That night to my surprise, Carol returns home at around supper time. She's only stopped off for a drink, to "decompress" before hitting the subway. She's too tired to go anywhere tonight. She just has to come home and rest. This I believe. Even constantly pumped full of weird drugs, you can only stay wired so long before you crash. So Carol is true to her word. After supper, she lays down on the bed and falls into a deep sleep. I go into the kitchen and phone Diane. She's not home but I leave a message I want to talk to her.

I do this the next day and tell a little about how I've gotta go down to Boca for about a week and ask her if she maybe would like to come along. It's not just for company, but because she speaks Spanish fluently and I know just enough to make myself understood to Mexican cab drivers and not much more.

"How we going down there?" she asks. "Flying?"

"Driving," I tell her. "I'll get us a nice rental. A Caddy."

She knows something's up then, because we wouldn't be driving unless there was buy money involved. With buy money you don't want to risk a pat-down search at the airport, or having your bags inspected. So you drive. This means drugs to her, but this is not the first time I've used Diane on a score. She knows the ropes.

"I'll pack my swimsuit," she says, and she's in.

The money's in the safe deposit box just like Weinstein said it would be. There's eighty thousand in hundreds, enough to fill a small suitcase. I rent the car, a brand new Cadillac, and pick her up at her building. She'sdressed in a black leather jacket and a red tam. She looks good and she's brought the brown paper D'Agostino bag full of Seagrams V.O. and Schweppes tonic waters like I asked her.

I wait till we're out of the snarl of city traffic and on the highway heading down south before I tell her to mix me the first one, and it goes down nice and smooth. We both know the cops on this route have profiles, which is another reason she's along with me, and the reason why I'm wearing a jacket, tie and pressed pants, and carrying an attache case full of insurance forms. We spend the night at a fancy motel in West Virginia with a hot tub and sauna in the room. In the morning, we hit the road again.

Two days later, we're set up at Weinstein's time-share condo in Boca. We decide we don't call anybody except Weinstein to let him know we're here, and not until tomorrow. Weinstein can go fuck himself for all we care. Meanwhile, we have sex and sleep all day and that night go out on the town. Next day, I call the number Weinstein gave me and speak to a guy who barely knows English. It's not the language problem, but the vibes of the thing that suddenly makes me get a bad feeling about the whole deal and I'm glad I brought the two Uzi machinepistols for us and the screw-on silencers that go with them.

These Uzis are not like the ones generally seen on television. These are no larger than handguns, but can take fifty round clips and are fully automatic. They are illegal, but then again so is trafficking in heroin. Diane knows how to fire a handgun and I explain to her that the principle is the same. To all intents and purposes she's to treat the Uzipistol as a regular handgun. Except for cocking the weapon -- which is different from the way most automatics are cocked, and the three-inch black cylinder that fits into the muzzle -- she's to keep it set on single-fire at all times and pretend it's like any other pistol.

I arrange with "Xavier" the Colombian to do the deal but it takes awhile. First he wants me to come aboard his yacht, to which I say no fucking way. Then he pretends he's pissed and hangs up. He calls me back and says we can meet at his hotel room. That's no good either. I tell him I'll meet him at the Trocadero hotel where I'm staying, in the lobby, and then we can go up to my room. I've rented a room just for the purpose of doing the deal. To this he agrees and we arrange for that afternoon.

Diane and I make it over to the Trocadero and check out the situation there. I want her to scout around for me while I sit at the bar. She does, and bumps up against a man matching Xavier's description. She comes back and tells me he's carrying. Later, we go upstairs and Diane talks to Xavier and his people in Spanish. He opens one of two aluminum attache cases on the bed and shows me the bunch of two-kilo cellophane bags.

I ask to taste some and he invites me to, and I can tell from his smile that this is where the shit hits the fan. I have the Uzi out in a sec and am firing at the pony-tail-and-shades combo to Xavier's right as he gropes under his jacket. Two spits catch him in the belly before he can trigger a burst of the Tek-9 he's whipped out. I kill Xavier with another two taps to the head and Diane drops the other asshole -- who's been standing next to her and looking her up and down instead of doing his job -- at point-blank range. I grab one attache case full of smack and we head out the door. Two more Colombians are in the corridor. I tag them both and they drop to the carpet with hardly a sound. Diane and I walk calmly to the elevator, smiling at an elderly couple. Still smiling and making smalltalk, we cross the lobby, exit the hotel, climb into our rented Caddy and drive slowly away.

"That beat?" she asks, behind the wheel. By now we've put some distance behind us and I've slitted one of the bags with my knife for that taste I missed up in the room.

"Straight from the Cremora bottle," I tell her, spitting it out.

We stop and I throw the shit and the guns in the nearest garbage can. I call Weinstein from a pay phone but there's no answer. I don't like the vibes I'm getting here. We head back to the Apple and I give Diane the buy money to hold, because there's no other choice, and tell her to take it easy. Nobody knows about her, she's totally out of it. I'll talk to her about it later, when we deal with the money. I make a few calls and find out what I suspected had happened. Weinstein got whacked the other day. Two fast ones in the eyes as he left the office at night. Nobody saw or heard a thing. But they never do.

I risk going home and see two Mussolini-chins parked out front of the building. I can't be sure, but they look to me like Weinstein's mutts, Bosco and Adams. I go in the back way, holding the piece in my coat pocket, through the alley around the corner, and take the fire stairs up to the apartment and let myself in the house. Carol is in the apartment. I can't see her yet, but she's definitely around. The place stinks of incense, and there are candles burning all over the place. She's in the bedroom, and she's sacrificing a live chicken over the Golem who's lying naked in our bed. Carol has gone completely berserk. She doesn't even seem to know who I am, or maybe she does but doesn't care.

"I'm gonna have to leave town for awhile," I tell her. But she's not paying attention to me. She seems to be in some kind of a trance. Both of them look high on something. This is the end, I know. She's flipped out. Gone completely bananas. It's starting to get dark and the candles are flickering in the heavy twilight. I call Diane, but only get her machine.

I sling my carryall over my shoulder and hustle downstairs by the fire stairs and leave the way I came in, so I avoid the scumbags out front. I get a cab to the East Side and then it hits me that Diane took the money. I know she's gone, she's burned me a little voice says. But I fight that feeling. It's just paranoia, I tell myself. It's just paranoia, though every foot feels like a mile and my knuckles are white from clenching my fists.

Copyright © 1996
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Path of Least Resistance
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