Ningún Santuario Pt. 17
I was at my desk when my cell phone rang and I noticed Detective Leyba’s number on the caller ID.
“Good morning, Detective.”
“Good morning, Andrew. Listen, do you think that your boss will let you go for a few hours so you can come down to the station?”
“Sure, it’s been kind of slow here today. What’s up?”
“There’s an officer up in Santa Fe that’s been working a case he thinks is related to the murders of your friends. He asked me to have you come in right away.”
I shut down my computer, told my supervisor I had to leave for a few hours and headed downtown. Grace and Jose had been staying with Jose’s mother in Belen since they heard what had happened to Jim and I’d been thinking that it was probably time to give myself up to my tormentor the next time he showed his face. Last night while I was pondering the whole fucked up situation, I had all but resigned myself to this fate, so I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about what this cop from Santa Fe might have to say.
When I walked into the detective’s office, Sgt. Martinez of the SFPD rose from his chair and extended his hand.
“Hello, Mr. Guilden. I’m Sergeant Martinez, but you can call me Mike. Thanks for coming in.”
“You bet. Nice to meet you, Mike.”
“Likewise. Detective Leyba told me that he’s already filled you in on the potential Santa Muerte connection to what’s been happening, right?”
“Well, as is the case in most police stations, the walls have ears and considering the nature of what we have to discuss, we thought it might be better if we had more of an informal chat over coffee. Is that okay?”
“It’s fine with me.”
“Great. Do you know how to get to the Flying Star on Central?”
“Yeah, should I meet you there?”
“That would probably be best since all three of us will be going our separate ways when we’re done.”
The cafe wasn’t very far from the police station on Roma, so we’d only be saving a couple of minutes by taking separate cars, not to mention the difficulty in finding a place to park on Central Avenue, but I opted not to raise an argument with two cops whose agenda for this hastily arranged meeting wasn’t clear.
When I got to the Flying Star, I noticed with some relief that it had its own parking area at the rear of the building. My two unlikely coffee companions were already there leaning against the bumper of Martinez’ cruiser. I parked my car, got out and walked across the nearly empty lot to where they stood. Martinez — Mike — extended his hand again, which I thought was a strange formality since we had already introduced ourselves a few minutes ago at the station. When I grasped it, he pulled me toward him and wrapped an arm around my torso while his other hand pulled the revolver out of his holster and leveled it at Detective Leyba in one practiced and fluid motion. Before I had a chance to process what was happening, he fired a shot directly into Leyba’s forehead. I watched in astonishment as Leyba’s eyes widened in terror and he fell backwards, plank-straight, hitting the pavement with a thud. There was a silencer on the gun, so no passersby had been startled into checking out what was happening in the parking lot and Martinez quickly scooped up the spent shell laying on the pavement next to Leyba’s body. He was incredibly strong and continued to restrain me with one arm while walking back to his car and hissing in my ear, “Just keep still and get in the back.”
He tossed me into the back seat of the cruiser and slammed the door. In a matter of moments, we were speeding wordlessly up I-25 towards Santa Fe.