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).

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Chapter 49. Uruamac, Colombia

about Neon Blue or Girl, unlockedThe time was up, and Pierre LeSable was called to Uruamac. Alvaro was ready to ship, and he wanted his money. First Pierre had thought of running, but he knew Alvaro's people would find him somehow. So he returned to face his master. How charming Sr. Alvaro was! The silvery fuselage of a DC-3 glinted in the running lights of a jungle airstrip near the great mansion. Odors from the workers' camp—cooking, urine, engine oil, cigarette smoke—drifted in the air under the fuselage.

"It is nothing," Sr. Alvaro told Pierre in his modulated Castilian Spanish, "you tried hard. A temporary setback."

"Bless you," LeSable said. In his nervousness, he was eating chocolates. He offered them to Sr. Alvaro, who accepted a hazelnut truffle with fondant flourishes, and to Bill Garth, who was smoking a cigarette and dourly refused.

The plane was fueled, checked out, and ready for take-off. It would fly north to the Mexican state of Chiapas on the Honduran border, refuel after a flight of about 1100 miles in the state of Sinaloa on the Gulf of California, and then, hugging water most of the way, fly out to sea over Baja California, angle to the northeast, and, flying low under coastal radars, land in the Arizona desert. Arrangements would be made to deliver the cargo on the U. S. east coast. This was that first shipment Pierre had worked so hard to arrange. Office equipment. Copiers, computers, and the like. Only one of the copiers contained the drugs, worth millions on the street.

The DC-3 took off smoothly on twin engines. Sr. Alvaro made small talk, and Pierre felt relieved. He outlined his plans for a new attack on the New England market, and Sr. Alvaro smiled with his narrow face and cupid-bow lips, nodding often. The jungle was pitch black as a vast ink blotter. The night sky shone clear. Sr. Alvaro went to sit with the pilot. Bill Garth excused himself with a copy of the San Diego newspaper, a week old, and headed for the bathroom. Pierre moved to a window. He tried to count the stars and identify the constellations. This would all work out all right.

Blue kept her feelings deeply stored apart in separate boxes, and she made sure the padlocks were tightly locked

In the bathroom, Bill Garth screwed the silencer onto his .357 magnum. He would have preferred to use a .45, whose slug would not go through but would whiz around tearing the victim apart inside. But it had to be this exact gun, which had wasted Guzman. As Bill left the bathroom, the old frog turned. A grimace, a scream, grew in his face. The whites of his eyes, the pink of his tongue flecked with spittle, looked terrified. "You have chocolate on your face," Garth said and shot him three times. Pop pop pop. LeSable's body slumped.

"Good work," Sr. Alvaro said, emerging from the cockpit. "It was good of you to reconsider your alliances."

"His choice of partners was terrible," Alvaro said minutes later as they packed LeSable's body into a coffin, surrounded by dry ice. "You can never trust a man like this."

Alvaro, cutting Pierre's stomach open with a gutting knife, said: "We send a clear message to our friends." Bill Garth carefully wiped the revolver down to remove fingerprints. Then he wrapped the weapon in tissue paper and stuffed it into the body. "Yes, Mr. Alvaro."

In Sinaloa, as dawn broke, the plane landed. A Mercedes picked up Bill Garth and Sr. Alvaro. The DC-3 flew on.

Blue kept her feelings deeply stored apart in separate boxes, and she made sure the padlocks were tightly locked

Alvaro was content things were back under control, almost. At the airport in Mazatlan, he ordered Beel into his car. He lit a cigarillo and filled the car with acrid smoke which he found comforting but which obviously irritated the Norteamericano's eyes. "Beel, you must eliminate Mister Stone to wipe out the last traces of this mistake."

Garth nodded. "I understand. I'll be in Palm Springs by tomorrow, and I'll settle the score."

"This may be of some help to you," Alvaro said handing Garth a folded piece of paper.

A name, an address, a phone number. Bill Garth frowned.

Alvaro had a weary, crafty grin. "It always amaze me. His own daughter. She found out about the deal and called me. I think she hates him. She may do business with you."

Blue kept her feelings deeply stored apart in separate boxes, and she made sure the padlocks were tightly locked


Copyright © 1996 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.

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