but there were times when it just pissed him off.

“What do you want, then?”

“We’re interested in a character whose name cropped up in one of your reports recently.” Pause for effect. He wasn’t going to wonder how they got to read his reports. “Raymond Gillies.” Newton cross-referenced assorted scum in his head for a second.

“Yeah. High-society pimp. Vice can’t touch him for it–he’s clever–so they passed him across to me to try and pin some narc dirt on him.”
“Any joy?”

“Zip. We sent Lopez in undercover to one of his rich man’s gang bangs. There was nothing we could use. Lopez had the night of his life though.”

“We’re pulling a few strings – getting men re-assigned to this. We want him watched, and we want whatever you can dig up on him.”

“I’ll fetch my spade. What’s the deal?”

“The usual. Just don’t spend it all at once.”

“No problem. I’m saving up for a yacht anyway.” Newton put the phone down.

 

At 6 feet, 2 inches, and 220 pounds, Newton resembled an out-of-shape George Foreman. An ugly, violent face matched an ugly, violent mind. Indeed, Newton’s father would have loved for his only son to have made the jump from the local circuits to the big time. Unfortunately, Newton, despite having power in his fists and a surprising turn of speed for his size, didn’t have the mindset to wear down disciplined opponents. One day, he walked out of his Father’s gym, joined the police force and never went back. Now, striding into the Pasadena station house, wearing a sharp grey suit with an even sharper black tie, he cut an imposing figure. Newton was too hard for this part of town, and everyone knew it. Other cops kept their distance, which suited him fine.

Grabbing a coffee from the machine, he ambled upstairs, nodding occasionally to a busy colleague. Apparently, everyone was still frantic over the big kidnap case, some Hollywood heart surgeon called Stern. The Feds were going crazy: they had no motive, suspects or ransom note, and were having to rely on police-work to get some results. He went into Captain Ferris’ office, without knocking. Ferris was on the phone. He looked at Newton once, then wound up his conversation. Ferris was no pushover, either, a tall and gangly black man with a severe moustache and a receding hairline, entering the early fifties. He had over thirty years of LAPD experience, and served around twenty of those as a detective. He made his name killing three coked up gang-bangers who tried to take down the First American on Broadway, some fifteen years ago. Ferris didn’t like Newton; but then, he wouldn’t. Ferris was a straight laced family man: he lived for the job, the kids and little else; even though Delta Green had been pulling his strings for nearly eight years. In a strange kind of way, mutual animosity aside, Newton could almost respect him.

“Your people want you on something,” he began.

“I know. They said I’d have a few men working for me.”

“I’ve put Clark and Forrester on it. As of tomorrow, you can have Kreeg too. But I don’t like any of it.”

“You know that’s hardly an issue.”

“What’s Gillies done to get their back up?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. But I aim to find out.”

“Keep it quiet. I don’t want this to turn into another Castle Green fuck up like last year.”

“I don’t need the publicity. You know I have a sweet thing going here.” That really rankled Ferris.

“Watch your step, Newton.”

“I always do.” He got up and left.

 

The surveillance set up, he leafed through the Gillies file one more time and tried to understand what Delta Green’s interest in him was about. Born in San Diego, August 14th, 1951, half-Mexican. Some interesting dirt surrounded his conception. He was the illegitimate son of a high-ranking officer in the Navy. Apparently, Dad did the right thing by the mother–some Tijuana whore–and Gillies got himself a not unreasonable start in life. LAPD’s acquaintance with him began in 1974. Gillies had gone into films after college, and on into porn. In front of and behind the camera. The whole gamut, too, apparently, from softcore to hard ‘specialist’ productions. Vice rousted him a few times but got nothing but a misdemeanor or two out of it. Even then, he was a slippery son of a bitch. A few years later he’d expanded – still peddling porn, this time en masse through mail order – all over the states. Again, lots of suspicion – the word ‘snuff’ was mentioned for the first time here – lots of investigation, but ultimately lots of dead ends. Sometime around ’89 he decided to go East. He worked for a trading company in some kind of hazily defined ‘purchasing’ role. This apparently involved a lot of trips to south-east Asia, India and so forth. In all, he made about a hundred excursions abroad over a three year period. Apparently Customs did some sniffing around him during this time, but the files didn’t detail why. Certainly, no official action was taken against him.

 

Gillies came back to LA in ’93 to set up shop, with high-society hookers. More porn (but only strictly – legit soft-stuff now). Some real estate here and there. Got himself a house in the San Gabriel hills – Oak Lodge. And according to the IRS, he was a paid consultant to an antiques wholesaler specializing in Persian, Indian and Oriental artifacts over in Santa Monica, Lakshmi Trading. Unusual, as he had no academic qualifications in that area. Newton glanced at the name of the Customs agent who had made enquiries about Gillies back in ’91. Agent Soiu. A few phone calls and about half an hour later, he was speaking to the man. He sounded competent, and amiable enough.

Introductions, then: “I’m interested in some inquiries you made about a man in ’91. He’s a suspect of mine and I was wondering why you found him so interesting back then.”

“Who’s your boy?”

“Gillies, Raymond.”

“Doesn’t ring any bells. Let me check my files.” A long pause. Newton took a bite out of the muffin he’d bought outside. “Got it. I remember the guy. We got an anonymous call – a shipment of crates being unloaded at Dulles airport were full of contraband. We waded in and broke them open.”

“What was in them?”

“Bodies. Seven in total.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, we thought we’d hit upon some kind of organ legging or something. Except they were all legit, in the end.”

“Is that so?” Another bite.

“Bought and paid for in India. Previously the property of – let’s see – ‘the House of Kali’ in Calcutta. Apparently they were ‘sacred’ corpses, religious ‘artifacts,’ treated and embalmed in some special way. Bound for temples all over the New York state area. “We were ready to pack them back up and move on. Then a Customs heavyweight–a guy called Morrison, who I haven’t seen before or since–turns up and orders them to be ‘examined,’ and in detail. Ripped open, toxicology .the works.”

“How did Gillies take that?”

“Badly. He’d come down to the airport by now and he went berserk when we told him what we were doing. Went on and on about how ‘fragile’ they were and how we’d upset the ‘delicate balance’. Morrison seemed to love that. When Gillies complained to him, he just laughed and said ‘better luck next time.’

“We handed the corpses over a week later. We’d stitched them back up pretty good, but Gillies just didn’t seem bothered. I got the impression they were useless to him now. I also get the impression that was why Morrison ordered the examinations. He didn’t expect to find anything, he just wanted to fuck up Gillies’ sale. Weird, eh?”
“No shit. Thanks for that, Agent Soiu. Catch you later someday.” Newton put the phone down. Morrison had Delta Green written all over him. Was Gillies up to his old tricks again, whatever they might have been, or was this something new? Newton checked that Clark and Forrester were in position, then went for a late lunch. The All India cafe had a buffet special on.

 

Later, Newton picked up chilli dogs on his way to see Hooky Ryan. Hooky was a leathery Irish who killed his way onto the LA scene about fifteen years ago. He did some pimping himself, and he was local. Hooky and a few of his boys would usually take in a few drinks in on a Tuesday evening at the Crown street brewery. Hooky wanted a plaque on the wall, a member of the 1000 beers club. He headed on down to South Raymond.

The ‘boys’ and Hooky had seats by one of the big copper tanks where they brewed the beer. Hooky saw Newton by the bar and waved for him to come over. Hooky was amiable enough – but you still couldn’t just stroll up to prime time mobsters like him without an invitation. He sat down at the round table and made minimal conversation with the boys.

“So, my friend; how’s the craic with you then?”

“Can’t complain. I’m after an uptown pimp called Raymond Gillies.”

“Now, then; have I ever struck you as a rat, Carl?”

“This isn’t a snitch job. I’m not on LAPD time for this.” Hooky eyed him from across the table and understood. He sent the boys to the bar for more drinks.

“What do you want to know about Gillies?”

“I know about the pimping and the porn, all the stuff LAPD has on him. What else is there?”

“He’s … a fence. Not for Swiss watches or cheap jewellery either, mind. Angelo’s heard of him doing some big deals with the chinks at their end: art, old books, religious artifacts; the sort of things your employers are a little wary of.”

“Who does he shift it to?”

“Rich sickos the country over. He has major clients – old friends of yours and mine – on the East coast.” Great; those Network fucks again, thought Newton.

“How come LAPD never picked up on any of this?”

“Lad; they never ask the right people. And Gillies doesn’t deal in shit that’s been stolen state-side. He combs strictly foreign markets for his baubles and what not.”

“How protected is he?”

“Difficult one to figure. Out here, no one wants to know him. Not after that shit a few years ago. After that, DeCanio and Marcos wanted him whacked on principal, but I pleaded clemency; after all, at best all we got out of all that shooting and killing last time was a draw. In a few years time, we might not have you around to pull our fat out of the fire. If you know what I mean, Carl.”

“I take care of myself,” Newton said, smiling. Hooky smiled back, and they drank to being bad men in a bad time to be one.

 

Dinner at Johnny Rockets. Sometimes all you wanted was a thick BBQ burger and a chocolate malt, before stepping out across One Colorado and looking for somewhere quiet to get a few beers, almost not noticing your obviously inexperienced shadow. Newton led his tail across the square and headed for the lot where he’d stashed the Chevrolet. Just before the entrance, he stooped as if to tie his shoelace, and his tail surged forward, not quite believing his luck. Newton swiftly pivoted, and in the same movement caught the assailant’s knife arm – it was some skinny white fuck – with one hand and his ankle with the other. Skinny had enough time for a surprised yelp, before Newton flung him against the car park’s high railings. Skinny clattered off them and landed badly. He was struggling to get to his feet when Newton closed and landed a hard gut-punch into him. Skinny collapsed in a heap and whimpered. Newton leisurely took out his piece, recognizing the punk even as his grip on the gun changed, holding it by the barrel and the trigger guard. His name was Marty Fawcett, ex-small time dope runner, ex-security guard, now a Raymond Gillies bodyguard. He’d clocked him out at Oak Lodge a couple of times.

“I’m not taking you in, motherfucker. You’re either going to tell me everything you know about why Gillies wants me whacked and walk, or you’re going to die holding out. I don’t fuck around when it’s my balls on the line; do you understand?” He quickly and expertly brought the gun across Fawcett’s face – smashing cheekbone and teeth – before he could even attempt an answer through the pain he was in. “I know who you are and what you do. Small-time peddlers like you get killed every day in this town and nobody gives a fuck. I’ve pulled three ‘Marty Fawcetts’ out of the harbour this week alone. I think it’s about time I gave something back.” Fawcett coughed up some blood and whined a lot. Newton raised the gun again and waited till Fawcett could see he was about to hit him with it. He held a hand up and tried to talk.

“No!” Cough. More blood. “Gillies. He heard you were….” He winced. ” Looking into him.”

“I already did that once before. Why does he want a cop on ice so badly this time?”

“Don’t know.” Newton raised the gun as Fawcett coughed up some more. “No! Really! He didn’t care that first time.” Nasty choking noise. Almost like gargling. That punch must have loosened something inside him. “Didn’t give a fuck that time.” He wasn’t breathing right. Newton grinned horribly.

“What’s got his back up now? What’s changed?”

“Don’t know. Really don’t know.” Wheezing. Coughing up more blood.
“You know; I think I believe you.” Newton stood up and turned the gun round in his hand. Then he shot Fawcett twice in the head.

 

A short while later he was sat in Micah’s with just a handful of other night hawks, sipping café au lait and picking at a large plate of heavily sugared donuts. He pondered the situation. Gillies knew this investigation was Delta Green sponsored. Regular cop heat didn’t bother him in the slightest; nor should it. Nobody had ever come close to him. So who tipped him that this was different? He chewed a warm doughnut thoughtfully. There were three suspects. Hooky; Ferris; Stabernide. He could see already that Delta Green had set him up as their buttonman by making him a target for Gillies; but would they blow his cover on purpose so early? Anyway, his contact was well out of his reach. So was Hooky, but he didn’t make Irish for it. Gillies’ east-coast connections would make him someone Hooky would stay well clear of. Which left Ferris. Ferris might have been a ‘friendly’ too, but he was just a string-puller, a pen-pusher, not a field operative. All he knew was that every once in a while, someone with enough rank to have him filling out parking tickets until pension day told him to ‘lose a few reports’ or pull men off one duty and put them on another. Most of all, he was told to forget ever doing any of it. Delta Green didn’t show him much respect. But he wasn’t a stupid man. He could guess there was an organization of some kind behind the requests, and that Newton was connected to it, and perhaps that there would be other organizations interested in knowing what the nature of these requests was. A suspect then; a likely one, and, most importantly, someone he could hurt. Badly. He finished the donuts before he left.

 

Newton slept in the car. About four in the morning he had a strange dream. He was in a Jazz club, listening to a band comprised of his DG contact and five faceless individuals. They were working through Miles Davis’s ‘Sketches of Spain’. Newton was enjoying himself, until he suddenly realised he was bleeding to death. But it was too late: he couldn’t move. Couldn’t even scream. He just sat there with tears and blood running down his face as he listened to the music.

Ferris was working nights that week. He arrived at his home in Holly Street Village about an hour before his kids went to school and his wife went to work. Newton sat in the Chevy around the corner and waited until Ferris was alone. No guns. He couldn’t get away with killing other cops in their own homes. Not yet. Getting out of the car, he stalked across the street like death out on business and rang Ferris’ doorbell. The Captain answered a few moments later in a terrycloth robe. He seemed surprised.

“Morning Captain.” He stepped inside. Ferris backed off, eyeing him suspiciously.

“What do you want, Newton?” Coolly trying to restore authority. It wasn’t going to work. Newton continued walking towards him. He took his hands out of his pockets and balled them into fists. Ferris turned and ran for the kitchen. Newton moved after him, faster. He shoulder barged Ferris through the kitchen door and slammed him against a breakfast table. He heard one of Ferris’ ribs give. The Captain cried out and aimed an elbow at the side of Newton’s head. He connected badly, but Newton moved to try to avoid it, allowing Ferris to get free and stumble away from him, further into the room. He was making for a drawer by the sink. Newton grabbed a pan from the stove and swung it at Ferris’ face before he could get the gun clear of the drawer, smashing his nose in and forcing him to drop the revolver. Newton brought the pan down again, this time on the back of his head. Ferris crumpled into the ground. Newton kicked the gun clear, then grabbed Ferris by the scruff of the neck, and dragged him towards the bathroom. He tried to kick, but he didn’t have the strength to struggle. Newton rammed his face against the porcelain and shoved his head into the bowl; holding him there for just under thirty seconds. Gasping for air, Ferris pulled himself clear.

“Talk. Or you’re dead.” Ferris panted, a little scared but under control. Newton allowed him that dignity.

“Gillies came to me after that last case. He wanted to know what had brought it about. A friendly, casual chat. That was all. After the fact. No worse than the scraps you throw Marcos and DeCanio.”

“Go on.”

“He wanted to know when any orders came through from outside the chain of command concerning him. I understood what he was talking about. I said maybe, and he ‘tipped’ me enough to get my kids through college twice over.” He wiped his face on a towel.

“You decided to risk crossing DG?” Ballsy. But stupid.

“Your ‘handlers’ fuck me off. I’ve never thrown in with gangsters or drug dealers, but I know you do. That doesn’t seem to bother any of you. Any of them. I’ve always been a good cop, an honest cop; that doesn’t mean shit to them.” Newton looked bored.

“Cross me again, you’ll be a dead cop.” He got up and walked for the door.

It was a let-off, and a risky one. Newton drove around for a while, but knew he couldn’t put it off any longer. He turned the Chevy up towards the hills.

 

En route, he radioed Clark and Forrester. They’d already been due relief for a couple of hours, so they were only too glad to make tracks when he turned up. They had a spot on a hillside just above Oak Lodge, at the top of a low cliff. You couldn’t see the road from the house, so it was ideal for observation. Newton stood at the edge and looked down at the house – a modern mansion designed to look traditional/Spanish. Expensive and secluded. Newton smiled, then turned back to the car.

He opened up the boot and took out a 12 gauge Remington. He spent a few moments loading it, looking at the house and deciding upon a course of action. Gillies would have–minus Fawcett–around four hired guns in the house. Clark and Forrester had confirmed as much over the radio. Ideally he’d be able to wait for nightfall, but he had the feeling he wasn’t going to have the time. Sooner or later, Gillies was going to risk the Network knowing he was compromised–that could be the only reason he’d sent a wetback like Fawcett after him–and call in some pros. This in mind, he started his descent.

He ran into his first punk right outside the house. A Mex with a mini-Uzi, having a smoke on the large stone patio at the rear of the building near a sliding glass door. Newton came up behind him, pumping the shotgun when he was about ten yards away. The punk turned, surprised.

“Who….” The shotgun kicked and he took the buckshot full on – flying backwards all bloody and dead. Newton heard panic spark in the house and moved round to a side entrance he’d seen that led into the kitchen. He kicked in the door and listened – Mexican jabbering somewhere ahead. He made for the noise, slipping into the hallway and then into a large living area. Two of them stood in front of the patio door, one struggling to slide it open cautiously, both straining to see what happened to their hombre. Newton widened the spread and fired at their backs. Glass and blood exploded out into the garden. One left, then Gillies. He heard gravel crunch in the courtyard – someone running away, and fast. He went out, this time through the front door. The last pasty little fuck was tearing down the drive on foot–it’s hard to get good help these days–so he took out the .357, aimed and fired three times, catching the pasty with the third. He went down on the gravel; kicked around a little bit, then lay still.

Newton calmly re-loaded the shotgun and his side-arm in the landing, then shut and bolted the front door. He checked the ground floor quickly. “Raymond. Come out and we’ll make this quick and easy.” He started to pad carefully up the stairs. “Fuck with me, and I will annihilate you piece by piece.” There was a whimpering noise coming from one of the bedrooms – Newton slowly approached; nudging the door open with the barrel of the shotgun. Gillies was curled up in a corner, tears streaming down his face, hyperventilating, and from the smell of it…. He was holding something in his hands, an egg-like shape that he grasped with ferocious strength.

“Please don’t kill me… I….” Newton levelled the shotgun at his head.

“Shut the fuck up. What are you holding?” He watched Gillies carefully as he held the egg shape towards him. It was a sickly green colour – some kind of strange artifact. Emblazoned on the side was a star-like sigil of some sort that shimmered slightly, so that he couldn’t see it properly.

“He said it would protect me.”

“I hope ‘he’ takes refunds. Drop it and kick it over to the corner.” Gillies took one last look at the egg and reluctantly did as Newton said. As soon as it settled in the corner of the room, Newton swung the shotgun round, blasted it, hardly noticing the spidery thing inside that died, too, before quickly returning his aim to the terrified Gillies. Don’t give the voodoo bullshit time to work, and you’ll be fine. That was Newton’s Delta Green operational mantra.

“I know you’re in with the Network, Gillies. I know you find them things from abroad; places that are difficult for them to reach–what do you find them?”

“Things they need. For spells. Rituals. If Hubert or Lorris or Dark need a Hand of Glory or one of the Books of Hsan or…” Newton cut him off.

“I get the idea.”

“…Then I get it for them.”

“Delta Green has known this for a while. Why do they want me to come knocking on your door about it now?”

“Last time they fucked me over they stole my big break – seven sacred corpses of Kali – all in mint condition. The bent death-priest who sold them to me was drawn and quartered for what he did, and I can’t ever go back to India for fear of reprisals. I lost two thirds of my business for those dead things. But Delta Green pissed all over the deal. Desecrated the bodies. It was a long time before the Network would trust me on anything so big again.” Newton gave one of his evil grins.

“But they have now. Where is it?” Gillies was getting his composure back. Talking had given him the chance to get angry at Delta Green, to the expense of being frightened of Newton.

“Fuck you. This is the big time. I won’t get another chance. Fifty-fifty if you–“

Newton took the .357 out and shot Gillies twice. In the knees. He screamed like he’d been hurt for the first time. He wasn’t used to pain like that. Newton put the shotgun down, grabbed a towel that lay on the bed and shoved it down Gillies throat until he could hardly hear him sobbing.

“Listen, you fuck. I’m going to bandage your knees. Then I’m going to take this towel out, and you’re going to tell me where to find your big chance. And then I’m going to decide whether to kill you or not. Understand.” It wasn’t a question. It was an order. Tears streaming down his face, Gillies nodded.

 

Newton got to Santa Monica by dusk. He pulled the Chevy into the lot of ‘Lakshmi Trading.’ The warehouse would be deserted. Gillies had said so, and in the state he was in, Newton knew he wouldn’t have been able to lie even if he’d wanted to. Gillies was locked in the trunk of the car, no doubt glad of the respite in the torture. He was convinced Newton would kill him. But Newton wasn’t that stupid. You cross the Network, and someone has to pay for it. Kill everyone at this end, and he’d be the fall guy. Leave Gillies alive–well, he’s failed them again. And he’s a risk to their continued security. No doubt he’d run for Mexico after Newton let him go, to hole up in some scummy motel somewhere until he could get some cash together–then suddenly disappear from a locked room no one could have gotten in or out of.

Newton unlocked the staff entrance and went through into the main office; switching on the lights as he went. All was quiet but a feint mewling that sounded very far away. The main warehouse reminded him of the closing scenes of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, boxes stacked from floor to ceiling, some no doubt containing genuine treasures of old Asia, others horrible relics of something far more ancient and terrible. That paraffin in the loading bay would come in handy later. He kicked over a filing cabinet and started to unlock the safe that was hidden behind it. It was alarmed, but Gillies had given up the combination. Eventually. Inside were a few bundles of cash (a pleasant surprise) and an onyx black box, about 12″ x 10″. Gillies’ big break.

He found the catch and flipped it open. The smell wasn’t as bad as he thought. Still fresh and beating. Just a little dry. The heart of the first principal; Yuan-shih T’ien-tsun. The heart of an immortal. A must have for practicers of evil, twisted magick the world over. Newton laughed out loud and shut the box. Delta Green would have fun playing with this.

Noticing the trapdoor in the office floor, Newton was reminded of the puzzle’s final piece. Did he really want to look? Breathing just a little bit harder, he flipped open the trap door, and peered inside, trying to locate the source of the feint mewling he’d heard when he came in. Something in the cellar shifted slightly. Quickly rooting through a desk drawer, he found a flashlight, returned to the trapdoor and shone it into the darkness. Yuan-shih T’ien-tsun stared back at him. Naked, dribbling, mewling to himself. Newton could make out a long line of stitching across his chest. Gillies had said he couldn’t move around too much now there was nothing to pump the blood around his body; the limbs were starting to atrophy, and the poor fuck had been brain damaged to boot. All he had to look forward to now was all Eternity. Next to him was the rotting corpse of Daniel Stern, the cardiovascular surgeon Gillies had kidnapped to remove his prize, mocking Yuan-shih T’ien-tsun with his blessed mortality. A rare pang of sympathy arose in Newton; he didn’t know if he could kill Yuan-shih T’ien-tsun, but he was willing to let the fire take its best shot. “Who wants to live forever?” he said aloud and to no one in particular. He shut the trapdoor.

He took Yuan-shih T’ien-tsun’s heart out to the car and left it on the front seat. He went back to the warehouse and threw paraffin over everything, particularly the office floor. Wooden floorboards would go long before the fire brigade got here. He’d start the fire, let Gillies go (the fucker wouldn’t be running anywhere), and drop the heart off at a Delta Green safebox. If he could be done by nine, he had every chance of still catching a table at the Clearwater. He got on with his job, thinking of oysters, crab cakes and cool sixties jazz.

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