H Is For Homicide Page 24

She returned to the table, where she arranged herself provocatively on Jimmy's lap, straddling him, with her skirt hiked up to her crotch, her breasts so close to his face I thought he'd munch on them like cupcakes. I spent the next half hour having my hearing impaired by the music while Jimmy Tate and Bibianna Diaz exchanged steamy glances, (more or less) making love in an upright position with then-clothes on, the resulting friction scorching all the layers of fabric between them. The air smelled of desire, like the sweet perfume of wet grass after a rainstorm. That or cat spray.

The band finished one number and began the next, the only slow song I'd heard all night. Bibianna went off to dance with someone else. Jimmy didn't seem to mind. The fact that other men in the bar were seeking out her company apparently lent him stature. It also gave me time to figure out where his head was and whether he represented a help or a hindrance in my attempt to get close to Bibianna. Jimmy held his hand out. ’’Dance with me,’’ he said.


I PUT MY hand in his and followed. He was one of those men who can make you feel like Ginger Rogers on the dance floor, conveying an entire set of suggestions in the way he applied pressure to the small of my back. He moved automatically while he scanned the bar, his gaze shifting restlessly across the room. It was behavior I recognized. There's really no such thing as an ’’ex-cop’’ or a cop who's ’’off-duty’’ or ’’retired.’’ Once trained, once indoctrinated, a cop is always alert, assessing reality in terms of its potential for illegal acts. Whatever Jimmy's failings as a police officer, corruption being foremost, I couldn't picture him doing anything else with his life. It was hard for me to believe he'd sabotaged himself so thoroughly, cutting himself off from the only work he'd ever cared about. It wasn't really out of character for him, but it wasn't smart. What was he going to do now? Retire to what?

He sensed my preoccupation and refocused his attention. ’’Why so quiet?’’

’’I was thinking about the trial, wondering how you got caught up in that stuff to begin with.’’

’’I started out as a JD,’’ he reminded me.

’’You were twelve. You didn't have anything at stake back then. I know you've had problems, but I never thought you were dirty.’’

’’Lighten up. What's that supposed to mean? I'm no dirtier than anybody else. Come on, Kinsey. You know how it is. I palmed cash sometimes. Hell, everybody does. I saw guys palming cash the first day I ever went to work. So it's not like this was anything new - it just wasn't organized. I didn't cheat little old ladies out of their Social Security checks. These were f*kin'coke dealers - human garbage. The worst. The money wasn't even legal, but there it sat. You have any idea what it's like to make a bust like that? You could have two hundred thousand - hell, half a million dollars - layin'on the table in these nice neat stacks, all tied up with rubber bands. It doesn't even seem real. It's like funny money. Props. So who's gonna point a finger if a stack of bills disappears? The launderers? Get real. Those guys repudiate cash on the spot because then you got no hard evidence. By the time it gets booked in, there's twenty thousand less. Who knows where it went? Who even gives a shit?’’

’’You were skimming off more than twenty thousand, from what the papers said. Didn't it ever occur to you that you were being set up?’’

’’Sergeant Renkes was rakin'off four times the money we were, so why would I think he was setting us up? On the face of it, he had more to lose than we did.’’

’’But why all the conspicuous consumption?’’ I said. ’’The newspapers talked about speedboats and condos... luxury cars. On a cop's salary? Didn't you think anybody'd notice?’’

Jimmy laughed. ’’Nobody said we were smart. I wanted the perks. We all did, and why not? So it turns out the whole thing was a setup. Maybe we shoulda guessed. Anyway, that's why Bosco blew his brains out. Because we'd been stung and he couldn't see any other way out. Renkes headed up the unit we were working... he set the game up, invited us to play, and then he turned us in. It was all departmental housecleaning, and Danny Renkes was the janitor.’’

’’Did you know the bust was coming?’’

’’In some ways, sure. There were rumors for months. Nobody really wanted to believe it. I was on disability by then, so I wasn't an active player when the bust went down. I'd done my share, of course, and Renkes knew that. First time I heard the scuttlebutt, I started asking around. Everybody said the same thing. Run for cover, dude. Bail out. Get a lawyer before the shit hits the coast like a hurricane. I hired the smartest motherf*ker in the business. Had to hock everything I owned to pay the man's retainer, but it was worth every penny. Wilfred Brentnell. You ever heard of him?’’

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