Cyrus Kang cranked the wheel on his sweet ’69 Camaro Z28 and cut into the parking lot of Union Station on Alameda. Across the street, laughter and the clinking of glasses could be heard. A function of some sort was going on in the suddenly cool again Olvera Street area with its clutch of stalls stuffed with tourista tchotchkes and over-priced Mexican restaurants. It must be some City Hall thing, he reasoned, given the early morning hour. Though how the insiders could be partying with LA facing a $400 million-plus budget deficit was a mystery to him. Maybe that’s why there were several LAPD uniforms around to keep the deprived masses away. There was even a cop zooming around on one of those T-3 Segway-like three-wheeled scooters.
Dialing down the R.E.M. CD playing on his speakers, he pulled in at the curb behind a pick-up truck with a partially caved-in lift gate and called out, “Hey, Conrad, over here.” Conrad Waller was standing back from the knot of people waiting for their rides. He was on the side of the arched entrance, as if to make a dash back inside if necessary.
“Thanks, bruddah,” he said as he into the passenger seat, slinging his soft bag into the back.
“The hell’s going on man?” his buddy said as they knocked fists. Cynthia Kang’s brother had received a panicked call from Waller telling him he was taking the Amtrak in from Vegas, that he had to stay away from the airport.
“It’s a trip, Cirk,” said Waller, a fellow surfer, using Kang’s shredder nickname. He nervously bit at a cuticle.
Cyrus Kang frowned as he maneuvered around the pick-up. A big-bellied white man with a straw cowboy hefted luggage and boxes into its bed, while two pretty Latinas, one in conservative clothing and the other dressed like a refugee from a strip club, talked over each other instructing him on how to do the loading.
“I think that shit we did for Gilmore is biting me in the ass,” Conrad Waller said as he stared out the windshield.
Cyrus Kang headed toward the exit. He held a couple of dollars out the window to the booth attendant. “How you mean?” he asked as the lift gate swung up. “This affects me too, don’t it?” The conversation he had with his sister fresh in his mind. The Camaro drove out onto the street.
Concerned, Waller said, “Anybody been rushin’ you?”
“Not that I’ve noticed.”
Waller’s knee bounced. “Good. But that might change.”
“Enough of this cryptic Jack Bauer shit, man,”
Grish Waller’s son, who resembled his father, studied his friend’s profile for a few beats, then said, “I think Cenine wasn’t just selling X, and coke too it turns out, through the Pasta Grotto chain to make some walking-around money.”
“Yeah. I got the breakdown that she was setting up politicos and business types and whatnot for blackmailing purposes.”
Cyrus Kang snorted, “That’s what big-titty hookers are for, fool.”
“What if you supplied drugs to the teenaged children of these senators, mayors, and developers? Some of these politicians big-mouthed law-and-order types, and all of them worried about keeping their job or having their eyes on the next higher office?”