Part 18: Bloody
Dean was watching it all from the car. The two external cameramen
had caught Oral Jerry Swagger and Zak entering the restaurant. OJS
had been carrying the briefcase with the money. The internal
cameraman would film and record part of their dinner conversation.
Then . . .
Here they came. Zak was carrying the briefcase now. They were
shaking hands. Three cameras going. The man inside had followed them
out and was making no effort to be non-obtrusive. He caught OJS with
his mouth dropping open as he looking directly into the camera lens.
Zak came over and got into the car, two cameramen following him,
filming. One of them got into the back seat. Zak opened the
briefcase and the cameraman leaned forward, filming the money.
"Where to?" Dean asked.
"Chinatown," Zak said. "I deliver the money and we—they—generate the
wire transfer records.
"I sure hope you know what you are doing," Dean muttered, as he
started the car.
"Relax," Zak said. "You’ll get paid shortly. Cash."
He tapped the
briefcase. Hoova had told him he could keep ten percent. That would
be enough to pay Dean, and a few bucks left over for himself. Zak
was in a good mood. All the stuff for Hoova had been voluntary—a
freeby. Now something was coming back.
True, Larry Meier hadn’t mentioned the part about the ten percent.
But that was Hoova’s problem. Ten percent. A tithe. Zak snickered to
himself. A tithe of a tithe. Ten percent from money OJS had
collected as tithes and offerings from his followers.
Hoova had told him to leave the tapes under some Mason jars in a
paper bag marked "Sally Rand" in the same place as previously.
"Chinatown!" Zak yelled. "Chinatown here we come!"
Dean only glanced
at him and drove in silence.
Craig hit the button in the Hilton elevator. The woman who had
called in to headquarters wasn’t there anymore. Vacation or
something. But the suspect, Hermes T. Megistus, was still in his
room. He hadn’t stirred for twenty-four hours, apparently.
Craig just wanted to pass by. Check the location of the room number.
Any excuse to deal with the endless boredom of waiting for the
suspect to make a move. What was he doing in there anyway? Watching
TV? Shacked up with some whore?
Craig stepped out into the 10th floor and checked the location of
the room number. Down this way. Here it is . . .
The door was slightly ajar. Shit! Craig thought. It was three a.m.
in the morning. It couldn’t be the maid. So—was the suspect there or
not? Obviously he had come in or out—but no one had bothered to
close the door. Maybe the suspect had just gone down the hall for
some ice. Craig looked behind him. No one. But in that case there
ought to be a light in the room. The room was dark.
Craig hesitated. Then he knocked on the doorjamb.
"Mr. Megistus? Hotel security. We noticed your door was open."
He waited. Nothing. He listened. No sound.
Craig pushed open the door and slipped inside, fumbling for the
light switch. He hadn’t quite found it yet when he felt the sharp
point. A sting in his solar plexus.
He was still fumbling with the blade in his belly when he blacked
Edward Lodge was watching a basketball game to pass the time when
the STU-III rang on his desk. It was a new product that gave an
encrypted communication session.
Lodge didn’t really trust it. But at least he knew who was calling
when it rang.
"Yes," he answered, never taking his eyes off the TV screen.
"Um, hmm," he said several times as he listened. Then:
"Sanitize the trail. We don’t want it leading back here."
He hung up the phone and yelled at the TV: "Shoot! Shoot!"
Oral Jerry Swagger had gotten up early that morning. He was dressed
in his morning outfit—suspenders, red shirt, bow tie—when he went
out for the paper on the front lawn. Usually the housekeeper
delivered it at 7 a.m. along with breakfast. But it was 6:30 and OJ
was impatient for the news.
The paper was half-way down the stone path to the front gate. OJ
opened up the Los Angeles Times, and stood there, reading and
shaking his jowls at the sin and corruption of the world.
Only gradually did he become aware of some blemish on his spacious
front lawn. The lawn had long ago been replanted with dichondra,
which gave a uniform green, in place of the patchy and fickle grass.
It was a human figure. OJ walked cautiously across the dichondra for
a closer look. The man was laying face down.
He tapped on the man’s shoulder.
"Get up!" he commanded sternly.
The man—still drunk—didn’t move.
OJ grabbed his shoulder, and with some effort flipped him over. It
was Craig. His employee—the one looking into the military Satanists.
The one taking care of that Jack Parsons matter.
Craig’s throat was slit open with a large gash. His intestines were
partly hanging out through his shirt.
OJ felt a little sick. He went back into the house and called his
attorney, Randy Stader.
Stader will know how to handle this, OJ reflected. He felt quite
numb and calm.
Will the Parsons’ horror never cease? he wondered.