The Trial Page 2

My friends said in unison, “NO PHONES.”

It was the rule, but I’d forgotten—again.

I reached into my bag for my phone, saying, “Look, I’m turning it off.”

But I saw that the call was from Rich Conklin, my partner and Cindy’s fiancé. She recognized his ring tone on my phone.

“There goes our party,” she said, tossing her napkin into the air.

“Linds?” said Conklin.

“Rich, can this wait? I’m in the middle—”

“It’s Kingfisher. He’s in a shoot-out with cops at the Vault. There’ve been casualties.”

“But—Kingfisher is dead.”

“Apparently, he’s been resurrected.”

Chapter 2

My partner was double-parked and waiting for me outside Uncle Maxie’s, with the engine running and the flashers on. I got into the passenger seat of the unmarked car, and Richie handed me my vest. He’s that way, like a younger version of a big brother. He thinks of me, watches out for me, and I try to do the same for him.

He watched me buckle up, then he hit the siren and stepped on the gas.

We were about five minutes from the Vault, a class A nightclub on the second floor of a former Bank of America building.

“Fill me in,” I said to my partner.

“Call came in to 911 about ten minutes ago,” Conklin said as we tore up California Street. “A kitchen worker said he recognized Kingfisher out in the bar. He was still trying to convince 911 that it was an emergency when shots were fired inside the club.”

“Watch out on our right.”

Richie yanked the wheel hard left to avoid an indecisive panel truck, then jerked it hard right and took a turn onto Sansome.

“You okay?” he asked.

I had been known to get carsick in jerky high-speed chases when I wasn’t behind the wheel.

“I’m fine. Keep talking.”

My partner told me that a second witness reported to first officers that three men were talking to two women at the bar. One of the men yelled, “No one screws with the King.” Shots were fired. The women were killed.

“Caller didn’t leave his name.”

I was gripping both the dash and the door, and had both feet on imaginary brakes, but my mind was occupied with Kingfisher. He was a Mexican drug cartel boss, a psycho with a history of brutality and revenge, and a penchant for settling his scores personally.

Richie was saying, “Patrol units arrived as the shooters were attempting to flee through the front entrance. Someone saw the tattoo on the back of the hand of one of the shooters. I talked to Brady,” Conklin said, referring to our lieutenant. “If that shooter is

Kingfisher and survives, he’s ours.”

Chapter 3

I wanted the King on death row for the normal reasons. He was to the drug and murder trade as al-Baghdadi was to terrorism. But I also had personal reasons.

Earlier that year a cadre of dirty San Francisco cops from our division had taken down a number of drug houses for their own financial gain. One drug house in particular yielded a payoff of five to seven million in cash and drugs. Whether those cops knew it beforehand or not, the stolen loot belonged to Kingfisher—and he wanted it back.

The King took his revenge but was still short a big pile of dope and dollars.

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