The fix, p.18
Part #3 of Amos Decker series by David Baldacci
“It’s my dad. He didn’t pick me up from school today.”
“How did you get home?”
“A friend’s mom drove me here.”
“Have you called the police?”
“No, I was…I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.”
“It’ll be okay, Danny. We’ll come up with something.”
Jamison took his hand and led him up to their apartment. “Are you hungry?” she said.
He nodded, glancing anxiously at Decker.
“I’ll make you something to eat. Now, Danny, tell us anything you can that might help us find out where your dad is.” Jamison got busy in the kitchen and Danny sat at the bar watching her while Decker stood beside him.
“He dropped me at school today, like always.”
“Did he say anything to you then that might explain why he didn’t show up to get you later?” asked Decker.
“No, not that I can think of. I go to aftercare. And Dad is always there by six. But when he didn’t show up, I didn’t know what to do.”
“Do you have a phone?” asked Jamison.
Danny shook his head. “My dad has one, but it’s too expensive for me to have one too.”
“But couldn’t you use a friend’s phone to call your dad?”
“I did. I borrowed a phone and called, but no one answered.”
Jamison said, “Okay, for now, we’re going to call the police and they can start looking for your father.”
Decker said, “I can go over to the construction site where he works. You told us where it is. Near the waterfront.”
Jamison stopped slicing up a tomato for a salad she was making and said, “Decker, you shouldn’t go alone.”
“I’m not going to do anything dangerous. I’m just going to take a look at the place, that’s all. If I see anything suspicious, I’ll call the cops.” He held out his hand. “I’ll have to take your car, Alex.”
She drew the keys from her jacket pocket but hesitated handing them over. “You promise nothing dangerous?”
Decker looked at Danny. “What exactly does your father do, Danny, at the construction site?”
“Lots of things. He’s a bricklayer mostly. He’s really good at it.”
“I’ll be back shortly.”
* * *
A minute later Decker wedged himself into Jamison’s car and drove off. It only took about fifteen minutes to reach the construction site. It was well dark now and Decker couldn’t see anyone around. The buildings on either side of his destination looked to be in the process of being torn down. This whole area was undergoing a vast renovation.
A chilly wind whistled in between buildings. Decker parked on the street across from the site and drew up the collar of his jacket. He took a minute to look all around. He still didn’t see anyone. And he also didn’t see Amaya’s Sentra parked anywhere.
He jogged across the street and stood in front of the unfinished building. The exterior walls were up and concrete floors had been poured. Decker counted twelve floors. Construction elevators were grafted to the concrete skeleton like tendons on bone.
He maneuvered through some barriers, stepped through an opening, and stared around at the empty first floor. He was very surprised there were no security guards on site here. He put one hand on his pistol and pulled a flashlight from his other pocket. He shone it around but saw nothing except stacks of construction material.
He glimpsed a set of steps leading down to the floors belowground. He debated whether to do this, but decided he had to. For all he knew Amaya might be down there hurt or even dead.
He walked down the steps and reached the lower floor. He pointed his light around and saw that the space here was partially completed. There was a hole in the floor in the far corner, and stacks of bricks set against one wall. When he looked down, he saw that the floor was mortared brick laid over a concrete slab.
The next moment he heard a noise and killed his light. He moved to a corner and listened. He thought he heard voices, but he couldn’t make out any words.
Then came footsteps.
Then came a light.
Decker moved back farther into the shadows.
Four men appeared on the stairs. They were carrying something.
When Decker saw what it was, his hand went to his phone.
It was clearly a body.
They carried it over next to the hole and set it down. Then a light one of the men was holding flicked around the space.
That’s when Decker saw a very nervous-looking Tomas Amaya. His face was bruised and bloody.
Two of the men had guns out. They pointed them at Amaya and he and the fourth man lifted the body and placed it into the hole.
“Preparar el hormigón.”
Decker’s Spanish wasn’t that good, but he didn’t need it to be.
Amaya lifted up a bag of cement mix, cut it open, and poured it into a portable mixer. He added water and turned the machine on. Meanwhile, the other man had taken the body and dumped it into the hole.
It was now clear what was going to happen.
And why they needed Amaya.
He was going to put the concrete in the hole and then brick it over, seamlessly matching, no doubt, the work he had already done here.
That was why they wanted him.
To hide the body. And Decker didn’t think the bricklayer was going to live to work on another job after this one.
Decker took out his phone and saw with dismay that down here he had no service.
And then he realized there was another person down here with him.
Because that person had just stuck a gun muzzle in his back.
DECKER WAS SHOVED forward, stumbled, nearly lost his balance, and then regained his footing. A light hit him in the face.
Decker was shoved in the back again.
He reached the hole and stared down, saw the body, and then looked over at his captors.
There were five of them, plus Amaya. They were young, tough-looking, and all of them were armed.
Decker did not like these odds at all.
He wondered for a moment about Jamison’s reaction to his being dead.
Told you so, Amos.
But he actually knew it would not be that. She would be devastated. And right now that made him feel worse than the imminent danger he was in.
The little man he had seen at the apartment building was not among the five. Danny had said he had seen the man in a suit with a hard hat. Apparently the actual murder and hiding-the-body part was not within his job description.
And that was probably why no security guards were posted here tonight. They didn’t want anyone around for this little extra task.
But the other men here seemed more than prepared to do the burial honors.
One of the men looked at Amaya and said, “Espacio para dos.”
Decker didn’t need to be fluent in Spanish to understand that order either. The dos part was all he required. He was the spare and they were going to bury him along with the other guy.
He had something going for him, however long the odds would still be against him. They hadn’t searched him for a weapon. That was a mistake.
Yet there was a guy behind him with a gun. And the guy holding the light had a gun in his other hand. Both were pointed right at Decker.
And there were three others there, all with weapons. He could maybe take out one or two, but after that one of the others would be able to kill him. It was simple math, and he came up short in every scenario that flashed through his mind.
“Él es un federale,” said Amaya suddenly, pointing at Decker.
The men turned to stare at him.
“Es un federale,” Amaya said again. “FBI!” He pointed feverishly at Decker.
The man holding the flashlight took a step tow
The man smiled. “I don’t give a shit. You’re dead.”
Decker had no choice now. He didn’t care if the odds were not in his favor. If he was going to die, he was going to take at least one of the pricks with him.
He lowered his shoulder, dropped into a squat, and exploded out of it. He drilled the guy right in the sternum, maxing out the thrust from his legs. He hit the man so hard he was lifted off his feet, flew backward, and with a scream fell into the hole.
Now Decker’s problem was obvious: There were four other guys to deal with.
The good thing was the only light had just disappeared into the hole.
Darkness was his best friend right now.
Gunfire erupted all around. Fortunately, Decker had dropped to the floor an instant before, pulled his gun, and was about to fire when he saw something flash past him so fast, he couldn’t even tell what it was.
But he did hear the impact as body met body and one of them gave. He next heard the clunk of something hitting the brick floor hard.
He rolled to his right, aimed his gun, and fired.
The man who had jammed his gun into Decker’s back caught the round in his belly. He doubled over screaming, and a few moments later, blood came out of his mouth. He dropped to the floor and out of the fight. Belly wounds were a bitch, Decker knew. The guy would probably bleed out right there, and he could not have cared less.
Shots hit the floor near him. He could sense chips of concrete and brick whizzing through the air. And then he felt something cut into his arm. Either a slug or a chip. Either way it hurt like hell.
He kept rolling along the floor as more shots were fired. He ran into something, realized it was a wall, rose, pivoted, and went into a crouch. He focused on the situation.
By his count three down, two to go.
As he spun around trying to gauge where the remaining two were, he sensed another flash of something, resulting in another collision. He heard a muffled scream and a gun hit the brick, followed by a body doing the same thing.
Okay, there was only one man left.
He liked these odds a lot better.
He crept forward, his gun ready, when he saw Tomas Amaya struggling with the last man. The guy had a gun. He was bigger and stronger than Amaya. He threw the smaller man off, took aim, and started to squeeze the trigger.
Decker was about to fire when the other man was hit so hard he was lifted off his feet. Whoever hit him was holding on, and when the guy slammed into the brick, the gun fell from his hand.
Okay, fifth and final man down for the count.
It was pretty much unbelievable.
Decker moved forward, panting slightly, his pistol held out in front of him. He swung it around, looking for movement, looking for additional threats. Someone was still out there. And though he had attacked the other guys, he hadn’t done anything to identify himself to Decker either.
So he could still be a problem.
The next moment, Decker saw a pop of light. Then he saw a hand grip the side of the hole and looked over as a head emerged.
It was the guy he had knocked into the hole.
He had the flashlight clamped in his mouth.
His other hand came up and it held a gun pointed right at Decker.
There was no way Decker could react in time. He started to bring his gun around, but he instinctively braced for the impact of the shot.
Then a work boot came down hard on the man’s free hand. He screamed. Then the same boot kicked the gun out of his hand. The man let go and fell back into the hole, while the gun dropped harmlessly to the floor.
Decker eyed Amaya, who stood next to the hole, breathing hard.
“Thanks,” said Decker.
A pale Amaya nodded, obviously too shaken to even attempt a response. He staggered away from the hole and sat down on the floor.
“Damn, man. Can you never stay out of trouble?”
Decker whirled around and stared over at the source of the query.
A light came on. It was pointed away from Decker and toward the person holding it.
Melvin Mars, bent over and breathing hard, smiled and said, “See, Decker, sometimes Hail Marys do work!”
Melvin Mars, nearly six foot three and two hundred and thirty muscled pounds, stood in the middle of Jamison’s and Decker’s kitchen looking around. He was a former All-American running back from Texas, a sure lock for the NFL, who had been falsely imprisoned for murdering his parents and sentenced to death. After twenty years in jail and on the eve of his execution date, someone else had confessed to the crime. That had led to Decker and his FBI team’s involvement and the truth eventually coming out. The state of Texas and the federal government had chipped in on an enormous payday for Mars, allowing him financial independence for the rest of his life.
Jamison smiled up at Mars. “Hey, it was your wallet that provided it.”
The local police had been called to the construction site and taken over the investigation. Or mess, rather.
The guy Decker had shot was dead, and the other three, handled by Mars, were still unconscious but alive. The fifth man, the one in the hole, was identified as Roger Baker, a low-level enforcer for a local gang. The other men there were part of his crew.
The body in the hole was identified as Mateo Rodriguez, an accountant who, they had been told, was working with law enforcement to bring down the local roots of a Central American cartel that had muscled its way into the D.C. area.
They were still looking for Luis Alvarez, the man in the suit and hard hat. He had been one of the construction supervisors, but allegedly had criminal ties. He had disappeared, but the police were hopeful they could track him down.
Danny and his father had been reunited and taken to live somewhere else. Tomas Amaya would need to testify at the trial of Roger Baker. They were hoping that Baker, in turn, would rat on others farther up the line. Jamison and Decker had told the Amayas that they would help them every step of the way.
“I’ll be by to check on you both,” Jamison had told Danny before they were taken away by the police. “And don’t worry, everything is going to be okay now.”
The Fix by David Baldacci / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4.1 out of 5 / Based on45 votes