I wasn’t sure I wanted this Agent Walker to see inside the trunk, but I also wasn’t sure I had a choice. And then I wondered why I didn’t want him to see inside the trunk. Was it because our client was a diamond smuggler and we wouldn’t get paid if he went to jail? Or was it that we wanted to be the ones to break this case open against the senator and not some fed? Ah, fuck it.
I stepped aside and opened the trunk. Agent Walker stepped to the car and leaned over to look inside. Tom Laurel lunged forward, slammed the trunk lid on Walker’s head, then turned and ran for it.
”Shit!” I said, and took off after him.
Tom headed for the river. The Denny’s we had been in was about a quarter mile from the bank of the Illinois River. The river wasn’t too deep, or too wide, to be crossed, but with barge traffic — even at this time of night — it was still dangerous.
At first I didn’t know why Tom took off, but with seven packages of smuggled diamonds with his name on each one, it kind of made sense. At least this agent wasn’t one of Grebner’s hired guns. As far as Tom knew anyway.
Tom jumped a barrier and kept running. I leaped over the barrier and almost stumbled. My longer legs had me gaining on Tom when he went into the trees. The banks of the Illinois River around Peoria were mostly covered with trees and shrubs, and it’s pretty thick in some spots. This was one of those spots.
”Tom!” I yelled. ”Tom, stop!”
Even over my clumping through the woods, I could hear him stop. I hoped he wasn’t at the water’s edge and wading in. I kept running towards the last spot I heard him running to.
”Tom!” I yelled again. ”Why not try and make a deal?”
I stopped running as I was near the water’s edge and didn’t see him anywhere. Shit.
”What kind of deal?” I heard somewhere from my left. It was dark enough and with the shade of the trees, no moonlight or streetlight illumination was reaching us.
”You worked for the senator smuggling those diamonds,” I said to the darkness. ”Why not give those diamonds up and tell what you can about the operation? You’d probably get off with little to no jail time.” And we could still get paid, I hoped.
”What about Mrs. Grebner?”
”Fortune and I watched the senator shoot her. If you saw him shoot your wife, that’s just icing on the cake. The senator will be going away for a very long time.”
”How do I know I can trust you?”
”Because we haven’t done anything to show that you can’t trust us, unlike you.”
I peered into the darkness towards where I thought he might have been. While he talked I tried to pinpoint where he stood, which tree he was behind, and I thought I had him. He wasn’t but thirty feet from me. I was close enough that if he made for the river, I could still get him.
”All right,” he said, and stepped out from behind a tree that wasn’t the one I had picked, but I had been close enough. ”Let’s go talk to this guy.”
As soon as Spider took off after Tom, David Black tried a similar move in the opposite direction. The smuggled diamonds were, after all, in the trunk of his car, some of them having been there for over a year. But before he could get his feet all the way under him, I took two steps towards him and kicked his feet out from under him. Down he want, face first onto that broken nose. ”Ow, FUG!” he said. But he didn’t try to get up again.
I turned to see Fielding helping Walker out of the trunk. Fielding lifted the trunk lid and helped Walker stand upright. Walker had a large knot growing on the back of his head that I could see through the buzzcut hairdo. It wasn’t bleeding so that was a plus.
”Where did…” he started, then his eyes started to roll up in his head. Fielding and I each grabbed an arm and caught Walker as he slumped, but failed to go down. He straightened up and we helped him turn and sit on the bumper.
”He went running for the river,” I said. ”My partner is chasing him. He’ll bring Tom back.”
Walker nodded, then put his head between his knees. I didn’t think Tom hit him hard enough to give him a concussion, but he might have.
I looked at Black, still lying facedown on the pavement, pouting, feeling sorry for himself. I looked at Fielding, who was also staring at Black. Fielding looked at me, then at Walker. I nodded. Fielding let go of me and walked around to Black, taking out his handcuffs as he did. He bent over the prostrate idiot and pulled Black’s arms behind him. ”David Black, you’re under arrest for possession of stolen property and conspiracy. You have the right to remain silent…”
”Senator Grebner did it!” Black shouted. ”It was all him! He shot Mrs. Laurel right in front of me!”
Fielding looked over his shoulder at me, a not-very-well-hidden grin on his face. ”Sounds like we got a witness and he wants to deal.”
”Make that two,” Spider said as he and Tom approached from the direction they had run. ”Tom wants to talk to Agent Walker, and an attorney, and not necessarily in that order.”