"You Better Go Before It Costs Me Any More" [Mr Martínez Seventeen]
She held Martínez until the patrol car’s engine dissolved into the rest of the night-sounds; the goods trains, the six-wheelers on the overpass and the distant sirens playing a six-note rondeau for fire-engine and ambulance. Then she broke the clinch like a boxer after the referee’s tap on the shoulder.
‘If you were my type, you really would be my type,’ Rita gave half a smile, and Martínez realised he wouldn’t ever be.
‘Got a cigarette?’
Rita pulled out a barely crushed pack of Fortuna from somewhere in the tight leather and shook it expertly, leaving two filter tips proud of the others. She lipped the first out and then proffered the packet to Martínez. He took the other cigarette and looked at it,
‘I said a cigarette.’
‘Fortuna, Ducados, they will both kill us in the end, Señor Martínez.’
‘I might not last that long.’
‘Who knows what tomorrow brings? I ride a motorcycle in Madrid.’
Martínez lit both cigarettes with his zippo.
‘You work for that Neo? From the bar?’
She gave him a look that she probably saved for anyone who cut her up at the traffic lights.
‘I take money, for deliveries, mostly. No drugs. Guns. Money, sometimes I do a job like this one.’
‘How much is it usually?’
‘You paid double already.’
‘Well, you better go before it costs me any more.’
She took a long draw on her cigarette, blew the smoke up towards the neon sign.
‘I’d like to stick around and see what happens.’
‘I really don’t think you should.’
‘Suit yourself.’ She opened one of the panniers, took out a cell-phone, still in the moulded transparent plastic and handed it to Martínez,
‘Brand new. Turn it on when you need it. I’ll send a message to it every hour from now.’
‘How do you know the number?’
‘I buy them in batches, Martínez. It’s the next one up.’
‘You want another cien pavos?’
She laughed, ‘A hundred? I’ll take it out of what you paid already. See you around, Tio’
The bike roared into the black. He wished he still had his knife to open the cell-phone packaging. It would have to stay in his ruck-sack, for now.
It was half-past two. The sun came up earlier in Madrid, but it was still a few hours from dawn. An hour-and-a-half had passed since the phone call to El Centro. Maybe the duty spook hadn’t followed the protocol. Maybe he had passed it up the line, too scared of making the wrong decision and ending a glittering career in the Service. As if. Night shifts minding the store was not on any future Director’s curriculum.
So who would come, and how many? That would depend how many hands had avoided burns from the hot potato. If the right person became involved, they’d come alone. If not… Martínez didn’t fancy his chances against a tactical unit or three. Standing under the neon was just provocation really. He could have hidden by the waste disposal area over the road. Twenty dumpsters for the apartment block, the Hipodromo and other businesses nearby. There was no need to be in plain sight at all. He couldn’t even say it was to make them think. There wouldn’t be much thinking going on within a tactical unit. They got excited. Every situation was a scenario from Call of Duty.
He wished he’d asked Rita to leave him a couple of Fortuna.