His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 20
“What do you think?”
“I think it’s helped, though maybe not as much as being a weremyste. And being successful, and rich, and ruthless.”
“You see? When you try, you can be quite smart. So again I ask you, why do you think you’re here?”
Thinking about it for all of two seconds, I came to the conclusion that playing games with the guy made little sense, and could very well get me killed. By this time, news of the attempted bombing was all over the media — television and internet — as was speculation about the intended target of the bomber. And as Amaya had made clear, he had plenty of sources to fill him in on those details that wouldn’t find their way into standard news reports.
“You want to talk about the attempt on Mando Vargas’s life.”
“Better.” He glanced at my drink. “Finish that club soda and then have a beer with me.”
He stood before I could respond. I drained my soda water, and by the time I was setting it down, he was handing me a bottle of Bohemia Stout.
“Do you want a glass?” he asked.
I held up the bottle. “It’s in a glass.”
Amaya grinned, and we both drank. It was a good beer, heartier than most Mexican lagers.
“So, what can you tell me about the man who tried to blow up Mando’s plane?”
“Mister Amaya, I was called in by a friend on the PPD–”
“Kona Shaw. Your former partner.”
I masked my frown by taking another sip of beer. “Yes. She asks me to help her from time to time, because she knows that I’m discreet. I can’t help her if–”
“I’m going to stop you there and make this easy for you,” Amaya said. A note of impatience had crept into his tone. I’d pushed him about as far as I could. “I want you to assume, for the remainder of this conversation, that I have a gun pointed at your heart.” He opened his hands and flashed another of those perfect, predatory smiles. “Now as you can see, I hold no weapon in my hands. But you’re going to pretend that I do. And you’re going to keep in mind as well that if by some chance you lie to me, or hide information from me, I’ll learn of it before long. And I will be very displeased.”
I said nothing, but after a few seconds I nodded once.
“Splendid. Now, the man with the bomb?”
“I assume you know that he was a white-supremacist,” I said, with a silent apology to Kona. “As far as I could tell, he wasn’t a sorcerer, but he did have access to some high-tech toys. The bomb in his luggage was sophisticated enough to get past security and onto the plane.”
“You’re sure he wasn’t a myste?”
“Why would a weremyste need a bomb to blow up a plane? For that matter, why would he need to sacrifice himself to do it?”
“He might use a bomb because it would raise fewer questions than would magic, and because it would make a statement on behalf of his fellow skinheads. And if he was a good enough myste, he might not have sacrificed himself.”
I considered this, but after a few moments shook my head. “I used a seeing spell; and so basically saw his murder. He was harassed by a myste before he died, and he had no idea what was happening. He wasn’t a sorcerer. But whoever killed him was.”
I watched Amaya as I said this last, hoping that he might give something away. He didn’t.
But he did ask, “Did you see the myste who killed him?”
“No. He must have had him or herself camouflaged, or concealed in some other way. Howell — the bomber — he didn’t see a thing before he died.”
“And the magical residue?”
“Green, vivid, fading fast. Whoever killed him is pretty powerful.”
“Was it on anything other than the body?”
I laughed. “You already know everything I’m telling you. Why would you waste your own time like this?”
“I’m wasting nothing,” he said, with quiet intensity. “I have an idea of what might have happened; that’s all. I need for you to confirm my guesses. Now, was the magic only on the body?”
I shook my head. “No. It was on the plane as well — on the instrumentation in the cockpit.”
He nodded at this, weighing it. Then, “Anything else about the magic?” It was his turn to watch me. But on this point, I could conceal what I knew with little chance of being found out. I was the lone person who had seen that transparent residue, so he wasn’t going to learn anything different from one of his many sources.
“Not that I can think of. Why?”
“No reason. I’m merely being thorough. So what do you think happened?”
“You’ve given me the basic facts, sparing no detail, I’m sure. And now I’m asking you to formulate a theory. What happened to James Robert Howell? Why is he dead, and why is Mando Vargas still alive and, by now, on his way to Washington, D.C.?”
“I have no idea.”
“But what do you think?”
I drank more of my beer, pondering the question. “Is Mando Vargas a weremyste?” I asked after some time.
“He is not,” Amaya said. “But you’re thinking the right way.”
“Does he rely on your magic?”
He shook his head and took a drink as well. “Mando and I have been friends for a long time. He relies on me for counsel, for support, and, on occasion, for financial contributions in support of his non-profit activities. But not for magic.” A smile thinned his lips. “He does not approve.”
“And he does approve of the rest of what you do?”
“Have a care, Mister Fearsson,” Amaya said, his expression hardening. “The rest of what I do or don’t do is beyond the purview of this conversation.”
When I didn’t respond or shy from his gaze, he sat forward. “You believe me to be the worst kind of villain, don’t you. You think that because of how I make some of my money, I must be a monster. Mando knows better. He sees nuance where you and your police department friends do not.”
“He doesn’t worry that his association with you might hurt the causes he fights for?”
Amaya laughed again, and once more I sensed that he was mocking me. “How many Anglo politicians associate with men like me, with men worse than me? Surely you’re not so naïve as to think that Mando is the only public figure with friends who have gotten rich by less than legitimate means.” He didn’t give me a chance to answer. “Mando knows that I have put far more money into the Latino community than I’ve taken out of it. He has watched me fund community centers, drug rehabilitation centers, playgrounds, housing initiatives, and take no credit at all for the work, because of the harm that would come from my name being associated with the projects.” He stood, walked to the window, and stared out over the city once more, his hands buried in his pants pockets, his broad shoulders hunched. The western sky still glowed like embers in a fire, and the lights of the city seemed to be scattered at his feet, glittering like jewels in a dragon’s lair. “The history of this country is littered with Presidents and governors and senators who had ties to men far worse than me.”
“You told me a moment ago that I was thinking the right way,” I said. “So you must have a theory of your own about today’s events. Would you care to share it with me?”
He remained at the window, and for several moments he didn’t answer. At last he faced me. “You haven’t said yet what you think happened.”
Amaya had led me to an obvious conclusion, though I wasn’t sure I believed it, at least not yet. “If what you’ve said is true, then I would guess the murder of James Howell had nothing at all to do with saving Mando Vargas’s life.”
His smile this time was genuine. “Very good. And here I’d grown worried that you might let me down.”
“But whoever killed Howell and disabled the plane, had to have been trying to save lives. Otherwise–”
“Otherwise why bother?”
“That’s right,” I said. “So the question is, who else was on that plane? Who was so worth saving that James Howell had to die?”
“My question exactly,” Amaya said, walking back to his chair. “A question I would like to hire you to answer.”