“So who are you?” Andy sat forward. “Want a beer before you answer that?”
Brock looked around. The house was surprisingly neat. Andy’s clean white blinds were slatted wide to allow in the sun. Beyond the window and through the slats, the trees were full. Brock could only hear the creek. He listened as the water ran like it was being chased, flowing and winding down through woods.
“Nice place.” The sun was starting to feel brutal. Brock removed his jacket.
“About that beer?”
“I’ve got a gay friend. He did the house.” Andy grinned wide. “In case you’re wondering.”
“Oh,” Brock laughed. He watched as Andy walked into a large, sunny kitchen. Brock got up and followed. The kitchen was friendly; a perfect square, and filled with second hand knick- knacks like kitten cookie jars and cow print dishtowels.
“I read in the papers, about that dead woman found behind your cottage,” Brock said as Andy handed him a beer. He followed Andy back to the living room.
“You here to talk about a fucking corpse I knew nothing about?”
Brock watched Andy carefully. “You kill her?” he asked, as an aside, as if he were less than interested.
Andy sat with a thud. “Let’s cut to the chase. No more small talk. I’m tired of pussyfooting around with you. What the fuck do you know about the Eagle Diamond?”
Brock took a swig of beer.
“You have it or not?”
“What’s it to you?”
“What’s it to you?
Andy brought his brows together and stood up. He walked to where Brock was sitting. “Give me the fucking information, asshole.”
“Two million is my offer, not a penny more.”
Andy appeared not to be breathing.”
“What?” he finally managed to blurt out. “Two million?”
Brock took another swig. “I’ll take that as a negative.” He sat forward and stared at Andy.
“Two and a half?”
It was then Brock noticed the guy had urinated. His pants were muddy and wet but the smell of urine was clear. His pants weren’t soaking up rainwater or beer.
“I see you’re not impressed,” Brock said.
“Excuse me; too much liquid in my gut. I’ve got to ah…”
“I understand. Go clean up. I’ll wait.”
The cottage was pleasant, not as small inside as it had first appeared. Brock surmised that it had once been gutted, obviously more valuable to rent with the updates. He guessed it was built in the 1700s, older than Eleanor Long’s stately Colonial that sat on the same property, but further down toward the road. Brock walked outside when he heard the shower running. The Colonial could be seen in the distance when he stood between the two large barns and followed the dirt road with his eyes.
When he went behind the house he could see where the body had been found. Brenda was killed about fifty yards back through woods that ended at the creek. There were sticks marking the scene of the crime. If Andy never went back to the creek he wouldn’t have been able to see the body; it had been crudely buried, but according to the local newspaper, pretty well hidden. Brock quickly deduced that the only way to see Brenda would be if you were walking in the woods and you fell over her corpse, and the only way to have gotten an arrow in her heart would have been to stand directly in front of her and aim; too many trees to sit in wait and then shoot from a distance. He wondered if they’d found cigarette butts on the ground, if she’d been waiting for someone.
Brock finished his beer and found an old plastic garbage can near Andy’s shed. The creek was singing loudly, flowing in ease.
Only way back to those woods is down the creek or the way I just came in. Brock rubbed his chin as he realized one of two things, Brenda either knew her killer or felt safe enough to meet him in the woods, or she was killed somewhere else and dumped behind Andy’s cottage. But why dump the body here, to incriminate Andy?
“Pretty setting,” he said softly as he looked around at Pine trees, Birch and Oak.
He turned and walked back toward the cottage when he heard the front door open. Brock noticed that Andy had put on fresh pants, khaki and cuffed. His shirt was old but clean cotton, checked in black and blue. Now the guy looked like something out of Paul Bunion.
“I don’t even know your name.”
“Brock Stanley.” Brock shook the hand that Andy extended.
“Can we resume our conversation?” Andy asked with a broad smile.
Brock followed him back inside the cottage. Andy slumped into a chair. “I don’t exactly have the diamond,” he said.
“But it’s here?”
Andy laughed nervously. “Here? No, it’s in Livingston Manor.”
“Where the hell is that?”
“I’ll drive you then. Let’s go.” Brock put his beer on the coffee table and rose to his feet.
“I can’t give you the diamond.”
“Because it’s inside a clock.”
Brock realized he was in a dream, he must be. His face went in to a grimace.
“Fine, we’ll pick up the clock.”
“You don’t understand.”
Brock stared at him. The dream refused to release him.
“No, I don’t.”
“You need the Arquero.”
Brock's face tightened. Was this guy for real?
“Ah, you need the Arquero to get to the diamond.”
Brock realized he'd stuck his teeth out. Every word out of this idiot's mouth was causing him to clench.
“The diamond in the clock?” Andy stared at him. “You need the Arquero to get at it.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Brock was angry now but he realized his facial features had relaxed. The Eagle Diamond could be his ticket to freedom. He couldn’t help planning an escape. What if he could ditch John Carelli? He could have the diamond cut up; that wouldn’t be a problem, not with his contacts. Then he could take Jane on a plane to the ends of the earth.
Nice thought, but he might as well forget about it. Instead of being able to fly, he’s land logged with a man as convoluted as a Russian novel, though hardly as intelligent.
“My grandfather put the diamond into the clock over thirty years ago, after one of his friends died, he’s the one gave him the diamond. He actually built the clock around the diamond.” Andy looked at his feet. “He kept everyone away from the clock, me in particular, I guess, by rigging the god damn thing to blow. No one ever knew where he kept it.”
Brock tried to clear his head. “Let me see if I have this,” he began. “The clock is rigged to blow if anyone but this Arquero messes with it, and the Eagle Diamond is in the clock?”
Andy nodded his head frantically. Brock sat down in a chair and reached for his beer but came up empty.
“What does an archer have to do with any of this? Perhaps I’m missing something.”
“Granddaddy called him the Arquero.” Andy rubbed his eyes. “He knew Spanish, spoke it real well. Granddaddy called me “little hombre” all the time.” Andy tried to laugh but it came out like a hoarse croak.
Brock looked at him, as if he were a normal man.
“Get the fuck on with it.”
“My granddaddy was in the Korean War,” he said.
“Yeah … so?”
“He had two good buddies over there; the Arquero was one of them. The guy saved his life. I don’t know who he is though. He never called him by any other name. He never wanted anyone to know the guy’s identity, said he was protecting him from me.” Andy laughed. “I guess he thought I’d kill the guy to get to the diamond.”
“Your granddaddy dead?”
“Just happened, died last week. Granddaddy left me a little money but no real estate … and no fucking clock.” Andy slammed his hands together.
“I don’t follow.” Brock went into the kitchen to get another beer. His hands were shaking, how could he be so close and yet so far?
“Granddaddy left the house in Livingston Manor to my mother, everything but the clock. He left the clock to the frigging Arquero,” Andy said as he followed Brock into the kitchen. He took a beer from the fridge. He snapped off the bottle cap and drank it quickly.
The dream was turning nightmarish, absurd. Brock finished his beer in a long swallow and stared back at Andy, who was burping loudly.
“So the clock doesn’t belong to you?”
“No. God damn it, God damn it.” Andy started thumping his feet on the ground, as if in a child’s tantrum. “That fucking diamond is in my family; fuck this Arquero, fuck him good. He’s just going to give the fucking thing back to the fucking museum. That was their stupid fucking deal.”
“Look, Andy, calm down. You and I are going to go and get the clock, take the diamond, and then, just let this Arquero guy have the frigging clock.”
Andy put his hands to his sides and clenched his face into frowns so deep that all Brock could see of him was hair.
“You don’t understand, you just don’t get it,” Andy cried, nearly screaming. He ran into the kitchen and opened the cabinet doors and threw condiment bottles to the floor. When he found the right bottle he shook the contents on his palm.
“Look here, look here,” he said running back to Brock. ‘You see this tiny little piece of pepper?” He had let the pepper fall, all but a single speck. He pointed his finger at it. “You not only have to hit this tiny little bull’s eye, you have to know what number to hit. Anyone else tries to open that clock, aims for the wrong goddamn number, or misses that bull’s eye. Wham.” Andy slammed his hands together.
Brock’s jaw dropped. His stomach fell. He wanted to pound Andy into fish food.
“Who is this guy?”
“I don’t know. I told you that. Granddaddy protected his identity, like I told you. Don’t you listen?”
“Shit.” Brock wanted to fling the bottle at the wall but decided not to. This schmuck’s head would have been a better target.
“Has the will been read?” Brock asked.
“Yeah, just yesterday, but the lawyer was instructed never to tell any of us who was getting the clock. Nobody knows who the Arquero is. My granddaddy was brilliant but strange.”
“I see the resemblance.” Brock walked up to Andy and stood uncomfortably close. “So did this Arquero pick up his inheritance yet?”
Andy shook his head and stepped away. “No, not yet; at least as far as I know. I was over there yesterday to help get things ready for the auction and I noticed they moved the clock in. My mother wants all the stuff auctioned off. The clock had a special tag on it, I couldn't just walk out with it, i's not mine. Besides, I don't have anywhere to put it.”
“Who’s the lawyer?”
“Claudia McCloud, inherited the practice from her father. She’s got an office on Main Street. She’s a dish, won’t give me a tumble though. Tough luck, uh?”
Brock reached out and carefully placed his hands on the collar of Andy’s shirt. “Stay focused, Andy.”
Brock crumpled the material around his fists. “Go get the fucking clock, keep it here.”
“I can’t,” Andy cried out. “I can’t do that. You want me to steal it?”
“Why not?” Brock moved closer. “Why the hell not?”
“My aunt will take the clock apart if she finds it here. She knows about the diamond, too, but she thinks the rest is bullshit. She says Granddaddy fed me a line of crap to keep my grubby hands off the damn thing. I wouldn’t put it past her to be over there in Livingston Manor right now taking the fucking clock apart. She says the dynamite is easy to dislodge. Shit, I wouldn’t take that chance; he was a munitions expert in the war.”
“The one that wants that fucking clock as much as you do. She was so pissed that he left it to a “phantom,” those were her words exactly, ‘a phantom.' She was screaming that in the lawyer’s office. That woman is a lunatic. Had no business being there, Granddaddy didn't leave her anything but a few heirlooms. McCloud almost threw her out.’”
Brock released his hands. “Listen, Andy, I want you to get the clock before your aunt does, and find a place to hide it until I pick it up. Let me work on locating the archer. Your aunt is not a threat if she can’t get to the clock. And well, I guess if she’s already fooled with it, she’s mincemeat by now. Wham! Why, we could go on over there and pick up all the pieces.”
Andy looked bewildered. “Of the diamond?”
“Right, Andy, I don’t think we’d get much for your aunt.”
“We could wait until the archer comes for the clock and then we could ambush him.”
Brock laughed. “You like cowboy movies, don’t you?”
Andy scowled. “You got a better idea?”
“Yes, I have a better idea. I’m English. We negotiate, we don’t ambush. Get the clock. Keep it safe.”
“Speaking of negotiating.”
Brock stopped at the door. “Yes, Andy?”
“Two and a half million would work,” Andy blurted out.
Brock met his eyes. “Five hundred thousand; take it or leave it … and only if the diamond is in one piece. This is too much trouble to be worth any more than that, Mr. Longfellow.”
“So it’s true, it wasn’t bullshit?” Carelli said after Brock told him about the rigged clock.
“You knew about the clock?”
“Like I said, I thought it was bull shit. Where is the clock?”
“Why the hell wouldn’t you mention something like that? I need to know everything, Carelli. The more information you withhold the more difficult you make things for me. I had to find out about it from Andy Longfellow.”
Brock waited, his anger did not subside. He heard breath but he didn’t know whose it was, his or Carelli’s.
"Where's the clock now, Brock?"
"Livingston Manor, but not for long."
"You know where exactly? I'm in my car, I can drive there."
"No, I don't know exactly where it is. Andy is going over there to get it."
"Where's he taking it?"
"I don't know. I just told him to get it away from his aunt."
"What do you mean?"
"She knows the diamond is in there, she'll take the clock apart."
"I'll keep my eye on her, you keep your eye on the clock. Let me know where he moves it … immediately, please."
“You can’t open the clock, Carelli, you need some sort of archer for that. It’s rigged to blow. Only the Archer can open it.”
“What? Who is this guy?”
“I don’t know, no one knows. Eleanor may be the only one old enough to have heard any rumors on who he is, but I can’t even be sure about that.”
“I’ll work on Eleanor, you see what you can find out.”
"Sure," Brock said. He had a hunch about Carelli and it wasn't good."
That afternoon he drove over to the small library on Main Street and was able to find some history on local people in the area. He discovered the presence of an FBI agent named John Carelli Sr., an agent who had worked on the Eagle Diamond theft.
“Son of a bitch,” Brock whispered.
Brock realized he was being played for a fool. He didn’t know who Carelli really was or whom he was working with, but someone had a pretty elaborate plan to keep him in his place. Carelli had an angle and he had a purpose, Brock just couldn’t tie the two together yet. He realized that’s why Carelli was using the alias Joe Carpenter; he might have been recognized in that town as the son of John Carelli Sr. How he got the legitimate FBI identification was a puzzle, Perhaps he knew someone real good at fake IDs.
Brock drove at high speed. He hated not getting the truth upfront. He was furious that Carelli was leading him around like he was a frigging poodle. Everything about this heist stunk, but the source of the rot was still inconspicuous.
He checked out of Millie’s after promising to return with his wife. “I’ll give you my best room,” she chuckled. “If you come alone, I’ll give you my best room anyway.”
Brock took the wet kiss she placed on his lips and said goodbye. He looked back as he drove out. She was waving at him with the red ribbon she’d removed from her hair.
Glen was cooking when he entered. The smell was meat smothered in something good, like onions and butter.
“That you stinking up the place, mate?” Brock dropped his suitcase to the floor.
Glen came in frowning. Brock assumed he’d heard about Brenda.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“Peter sent me.”
Glen gave him an odd look. “Best food you’ll get anywhere around, unless you’d rather feast on the dogs at the town diner.”
“I’ll take it.” Brock slapped him on the back and Glen returned a manly hug, quick and solid.
“So what do you think of my little palace?”
Brock looked around. “I think it’s so ugly I’m going to wear me night shades, you too, bloke. You're pretty ugly too.”
“Yeah, I know. I didn't know I could grow my hair this long, or my beard.”
Brock walked to the window and looked out. “What’s with all that crap on the lawn?”
“Hey, you want to look suspicious, you want to pull this off as a fag or a redneck?”
“Rednecks are this bad?”
“They collect old useless cars around here and sell the parts. They trust me because of the stash of tin I managed to have hauled over here and dumped. They talk to me in town because of it. That’s what we want. Whoever is holding the diamond is probably a local.”
Brock looked at him. “Are they doing much talking about the murder?”
“I just found out about Brenda.”
“Peter call you?”
“No, actually, I was in town earlier and picked up a paper. I assume she was killed by someone who’s also after the diamond."
Brock noticed he appeared edgy. “Why was she murdered with a bow and arrow, any thoughts?” Brock asked.
Brock searched Glen’s face while his memory raced; did Glen ever mention being an archer? Would he have killed Brenda if he found out she was on to him?
“I don’t know anyone that would use that kind of weapon, not any men anyway.”
Glen looked all nerves. He was probably afraid that Peter had discovered his deception and had had Brenda killed, assuming she’d been in on the Yellow Diamond scam with Glen. In that case, he was next, a sitting duck.
“Any Indians in this town?” Brock asked.
“Just the dummy on Main Street.”
“If we find a heartbeat we’ve got our man.”
Glen turned suddenly and walked to a box in the corner of the room. “If you’re staying here with me you’re going to have to wear this." He tossed him the wig.
“You’ve got to be kidding?” Brock put the wig on his head. He now had more hair than Andy Longfellow. The good thing was, not even Millie would recognize him.
“With your two hundred and fifty dollar hair cut, manicured nails and Armani suits, you wouldn’t stand a chance. I can pass you off as my brother but you’re going to have to look like me, a hairy redneck. Good thing I bought three of those things.”
Brock went to a mirror and pretended to throw up. “Blimey, this sucks.”
Glen went back into the kitchen and turned up the flame. “This murder gives me the creeps,” he said slowly. “I don’t understand why Brenda was killed with a bow and arrow. It's so fucking weird.”
Brock held his gaze. “We’re going to get the bastard that did this to Brenda, you know. We’ll find out why it happened, too. She must have come close to something.”
“I think we ought to watch our backs real carefully.” Glen flipped the meat over and took a sip of wine. “I think we could be next on the hit list, if whoever killed Brenda knows we’re here, we’re dead.
“You think there’s a message in using a bow and arrow?” Brock thought back to the Longfellow poem. It mentioned finding an arrow, and then, of course, there was the Arquero link. He suddenly realized that Hunter LaPorte probably wrote the note. LaPorte wanted him to discover Andy, most likely to get to the clock that housed the infamous Eagle Diamond.
“You want to know what I think?” Glen suddenly asked.
“Delilah is the only one I know that’s in to archery. I remember Peter bragging about her medals.”
“So what’s your point, she came up here to Callicoon and shot an arrow through Brenda's heart?”
Glen seemed unsure as to what he wanted to say. “Well, Peter could have sent her.”
“Why would Peter make a hit man out of his wife, Glen, and why would Peter want Brenda dead?”
Glen pulled his lips in and shrugged, but he was clearly not convinced. “Guess you’re right,” he said.
"You ever get anything out of LaPorte?"
"Peter told me not to contact him." He held Brock's gaze. "You contact him?"
"I came up empty," Brock said. "He's not talking."
"How come you get to interrogate LaPorte and I don't?"
“You hear from Devon recently?” Brock asked quickly.
Glen avoided his eyes. “I don’t speak to Devon all that much, Brock.”
“Just wondering; we haven’t heard much from him either.”
“When did you get up here?” Glen took a glass from the cupboard and poured Brock a glass of red wine.
“Just a few hours ago,” he lied.
“Someone put an ad in the paper. Some twinkle, twinkle little star crap and ‘seen any eagles’.”
“Oh, that was me.”
Glen laughed. "Any response?"
Brock shook his head.
“Well, one thing we do have in this shit hole is food.”
Brock got up and went to the window. He looked across the road while he sipped on the wine.
“I’m having Peter send Jane up here.”
Glen turned and stared at him. “Why?”
“Because she shouldn't be alone right now.”
“She’s an art expert, not into jewels, wouldn’t know what to do with them.”
“Neither am I but here I sit.”
“I thought she was going to work on the Rembrandt, track a bid in Paris? Doesn’t Peter think I can handle this on my own?”
Brock knew that their organization was dead, Glen didn’t. There wouldn’t be anything for Jane to do in Paris but sit in a café and hate him.
“Peter pulled her off that,” he said. “And don’t be paranoid. Peter knows your worth.”
“Sure. Well, fine, we’ve got plenty of room for Jane.”
“No, not here, too conspicuous, Jane’s on her own. Who lives across the road?”
“Two old broads, sisters.”
“Perfect. You think they’re easy, that they might put her up?”
“They’re real easy.”
“Good. I think I have found the perfect place for our Jane then.” Brock wanted his wife out of Glen’s reach, but close enough to protect from any outside hits. Glen was still his best suspect for killing Brenda so he’d stick to Glen like glue.
Glen was looking at him as if he were mad. “You want Jane over there?”
“Yes, I want her to have a different perspective, talk to people that won’t talk to us. I think she's safer over there than here.” He met Glen's gaze. "Trust me," he said. "We've got to bring a player out of hiding, or coerce some local into trusting us. This is the weirdest fucking buy I've ever been involved in, but hey, it is what it is."
Glen nodded slowly. "Yeah," he said. "I still don't understand why Peter didn't trust me to approach LaPorte."
Brock realized he shouldn't have said anything, but Peter should have warned him. It was beginning to sound like Glen was suspicious and wondered if Peter knew he'd been in on the phony Yellow Diamond scam.
"You're working a different end of this," Brock said. "He obviously only wanted one of us dealing with LaPorte."
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