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Excerpt from Proximate Causes

Less than a mile away from the Aquarium, at the only Westin in town, Oskar tipped the bellhop who placed the two tan leather suitcases on the bed. He had registered as Keith Wagner. Fake ID was never a problem.

It was a shitty day out. Not inconsistent with closed drapes. He closed them. He put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, bolted it shut and returned to the suitcases. His watch read almost 10:20.

He had watched the mules load the stuff into the suitcases in Seattle. He'd then taken off, leaving them to cross the border. They were the brothers of Donna, the broad he was fucking, and seemed to think that somehow the sugar-daddy train extended to relatives. It was easy enough to keep them all happy, and someone's family loyalty-even if it wasn't his-was better than nothing. But greed was the real cement.

He unlocked the first suitcase. Someone would be here in about forty minutes; he had lots of time.

They had ordered a hundred kilos. There were two other suitcases in the car in the parking lot. He had ordered an extra five kilos and defrayed the cost across the board. It would only cost the club a twentieth more per kilo to pay for his freebies.

Since the order had been placed, Oskar had worked out a plan. It involved fucking Frank Wesley and getting the bell out of Dodge. He just wished he could fuck the Warriors in the process.

He put on medi-gloves and lifted a brick out of the suitcase. It was a solid hard rectangle, about eight inches by five by two, wrapped in paper covered with the Coca Cola insignia. He hefted it in his right hand. It felt like a kilo.

He carried it into the bathroom, put a towel on the counter and placed the brick on it. Using a razor blade be cut a small V in the wrapper and pulled the tongue, exposing the coke.

"Shit," he said aloud.

It was shit. It was yellow, and when he flicked it with the blade, it crumbled. No one would pay anything for this because it would bum the shit out of your nose. Somewhere in Colombia, someone had fucked up with the recipe and put way too much ether into the mix. The club was not gonna be happy about this.

On the other hand, how could he have checked when the supplier was standing there? They'd dealt together too many times for Oskar to question the product in front of him. It would insult him, probably to the point of not dealing with him again. And where the fuck would the bikers be then?

He didn't think the boys would kill him. He had a reputation for putting out good product, and the club knew it from competing with him. Getting stuck with garbage happened once in a while in the business. There were no refunds and that would definitely be his problem, not theirs. He'd just have to buy a little time to rectify things.

He checked another brick. Yellow shit.

The next one was beautiful: white and hard, crystalline when he flaked it off. He checked every key. Out of the fifty he had in the room, twenty-one were crap and twenty-nine were magic. He checked his five "freebie" kilos. They were pure.

Oskar considered his options. He could give the club five more good kilos, or he could keep the good stuff even though his plan didn't require quality.

There was a knock on the ?. He looked at his watch. 11:00 on the nose. He decided to leave things as they were: a little supply for sale, if it took longer to leave than he anticipated, wouldn't be bad news. He stashed his five bricks in the cupboard under the sink, closed the bathroom door and walked toward the room door, asking in a sleepy voice, "Who is it?"

"Friends of Frank's."

He opened the door and admitted the two men in their late twenties, beefy but well dressed in dark sports coats and slacks. They looked amazingly straight.

The door had barely closed when one of them asked, "Where is it?" This was not a social call.

"Half of it's on the bed," Oskar answered. "Some of it's great. Twenty-one are shit, out of what I've checked. The rest of it's in the trunk of a rental car in the lot downstairs. I didn't see any point in bringing all of it up here. Now I do. All of it will have to be checked."

"What do you mean, some of it's shit?" said the younger man, mimicking Oskar's eastern European accent.

"I mean nearly half of them have been burned. They're gyp rock." He would have liked to garrot the asshole.

"Why?" said the older one, voice low and quiet. "Didn't you check on that before you bought it?"

Oskar would have ignored him, but he didn't feel like being taken from the hotel room at gunpoint, to a deserted spot to have the piss whipped out of him. "The person who sent you will understand," he said slowly, as if speaking to idiots. "You don't buy this many kilos that way, when you're dealing with guys you've done business with before. Face, respect, you hear of that? I'll explain the situation to my guy and the next stuff'll be sweet, without a problem. I'll eat the bad stuff and work it out with my supplier. It won't affect you, except you get twenty-one less keys than you thought."

And I get twenty-one more, he thought, as he gave the younger man the trunk key to the rental car. The flunky was back in less than ten minutes with the other two suitcases. Oskar checked the last fifty kilos of cocaine while the other two men looked on; six kilos were garbage.

"Tell your boss that I'll add twenty-seven keys to the next order," he said.

The tall man nodded and the two strangers left with three of Oskar's suitcases filled with cocaine. The twenty-seven lousy kilos lay on the bed near the last empty suitcase.

While it was useless to users, it would still analyze as cocaine in a lab, and if he was busted right now he would be in possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. An indictable offence. Twenty-seven kilos. Thirty-two, counting the freebies.

It was perfect.

He retrieved the five kilos from the bathroom, arranged all the bricks in the suitcase and placed it in the bedroom closet. He then called Donna's cell number. He told her that he had just finished up business and wanted to celebrate.

She was there in less than half an hour, pressing her hard high tits into him and grinding her crotch into his. She was gorgeous. Thick blonde hair, big smile and dynamite figure, and a fullblown coke addict. Her suspicious nature, which came from using the drug, drove him crazy at times but he could always supply her, which kept her hooked on him and useful.

He pushed her away. "I know you want some blow, baby."

"I'll blow you," she giggled. With long, silver-nailed fingertips she rubbed her nipples through the thin fabric of her blouse, making them stand hard.

"Yeah. Sounds good." His voice was flat. "We've just got one call to make and then we'll party."

"Another one? Aaaah," she whined. "Can't it wait?"

She was moving very close to him. He could feel her desperation.

"We'll make it quick." His voice was stone. "And then you can fuck me."

She wilted. She sat down on the edge of the bed, nearly in tears, and looked up at him with china doll eyes. "What do I say this time?"

He had it all figured out. "Tell them you've called before. Give them your identification number, then say you were with him today and he told you that he's going to receive at least ten kilos of coke soon. Can you remember that?"

She nodded.

"Tell them you'll call back if you learn anything more."

"Okay," she said quietly.

He dialled the police department's Crime Stoppers Tips phone number and handed her the phone. He then took a vial from his vest pocket along with a mirror and blade. He poured some of the powder onto the glass and began chopping. She watched him intently as she spoke into the telephone. She performed perfectly and hung up.

"Yum, yum!" She was delighted. He passed her a fiftydollar bill rolled into a tube and she attacked the lines. Within seconds she was ecstatic.

Oskar didn't feel like he had time to spend in the hotel room, but he needed allegiances. He let her use a little more of the powder to sprinkle on his cock. He liked the lingering sensation as his skin absorbed the drug and as she devoured it. He decided to let her binge.

*********

They had been waiting for Fox when he returned to his room after meeting Lauren in the park Wednesday afternoon. He hadn't seen either of them before, but they were good, did things by the book. They'd got a warrant before they'd entered his room. Arrested him with reasons and rights when he walked in. The only problem was, they had the wrong man.

It seemed that they had heard that before.

A rat had fingered Fox as the stickup man in a gas station robbery that had happened the night before. Of course he had no alibi. He had been shooting up in his room alone and planning this afternoon's events, which he didn't bother to relate to them.

Everything was fucked up. His lawyer was out of town until the end of the week, and promised by long distance to come down to the lockup and take care of the bail hearing, but not until first thing Friday morning. After that they wouldn't let him make any more calls, not that he could have called Lauren without someone listening or tracing the call. He was fucked.

Thursday morning, 9:00 came and went and he could do nothing. This could blow the whole thing. She could come to her senses and decide that she was dealing with a complete flake. He felt like twisting someone's neck off.

By 2:30 he was zonked on stuff a visitor had brought in for one of the other guys.