The fax came through while we were still on the road. It gave instructions to leave the money bag in the men's room at the Yucca Street park. As long as everything works out and all the money was there, Chrissie would be returned within twelve hours. Await further instructions.
Mikey was somewhat freaked out over me taking a bandanna off my boot and refolding it, then tying it over his eyes. He was happier when I gave instructions to Grant that he could start his day by going up and getting Mikey's beloved 280ZX back for him
"So what's the story with the blindfold?" asked Mikey.
"Be glad you're getting it. It's security on their part. This way you don't know where the house is. That means you'll be leaving again. If they didn't have me blindfold you, that would mean it didn't matter whether or not you knew the location, because there was no way you'd be leaving the house alive. Like I said, be thankful for it."
Both Angel and Vinny were in the driveway when I pulled in, smoking cigarettes and chatting. Vinny was dressed like a wino: now I knew how they were going to cover the park. It wouldn't have surprised me to learn that the only people in the park that day were mafioso. Even the damn little kids.
When I pulled Mikey out of the car, Vinny shrieked, "Is that him?" and launched himself fist-first into Mikey's face. Mikey's head snapped backwards from the impact, and he was still blindfolded so he couldn't see the shots coming at him and brace himself. After seven or eight good shots to the face and body Angel pulled Vinny back.
"That's enough for now, be cool Vinny," said Angel.
"No, it ain't enough. I gotta see blood." Mikey obliged him by spitting out a mouthful of blood, and a tooth, onto the driveway surface.
Bekka watched all this dispassionately, waiting for Vinny to step away from Mikey. Then she walked up to Vinny.... And gave him a hug. He stiffened up at first, then relaxed, then began crying. Angel, Mikey and I stood there feeling vaguely embarrassed. Angel finally told me to guide Mikey in the house, so that he could lose the blindfold.
The five of us went into the living room and sat down. Angel asked if we all wanted a refresher. There was a consensus. Angel grabbed the jar on the coffee table and poured cocaine onto the glass of the table, then began arranging lines with a credit card. Being the gentleman he was, Bekka was offered the straw first.
Angel, Vinny and me did up our lines, then realized Mikey had no way of doing up his. "Take the handcuffs off of him. He's not going anywhere," said Angel. Mikey gave him a grateful look.
Angel said, "So, I understand you are in part responsible for Christina's disappearance. We are not happy with the current scenario. We plan on retrieving Christina and putting the endeavor which you have been involved with out of business. What information can you give us? And quickly, we have no time to waste."
"This is the wrong time to hold back. Don't hold back on them like you did me. And you're covered on all sides," I said to Mikey. It was true. As soon as that blindfold had come off I'd pulled out my Beretta, Bekka had her Banker's Special trained at him, and both Vinny and Angel had their jackets open with the butts of their guns sticking out.
Mikey weighed the odds and sighed. "Look, there's another address I know of. I think it's where they develop the photos. I went there once, so I don't remember the exact address, but it's on Seward Street near Fountain, okay, the place is another walk-up. like mine, only with a big-ass security gate. You'd have to pick the lock on the gate to get to the front door."
"And why were you there?" asked Angel.
"Picking up drugs owed to us," responded Mikey.
"Were you always paid in drugs?"
"No, we got cash too, but drugs were simplest. They always had good China White, and I could turn that into cash real quick."
"What is the address? I would like to know."
Mikey grimaced and said, "I have no clue. Like I said, I was there once for drugs, I had someone else giving directions from the shotgun seat. Dude, I just don't know."
"But you could find it again, right?" asked Angel.
"Come with me. You too, Vinny." And the three of them went out the door towards the garage.
When Angel and Vinny returned without Mikey, I asked what they'd done with him. "We have him cuffed to the water heater. He's not going anywhere," was the response.
We all cut out at the same time, Vinny and Angel to find a suitable bottle and paper bag to hold both a bottle of muscatel and a Beretta in, me and Bekka headed to scope out Seward St. in hopes of finding Mikey's mystery address. He swore it was the second house up from the corner on the west side of the street.
Bekka and I sat there and observed the place for a few minutes. It was like there was only life in the top right unit. The other three seemed to be dark and shuttered. We looked at each other.
"I dunno, the place seems sketchy enough," I said.
"But if we guess wrong, we'll tip our hands," replied Bekka. "Remember, we have to get Chrissie back and put the finger on the parties responsible, not one or the other. Getting Christina back is job one, though. Should we let Angel know we think we've found it?"
"May as well--- shit, here comes trouble."
Some guy with a mass of curly locks drooping down his head was stomping towards the car. He didn't look friendly. "Help you?" was all he said.
I grinned up at him and said, "No, we just stopped to get our bearings on the map. Thank you, though."
He took this at face value and asked where we were trying to get to. The Pantages Theater, I told him.
He smiled and said, "Go up here until you hit Vine, right? Make a left there. When you hit Hollywood Boulevard turn right, and you can't miss it."
We thanked him for his time and I let the clutch out, being sure to go in the direction he'd told us to. "I'll have to ask Mikey if he's familiar with that dude. Easy guy to spot. Wonder which side of the camera he usually works on."
Bekka laughed. "With a face like his? He's on the far side of the cameras, trust me. No matter how much money was on the line, no girl is gonna work voluntarily with a jar full of smashed assholes like that."
For about the hundredth time in the past couple days, we jumped over the Sepulveda Pass and into Encino. Angel and Vinny had beat us back to Angel's place by about ninety seconds. Angel lifted up the garage doors just high enough to get in.
Our entrance wasn't noticed. Mikey was snoring up a storm. He only stirred when I nudged him with a boot and said, "China white's ready" in his ear. That got his attention. One eye opened and he looked up at me and said, "Bastard, you're fucking with me aren't you?"
I assured him that sadly, this was the case, but I did get his attention, didn't I? Oh, and who around that address, or the one in the Heights, had a mass of treated curly hair? Anyone we should know about?
"Yeah, that's Gil," he said, and went back to being as comfortable as one can be when cuffed to a water heater. He'd started to snore before I hit the door.
I went back inside, and Angel and Vinny let me in on their plan. So far as they were concerned, action wouldn't happen until we received a drop time via fax. How it would work was this:
Angel would drop Vinny off a block away from the park, then go and make the drop. Vinny would slouch down with his bottle of muscatel within eyeshot of the bathroom door. Whoever went in and came out with the bag would be bulldogged by Vinny, as soon as they were clear of the park. Angel would keep an eye on things with the aid of powerful binoculars, springing into action if Vinny ran into trouble. Whoever picked up the bag would be hustled back to Angel's car and quizzed for everything they knew. Paul would be lurking around somewhere as backup.
Bekka and I were to extract Christina.
That was the only instruction we received. No advice on how to perform this, no backup, just get Chrissie or die trying. I figured it had been a while since someone had pointed a gun at us, so we were overdue. I told Bekka, "You realize we may be dead in a few hours. You know that, right?"
"I know it," she said, "which is why I'm gonna pester Angel for a line of his coke before we take off."
"Pragmatism wins out. You want some speed in the meantime?"
"Yeah. I'm starting to droop."
The fax came in around 6:30, just as Angela was clearing dinner dishes away. The drop time was 7:30 at the park. Don't be late.
Mikey had joined us for dinner. It was either that or have to hand-feed him salad, pasta Florentine, steaks wrapped in bacon and broiled, and a really good red wine. He thanked Angela for her hospitality and asked if he could go home yet.
Angel said, "Not yet. Soon after we're done working. I will speak with your boss and try to make sure you do not lose your job. Does that sound fair?"
"Um, sure, but what the hell are you going to tell him?"
"I will explain to him exactly who I am, and tell him you were doing some work for me which took longer than we anticipated."
"Huh. Okay," Mikey shrugged. He didn't ask me about having a rail of speed, which was not surprising. Tweaking while chained to a water heater in a dark garage didn't sound like fun to me, either. Angel and Vinny led him back to the garage.
Bekka and I reloaded our guns. We were as ready as we were going to be. I still had a pair of my porn shop handcuffs in my jacket, in case they were needed. I asked Angel about his insistence that there be no gunplay on our end. He chuckled and said, "I forgot to tell you, I spoke with don Ventimiglia earlier and that had been rescinded. You're carrying the damn things, you may as well use them if you need to. It's bad enough that you're so damn easy to spot, no sense in making you a sitting duck. Good luck out there." Him and Vinny got into the Maserati and fired up. Me and Bekka headed for the Falcon and did the same, heading back for Hollywood.