Chapter 59

“A ny luck?” Donnally asked Lalo after he got back to Uncle Beto’s house from White Sands.

Beto still hadn’t returned with the gun, and Donnally was worried that he’d sold them out, either to Sherwyn for money or to Jago for a future favor.

Donnally glanced out the kitchen window toward the back gate, then looked at Lalo.

“Don’t worry,” Lalo said, pointing toward the yard. “ Mi tio won’t let you down. He hates men like Senor William and the police who protect them. The problem is that only the narco traffickers have good weapons, but to get to them he needs to use un intermediario, too. So it takes time.”

Donnally nodded.

“I talked to a boy who lives at White Sands,” Lalo said, handing Donnally a crude diagram of the hacienda. “There is tension. He heard a rumor that a woman is there, but he hasn’t seen her. The foreign men have all left and moved into hotels along with the boys, but Jago has brought in more police. Senor William is still there, in his office on the top floor. Not eating. Just drinking. He stands at his window looking down at the front gate and street and out over the city. A few times, he has telephoned someone the boys only know as El Mandamas.”

Donnally knew the phrase from a Mexican gang seminar he’d taken years earlier. It was a colloquial expression meaning The Man with the Last Word.

A squeak of the gate drew their attention to Uncle Beto striding toward them, carrying a backpack in his hand.

Beto laid it on the table and removed six items wrapped in oily cloth. Two were small Smith amp; Wesson revolvers. Two were large Beretta semiautomatics. Two were boxes of ammunition,. 32 cal and 9mm.

Donnally picked up one of the pistols and asked the price.

Beto grinned. “ Alquilar o comprar? ” Rent or buy?

Donnally knew that he meant, Va a vivir o va a morir? Will you live or will you die?

“I think I had better buy,” Donnally said. “I don’t want you getting into trouble with your source.”

“ Trescientos cincuenta dolares para la Beretta, dos cientos cincuenta para la Smith amp; Wesson. ” Three hundred fifty dollars for the Beretta and two-fifty for the Smith amp; Wesson.

Beto smiled. “ Las balas son gratis. Una oracion que usted mata a Jago. ” The bullets are free. A prayer that you will kill Jago.

Donnally selected one of each type of gun, loaded both, then wrapped them in separate cloths with a box of bullets. He withdrew his wallet and gave Beto six hundred dollars.

Beto took the money and then placed the two weapons into a paper bag and handed it to Donnally.

“ Vaya con Dios. ”

“T ell me about the boy you talked to,” Donnally asked Lalo as they walked the unpaved street toward the center of town.

“We were in school together. I think maybe he was molested by his father. That’s why he went to White Sands.” Lalo giggled. “He likes girls, but there’s no money in it.”

“Can he come and go as he pleases?”

Lalo nodded. “He’s a carterista.”

“A what?”

“A wallet boy. A pickpocket. He spends most of the day at the beach in the Zona Hotelera stealing from tourists.”

Donnally stopped and withdrew the diagram from his back pocket and examined it. He pointed at the box marked office.

“Did he say how this room was laid out?”

“He said it was like a biblioteca. Shelves on all the walls. Senor William always warns the boys not to touch his books. Many are very old.”

“Can you trust him to go into Sherwyn’s office and steal something for me?” Donnally asked.

“Trust him? No. Can I buy him for a day? Si. What do you need?”

“A book from Sherwyn’s library. Any one, as long as it’s this big.” Donnally framed his hands in the size of a hardcover, then held a thumb and forefinger four inches apart.

Lalo nodded.

“And I’ll need a more detailed drawing of his office.”

“ No hay problema.”

Donnally glanced back the way they’d come.

“Would your uncle be willing to help?”

The spot between Lalo’s eyebrows wrinkled. Donnally couldn’t tell whether it was caused by concern for his uncle or by some internal conflict.

“If he can’t, that’s fine,” Donnally said. “He’s done enough.”

“He is a good man, mi tio, but he has to live here after this is over. So do his wife and their daughters. If he can help without looking like he’s helping, then he will.”

Donnally thought for a moment, his mind drifting over the deadly game of snakes and ladders that was about to begin, then nodded.

“That may be good enough.”