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17

"All right, we're set to go."

Abe Bernstein looked around him at the faces of his soldiers. Then his eyes fell on Jack Goldblume and old Harry Thorson, feeling pride well up inside of him until he was about to burst. It took a moment for him to continue but he finally found his voice.

"Spinoza's men have run into some kinda trouble at Kuwahara's and they won't be back. At least not soon. We've got a chance to clean it up tonight if everybody does his job and follows orders."

He turned to the tall mercenary dressed in a hotel security uniform, raising one eyebrow as he spoke.

"Your people in position?"

"Yes, sir. This hotel is sealed off tight. Nobody in or out without your say-so."

"Fine."

The old man nodded satisfaction.

"All of you have team assignments, wings to cover. Are there any problems?"

"Hell, no," Harry Thorson growled around the stub of his cigar. "Let's quit the goddamn jawin' and get on with it."

Bernstein smiled, half turning toward Goldblume.

"Square with you, Jack?"

"Fine."

But there was something in the newsman's voice that made Bernstein uneasy. A trace of weakness, perhaps. The taint of fear. He had arranged for two of Goldblume's team to watch him through the night, dispose of him if he seemed likely to jeopardize the mission. Their friendship spanned four decades, but tonight Abe Bernstein was about to realize a lifelong dream. And no damned friend was going to cheat him out of it, no way.

If Goldblume pulled his weight fine, but if he tried to weasel out.

Bernstein dismissed the topic from his mind and checked his Rolex.

"Okay. We start on top and work our way down, clearing each floor as we go, and meet back here within the hour. Cleanup detail starts at 1:00 A.M. What do you military fellows call it?"

"Oh-one-hundred hours," the tall mercenary responded, his face deadpan.

"Right, then. At oh-one-hundred hours, I want everybody back down here for cleanup. Anything still living in the joint by then had better be on our side."

He watched the teams led by Thorson and Goldblume as they headed for their separate banks of elevators, leading to the south and east wings of the hotel. His own team would take the north wing in a moment, ride up to the penthouse level and begin their killing at the top. Abe Bernstein felt that it was going to work this time. Sweet revenge was within his grasp and he could almost taste it now, it was that close.

His troops had reached the elevators, moving like real soldiers as they crossed the wide deserted lobby. Three of Spinoza's watchdogs were lying back behind the registration desk with throats slit, no longer interested in reporting to their boss exactly what was going on beneath his nose. Spinoza would find out for himself soon enough, and Abe Bernstein was saving that one for himself. He had made certain that his team would be the one to take Spinoza and the others — Johnny Cats, that goddamned Liguori from Chicago — all of them.

A clean frigging sweep. A royal flush, with the Mafia's local royalty flushed right down the goddamned sewer where they all belonged.

"Let's go," he said to no one in particular, already leading out across the lobby, trusting his specials to fall in behind him. He knew that when he turned around they would be there. They were good soldiers and always followed orders.

Abe Bernstein had heard that somewhere, but he could not make the mental linkup and he put the thought away.

No time for the abstractions now that they were down to the reality of action.

He was hunting big game now and when the smoke cleared there were going to be some very interesting trophies on his office wall.


* * * | The Bone Yard | * * *



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