Page 63 of Detective


Fifties were the next largest in number; no problem there, even though a new fifty-Doilar bill was due soon. And there were many bundles of twenties, though those took more space, but nothing smaller.


Jensen suspected that Cynthia had specified precisely the types of-bills the assortment was typical of her thoroughness and had brought them from the Cayman Islands, probably spread over several journeys there and back. Bringing more than ten thousand Dollars into the United States without making a customs declaration was technically illegal, but Cynthia had once told him that U.S. Customs in Miami seldom bothered Miami police officers, especially senior officers, if they discreetly showed an identification badge.

Cynthia, of course, had no idea that Jensen knew about her Caymans wealth. Four years ago, however, when they had been together in her Grand Cayman hotel room, Cynthia, complaining of an upset stomach, had excused herself and gone to the bathroom. Jensen had seized the opportunity to open a briefcase she had left in view. Searching quickly through the papers inside, he had come across a Cayman bank statement showing a credit in Cynthia's name of more than five million Dollars, at which he whistled softly. There was also a letter from someone called Uncle Zack certifying that a recent deposit was a gift, and some other papers clipped together indicated that Cynthia had informed the IRS about the account and had paid taxes on the interest. Pretty smart, Jensen thought.

Without knowing what use he could make of the information, or if it would ever have any use, he pulled out a notebook and swiftly wrote down basics; he would have liked to make copies, but there wasn't time. What he had, though, were essentials the name of the Cayman bank, an account number, and the latest balance; Cynthia's tax consultant's name, with a Fort Lauderdale address; an IRS letter with date and reference, and who had signed it; and, for what it was worth, the name "Uncle Zack." Later Jensen removed the page from his notebook, dated and signed it, and preserved it carefully.

Jensen had another thought about Cynthia's Cayman bounty an instinct, really which came to him in stages: she didn't think of it as real money and would probably never use it for herself; therefore she would not be overly concerned about how much went out and who received it. He was sure, for instance, that she suspected Jensen had lied to her about the amount needed to pay Virgilio, and that he intended to keep some of that money himself in addition to the large sum afterward that Cynthia had agreed to pay him personally.

Jensen was cheating, of course, and had no intention of offering Virgilio more than eighty thousand Dollars to do the Ernst killings, though he might go to a hundred thousand if he had to. As he thought about it all while putting the bills back in the attache case, Jensen smiled. And his upbeat feeling continued, effectively banishing the doubts and fears he had felt at the Homestead restaurant.

* * *

Five days later, shortly after 7:00 P.M., a buzzer sounded in Jensen's third-floor apartment on Brickell Avenue. The buzzer was actuated from a push-button panel outside the main entrance below. Using an intercom system, he responded, "Yes, who is it?" There was no answer, and he repeated the question. After a second silence, he shrugged and turned away.

A few minutes later the same process was repeated. Jensen was irritated but thought nothing of it; sometimes neighborhood kids played with the buzzer system. A third time, though, it occurred to him that someone was sending a message, so it was with slight unease that he left the apartment and went downstairs. But apart from a fellow tenant who was entering the main door, no one was in sight.

Jensen had parked his Volvo on the street outside, and on impulse he left the building and walked toward it. As he did so, he was startled to see a figure filling the front passenger seat; moments later he realized it was Virgilio. Jensen had locked the car before leaving it, and now, using a key to open the driver-side door, he was about to ask, "How the hell did you get in?" then changed his mind. Virgilio had already demonstrated he was a person of apt talents.

Motioning with an enormous hand, the Colombian instructed, "Drive."

Behind the wheel, and with the motor running, Jensen asked, "Anywhere special?"

"Someplace quiet."

For about ten minutes Jensen drove aimlessly, then turned into the parking area of a closed hardware store, turned off the engine and lights, and waited.

"You talk," Virgilio ordered. "You have job for me?"

"Yes." Patrick saw no reason not to come directly to the point. "I have friends who want two people killed."

"Who your friends?"

"You will not know. That way, it is safer for everyone."

"Okay." Virgilio nodded. "The ones to die important people?"

"Yes. One is a city commissioner."

"Then cost much money."

"I will pay you eighty thousand Dollars," Jensen said.

"No good." The Colombian shook his head vigorously. "Much more. One hunnert fifty."

"I don't have that much. I could maybe get one hundred thousand, but no more."

"Then no deal." Virgilio put his hand on the car door as if to leave, then stopped. "One hunnert twenty. Half now, half when job done."

The haggling had gone far enough, Jensen thought, regretting that he hadn't started at a lower figure, like fifty thousand. Still, even a hundred and twenty left eighty thousand for himself, plus the subsequent payment Cynthia had promised, and he knew she would keep her word.

"I'll have the sixty thousand ready in two days," he said. "You can call me the same way you did tonight."

The big man grunted his agreement, then gestured to the car's steering wheel. "Where those people live? You show me."

Why not? Jensen reasoned. Starting the engine again, he drove to Biscayne Boulevard and Bay Point, stopping short of the exclusive community's security checkpoint.

"The house is inside that fenced area," he reported. "You can be sure the fence has an alarm system, and there are security guards."

"I find way in. You have map showing house?"

Jensen opened the car's glove compartment, where he had placed a copy of the real-estate brochure Cynthia had given him five days earlier. The original he had kept himself, storing it in a safe location. He pointed to the page that showed the Bay Point streets, the lot marked X, and bearing Cynthia's handwritten note:

D.maid  - in early, leaves 4p.

P's - Thurs out late afternoon, back midnite

"That's important," Jensen said, and explained the maid's working hours and the once-a-week absences of the butler and his wife.

"Good!" Virgilio pocketed the brochure. He had screwed up his face while listening, clearly concentrating to memorize everything, and twice had asked for information to be repeated, nodding his understanding when it was. Jensen reminded himself that whatever else Virgilio might be, he was intelligent. Now Jensen went on to discuss the needed similarity to two other recent murder scenes and explained why. "It's to your advantage also," he pointed out, and Virgilio nodded agreement. Jensen described the required features: a dead animal must be left, perhaps a rabbit; a radio had to be playing loud hard rock the local station HOT 105 . . . "Know it," Virgilio interjected . . . Positively no fingerprints . . . Virgilio nodded forcefully . . . All money on or near the victims to be taken, but jewelry not touched. . . There, too, a gesture of agreement. . . A knife to do the killing. "A bowie knife, do you understand? Can you get one?" . . . Virgilio: "Ya." . . . Jensen repeated Cynthia's report of the earlier murder scenes the victims bound, gagged, facing each other, and the ugly brutality . . . While he could not be certain in the car's semidarkness, at that point Jensen believed Virgilio smiled.

"That's a lot to remember. Do you have it all?"

The Colombian touched his forehead with a finger. "Okay, is all here."

Next they discussed a date, Jensen remembering Cynthia's insistence that it should be as close as possible to mid-August.

"I go away, then come,'' Virgilio said, and Jensen suspected he would take his sixty thousand Dollars' down payment to deposit in Colombia.

Finally they agreed on August 17.

Later, as they neared Jensen's apartment, Virgilio repeated the substance of his warning the night of the wheelchair murder. "Hey. You double-cross me, I fuckin' kill you."

"Virgilio, I would never, ever, double-cross you," Jensen said, and meant it. At the same time he resolved to stay well clear of Virgilio after the Ernst murders. He was, capable of killing anyone, including Jensen, if he thought it necessary to cover his own tracks.

* * *

That same evening, Jensen phoned Cynthia and, without identifying himself, said only, "The date is August twenty-second."

Mentally she subtracted five, then answered, "I understand fully,'' and hung up.

6

Cynthia had been in Los Angeles for eight days when she learned of her parents' violent deaths. During that time she felt as if she were living two lives, one as she waited tensely, suspended in time, the other routine, normal, even prosaic.

Ostensibly she had come to L.A. to give a series of lectures to a segment of the L.A. Police Department about Miami's experience with police community relations something she had done successfully for other forces. She also planned to spend a few vacation days with an old friend from her Pine Crest School years, Paige Burdelon, now a Universal Pictures vice-president, living in Brentwood.

On June 27, after Cynthia had received the message from Patrick Jensen that the long-awaited date was August 17, she made arrangements to fly from Florida to California on August 10. Her trip and the planned lectures were reported by the Miami Herald in Joan Fleischman's widely read "Talk of Our Town" column the result of a friendly phone call from Cynthia the day before she left. Similarly, the Los Angeles Times made the same mention the result of a suggestion by Cynthia to her West Coast counterpart, Commander Winslow McGowan. "It's not that I want publicity," she assured him, "but the more the public realizes that their police are concerned about the community, the better you and I can do our jobs.'' The commander had agreed; thus her absence east, and presence west, were very much on record.

Paige Burdelon was delighted to learn of Cynthia's plans. "You have to stay with me," she enthused over the phone. "Since Biffy and I split, I rattle around this big condo like a stranger in my own home. Come on, Cyn, we'll have a blast, I promise."

Cynthia accepted happily, and went directly to Paige's from LAX airport.

* * *

The police department lecture series, six hour-long sessions scheduled over two weeks, began the day after Cynthia's arrival. Her audience, gathered in a large conference room at the LAPD headquarters, comprised eighty selected officers from the department's eighteen divisions, all of varying ranks and ethnicity, with about two thirds in uniform, the remainder in plain clothes. Currently the LAPD was attempting to convert a single area-wide force, for many years directed despotically from the top, into a group of localized forces with friendly community liaisons. At the same time the department hoped to put behind it a painful era symbolized by a bellicose ex-chief, Darryl Gates, the Rodney King travesty, and the Simpson debacle. M1ami's comparable transformation, which began much earlier and with considerable success, was respected nationwide as a prototype worth copying.

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