Page 100 of The Moneychangers

Strictly speaking, he didn't believe this present move was necessary at least not yet because he was sure Eastin had been lying when he said he had found out this location from Danny Kerrigan and had passed the information on. Tony Bear believed Kerrigan on that one, though the old fart had talked too much, and was going to have some unpleasant surprises soon which would cure him of a loose tongue. If Eastin had known what he said he did, and passed it on, the cops and bank clicks would have swarmed here long ago, Tony Bear wasn't surprised it, at the lie. He knew how people under torture passed through successive mental doors of desperation, switching from lies to truth, then back to lies again if they thought it was something their torturers wanted to hear.

It was always an interesting game outguessing them. Tony Bear enjoyed those kinds of games.

Despite all that, moving out, using the emergency rush arrangements set up with the mob-owned trucking company, was the smart thing to do.

As usual ultra-smart. If in doubt, move. And now the loading was done, it was time to get rid of what was left of the stoolie.

A detail Angelo would attend to. Meanwhile, Tony Bear decided, it was high time he got the hell away from here himself.

In exceptional good humor, he chuckled. Ultra-smart. It was then he heard the faint but growing sound of converging sirens and, minutes later, knew he had not been smart at all.

"Better move it, Harryl" the young ambulance steward called forward to the driver.

"This one doesn't have time to spare." "From the look of the guy," the driver said he kept his eyes directed ahead, using flashers and warbling siren to weave daringly through early rush hour traffic "from the look of him, we'd both be doing the poor bastard a favor if we pulled over for a beer."

"Knock it off, Harry." The steward, whose qualifications were somewhat less than those of a male nurse, glanced toward Juanita. She was perched on a jump seat, straining around him to see Miles, her face intent, lips moving. "Sorry, miss. Guess we forgot you were there. On this job we get a bit case-hardened." It took her a moment to absorb what was said. She asked,

"How is he?" "In bad shape. No sense fooling you." The young paramedic had injected a quarter grain of morphine subcutaneously.

He had a blood-pressure cuff in place and now was sloshing water on Miles's face. Miles was semiconscious and, despite the morphine, moaning in pain. All the time the steward went on talking. "He's in shock. That can kill him, if the burns don't.

This water's to wash the acid away, though it's late. As to his eyes, I wouldn't want. .. Say, what the hell happened in therel"

Juanita shook her head, not wanting to waste time and effort in talk. She reached out, seeking to touch Miles, even through the blanket covering him.

Tears fined her eyes. She pleaded, uncertain she was being heard, "Forgive met Oh, forgive met" "He your husband?" the steward asked. He began putting splints, secured by cotton bandages, around Miles's hands. "No." "Boyfriend?"

"Yes." The tears were flowing faster. Was she still his friend? Need she have betrayed him? Here and now she wanted forgiveness, just as he had once asked forgiveness of her it seemed long ago, though it was not. She knew it was no use.

"Hold this," the steward said. He placed a mask over Miles's face and handed her a portable oxygen bottle. She heard a hiss as the oxygen went on and grasped the bottle as if, through her touch, she could communicate, as she had wanted to communicate ever since they had found Miles, unconscious, bleeding, burned, still nailed to the table in the house.

Juanita and Nolan Wainwright had followed the federal agents and local police into the big gray mansion, Wainwright having held her back until he made sure there was not going to be any shooting.

There had been none; not even any resistance apparently, the people inside having decided they were outflanked and outnumbered.

It was Wainwright, his face more strained than she had ever seen it, who carefully, as gently as he could, pried loose the nails and released Miles's mangled hands.

Dalrymple, ashen, cursing softly, held Eastin while, one by one, the nails came out. Juanita had been vaguely aware of other men, who had been in the house, lined up and handcuffed, but she hadn't cared. When the ambulance came she stayed close to the stretcher brought for Miles.

She followed it out and into the ambulance. No one tried to stop her. Now she began praying. The words came readily; words from long ago. ..

“Virgen Maria… that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercessfon was left unaided. Inspired by that confidence I by unto you… Something the ambulance steward had said, but she hadn't taken in, played back in her subconscious. Miles's eyes. They were burned with the remainder of his face. Her voice trembled. "Will he be blind?" "The specialists will have to answer that. Soon's we get to Emergency he'll get the best treatment.

There isn't a lot more I can do right here." Juanita thought: there wasn't anything she could do either. Except to stay with Miles, as she would, with love and devotion for as long as he wanted and needed her. That, and pray… Oh Virgen Madre de las virgines!… To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions but hear and answer me. Amen. Some colonnaded buildings flashed by. "We're almost there," the steward said. He had his fingers on Miles's pulse. "He's still alive "

24

In the fifteen days since official investigation was begun by the SEC into the labyrinthine finances of Supranational, Roscoe Heyward had prayed for a miracle to avert total catastrophe. Heyward himself attended meetings with other SuNatCo creditors, their objective to keep the multinational giant operating and viable if they could. It had proven impossible.

The more deeply investigators probed, the worse the financial debacle appeared. It seemed probable, too, that criminal charges of fraud would eventually be laid against some of Supranational's officers, including G. G. Quartermain, assuming Big George could ever be enticed back from his Costa Rica hideaway at the moment an unlikely prospect.

Therefore, in early November, a petition of bankruptcy under Section 77 of the Bankruptcy Act was filed on behalf of Supranational Corporation.

Though it had been expected and feared, the immediate repercussions were worldwide. Several large creditors, as well as associated companies and many individuals, were considered likely to go down the drain along with SuNatCo.

Whether First Mercantile American Bank would be one of them, or if the bank could survive its enormous loss, was still an open question.

No longer an open question as Heyward fully realized was the subject of his own career. At FMA, as the author of the greatest calamity in the bank's one-hundred year history, he was virtually finished. What remained at issue was whether he, personally, would be legally liable under regulations of the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the SEC.

Obviously, there were those who thought so. Yesterday, an SEC official, whom Heyward knew well, advised him,

"Roscoe, as a friend, I suggest you get yourself a lawyer." In his office, soon after the opening of the business day, Heyward's hands trembled as he read The Wall Street Journal's page one story on the Supranational bankruptcy petition.

He was interrupted by his senior secretary, Mrs. Callaghan. "Mr. Heyward Mr. Austin is here." Without waiting to be told, Harold Austin hurried in. In contrast to his normal role, the aging playboy today merely looked an overdressed old man. His face was drawn, serious, and pale; pouches beneath his eyes were rings of age and lack of sleep.

He wasted no time in preliminaries. "Have you heard anything from Quartermain?" Heyward motioned to the Journal.

"Only what I read." In the past two weeks he had tried several times to telephone Big George in Costa Rica, without success.

The SuNatCo chairman was staying incommunicado. Reports filtering out described him as living in feudal splendor, with a small army of thugs to guard him, and said he had no intention, ever, of returning to the United States.

It was accepted that Costa Rica would not respond to U.S. extradition proceedings, as other swindlers and fugitives had already proved.

"I'm going down the tube," the Honorable Harold said. His voice was close to breaking. "I put the family trust heavily into SuNatCo and I'm in hock myself for money I raised to buy Q-Investments."

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