Monday, 29th May 2023 - 16:40:55 pm

Steve Kincaid didn't believe in coincidences. In his business there was no such thing. That's why he didn't believe the message. It was too much of a coincidence that the United States government would find him now, after all these years, just when the Jalisco organization was spending a great deal of money looking for him.

The message seemed straight forward enough.



General Whalen was the man Kincaid reported to in Viet Nam, when he bothered to report. General Whalen was also the only man that Kincaid might report to in the United States when so ordered. Who knew that? How had they found him? Kincaid needed to know. There was only one way to find out. He had to report.

If the meeting was a set-up, there was plenty Kincaid could do about it and he had done it. Minh and Hao were already in the hotel. They would blend in easily with the part Asian staff. Bob Douglas was in the hotel parking lot looking under the hood of his Porsche. Douglas had three soldiers backing him up somewhere. Kincaid hadn't spotted them yet but he knew they were there.

Lou Gorski's van was parked by the curb at the only exit from the parking lot. The metered space had been carefully reserved by various cars since before dawn. Two more of Chang Won's bandits were in the rear of the van with the heavy artillery. Chang Won himself was back in Santa Ana at the radio and hating it. Two cars were cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in front of the hotel but the mid-morning traffic was so heavy they wouldn't be of much use.

The hotel was on the ocean side of the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Across the street was an uncovered lot given over to the sale of statues and sculptured fountains. Kincaid was browsing among the statues, keeping an eye on the front of the hotel. He blended in well among the half a dozen shoppers on the lot. His casual outfit, brown slacks, yellow shirt and brown sail cloth sneakers, had been carefully chosen to blend in. Just as important on this day were his wide lens dark glasses.

His height was ordinary at about five feet nine or ten inches. His build was ordinary though on the muscular side. His complexion was dark and so was his hair, not unusual in California. He had one of those faces that would place him as mature but with an indeterminate age. His features were even, pleasant, but not memorable. It was his eyes he had to hide. To a sharp observer they were a dead giveaway. They were the kind of eyes that saw everything and read meaning into everything they saw. They were the kind of eyes that pierced a man with their intense concentration.

There was no way Kincaid could disguise his eyes. He had to hide them. The wide lens sunglasses did the job here. At other times in other placed he had to be careful where he looked. He could never look into the eyes of people if they were strangers. But for many men, the depths of those piercing eyes were the last thing they saw on this earth.

Four men got out of a car in the hotel parking lot. Wearing dark suits and ties, hatless with sunglasses, they stood and gave the lot a good looking over. Kincaid checked his watch. 10:15. Fifteen minutes early for the meeting but much too late if the intent was to hit him here. Something else was strange. These didn't look like syndicate enforcers. Too straight. These looked more like FBI or CIA. Kincaid got a sick feeling at the pit of his stomach. He didn't want the government to be mixed up in this.

Three of the men went into the hotel. The fourth wandered over to where Bob Douglas was tinkering under the hood of his Porsche. The man watched Douglas wordlessly for a moment before going back to his car. Douglas paid no attention to him. Kincaid still hadn't spotted his backup men, but he knew they were there.

A late model black Buick pulled in and parked in another part of the lot. The lone occupant got out and marched straight into the hotel, looking neither right nor left. Though he hadn't seen him in many years, Kincaid recognized the tall, husky frame immediately. It was General Frederick Whalen, his commander in Viet Nam. That part of the message had been legitimate. But that didn't mean that Whalen was still legitimate. It could still be a setup.

Kincaid's shirt was draped over his belt. It hid a 9mm Beretta tucked in the front of his slacks. That was all he had. Not much but it would have to do.

It was time to move. Kincaid walked the hundred yards north to the traffic signal and crossed the highway there.

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