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Chapter One

Night-time in Chicago;

Just south of O’Hare, off Franklin;


The two black Ford Expeditions sat side by side in the darkness on the broad expanse of concrete. The chemical plant had been closed for years now, and this huge cement bowl that had once been a settling pool had been empty, except for a thin layer of probably carcinogeous chemicals, for just as long. It was the perfect place for the meeting. Badi looked out of his window. He could see the headlights from the silver panel van approaching. He gave Mudar, in the other SUV a wave then turned back to Fariq and found him punching numbers into his cell phone.

“What are you doing?”

Dancing with the Supers was on last night. I’m voting for Airstream.”

“Put that away, you idiot.”

“I’m serious. He deserves to win. The judges are fools.”

“Put it away. The Armenian is here.”

Fariq stuffed his phone back into his pocket as the panel van came to a stop forty feet away. Badi got out and Fariq followed him. Mudar and the others climbed out of the other Expedition, all carrying Uzis. The Armenian, Tufenkian, got out of the driver’s side of the van and stepped over.

“He says your deposit is in the bank. The goods are in the back. Trade me keys.”

Mudar started to hand over the keys to his Ford, but Badi held up a hand to stop him.

“I want to look at the goods first,” he said. “Then you can leave.”

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