Chapter 39

I contacted Fontana and put him on the spot. Colonel Cassidy wanted to keep Uncle Anatoli under wraps until questions of the gun deal Anatoli was brokering between the Major and an undercover agent was resolved. Homeland Security had fronted fifty grand and people in Washington were getting nervous. Anatoli claimed to have delivered the money to the Major the night I got shot in the ass by the FBI. Now everyone wanted to know what happened to the money and/or the weapons.

The FBI had recovered an AR 15 from the Major’s restaurant as a result of their search warrants, generated by the murder of the Major by Colletta Meyers. A followup to the Major’s Beverly Hills home got them a second rifle. Both weapons’ serial numbers showed they were in a USMC armory at Camp Pendleton. A check of the armory showed no other rifles missing from their inventory. An inter-agency squabble was about to get ugly and Fontana warned I was about to be right in the middle of it. Since I already knew too much I was subject to being squeezed by anybody with a Federal badge. Their hammer was the Title 18 code. Lying to the Fed carried a one to five year rap for each count. Although I hadn’t quite lied to any of them yet, I hadn’t been entirely truthful either.

So I told Fontana about the Ruskie, Gray Hair, and his desire to speak to Anatoli Mamadov. “Could be about the gun deal,” I coaxed.

“Give me the phone number,” Fontana asked.

“It’s a cell number, a New Jersey area code, he just wrote it down for me from memory, so it’s not a throw away, unless he’s related to the Amazing Kreskin,” I explained, and read him the number from the envelope stuffed with cash.

“I assume the FBI will be seeking you out sometime this afternoon. Cassidy is having Green give them all we have on your involvement in this mess. That’s the best I can do for you Rollo,” he said. I had a disturbing thought.

“I figure you guys were smart enough to get serial numbers from the front money you gave Anatoli for the guns?”

“Well yeah, why do you ask?”

I removed a hundred dollar bill from the envelope Gray Hair gave me and read him the numbers. “I got a bunch of these from the guy who wants to talk to Anatoli.”

“Ya think? Hang on while I check.” He was back in less than a minute. “Bingo!”

“I’ve stepped in a cesspool and the crap is all the way up to my bottom lip. Please, don’t make any waves. I got somebody following these guys and will get back to you with a location. Get NSA on the number I gave you before you let Anatoli make the call. Do you have a Russian interpreter?”

“Jeez Rollo, I think we know how to do this shit. Get me what you can, when you can. And watch out for those big, bad FBI guys and gals,” he said, leaving me to ponder what to do next.

If Gray Hair was a Russian gangster like Uncle Anatoli, why would he have money that Anatoli supposedly gave the Major for a bunch of guns? If the Major only had two rifles, how was he going to sell fifty? Sounded like a con to me, but why? None of these players needed fifty grand. The two bullits Colletta Meyers put in the Major’s head kept me from asking him; I couldn’t get to Anatoli right now to ask him; Gray hair was all I had left. I dialed Nerd on my cell.

“Yes, Bwanna.”

“You got caller ID, or is everybody your superior?” I continued with his little joke. “Where you be?”

“We just went over the hills to the Valley, now we’re getting onto Ventura Boulevard, going west” he said.

“They’ll be turning left into Romanov’s Restaurant, about a mile west of where you are,” I pretended to know. Two minutes later he was lauding my psychic abilities. He set up across the street to watch the Ruskies and await my arrival.

I got a 9 mm Glock from the safe and slid it in my waitband and put my .380 auto in my jacket pocket, told Linda I was going to meet Nerd and headed for the elevator. It dinged before I could press the call button and I made a dash for the stairs. I peeked back from the stairwell to see my two favorite FBI agents enter Investigations by Clancy. I took the stairs down one flight and caught the elevator to the basement parking area. I fled the scene, checking all my mirrors for any tail. Ten minutes later I was crossing Mulholland on Laurel Canyon when Nerd rang me up.

“They’re on the move, wait……two of them are on the move, but the old guy is not with them,” he said.

“Which way they going?”

“West on the Boulevard. What do you want me to do?”

“You follow them, I’ll be at the restaurant in ten minutes and sit on Gray Hair. Don’t lose them and keep me posted,” I said, racing down the hill, my tires protesting each turn.

“I’m a professional,” he said, “and they don’t seem to be in a hurry, Rollo. Now we’re coming up on Sepulveda, might be to take the 405 back to Wilshire and Fairfax? Nope, passed that option…still going west.”

“Let me know when you get to where they’re going. I’ve got to make a call,” disconnecting as I got to the bottom of Laurel Canyon. A red light allowed me to call Fontana again. Four rings were long enough to let the light turn green and I turned left on Ventura, while getting dumped into Fontana’s voicemail. My message included the address of Romanov’s and my angst for not being able to get a Federal agent when you really needed one.

I too set up across the street, probably pretty close to where Nerd had stood watch just ten minutes ago. I sat there in the afternoon heat for a half hour, multi-tasking by watching the restaurant and waiting to hear from either Fontana or Nerd. A black Lincoln Navigator pulled into the lot. Two Brothers sat up front and a blond paddy chick, with big Hollywood shades, sat alone in the back seat, yakking on a cell. They parked and the Brothers got out. The driver opened the rear door to let Colletta Meyers step out.

My cell came to life in the charger, announcing it was Nerd. “Speak,” I commanded.

“You’re definately not wanting to hear this shit, Rollo. They just pulled into the cul de sac where your Ex lives.”

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