A brusque nod. "Least not till they doin' the reward, when it's over."
"I hear you."
"Okay, then." And they both reached for the door openers.
As soon as they got out of the car, Hunt could smell rotting vegetation and gas. And he noticed that all along the opposite sh.o.r.e, the degraded sh.o.r.eline had been fenced off, no doubt in preparation for the improvements, the new rock-and-concrete wall.
Cecil Rand came around and led him across the street, then down across the gra.s.sy lawn to the old retaining wall. They were still quite a ways from the water-hugging trees that marked the exact site where Como had been found, but Rand didn't seem to know or care about that, and stopped perhaps fifty yards short of it, and on the street side.
"Okay, now," Rand said as they stood looking out over the mud. The sky today was heavily overcast and the gray morning light flat and without glare. "Now, I ain't saying this is absolutely somethin', it's just what it is."
"All right," Hunt said. "What are we looking at?"
Rand moved in closer next to Hunt and pointed slightly off to his right. "I was walking by here last night before dark and stopped right here. Seen it and started thinkin' on the reward. Put my stogie out here to mark the spot, so I'd get it right."
Hunt looked down and saw the carbon X on the low wall. Then his eyes came up, following where Rand was pointing.
"Just this side of the last of the water," Rand said. "It's still there."
"What, though?" And then Hunt squinted. Maybe ninety feet away from where he stood, and still ten feet on this side of the puddle, the smooth flat surface of the mud yielded an instantly recognizable shape, out of place among the smattering of roots and bottles and rotting algae. It looked like two sticks crossed at perfect right angles, but Hunt knew what it was even as he said, "I see it. You mean the tire iron?"
Rand was nodding and nodding, the corners of his mouth turned up in satisfaction. "I'm seein' that ol' thing in the mud last night and thinkin' I be lookin' at what got used on Dominic."
The headquarters for the Mission Street Coalition's moving company occupied two large warehouses and an office that was little more than a shed in the light industrial neighborhood a couple of blocks off Cesar Chavez Boulevard between the 101 and 280 freeways.
Mickey, clueless, drove out to the Coalition's residential home on Dolores, got there at about nine-thirty, then asked around and at the desk for Damien Jones. The administrative bureaucracy at the home wasn't the most organized system Mickey had ever encountered, and it took him nearly a half hour to hunt down Damien's likely whereabouts, and he only succeeded then because, inadvertently, he had run into the execu
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