Just Enough Power - 14
"Ms. Lonnigan, you might as well take your hand off that knife. We'd like to have you in one piece, but it's not strictly necessary."
The man's eyes were as blue as ever, his manner as unhurried. Patricia Lonnigan resisted the urge to look around to confirm what he'd said about the snipers. She looked back at him instead, without taking her hand from the steak knife she'd been using on her porterhouse. The moment stretched, neither of them moving.
He sighed. "Unit Two," he said, apparently speaking into the air between them, "on my mark, light up Ms. Lonnigan's knife hand. If she doesn't stand down within two seconds, shoot her hand off. Mark."
On the back of Lonnigan's right hand, a red laser dot flared into life. Without hesitation, Lonnigan smoothly moved her hand away from the knife and went to put her hands in her lap.
"Where I can see them, please. Lace your fingers together and put your hands in the bread basket. No, leave it where it is in the middle of the table. That's fine. Now then... let's talk."
"I don't care how many guns you've got, pal, interrupting my lunch is pretty fucking rude." He made no reply, and gave little reaction. She kept the bravado on high and tried another angle. "What do you want? And who are you, anyway? Are you with the Russians out of New York? Are you part of the Mikhailovitch family? Or the Murphys? Are you Boston?"
The man clucked his tongue. "You're fishing, Ms. Lonnigan. My name is Mr. Jones. As it happens, I'm with the biggest gang of them all."
Lonnigan's eyes drew close, then she pursed her lips in thought. "So you're... F.B.I.?"
"Good guess, but wrong. I work for the Department of Justice, Ms. Lonnigan. And as of this moment, so do you."
Oh, damn, she thought. "Bullshit. Go fuck yourself, G-man." Oh, damn, damn, damn!
He smiled. "Aside from your long list of more pedestrian offenses, Lonnigan, by our count, you've killed at least four people. That's more than enough for us to seek the death penalty. No one would fight to save your life and no one would miss you when you're dead, Lonnigan. The fact is, I hold your life in my hands."
"I said, go fuck yourself."
Mr. Jones, or whatever his name was, leaned back in his chair and sipped from the glass of water he'd brought to her table. "Here's the deal, Lonnigan. I don't really give a shit about you or the lowlife bastards you capped. I want Meng-Shiu Tong. You're one of his killers, you're in the inner circle, or close to it, and I want him."
For the second time in ten minutes, Lonnigan felt as though reality was twisting around her. Could this guy possibly have his facts so wrong and not know it? He went on, "The Tong organization has been a cancer on the east coast for a long time, and it's time we burned it out. We've been watching him for a long time, but it's only recently we've been able to make some solid headway against it."
You mean, she thought, ever since Meng-Shiu took over after the Jade Prince died. Jesus, I knew the sloppy asshole was screwing things up, but I had no idea it was this bad!
"I don't know what you're talking about, pal. I'm not in anybody's inner circle." She was hardly able to get the words out, she was thinking so fast.
"Don't be coy, Lonnigan. We already know that he sent you into the Kim organization as a mole. Oh, don't look so shocked. Of course we know about the game you're running for your boss, Mr. Tong. We've got ears everywhere."
This is unbelievable, she thought. They have it all so completely screwed up, it's like a bad movie. Lonnigan had never dealt directly with the Feds, but this was not what she'd expected. She'd always heard that, although they moved with a ponderous slowness, they were still to be treated with wary respect. But as she considered it, hadn't all the stories been about undercover F.B.I. agents?
Cautiously, she asked, "What does the Department of Justice want with Tong?"
"All in due time, Ms. Lonnigan. For now, just keep playing the role that Tong assigned you. Act naturally and tell no one that we contacted you. Keep doing whatever you're doing with Kim and his associates. At some point in the near future, we'll be back in touch with further instructions." The man made as if to get up, then, with a patently melodramatic pause, said, "Oh, and if you try to run or to tip anyone off, we'll come get you. We always know where you are, Lonnigan. Always."
After telling her to enjoy her lunch, he walked away from the table and left the patio of the restaurant. Lonnigan, aware that she was certainly still under surveillance, and perhaps still under sniper cover, picked up her knife and cut off a large piece of her cooled steak. She allowed the chewing motion to disguise the smile she wasn't able to hide. If the DOJ was truly as far off the mark as it seemed, then she now had two powerful allies that were going to help her destroy Meng-Shiu Tong, and maybe even rescue Uncle Simon.
She just had to play them both, and do it very, very carefully.
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Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011