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May 1 – May 3
Two days wasn’t a very long wait.
That’s why Scarr decided to stake out the warehouse that stood by the river.
For this last stretch of the operation he had instructed Etel to stay at the hotel, where she couldn’t be a bother to anybody.
So he patiently sat in the Audi that was parked on an enclosed and unattended property neighboring the canal-side warehouse. He had enough water and helpings to last him over forty-eight hours. So he wasn’t in hell. Presently, he wasn’t staked out because he expected something to happen before the day Hodgson was supposed to show up. Rather, he did it to get a sense of the place, and because something told him to do so.
Nothing unusual had occurred, outside or around the large and imposing sand-colored building that had a reinforced-concrete frame, the day before. Much of the activity seemed to go on inside: checking, inspecting, palletizing, etc. Now and then, however, Scarr could see a couple of workers bustling about outside on the loading bay, handling goods, and readying them for storage or for transportation in big trucks to another location.
The warehouse was part of a supply chain management company whose services included warehousing, packaging, distribution, transportation, and the like. It was a pretty good and solid front for someone like Hodgson to be invited in for a money pickup. It only meant that at least one person in the company was involved in criminal dealings.
That night Kish called with a bit of good and bad news. The good news was that he had finally figured out who Edwyn Stern’s client was. And the bad news was just that, the client. A man named Carlson Dukes, a shady entrepreneur who had a legal business in selling metals, and was also an enthusiastic art collector. However, there were some unproven claims that he had serious connections with a notorious drug distributor whose organization had many times come under federal radar in the past decade. Though there were serious allegations, there had never been any serious prosecution.
Scarr thought about that new piece of information. Stern had said that his client didn’t want anybody outside his circle to know about the dagger. And Jeter had volunteered that the stones on the dagger were off.
Now he was starting to connect the dots.
The next day, the day of the pickup, all activity taking place at the warehouse ceased at around one p.m. It seemed that the workers had the rest of the day off. The warehouse seemed like a nice place to work for.
At three-thirty, three black cars with dark windows came up the road and dragged to a stop in front of the warehouse. Ten men wearing fashionable dark suits and sport coats got out. However, there was one who sported a brighter outfit completed with a panama hat and a derby-handle cane. The other men seemed to gravitate around him, and that kind of tight formation only highlighted his importance amongst them.
The three cars pulled back out onto the street and drove away. A man wearing a wool sweater and straight-legged pants met them outside, and the whole lot moved together inside the warehouse through an outdoor dock.
Scarr’s sixth sense tingled. Something was definitely on. He had no idea who those people were. They certainly didn’t look like prospective clients or a committee of inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration coming in to check out the facility.
About two hours later, another car pulled up on the warehouse lot, and five men stepped out.
Craig Hodgson was one of them.
Scarr recognized him right away from the picture he had seen of him.
The man was of above average height with a lean hard body. Perhaps he was in his mid forties. His brown short hair framed a hard face marked with a set of keen leery eyes, a Roman nose, and a good strong chin. He didn’t have the face of a bad guy. He had the face of a likeable guy that one was better off not messing with. His hands were currently folded into fists, and his entourage flanked him. He walked with his shoulders stooped a little forward.