Chapter 23

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Werner Gunther sat in his office counting cash a client had paid him to do a job. One advantage of dealing with underworld types, they paid upfront, and in cash. No billing required. No worrying about checks bouncing. Nothing to report to the IRS. A ringing phone interrupted him. He checked the caller ID. Carlos Santos. What did he want?

He picked up. "Hello, Santos."

"I need to run some intel by you."

"We haven't spoken to each other for a year and you jump straight to business? No small talk?"

"I don't have time for pleasantries today."

He knew Santos well. The man's attitude signaled he was troubled. "Okay, you have my attention. What gives?"

"My administrative assistant passed on a phone message to me. A few minutes ago, a man claiming to be an insurance investigator called asking about Vince Henson. I thought you should be looped in."

Gunther processed what he had just been told and pondered the coincidence of Natalya Henson's visit to his office. Were the two incidents connected? "Interesting. Henson's widow paid me a visit a few days ago."

"What?" Santos said, alarm in his tone.

"The woman doesn't believe her husband is dead and has been doing some digging. She found a loose end." He went on to fill in Santos about how Natalya had found him and about the witness named Rosa, the custodian at the Williston bus station.

Santos cursed and said, "You told me our operation had been seamless. The mission was a success. Now, you're hitting me with loose ends? I'm paying you a lot of money to fulfill your end of the contract. I'm trusting you to keep our cash cow healthy."

"Calmate, amigo. The situation has been handled. The loose end has been dealt with." What he said wasn't the complete truth. He had dispatched his assistant, Roscoe Meade, to Williston to find and silence the woman named Rosa. The station manager informed him she had quit her job to return to Mexico. Although the woman still breathed air, she was in the wind and no longer a threat.

"If you left one loose end, how do I know you didn't leave more?"

Gunther enunciated his words as if addressing a child. "There are no more loose ends. Relax."

"I know everything. I know all the details about Logan and the bus accident."

Gunther gripped his phone tighter. "Watch yourself, Santos, you know firsthand how I don't respond well to threats."

"I'm just reminding you we both have a lot to lose if we're exposed."

"If we're exposed, it won't happen from my end."

"What about the insurance investigator poking around?"

Gunther considered how that new wrinkle might be a problem. He had to consider the insurance man might be acting in concert with Natalya Henson. "What's his name?"

"The message is from Art Presley. He has a central Pennsylvania area code."

Natalya Henson lived in central Pennsylvania. A red alert sounded in Gunther's head. "I never heard of the man. I'd remember a name like that. What does he want?"

"I already told you he wants to talk with me about Vince Henson. That's all the message said. How do I handle this situation? You're the fixer. These are the types of things I pay you to handle."

Gunther scoffed. "Grow a pair, Santos. Talk to the man. See what he's after. It may be nothing."

"What if he already knows more than we want him to know?"

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