Page 96 of The Moneychangers

By depressing keys on her own keyboard, the supervisor summoned from the computer the additional information:

PETE'S SPORTING GOODS

and a street address. Meanwhile she had dialed the office number of Mr. Wainwright who answered personally.

His interest was instant.

He responded crisply to the supervisor's information and she sensed his tension while he copied details down. Seconds later, for the Keycharge supervisor, operator, and computer, the brief emergency was over.

Not so for Nolan Wainwright. Since the explosive session an hour and a half ago with Alex Vandervoort, when he learned of the disappearance of Juanita Nunez and her child,

Wainwright had been tensely and continuously on telephones, sometimes two at once.

He had tried four times to reach Miles Eastin at the Double-Seven Health Club to warn him of his danger. He had had consultations with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service.

As a result the FBI was now actively investigating the apparent Nunez kidnapping, and had alerted city and state police with descriptions of the missing pair. It had been arranged that an FBI surveillance team would watch comings and goings at the Double-Seven as soon as the manpower could be spared, probably by this afternoon.

That was all that would be done concerning the Double-Seven for the time being. As FBI Special Agent Innes expressed it, "If we go in there with questions, we tip our hand about knowing the connection, and as for a search, we've no grounds to seek a warrant.

Besides, according to your man Eastin, it's mostly a meeting place with nothing illegal except some gambling going on."

Innes agreed with Wainwright's conclusion that Juanita Nunez and her daughter would not have been taken to the Double-Seven.

The Secret Service, with fewer facilities than the FBI, was working the hideout angle, contacting informers, probing for any scintilla of fact or rumor which might prove to be a lead the combined law enforcement agencies could use.

For the moment, unusually, inter-force rivalry and jealousies were put aside.

When Wainwright received the Keycharge H. E. LYNCOLP alert, he promptly dialed the FBI. Special Agents Innes and Dalrymple were out, he was informed, but could be contacted by radio.

He dictated an urgent message and waited.

The reply came back: The agents were downtown, not far from the address given, and were on their way there. Would Wainwright meet them? Action was a relief. He hurried through the building to his car. Outside Pete's Sporting Goods, Innes was questioning bystanders when Wainwright arrived. Dalrymple was still inside, completing a statement by the clerk. Innes broke off and joined the bank security chief. "A dry hole," he reported glumly.

"It was all over when we got here." He related the little they had learned. Wainwright asked, "Descriptions?" The FBI man shook his head.

"The store guy who served Eastin was so shit scared, he's not sure if there were four men came in or three. Says it all happened so fast, he can't describe or identify anyone. And no one, inside the store or out, remembers seeing a car."

Wainwright's face was drawn, the strain of anxiety and conscience showing. "So what comes next?" "You were a cop," Innes said. "You know how it is in real life. We wait, hoping something else will turn up."

22

She heard scuffling and voices. Now she knew they had Miles and were bringing him in. For Juanita, time had drifted.

She had no idea how long it was since she had gasped out Miles Eastin's name, betraying him, to end the horror of Estela's torture.

Soon after that she had been gagged again and the bonds holding her to the chair were checked and tightened. Then the men left. For a while, she knew, she had dozed or, more accurately, her body had released her from awareness since any real rest was impossible, bound as she was.

Alerted by the new noise, her constricted limbs protested agonizingly, so that she wanted to cry out, though the gag prevented it.

Juanita willed herself not to panic, not to struggle against her bonds, knowing both would be futile and make her situation worse.

She could still see Estela. The chairs they were bound to had been left facing each other. The little girl's eyes were closed in sleep, her small head drooping; the noises which awakened Juanita had not disturbed her. Estela, too, was gagged. Juanita hoped that sheer exhaustion would spare her from reality for as long as possible. Estela's right hand showed the ugly red burn from the cigar. Shortly after the men had left, one of them Juanita had heard him addressed as Lou come back briefly.

He had a tube of ointment of some kind. Squeezing the tube, he covered Estela's burn, glancing quickly at Juanita as if to tell her it was the best he could do.

Then he, too, had gone. Estela had jumped while the ointment was being applied, then whimpered for a while behind her gag, but soon after sleep had mercifully come.

The sounds Juanita had been hearing were behind her.

Probably in an adjoining room, and she guessed a connecting door was open. Briefly she heard Miles's voice protesting, then a thud, a grunt, and silence. Perhaps a minute passed. Miles's voice again, this time more distinct.

"No! Oh, God, no! Please! I'll…"

She heard a sound like hammer blows, metal on metal. Miles's words stopped, changing to a high-pitched, piercing, frenzied scream.

The screaming, worse than anything she had ever heard, went on and on. If Miles could have killed himself in the car, he would have done so willingly.

He had known from the beginning of his deal with Wainwright it had been the root of his fears ever since that straightforward dying would be easy compared with what awaited an exposed informer. Even so, what he had feared was nothing beside the umbelievably awful, excoriating punishment being meted to him now.

His legs and thighs were strapped tightly, cruelly together.

His arms had been forced down onto a rough wooden table. His hands and wrists were being nailed to the table… nailed with carpenter's nails… hammered hard…a nail was already in the left wrist, two more in the wide part of the hand between the wrist and fingers, fastening it tightly down… The last few strokes of the hammer had smashed bone… One nail was in the right hand, another poised to tear, to hack through flesh arid muscle… No pain was ever, could be ever.. . Oh, God, help me.. would be ever greater. Miles writhed, screamed, pleaded, screamed again. But the hands holding his body tightened. The hammer blows, which had briefly paused, resumed. "He ain't yelping loud enough,'' Marino told Angelo, who was wielding the hammer.

"When you get through with that, try nailing down a couple of the bastard's fingers." Tony Bear, who was puffing on a cigar while he watched and listened, had not bothered concealing himself this time. There would be no possibility of Eastin identifying him because Eastin would soon be dead.

First, though, it was necessary to remind him and others to whom the news of what had happened here would filter out that for a stool pigeon there was never any easy death.

"That's more like it," Tony Bear conceded. Miles's agonized shrieks rose in volume while a fresh nail penetrated the center finger of his left hand, midway between the two knuckles, and was hammered home. Audibly, the bone in the finger split apart.

As Angelo was about to repeat the process with the middle finger of the right hand,

Tony Bear ordered, "Hold ill" He told Eastin,

"Stop the goddam noisel Start singing." Miles's screaming turned to racking sobs, his body heaving.

The hands holding him had been removed.

They were no longer needed. "Okay," Tony Bear told Angelo, "he ain't stopped, so go right ahead." "No! No! I’ll talk! I will I will!" Somehow Miles choked back his sobs.

The loudest sound was now his heavy, rasping breathing. Tony Bear waved Angelo back.

The others in the room remained grouped around the table.

They were Lou; Punch Clancy, the extra bodyguard who had been one of the four in the sporting goods store an hour earlier; LaRocca, scowling, worried about how much he would be blamed for sponsoring Miles; and the old printer, Danny Kerrigan, in at ease and nervous.

Although this was normally Danny's domain they were in the main printing and engraving shop he preferred to keep out of the way at moments such as this, but Tony Bear had sent for him. Tony Bear snarled at Eastin, "So all the time you were a stoolie for a stinking bank?"

Miles gasped out, "Yes." "First Mercantile?' "Yes."

"Who'd you report to?" "Wainwright."

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