Blood Money (chapter twenty three and twenty four.)
One lone diner occupied the Holiday Inn breakfast bar. Although it was just after eight 'o'clock, De Vries was almost finished his breakfast. He was tucking into his cinnamon roll when he spotted Holly Mendez, breezing into the dining room, looking like a Greek goddess. Her make-up was perfect, not that she needed the aid of cosmetics, and not a hair of her jet-black mane was out of place. Again, she was dressed elegantly in a black trouser suit and sported oversize hoop earrings.
“Sergeant Mendez, what brings you to my humble abode at this early hour of the morning?” scoffed De Vries.
The beauty sat uninvitingly at his table. “Not so humble, Inspector. I’d love to see your expense tab.”
“You hypocrite. You saunter in here wearing a five hundred-dollar suit, looking like you’re off to a photo shoot and you complain about my expenses.”
Holly smiled, displaying her perfect teeth. “I paid for this suit myself... Five hundred dollars? You insult me, Inspector.”
De Vries sipped his coffee and returned the smile. He dabbed his mouth with his napkin. “Excuse my manners, Sergeant; I’m not too chummy at this early hour.”
“Oh, never mind... Would you like some breakfast? Coffee perhaps?”
Holly shook her head, allowing her long dark tresses to cascade over her shoulders. “No thanks; I’ve already eaten breakfast.“
De Vries fished. “Your husband must be crazy to let you leave his bed at this time of morning.”
“I have no husband.”
She shook her head.
“Maybe... Listen to me, Inspector, I...”
“Call me Jan.”
Holly continued. “I make it my priority not to become romantically involved with a colleague; besides, you’re not my type, Inspector.”
“Jan, please... Okay, Holly, what is your type?”
The smiling woman leaned forward and gazed into the eyes of the handsome, blonde Dutchman. “Dark hair, dark skin and with a Hispanic accent.”
“I can sing Macarena.”
Her face adopted a more solemn look. “We looked into the telephone records of Peebles since he’s stayed in the villa.”
“Most of the calls were insignificant, but there were some that interested us. He called his bank several times, and we checked his account under the name of David Jennings. He had one million and eight hundred thousand dollars in his account before Tuesday, when he withdrew two hundred thousand dollars.”
“In cash?” asked De Vries, lighting up a cigarette.
Holly waved a hand. “What are you doing? You can’t smoke in here.”
De Vries returned the cigarette to its packet.
“Yes, it was cash,” continued Holly. “Why he would need such a large amount is beyond me.”
“His other phone calls?” urged the Dutchman.
“He made several calls to the Yankee Sheraton Hotel.”
“Mukhtar and Rasheed?” quizzed De Vries.
“Get your jacket, Inspector. That’s what we’re about to find out... We have a team of armed agents at our disposal and I think we might need them.”
De Vries followed his attractive colleague towards the exit, where they were joined by Captain Roley Griffiths. The three detectives clambered into the back of a waiting car and sped off, escorted by the back up team.
“I gather Holly has brought you up to spec, Inspector?” asked the captain.
“She has.” De Vries was sitting so close to Holly that he could almost taste her. Her expensive perfume served to allure the doting detective.
Captain Griffiths handed a weapon to De Vries. “A Glock 17. I hope it meets with your approval, Inspector.”
“Let’s hope that I won’t have to use it.”
After a ten-minute drive, the three cars pulled up outside a plush hotel on the beach road. Captain Griffiths ordered the back up team to remain outside on stand by. De Vries, Griffiths and Holly made their way through the tropical gardens to the entrance of the hotel. The captain approached a bespectacled woman who was manning the reception desk.
“Captain Griffiths from Interpol,” he mouthed, flashing his ID. “What room are they in?”
“You’re too late,” said the receptionist.
An elderly man, wearing a pin stripe suit joined them.
“I’m Mr Gerard the manager. As Jill was about to tell you, your two suspects left about two hours ago.”
“They left?” moaned Griffiths, the perspiration running down his face.
“We already told two of your officers, just as soon as they left. You didn’t know?”
“No, I bloody didn’t... What two officers?”
The manager rolled his eyes. “An Irishman called at the desk, and about an hour later, an Englishman. They both enquired about Mr Hussain and Mr Singh. ”
De Vries stepped forward. “They had ID?”
“Well, I didn’t ask for it actually,” blushed the receptionist.” You telephoned me in the early hours, telling me to expect a visit and I assumed they were the detectives in question.”
“These detectives,” continued De Vries. “They specifically asked for the suspects by name?”
“No. Actually the Englishman asked for Mr Singh, but the Irishman referred to them as Asian guests.”
Captain Griffiths turned to Holly. “Have an officer take the description of the two men.”
“Terry Keenan, and if I’m not mistaken, Dean Schofield,” offered De Vries.”
“No way,” said Griffiths. “How could...”
De Vries interrupted. “Morris O’Hara is a very influential man and has many sources worldwide. As for Schofield, well he is a private investigator. I‘m sure Jill here will verify their identity, when you show her the mugshots of them... Also, it would be a good idea to substantiate that the two Asians we are chasing are indeed Mukhtar and Rasheed.”
“Damn!” grunted the captain. “We missed them by two hours. Two fucking hours.”
“Relax, Roly,” chipped in De Vries. “They’ll be back.”
“I don’t think so,” said the manager. “They checked out.”
Roly Griffiths slapped his hands on the desk. “I don’t fucking believe it.”
“Surely, you didn’t expect us to try and stop them?” scoffed the manager.
The captain relaxed. “No, of course not... Do you know what vehicle they left in?”
The receptionist spoke up. “They left in a cab.“
“I don’t suppose you know the cab company?” sighed Griffiths.
The shy receptionist smiled and passed over a piece of paper. “Dawson’s cabs, and here’s the number plate.”
Holly reacted swiftly, and without asking permission, she used the reception telephone. While she was making her enquiry, Captain Griffiths pulled De Vries to one side.
“This Keenan, what’s his history?”
“He gunned down two RUC officers in 1985 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was later released, due to the Good Friday peace agreement. He is suspected of being involved in the £26M Belfast bank heist, and he almost certainly was responsible for several bombings on the mainland. We think he’s joined the Real IRA. He also probably murdered Darius Kannellakis, but we have no proof.”
“Never mind, Captain, I’ll fill you in later... These latest developments might actually work for us.”
“I’m not sure I follow you, De Vries.”
“Maybe, just maybe, we can collect all the bad eggs together.”
“And this SSP?”
“That’s what worries me, Captain. You can be sure they're on the trail of Mukhtar and Rasheed, and so it’s imperative that we reach them first.”
Holly skipped over to the debating detectives. “The airport. The cab dropped them off at Miami Airport.”
After arriving at Miami Airport, Schofield had ventured into each concourse without success. Now situated in concourse F, his eyes flickered between umpteen individuals; people from numerous nations; queuing at the check ins, making their way to passport control or refreshing themselves at one of the many bars or restaurants in the airport.
He glanced at the boarding departure screen overhead, the lists of worldwide locations not offering clues to the destination of Mukhtar and Rasheed. Even if he did locate them, he was powerless to prevent them leaving Florida, but his hope was that he would learn of their destination and continue his pursuit of them possibly in another continent.
After covering the concourse another three times, he decided to rest and found solace at a crowded cafe. He sipped his cappuccino thoughtfully, pondering over the hopeless situation. A tall man with floppy hair sat at his table, his long black leather jacket unsuitable for the climate.
“Do you mind?” asked the stranger.
Schofield smiled falsely. “Be my guest.”
The gap-toothed man removed a lollypop from his inside pocket and proceeded to unwrap it. “Going anywhere nice?”
Schofield resented the conversation. Without looking at the stranger, he answered. “No, I’m looking for someone.”
“Me too.” The Irishman sucked on his lollypop before leaning over and whispering into Schofield’s ear. “I think we’re looking for the same people, Schofield.”
The Englishman stared hostilely at his tormentor. “Who are you?”
“Who am I?” Keenan smiled at the woman who was feeding her baby. “I’m the fucker who could terminate your life, Schofield... We can play this out two ways. Tell me what time you’re meeting your friends and where Mr O’Hara’s money is, and just perhaps, I’ll offer you clemency... I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this Irish bastard can’t be armed and maybe I can outrun him... That’s where we come to your second option. Walk away and I’ll gun you down outside the airport. I have friends waiting for you outside.”
Schofield abandoned his cappuccino, his eyes searching for a police officer. “You’ve got it wrong; you’ve got it so wrong. I too am after Mukhtar and Rasheed.”
“Don’t fuck me about, English. Maybe I’ll just snap your neck here.”
“I’m telling the truth... I’m after them for the same reasons you are. I want the money.”
“They double-crossed you?” asked Keenan.
“No... You think I was involved in the robbery?”
“It’s not important what I think, Schofield; it’s what Mr O’Hara thinks.”
Schofield studied the burly Irishman and agreed that he probably could snap his neck effortlessly. “O’Hara had my brother in law killed, didn’t he?”
Keenan swivelled his eyes. “Chaplin was a fool. Did he really think that he could get away with robbing Mr O’Hara?”
“But he didn’t, goddamnit... You murdered an innocent man.”
“Me? Not guilty... Not that I give a fuck, but out of curiosity, why then are you here? And before you spout off about your butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth brother in law, we know about the scam. So why are you here?”
“As I’ve already told you, I’m after them for the same reasons that you are. If they hadn’t robbed your boss, then Sam would still be alive, and so I figured that the money would help compensate for his death. I would pay adequate compensation to my sister of course.”
Keenan dumped his lollypop in the ashtray and laughed. “I admire your balls, Schofield. Be realistic, man; yours was a fool’s dream, and whether you live or not is my decision... Incidentally, who killed Peebles?”
“How did you know about Peebles? His name has not been revealed to the public.”
Keenan tapped his nose. “Did you kill him?”
“No. Mukhtar and Rasheed gunned him down... They were...”
“And what has happened to his share of the money?” interrupted Keenan.
“I don’t know. I suppose it’s sitting in his bank account.”
Keenan cooed at the baby, prompting the mother to move on.
“So where’s the two Pakis?”
Schofield shrugged his shoulders, his eyes settling on a policeman.
“Don’t be a hero, English... Listen, I’m in a benevolent mood; that hooker sucking on my nuts last night must have softened me up... Piss off out of here and I don’t want to see your ugly face ever again. If you’re a fucking-armed robber, then I’m Mary Poppins. If our paths cross again, I’ll kill your sister and her brat, and that is no idle threat. Forget about the Pakis and the money; do I make myself clear?”
Schofield nodded.. “By the way, you’re wasting your time here. It appears the birds have already flown, if you’ll forgive the pun.”
“Go now, Schofield. That bitch wasn’t that good come to think of it.”
Schofield walked briskly towards the exit, inwardly nervy. He acknowledged that once he left the airport, his safety net had gone. Although he doubted that the Irishman had colleagues waiting outside, he realised how easily the killer could have a change of heart.
Schofield halted at the glass door, his progress cut short by the appearance of a face from the past. Inspector De Vries, accompanied by another two detectives and two uniformed policemen was trotting towards the entrance to the airport. Schofield turned back and mixed with the crowd, hoping that he had not been detected.
“Schofield!” came the cry from behind. “Stop there, Schofield.”
Ignorant of the command, Schofield increased his pace, barging past protesting people, who were queuing at the check in for Cancun. He looked behind to see De Vries leading his procession in pursuit of him.
At the sight of the uniformed policemen reaching for their weapons, De Vries issued his order. “Only use them if you’re threatened.. Under no circumstances do I want him shot dead.”
Schofield struggled through the queue and was now heading down the long maze of shops and restaurants. Spotting a policeman ahead, he turned into a newsagents and concealed himself behind a stall. He picked up a newspaper and held it up, feigning to read it. He afforded a glance outside to see a large fat man, who was in the company of De Vries, and issuing orders to his fellow officers.
“Excuse me, Sir,” came the voice from behind.
Schofield turned to face a bespectacled, young girl, who was chewing profusely on her gum. “You can’t read the newspaper in here, Sir; it’s our policy.”
Schofield glanced nervously over his shoulder. “I’m about to buy the goddamn newspaper.”
“Well, the check out’s over there, Sir.”
Schofield ignored her and replaced the newspaper in the rack. He walked cautiously towards the exit of the shop and was confronted by a burly man.
“Is everything all right here, Lily?” he asked, looking past Schofield towards the shop assistant.
“I browsed at a newspaper that’s all,” protested Schofield.
“He was rude to me,” moaned Lily.
Schofield reached into his inside pocket for his wallet. “I’ll pay for the frigging newspaper... Listen, I’m in a hurry, I have a plane to catch.”
“Can you please come with me?“ insisted the security man.
Schofield attempted to side step the man, who seized the Englishman’s arm and forced it up his back.
Standing outside, a pretty, dark woman witnessed the commotion and spoke into her radio. Sergeant Holly Mendez entered the shop and showed her ID. With the help of the security man, she manacled the struggling Schofield.
Shortly afterwards, they were joined by De Vries and Captain Griffiths. The Dutchman confronted the suspect. “Where’s Mukhtar and Rasheed?”
De Vries raised his voice. “You’re in deep shit, Schofield. Tell me where they are and perhaps we can do a deal.”
“I’ve told you, I don’t fucking know where they are.“
“Take him away,” ordered Captain Griffiths.
Schofield grimaced. “Am I under arrest? If so, on what charges?”
De Vries reached into his inside pocket and answered. “Suspected murder, suspected armed robbery and of course, entering the country using a false passport.” He waved the passport at Schofield.
“Bullshit. I admit to the false passport, but...”
“An innocent man doesn’t run away, Dean,” mouthed Holly.
As Schofield was being shepherded through the airport, a multitude of people whispered and pointed at the main attraction. Schofield ignored them and his eyes settled on Keenan, who was leaning against the wall with a smile on his face. He put a finger to his lips, his eyes threatening.
Schofield was bundled into a police car, before Interpol resumed their search of the airport; a fruitless search for the evasive Asians.
The electric atmosphere generated outside the police precinct by the thunderstorm, matched the tension of that in the interview room. Schofield was offered refreshments and a cigarette, but declined. Sitting opposite him were Inspector De Vries and Captain Griffiths, whose shirt was saturated in perspiration.
The captain tossed a large envelope onto the table. “Two hundred and twenty six thousand dollars, Dean. Maybe I’m in the wrong profession, or perhaps this is part of the proceeds of the robbery in London?”
“I want to see a solicitor.”
“We call them lawyers in the States, Schofield,” sighed the captain. “You’ll be allocated a lawyer in time... You still insist that Mukhtar and Rasheed are not your accomplices?”
“Haven’t heard of them.”
De Vries joined in. “Don’t fucking insult us, Dean. You’re either here because you were one of the gang who robbed O’Hara, or because you hope to avenge Sam’s death, but that wouldn’t make sense, seeing as Peebles and co weren’t directly responsible for his death.”
“I’m here on holiday, or vacation,” sneered Schofield, directing his words at the obese captain. ”Besides, De Vries, you yourself even said that I was screwing Sharon Pickering at the time of the robbery.”
“So why the false passport?” asked De Vries. “Listen, Dean; you’re pissing me off. I didn’t believe that you were involved with the robbery, but the fact that you’ve been picked up with so much cash on you has turned me... Maybe you weren’t in cahoots with them; maybe you murdered Peebles, believing that he betrayed Sam. We searched the villa of Peebles and found not a penny. His safe was empty, but I guess you already know that.”
“Charge me with being in possession of a false passport. Charge me, De Vries and then let me go, because you have nothing else.”
De Vries ushered Captain Griffiths into the corridor, leaving Schofield alone. After a prolonged conversation, the Dutchman returned to the interview room alone. He sat opposite the suspect and lit up a cigarette.
“I’m tired, Deano. Tired of travelling, tired of this fucking country, and tired of you. Now, you’re going to tell me everything, or I promise you that I’ll leak to O’Hara and the SSP that you were involved in this robbery. You see, my methods are somewhat unconventional.”
Schofield remained unflustered and pondered. “What if I tell you everything that I know? Would I be free to go?”
“Were you involved in the robbery?”
Schofield shook his head slowly.
“Did you murder Peebles?”
“No, I did not.”
“Then perhaps we could work something out... I could overlook the false passport.”
Schofield took a deep breath. “I came here to retrieve the money stolen in the robbery; for myself and to compensate my sister for the death of Sam.”
De Vries took a long drag on his cigarette and loosened his tie as a flash of lightening illuminated the room. “You know, Dean; I’ve been a detective for so long that I can instinctively sense when something is not right. It’s a sort of gift. Now this gift is telling me that you’re not feeding me the entire story. I mean, why did you really go after the money?”
Schofield smiled. “We were planning to scam O’Hara out of the three million.”
“Me, Sam and Jack Pepper.... You know, I took Sam for a white-collared jerk, but perhaps he needed to prove that he had balls. You see, the scam was his idea.”
“We recruited Mukhtar, Manaf and Kannellakis. They were to receive one hundred grand each and...”
“I get the picture,” said De Vries. “You already told me that Peebles proposed Mukhtar to your brother in law. So they carry out this robbery and wipe out your fantasies of joining the get rich quick brigade. I can see now why you’d be pissed off, Deano... So you’re not the decent English gentleman who is avenging his brother in law’s death. You just want the money that they did you out of.”
“For Pauline and myself.”
“So now I see why Pepper was killed,” muttered De Vries. “O’Hara’s men must have had you under surveillance, so I guess you’re next on their list.”
“That’s my problem.”
“And Peebles? What happened, Deano?”
Schofield stared out of the window at the ever-darkening sky. “I told him I was working for O’Hara and was about to cut him a deal. If he paid me half a million pounds, then I wouldn’t tell O’Hara his location... Everything was going fine until I was recognised by Rasheed. I got the drop on Peebles and the shit hit the fan. Mukhtar and Rasheed gunned down Peebles. Then, Mukhtar offered me a deal and I accepted. The money on the table was taken from the safe of Peebles... So there you have it.”
“And you traced them to the airport?”
De Vries stroked his chin and regarded the Englishman curiously. “You’re a very lucky man, Deano.”
“Shortly before you made your enquiries at the hotel, an Irishman posing as a detective also questioned the hotel clerk. By his description, I would say that man was Terry Keenan... You do know him don’t you?”
“Can’t say I do.”
“He’s a nasty piece of work, who’s in the employment of O’Hara... Incidentally, Darius Kannellakis is missing... So, Deano, what do I do with you?”
“I’ve told you everything I know... Why haven’t you picked Mukhtar and Rasheed up?”
De Vries hesitated before answering. “Unless they again changed their identities, they never boarded an aircraft at Miami Airport... The wily bastards tricked us. They were careful, and my reckoning is that they left a false trail just as a security precaution. The ports and railways were checked, but again without success. My guess is that they hired a private plane.”
“They could of course still be here in Florida,” suggested Schofield.
The detective picked up the envelope off the table. “Of course, you realise that I have to confiscate this money, even though it grieves me to return it to O’Hara.... Okay, this is my offer. I’ll return your credit card and cell phone and deliver you to the British Embassy, who will supply you with a new passport. You will return to England, and perhaps you’ll be summoned to give evidence against Mukhtar and Rasheed if need be. Give up your foolish masquerade, Deano, you’re way out of your league. I’ll recommend police protection and suggest that you be given a new identity, but of course that’s up to your government.”
Captain Griffiths entered the room. “Well?”
“Have one of your men escort him to the British Embassy, Captain. He’s free to go.”