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.The bales of plant fiber had been unloaded by hand.Which meant the Zapoteca had been standing empty for two days now.“I think if the bombs were aboard her,” Teller said, “they’d have been taken off by now.Eight days! Christ!”“Might not be that bad,” Procario replied.“The nukes would have been hidden, probably underneath all of that jute.They wouldn’t be able to get at them until the holds were empty.”“We’re talking about a couple of suitcases, Frank.Some seaman could have had them in his cabin and taken them ashore the first day they were in port.”“Maybe.But if they wanted to play it safe, those suitcases would have been kept someplace where a nosy customs agent wouldn’t see them.Like underneath a couple hundred tons of jute fiber.”“Well, Mexico City hasn’t been vaporized yet,” Teller said.“Or any city in the U.S.”“We’re still going to need to check that ship,” Procario said.“We can’t afford to make assumptions and miss the obvious.”“Which is?”“That the bombs might still be on board.And if they’re not, there might be traces of them, something to prove the bombs were there.”“Radioactivity.”“Which is why we brought the Geiger counters.”Teller frowned, knowing all the ways radiation could be shielded.You could spoof Geiger counters with kitty litter if you had enough of it.“We’ll need to be in close—real close—for that to work, Frank.Any idea as to how we’re going to get on board?”Procario looked thoughtful.“We might go back and talk to our new friend at the port authority.Maybe for a few hundred pesos more, he’ll let us pretend to be customs officials.”“Possibly,” Teller said, “but most of the customs people—and that includes our friend—are in the pay of one or more of the cartels.That’s the way it works in this little shithole corner of the world.I’m worried that he’s already reported us to Los Zetas, just because we were asking about the ship.”“Calculated risk.”As Jackie had found out last night, a calculated risk was a great way to get burned.Teller was about to say something to that effect when he saw movement on the ship.The sun had set some time ago, but the quay was lit by streetlamps, and there were lights on board the ship.A lone merchant seaman was coming down the gangway.“Well,” Teller said, “if we want to talk to someone who might have answers…”“I’m with you there.Not here, though.”“I think I’ll see where he’s going.” Teller watched the man amble past on the far side of the street.“You stay here and keep an eye on the ship.”“I’d feel better about it if you had backup.”“I’ll stay in touch.Besides, it’s easier following a guy one-on-one than with two.Less obvious.”When the seaman was a good hundred feet down the quay, Teller stood and started after him.He stayed far enough back to stay off the guy’s radar, remaining in the shadows where possible.At the shore end of the quay, the seaman turned right, walking along the coast highway on the northern, inshore side of the road.Teller followed.The streets were relatively deserted for a Friday evening, Teller thought.They’d seen a few tourists since their arrival, but between Cancún and Costa Maya, Chetumal was relatively off the beaten track for gringos.His target swung left suddenly and entered a bar-restaurant, El Cocodrilo.Teller waited on the street for a few moments, then followed him in.Inside, the place was smoke-hazed and dark.A twelve-foot crocodile, stuffed and blackened by years of cigarette and cigar smoke, hung from the ceiling above the bar.As his eyes accustomed themselves to the dim light, Teller spotted his quarry, sitting alone at a table in a large alcove off to the right.Again Teller looked around for insurance in case he needed it, but no football-linebacker types presented themselves.He found a table where he could keep an unobtrusive eye on the target.When a waitress came to the table, he decided to go ahead and order paella de marisco and a beer.The place seemed clean enough, and there was no reason not to go ahead and take care of dinner as long as he had the opportunity.Halfway through his seafood and rice, a man in a rumpled suit walked into the restaurant carrying a briefcase.He walked up to the seaman’s table, they spoke for a moment, and then the man set his briefcase on one of the two remaining chairs and sat down in the other.Teller was interested to note that it was the weary-looking business traveler he’d seen on the flight down from Mexico City.The two talked for about ten minutes, and then the businessman abruptly stood, shook the seaman’s hand, and walked out.He’d left the briefcase on the chair.The seaman stayed there, nursing his beer, and Teller tried to decide which way to go.Clearly there’d just been a handoff, probably of money.If a covert payment was made in this part of the world, it had to do with drugs, smuggling, or bribery—and quite possibly all three.Should he follow the businessman or stay with the seaman?He decided to stick with the original plan, to stay with the sailor [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]