Read Lady Justice and the Ghostly Treasure Online
Authors: Robert Thornhill
Looking around at the containers full of sludge, I remembered reading somewhere that five to seven pounds of waste are produced for each pound of meth cooked. There had to be at least five pounds.
We were meticulously sealing containers and stuffing the crud into boxes when a voice said, “Well I’ll be damned. Walt Williams.”
We looked up and found ourselves staring into the barrel of a snub-nosed .38. We were so absorbed in our project we didn’t hear Duane ‘Mad Dog’ Johnson creep down the stairs.
I had crossed paths with Johnson several times while on the force. The D.E.U. knew he was a street dealer, but could never catch him with the goods.
“I knew something was up when Frick and Frack didn’t show up with my product. Then I heard them getting picked up on my scanner. Figured I’d better scoot on over and clean up their mess. Looks like you got a head start on me. You guys are doing great, but my way will be much faster.”
My attention had been on the gun and I hadn’t noticed the brick of C-4 and the timer in his other hand.
“This will work out just fine,” he said, placing the explosive next to a can of acetone. “When the fire is out, they’ll find two charred bodies burnt beyond recognition and figure it’s two dopers who got careless. Happens all the time.”
He tossed a plastic tie to me. “Have your buddy back up to that support post and tie his hands behind his back.”
I did as he asked.
“Now you. Back up the other post.”
He pulled the tie so tight, I knew it wouldn’t be long until my fingers would turn blue. After cinching me up, he checked Kevin’s hands to make sure I had bound him tightly, then he frisked us both. As usual, I wasn’t carrying and I knew Kevin’s Glock was in the console of the car.
“Pleasure doing business with you gents,” he said, setting the timer on the C-4. “Fifteen minutes should be enough to get me to Mack’s Tavern where I’ll establish my alibi. Sorry I can’t hang around for the fireworks.”
He turned and headed up the stairs.
“Well, Stan,” Kevin said, shaking his head, “here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!”
“Really?” I replied. “We’re about to be blown to smithereens and you’re doing Laurel and Hardy?”
“Lighten up, Walt. We’ve got fifteen minutes before that thing goes off. Plenty of time. We’ll figure a way out of this.”
“I certainly hope so. Oscar is going to be royally pissed if we turn his rental into a pile of smoldering rubble.”
“Not nearly as pissed as our wives when they discover we’re a couple of crispy critters. Now pipe down and let me think.”
“We should have known,” I muttered.
“We figured Murph and Stu sold their smack themselves. It never occurred to us that they were just cooking for someone else.”
“Water under the bridge,” he replied, sliding down the pole to a sitting position. “Now you. Slide down with your back to me.”
“Okay. Now what?”
“Now I’m going to stretch as far as I can. I think you’ll be able to touch my foot.”
“So how will that help?”
“There’s a knife in my boot. The goober missed it. Pull it out and cut your hands free.”
“Then we’d better hurry. I don’t have much feeling left in my fingers.”
He stretched and I felt the sole of his boot.
“More! Maybe three or four inches.”
I heard him groan and the boot moved just enough for me to grab the hilt of the knife.
Moments later, we were free.
I ran to the top of the stairs, but Johnson had bolted the door.
The timer dial read ten minutes and counting.
“Know anything about bombs?” he asked, eyeing the contraption.
“Evidently about as much as you. I’m guessing we should cut one of these wires.”
There were three wires running from the timer to the C-4, red, white and blue.
“Yeah, but which one? I’ve heard if you cut the wrong one we won’t even have time to put our heads between our legs to kiss our sorry asses good-bye.”
“Well, we’ve got to do something.”
“You choose,” he said, picking up a wire cutter from the work bench.
“Blue it is,” he replied, snipping the wire.
I held my breath. There was no explosion and the timer stopped.
My first reaction was relief, then I was pissed.
“What if I’d said blue?”
“Then I would have cut the red. Ox told me about you and your questionable relationship with Lady Luck.”
I had to admit, he was right.
If I’m faced with anything that has a 50-50 chance, I always lose. If I’m trying to plug in an electric cord, the kind where one prong is wider than the other, I always have them reversed. If I flip a coin, it doesn’t matter whether I call heads or tails, it always is the opposite.
“Ox told me about disarming the bomb on the train on your Alaskan vacation. He said if we were going to be partners, that bit of information might come in handy. I guess he was right.”
“Now all we have to do is figure a way out.”
“Not a problem,” he said, pointing. “Window, ladder. Piece of cake.”
Once we were safely outside, Kevin asked, “Shall we continue our clean-up project?”
I’d been kicking something around in my mind.
“No, I’ve got a better idea. Let’s get even.”
My next call was to my friend and maintenance man, Willie, who lives in a studio apartment in my building.
Before coming to work for me years ago, Willie was a street con. He gave up the life but kept in touch with several of his old cronies. Those contacts had proven helpful many times over. I needed one now.
“Willie, I need to talk to Louie the Lip. Any idea where I can find him?”
“Las’ time I talked wif him, he was hangin’ at Auntie Mae’s Café on Brooklyn. I’d try dere first.”
I thanked him and we headed to the soul food café that was a favorite hangout for many of the old school street cons.
It took a moment for our eyes to adjust to the dim interior of the café. Right away I spotted Louie at a back table chatting with a very comely young lady.
The moment he saw us, his huge lower lip broke into a wide grin and he waved us over.
“Hey, Mr. Walt. How’s it hanging?”
I knew from past experience he had no real interest in Mr. Winkie and the boys. It was just his way of saying hello.
“Can’t complain,” I replied. Then glancing at the young woman, “We’d like to chat a minute, but I don’t want to interrupt anything.”
“Not a problem,” he replied. “Chastity, can you give us a minute?”
When she was out of ear shot. “Chastity? Really?”
“Why not,” he replied, grinning. “How can I help you boys?”
“Duane Johnson. Long story short, he just tried to blow us up. We’re looking for a little payback. Any idea where he calls home?”
“I’d love to help,” he replied. “Anything to get that little prick off the street. The stuff he peddles is pure poison. He’s got a couple of creeps cookin’ for him that couldn’t find their butts with both hands.”
“Ox picked up the creeps carrying a pound of crank about a half hour ago. They’re out of business. I’ve got a plan to take out Johnson before he sets up shop somewhere else.”
Louie though for a moment. “Duane’s got a place over on Ninth Street. That’s where I’d start. But be careful. They call him Mad Dog because of a big ole pit bull he keeps in the yard. A regular hound from hell.”
“Thanks, Louie. We’ll get out of your hair and let you get back to whatever it was we interrupted.”
“I think you know what it was,” he replied with a wink.
Back in the car, Kevin said, “One more stop before we head to Ninth Street.”
“Maury’s Butcher Shop.”
Twenty minutes later, we were parked a few houses down from Johnson’s place. Just as Louie said, a massive bulldog with drool dripping from his jaws patrolled the chain link fence next to the street.
Several passersby nearly dropped a load in their pants when the beast hit the fence growling.
An hour or so later, Johnson came out, patted the dog, and drove away.
“Let’s do this,” Kevin said, grabbing the package from the back seat.
“You really think that’s our ticket in?”
“We’ll find out soon enough,” he replied. “I haven’t seen a mutt yet that couldn’t be bought with a pork chop.”
As soon as we walked up to the gate, the dog hit the fence, teeth gnashing and drool flying.
“Easy, boy,” Kevin said, pulling a meaty chop out of the bag.
He held it up to the fence. Cujo got a whiff of the meat and you could see the confused look on his face. The more he sniffed, the more he drooled, and soon his long tongue was protruding through the chain link.
Kevin petted the nose pressed against the wire. “How about a truce? A pork chop for a free pass.
You could almost hear him reply, “Deal!”
Kevin tossed the chop a few feet back in the yard and Cujo was on it like a duck on a June bug.
“Now or never,” Kevin said, opening the gate.
The dog looked up, but was obviously more interested in his meal.
Kevin picked the lock and we slipped inside hoping no one else was home.
After checking around, I said, “Looks good to me.”
“Me, too,” he replied.
For the next half hour, we carefully unloaded the boxes from the meth lab and carried them into Johnson’s house. Each trip, Kevin bought our safe passage with another tasty morsel.
After everything was inside, we reconstructed the lab the way we had found it in the rental.
Finally satisfied with our project, we headed back to our car. When we stepped onto the porch, Cujo was waiting expectantly for his next treat.
I turned to Kevin. “What are you waiting for? Give the poor doggie a bone.”
“Fresh out,” he replied with a grimace. “Looks like we’re one chop short of a clean getaway.”
“So what now?”
“Now I suggest we walk slowly to the gate. Show no fear. I’ve heard they can smell it.”
“Easy for you to say,” I muttered as Cujo trotted directly to me.
“N-n-nice doggie,” I said, slowly backing away.
Cujo was not giving up that easily. He boldly stuck his soggy nose into my crotch and gave a big sniff.
As he rooted around, I said a silent prayer that Mr. Winkie didn’t smell like a pork chop.
I held my breath, but as luck would have it, I heard a rumble and felt the pressure, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t hold it in.
His ears perked at the sound of my buns flapping, then he gave me a disdainful look, yelped, and trotted across the yard.