“How did you find me?!”
“I tracked your Gizmo.”
“Yeah, but it’s way down there!” I pointed to the windows.
He looked out over the Arcade. “Yes, imagine my surprise when your Gizmo turned on in the middle of Arcade Square. That’s pretty careless. Doesn’t seem like you at all.”
He took a bite of Gunk. “So I figured you’d be watching from a safe distance. This is a nice, cheap buffet and a perfect vantage point. Wasn’t hard to work out.”
“Well, aren’t you Mr. Clever.” I stood. “I’ll just be on my way—”
“No, I don’t think I will.”
“Sit down, Jazz.” He shot me a look. “If you think I won’t tackle you here and now, think again. Eat your Gunk and let’s talk.”
I settled back into my seat. There was no way I could take Rudy in a fight. I tried once, back when I was seventeen and stupid as shit. It didn’t go well. The guy had muscles of iron. Magnificent, stallion-like muscles of iron. Did he work out? He had to, right? I wondered what he looked like working out. Would he be sweaty? Of course he’d be sweaty. It’d be all dripping down those muscles in rivulets of—
“I know you didn’t commit the murders,” he said.
I snapped back to reality. “Aww, I bet you say that to all the girls.”
He pointed to me with his spoon. “I know you blew up the Sanchez harvesters, though.”
“I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
“Do you expect me to believe the sabotage, the murders, and you hiding out are all unrelated?” He scooped a bite of Gunk from his bowl and ate it with perfect table manners. “You’re in the middle of all this, and I want to know what you know.”
“You know everything I know. You should work on the murders instead of the petty vendetta you’ve got against me.”
“I’m trying to save your life, Jazz.” He put his napkin on the table. “Do you have any idea who you antagonized with that sabotage?”
“Alleged sabotage,” I said.
“Do you know who owns Sanchez Aluminum?”
I shrugged. “Some Brazilian company.”
“They’re owned by O Palácio, Brazil’s largest and most powerful organized crime syndicate.”
Shit, shit, shittity shit!
“I see,” I said. “Spiteful bunch, are they?”
“Yes. They’re the old-fashioned, ‘kill you to make a point’ kind of mafia.”
“Wait…no…that can’t be right. I’ve never even heard of these guys.”
“It’s possible—just possible—that I know more about organized crime in my city than you do.”
I put my forehead in my hands. “You’ve got to be shitting me. Why the hell does the Brazilian mob own a lunar aluminum company?! The aluminum industry’s in the toilet!”
“They’re not in it for the profits,” Rudy said. “They use Sanchez Aluminum to launder money. Artemisian slugs are an unregulated, largely untracked quasi-currency and the city has iffy identity verification at best. We’re a perfect haven for money laundering.”
“You have one thing going for you: They don’t have a strong presence here. This isn’t an ‘operation’ to O Palácio. It’s just an avenue for creative accounting. But it would seem they do have at least one enforcer on-site.”
“But…” I started. “Wait…let me think this through…”
He rested his hands on the table and waited politely.
“Okay,” I said. “Something doesn’t add up here. Did Trond know about O Palácio?”
Rudy sipped his water. “I’m sure he did. He was the kind of man who researched everything before making a move.”
“Then why did he knowingly fuck with a major crime syndicate to take over a failing industry?”
For the first time in my life, I saw confusion on Rudy’s face.
“Stumped, eh?” I said.
I glanced out at the Arcade and froze.
There was Lefty. Right next to the bench where I’d hidden my Gizmo.
I guess Rudy saw the color disappear from my face. “What?” he asked. He followed my gaze out the windows.
I shot him a glare. “That guy with his arm in a sling is the killer! How’d he know where my Gizmo is?”
“I don’t know—” Rudy began.
“You know what else organized crime does?” I said. “They bribe cops! How the fuck did that guy track my Gizmo, Rudy?!”
He held both hands out. “Don’t do anything rash—”
I did something rash. I flipped the table and hauled ass. Rudy would have to fight off a slowly tipping table before he could give chase.
I’d worked out my escape route in advance, of course. I ran straight across the casino floor and through an “Employees Only” door in the back. They were supposed to keep it locked but they never did. It led to the main delivery corridors that connected all the Aldrin casinos. I knew those tunnels well—I’d made hundreds of deliveries there. Rudy would never catch me.