KERRI'S WAR (Volume 3 of The King Trilogy)

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Chapter 25

Geneva. Same day. Six P.M.

A cold drizzle fell on Lentz as he exited the front door of his office building. He extended his black umbrella, hurried to his black Mercedes c240 parked at the rear of the building, threw his briefcase and umbrella onto the front seat, then followed both into the car. He drove onto an east bound lane of Quai du General-Guison, continued almost two kilometers, then slowed as he prepared to turn left onto Quai Gustave Ador. A sudden and violent jolt thrust the back of his bald head against his head rest. He hit the brakes and glanced at his rear view mirror to see the large stainless steel grill of a truck, inches from the rear bumper of his Mercedes.

“Shite!” he shouted, annoyed that his car was likely damaged, and that his beloved Friday evening was ruined. He hurried from his car to examine the damage.

The colliding vehicle, a red International 4200 flat bed tow truck, was driven by Sergei Tarasov. Accompanying him was Dmitri, his twin brother. Both were six foot five inch blond haired giants. Now in their late thirties, the Tarasov brothers were guns for hire, now living on the fringe of obscurity and the law. They had been Soviet Army specialists in the act of covert killing, earning their bones in the Chechen Wars. Their birth place was Minsk, formerly part of the U.S.S.R., now the capital of Belarus. Their home was now in Munich, in southern Germany. The giants exited their truck and approached Lentz.

“Look what you’ve done!” Lentz shrieked, glaring in anger at the compressed rear of his Mercedes.

With cat quickness Dmitri moved to capture Lentz in a tight bear hug, then jabbed a syringe into his right buttock. The methohexitol worked quickly, robbing Lentz of consciousness. Dmitri smirked as he held Lentz in a vertical position while walking him to the right rear door of his Mercedes. He opened the door and deposited his victim inside. The brothers hurried to hoist the Mercedes onto the flat bed, and secure it with chains. They started their long drive by heading east on Quai Gustav Ador.

After six hours of non stop driving they stopped in front of a massive metal sliding door of what appeared to be an empty red bricked warehouse in Munich. Surgei honked twice and the door opened. Within sixty seconds, Lentz was moved to the cab of the tow truck, his Mercedes was removed from the flat bed, and the brothers were on the road again. Inside the warehouse was a fully equipped and very active body shop. A crew of four men, working feverishly, completely dismantled the Mercedes, crated the parts, and shipped them to Moscow.

Surgei drove the red International until he brought it to a stop in front of of a large decaying wooden barn located on an abandoned farm, near Bad Reichenhall, sixty kilometers south east of Munich.

The turn around took fifteen minutes. The brothers used the tow truck to haul an aging mustard colored Russian ME-8 helicopter from the barn. While Surgei deposited the truck in the barn, Dmitri gave Lentz a booster shot, then carried him and his briefcase to the helicopter. Seconds later, Sergei, a skilled pilot, flew the craft into the night sky.

Makhachkala, Russia.

Lentz, conscious but groggy, his hands and legs securely tied to the musty single bed on which he laid, turned his head to scan his surroundings. He saw a twenty foot by twenty foot room with one small window, unpainted concrete block walls, and a wood raftered ceiling. A rusted metal door guarded the entrance. The only source of light, in addition to the window, was a single light bulb, hanging from a black cord and swaged from the wall through one of the rafters. A rusting metal table sat less than a foot from his left shoulder. He shivered, even though the air was warm and humid. He was still dressed in his black silk suit.

The horror of his situation began to crystallize in his mind as he recalled his traffic accident in Geneva and subsequent confrontation with two blond monsters. He feared for his life.

A loud metallic clank disrupted the silence, then the metal door opened with a squeal, allowing more sunlight and a rush of fresh air into the room. The brothers entered and approached Lentz. Surgei wore black trousers and a tight black T-shirt. A heavy gold chain hung from his neck. Dmitri wore a filthy white lab coat. He carried a hatchet.

Surgei smiled, showing an array of crooked nicotine stained teeth. He flicked his cigarette to the concrete floor and stomped it with his foot. “I trust you slept well, Mister Lentz,” he said with a deep Russian accent.

“Where am I and why am I here?” Lentz asked, staring at Surgei’s square jaw and almost translucent grey eyes.

“Where you are is not important,” Surgei replied. “Why you are here is very important. I am going to ask you some questions. The answers you give will help us to decide if you live or die.”

Lentz swallowed dryly. “You have no right to do this,” he said, fully aware of the futility of his protest.

“We have assumed the right,” Surgei replied with an evil chuckle. “Now the questions. Each time I think your answer is a lie, I’m going to ask Dmitri to cut one of your fingers off.”

“Oh God!” Lentz cried, tears flowing as he stared in horror at Dmitri’s hatchet.

“Kerri King visited you yesterday. Why did she do that?”

“How do you know she did?”

Surgei frowned. “I will ask the questions, Mister Lentz. You will answer.”

“She was there to make some changes to her company’s banking arrangements. Her company has a branch in Geneva.”

Surgei turned to Dmitri. “Cut his left small finger off,” he ordered.

Dmitri untied the rope binding Lentz’s left wrist. He yanked his left hand to the table, held his small finger to the surface and swung his hatchet, severing the tip of Lentz’s small finger extending from the first knuckle.

Lentz screamed in pain as Dmitri removed a cloth from his pocket and covered the wound.

“Now you know I am serious, Mister Lentz. Do not lie again. We have examined the contents of your briefcase. They are useful in determining if you are telling the truth or not. We found a list of the estates and service addresses of the Iacardi employees who died in the World Trade Center. In addition, we found a direction, signed by Kerri King, authorizing your bank to distribute a very large amount of money...Where did she get that money?”

Lentz, experiencing excruciating pain, decided to tell the truth. “The money, one hundred and eighty-six million to be exact, was deposited in our bank in early nineteen ninety-one. It came in the form of a cashier’s check, written by Banco Privata Svissera, in Geneva. We did some checking and learned that the money was in that bank in an account held by a man named Louis Visconti, an American. We were unable to learn how Louis Visconti or Kerri King acquired the money. We do know that the funds were deposited in our bank by Miles Dennis, an Iacardi employee. He named Kerri King as the sole owner of the account. As you can see, the value of the account has increased significantly over the past ten years.”

“I think you know how Louis Visconti got the money. You bankers all talk to each other. Now tell me or lose another finger.”

“I swear I don’t know. I can only speculate.”

“So speculate.”

“Louis Visconti managed a trust for Miss King’s father. Prior to that, the trust was managed by Alfred Schnieder, a banker in Caracas. That is fact. There are rumors that the money was obtained by James Servito, the former husband of Kerri’s father’s wife, via the mechanism of gasoline tax evasion.”

“Is there any way of verifying that rumor?”

“We tried, but Louis Visconti, Alfred Schnieder, and James Servito are all dead. We assumed that Kerri King and her father knew the source of the money, but there was no way they would ever reveal it. You would have to torture them to obtain the answer to your question. I know of no other way.”

“Very interesting, but not satisfactory. One last chance. Do you know where Kerri King got all that money?”

“I’ve told you everything I know. I swear.”

Surgei turned to face Dmitri and nodded. No emotion.

Dmitri removed a syringe from the pocket of his lab coat and plunged it into Lentz’s left shoulder. The potassium chloride worked as quickly as the methohexitol. In this case, however, the injection stopped the cell potential required for muscle contraction, shutting his heart down and terminating his life.

The brothers loaded Lentz’s body onto a horse-drawn wagon, covered it with straw, then drove to a twenty-three meter euro cutter docked at a concrete pier on the shore of the Caspian sea. They transferred the body to the vessel which was subsequently piloted out of sight of land. The body was chained and weighted with two huge and rusting anchors, then was committed to the deep. The briefcase, soaked in gasoline, was burned at sea. The brothers shook hands, happy to have succeeded in making Lentz disappear, without a trace. The entire contents of his briefcase were packaged and shipped to Jeffery Wheeler, care of Enerco Inc., in Houston, Texas.

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