Neon Blue (suspense) and This Shoal of Space (SF) by John Argo were the first two e-books ever published online for download, in the history of the world, 1996-7 in innovative weekly serial chapters. More info at the museum pages. If you enjoy this free read, which is offered in the spirit of the Golden Age of the World Wide Web, please consider buying a print or e-book edition as a way of thanking the author. A fine E-book is typically priced at the cost of a latte, yet offers many more hours of enjoyment than a cup of coffee. Thank you (John Argo).
Chapter 60. JFK International Airport
The big 747 whistled slowly to a landing.
Blue hopped from one foot to the other inside the icy cold tent. She, Tomasi, and Vito were dressed as baggage handlers, standing inside a room-sized tent alongside the runway. "This is the payoff," Tomasi told her.
Vito Caparelli sucked on a Camel. His nose looked big and his mouth small. His big dark eyes had a nervous, pleased look. Tomasi explained: "People migrate west but they ship their bodies back east to be buried where they grew up. It's a steady industry for the mortuary shipment firms, one or two of them Mob connected, according to Vito's intelligence."
A jet landed and taxied. Tomasi clapped Vito on the back. "Go to it."
"Right, Chief." Vito tossed his cigarette away and climbed onto a motor cart. Even in his bulky orange winter jumpsuit, head gear and all, he seemed to Blue elegantly Vito, even with his ear protectors. Blue could not help but laugh.
As Blue and Tomasi waited, the 747 was towed to a nose-in berth to discharge passengers. A snake of tow carts waited by the cargo doors to receive baggage, Vito's among them. The carts wound toward the processing point where their baggage was loaded onto conveyor belts to circle in the terminal until picked up.
"Our chain of command loves you, Miss Humboldt."
Blue lit another cigarette. "I wish Eddie were around to hear it."
Tomasi nodded grimly. "Alvaro probably sensed early that LeSable's scheme would not work, but he was willing to give it a shot. What did he have to lose, after all? Nothing. So he let Pierre LeSable blunder about, and when it became apparent that the Hugh Stone corporate approach wasn't going to work, he did a neat job of backing out, letting the Mafia know he was washing his hands of the whole thing. So here we are."
A single headlight loomed, growing larger and Tomasi shielded his eyes. Vito called out: "I've got it."
"Okay," Tomasi said. He lifted a flap, and Vito drove the cart into the borrowed Army tent. Tomasi and Vito broke the seals on the six foot six inch aluminum coffin and unscrewed the top. Probably, a mortuary company truck was already pulling up at the terminal to collect this cargo. The lid came off. A hint of decay met them under the bare light bulbs. "Ugh," Vito said.
"Yuk," Blue said.
Together, they unzipped the heavy black plastic bag. The odor of death and putrefaction, as well as embalming fluids, made them cringe. Inside the bag was a man's body packed in dry ice. "Pierre LeSable, aged 67," the manifest read.
Tomasi studied the blackened features. "Our man LeSable."
"Here," Vito said, pointing to a glitter of plastic peeking through curled tendons and sugary ribs. The body had been packed with tight plastic sacks of cocaine.
"Hey, look at this," Tomasi said. He lifted a gun wrapped tightly in plastic.
"Jesus," Vito said, studying the thing closely. "Why?"
"It's a .357 magnum Colt with a silencer." Tomasi undid the tape holding the plastic around the revolver.
"This guy's got three slugs in him," Vito said.
Tomasi removed the revolver from its covering, turned, and unloaded a single shot into a stack of storage blankets in a corner of the tent. "That's for the lab." He wrapped the gun up. Vito stuck it into the corpse. They screwed the coffin back together. Tomasi doused the lights. "Good work, Vito."
Tomasi lifted the tarp and Vito backed the cart out. Vito whizzed along toward the terminal building to deliver the coffin as if nothing had happened.
"That's it, Humboldt," Tomasi said. He dug through the blankets for the bullet that would be matched to Guzman's. "Alvaro sends a message to the local mob. He tells them, sorry, a mistake, here's the guy at fault. From now on, we ship direct to you. Only thing Alvaro and the local mob don't know is, we've got their pipeline wired and now we can start going after them."
Copyright © 1996 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.