feeling that if the thugs who smoked these found out what you are doing for me, it might do you worse harm than getting you fired.”
“ Hmm, it’s that bad, huh?”
“ Yeah, because if my hunch is right the heavies that left those around wouldn’t like me to know what you’re going to tell me, you see? And they are pretty dangerous folk.”
Casimiro looked at Lombardo. The Captain was not a man to warn you about inconsequential things or imagined threats.
“ OK,” Casimiro said quietly.
“ Let me know when you have something. Don’t use voice on your cell phone and don’t leave voice messages on my cell phone. Send a text message saying my laundry is ready. Got it?”
“ Your laundry is ready, right,” repeated Casimiro. “By the way, why didn’t you take this to your people in the forensic lab?”
“ I want to know right away who I am dealing with; the forensics people have a lot of other cases; I would just get put in the back of the line because I haven’t saved any one of them from thugs, you see?”
“ I’m beginning to think I should have taken the beating.”
“ Aw, that would have spoiled your beauty, Casimiro.”
“ I would’ve recovered, which is something I can’t say about our ‘friendship,’” said Casimiro. “By the way, how old are these things and where did you get them?”
“ Whatever’s on them can’t be more than a day old. There’ll be a lot of dust and stuff on them because they were on the ground, in a parking lot.”
“ Hmm, properly contaminated with all sorts of junk from cars, I suppose.”
“ You tell me, Casimiro. I have to go now. Let me know as soon as you’ve got something.”
Lombardo turned around and left the laboratory.
“ Yes, you are welcome, Captain,” shouted Casimiro at the retreating Lombardo who did not go out the front of the building but rather through the back door.
There was a small
parking lot for the laboratory’s personnel in the back of the building that opened onto a side street.
L ike a lot of the streets in the Obispado section of Monterrey, the little side street was steep and narrow. During the thirties, forties, and fifties, this section of the city had been the place to build a mansion—if you were rich and wanted to be in high society. In those days, there were three things that were indispensable if you wanted to be part of Monterrey’s elite: a mansion in the Obispado, a membership in the Country Club, and a membership in the Casino.
The Casino was still an exclusive place for the wealthier classes, although it was now mostly where the young and rich went to get drunk during the afternoon “soirés” or for “ quinceañeras, ” the coming-out parties for 15-year-old girls. The Country Club was, well, the Country Club where, if you could find someone to sell you a membership, it cost around three hundred thousand dollars just to join. But in terms of places where to live, the very rich had created other, more exclusive sections in the farthest corners of the city. The growing insecurity and appalling rate of kidnappings had driven them to gated communities with homes protected by security people hired in the United States or Europe. Now, most of the mansions in the Obispado, which had been built during the time when the rich could live in a house surrounded by huge lawns and open spaces that looked like private forest reserves, were now abandoned or had been turned into offices for computer-related businesses, or clinics, or worse, insurance companies.
Only those very stubborn or old -fashioned, or those whose fortunes had dwindled to the point that they were of no interest to kidnappers, had stayed. Their mansions, like old elephants walking to their graveyard, slowly slipped into that state of decay from which they would not or could not be recovered. One by one, after their owners died, they were being razed and replaced by yet