Книга Army of Devils. Страница 4
"Nah, an attack-trained clam. Fell on it and woke it up. Snap!"
"Carl, you joke and you laugh. But it isn't funny to see you. You're haunted. It's like you've got different people moving around inside you. What's happened to you? What have they got you doing?"
"You don't have clearance." He gulped down the last of the beer, twisted the cap off another.
"Are the three of you, the two other men and you, and the others I met — are you a hit unit?"
"You don't have clearance."
"Are you an assassin?"
Lyons did not answer.
Flor pressed her question. "I do have clearance. The phone call came through last week. I'm detaching from the Drug Enforcement Agency. I'm staying on the agency payroll but I'll be answering to both the agency and your Stony Man. They call me an Interface Operative now. Drugs and terrorism..."
"Oh, God, no…" Lyons groaned. He left the bed, paced the motel room. "Why'd he do this?"
"Who? Who's he? I got the call from the Justice Department."
"I'll tell you this, without clearance and without 'highest authority.' When you get your check, buy whatever you want. Listen to me. Don't put any money in the bank. Don't buy life insurance. Buy the best clothes, the best shoes. Buy anything that'll give you a laugh."
"It's dangerous. Is that what you're telling me? So you think it's so safe, what I've done? Pretending to be an international dope gangster? Do you want to protect me? You think I will die?"
"Getting killed ain't it…" Lyons pointed to his right eye. "It's what you see. After that, dying, thinking about dying isn't the same. You recognize the advantages of being dead. No memories. No thinking..."
"Where have they sent you? What have you done?"
"You really got clearance? That the truth?"
"They want me to fly back with you. After your demonstration at the academy."
Lyons stood naked in the darkness. He looked around at the walls and furniture, the infinite number of small hiding places for microphones and minitransmitters. He glanced at Flor's purse and folded clothing.
He had rented the room at random. No one — not Flor, not even he himself — knew they would stay in the Malibu motel. With an afternoon and night to spend together before his demonstration of the Atchisson assault shotgun at the LAPD Academy firing range the next day, he had driven north on the Pacific Coast Highway. He saw the motel sign and stopped. Totally on a whim. Still, he took no chances…
As he put on a sweat shirt and swimming trunks, he motioned for Flor to dress. "How about a walk on the beach?"
"You won't talk in here?"
Lyons shook his head.
On the beach, walking arm in arm on the cold sand, he told her of his work in the past year. He talked until sunrise.
Flor listened to all the horror and inhumanity and suffering.
"What do you think?" Lyons concluded. "Is that what you want to do with your life?"
"Those people in New York, in the Amazon, in Guatemala, those Salvadorans — all of them, they're alive because of you. You and Blancanales and Gadgets, right?"
"Yeah, I think about that a lot. That's what makes it all worth it."
"Do you think it would be any different for me? I've seen what you've seen, but I couldn't do anything about it. Now I can. What greater opportunity could I hope for?"
"The terrorists — there's always more. We kill one, a hundred come. We kill the hundred, the Soviets only open more training camps. There's no end to the killing and suffering."
" And what if we didn't fight?"
"Take a tour of Cambodia. That could be America. And the Soviets would put Pol Pot in charge of American reeducation."
"Then we fight…"
Lyons nodded. He put his arms around Flor and held her, the rise and fall of her chest soft against his muscles. He tasted the sweat-salt in her hair as the offshore wind blew strands of it over his face. He closed his eyes to the graying Pacific, the red-streaked skyline of mountains and beachfront homes. He wished he knew the future. But he did not, could not, and would not want to know when the bullet or knife or blastflash would end him.
When he died, he died. But now, in this moment of life and pleasure on Malibu Beach, he held the woman he loved. He thought of nothing but love.
Three hours later, at the firing range of the Los Angeles Police Department's Academy in Elysian Park, Lyons paced the walkways. No one had appeared for his demonstration of the Atchisson selective-fire assault shotgun. The firing range remained deserted at nine-thirty in the morning. No academy cadets, no police officers used the range. At nine o'clock, the scheduled time for the demonstration, only Lyons and Flor stood at the long counter running the length of the facility. Now, after they had waited a half hour, none of the invited officers or security personnel had appeared.
Only the steady pop-pop-pop of a Heckler & Koch PSP 9mm pistol broke the silence. With one hand, then the other, Flor put groups of slugs through the black of a fifty-foot target as fast as she could pull the trigger.
Lyons looked back, saw the young woman rehearsing magazine changes with her right and then her left hand.
Struggling with the awkward position of the magazine release on the butt, Flor attempted to somehow release and eject the empty magazine while holding the next magazine in her off hand. Every time, the hand that held the full mag blocked the drop of the spent magazine. Finally she returned the high-tech German autopistol to its shipping box.
The booming of full-powered cartridges reaffirmed her faith in the downscaled Browning design of the Detonics .45 she always carried. Gripping the small pistol in both hands, she rapid-fired six rounds at the fifty-foot target.
Six .45-caliber slugs scored on the target. As she changed magazines, she called out to Lyons, "Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. The wrong day on the announcement. Perhaps that."
"I typed the announcements myself. I had friends call me long distance to say they'd show up. This is much too weird. At least there should be guys here doing their monthly qualifying. I'm going to call some people."
Jogging down the brick-walled drive, he glanced across the fountain plaza to the city-operated restaurant. In Lyons's years of city service, police and maintenance personnel had crowded the cafeteria for breakfast. Not today. Only one Mechanical Department truck parked at the curb. He went to the guard post manned by an academy cadet.
"What's going on?" Lyons asked him. "Someone declare today a holiday?"
The young Chicano woman looked at him oddly. "Everyone's out there. Looking for them."
"What? Who're they looking for? What's happened?"
"You don't have a television? You don't read the papers?" She turned over a newspaper on her desk. Lyons read the bold headline:
NIGHT OF HORROR
Mass Slayings, Gang Atrocities
Flor stayed at the wheel of their rented car while Lyons went to the pay phone near the entry of Parker Center, the main administrative offices for the Los Angeles Police Department. He dialed the number of a longtime friend and partner.
"Detective Towers," a voice answered.
"Hey, Bill. It's a crazy Federal you know."
"You hotshots don't waste any time. Who called you?"
"No one. Remember the demonstration? At the academy..."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry. Forgot all about it. This shit, you know."
"Yeah, I know. I bought a newspaper. Shit is right. Very bad shit. What's the story?"
"This an official call or what? If it isn't, the policy is that I can't talk to you."
"I'm officially calling as a concerned citizen. From the pay phone outside the front door."
"I'm sorry, but the department cannot comment on this case to any civilians or outside law-enforcement agency. If you are patient, I'm sure the newspapers will carry every detail of the investigation, arrest and eventual acquittal of all the low-life scum punks involved. Three minutes, okay?"