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Soht for rinned back atinto the doorway of a closed dentist’s office, I pulled his collar from the backpack

"Here’s your brand of silver ers, the silver circles swiftly shrank to three-quarters full to mimic the moon’s current phase The collar’s "coins" tracked the moon’s phases, a phenomenon I didn’t understand but accepted, like s these days

"Coot a motel reservation You’ll have to wait outside while I claiot an inside bunk"

ACTUALLY, I’D LIED I just wanted to claim a roof in Juarez with a key to a door Sleep wouldn’t come until much later

"Quick, I need you to track down Ric and Leonard Tallgrass," I said after I sat, gingerly, on the one lu any weapons across the border into Murder City, so it’s just you and loves froed itself into a major spiked forearrab cartel killers with h the cheese-parer ofRic’s childhood enslaver, El Demonio Torbellino, in Wichita recently, I knew I’d viewed the ugly face of ultiain, I would not leave it un circles on the battered linoleu

He either needed a potty break bad, or to sink his teeth into sosters, and this was the place to do it Killers teemed only blocks outside our door, where the native Juarez cartel and the Sinaloa group dueled each other to commit the worst atrocity of the day

Torbellino was probably planning to make them all look like hothouse flowers of evil Flora di mal The Spanish I’d learned when Ricardo Montoya came into my life and love life seemed natural

We had to save ourselves for the main event

"Just find Ric," I told Quicksilver "We make it up fro my secondhand cop duty belt and black leather motorcycle jacket aroundto hot Juarez

Quicksilver trotted ahead offood, bargains, and prostitutes I figured ere headed for the outskirts Juarez, aka El Paso del Norte, housed one-and-a-half-ated steel barrio shacks Juarez remains the most violent site in the world outside of declared war zones UN intervention had been called for years ago

The beige-uniformed police had been the only middle class in a tohere rich Norteamericanos had set up factories and fancy homes since the forties and fifties Now the cops were not only corrupt, but any honest ones were an endangered species

Quicksilver and I dodged patrolling arled commerce and squalor, barely sensed shadows ourselves We were silent, fast, and broadcast a Don’t Tread on Me e to both hu women orked in the hundreds of border factories traveled by bus at night They had died here for two decades, some said as ns of "tor me shudder to wonder what the possible difference between two such dreadful words could be

Most were presumed to be prey of human and unhuo quietly into that degraded slavery Ric hadn’t been in Torbellino’s brutal hands then, having been rescued as a "wild child" by the right upper-ton professionals before the "fe gangs with initiation rites of raping and killing a girl or wo or old The Mexican police either joined the gangs in their brutality or were targeted by thes slunk around the thinning buildings and hovels, too cowed to attack living prey No children haunted the darkening streets, all corralled in whatever hoht border streets, selling themselves This place made my traumas at the hands of mid-America’s children’s services see me into the so-called city suburbs where the femicides had taken place near dirt roads In the desert beyond, most of their bodies had been buried and later discovered This place was so crammed with human evil and darkness it must have kept even the predatory supernaturals out

Quick whimpered besideup any scents besides rotting things?"

His gait, always a fluid trot, kicked up into a hard-driving cantor I began jogging, glad for the Dr Scholl’s insoles in my motorcycle boots

Don’t call one solo on so on paranoroing alone into this oes off to the cri about it, according to noir detective Sa until ain

My boot heels beat out a rhythm Ric-is-just-around-the-bend Come-on-creeps-and-meet-your-end

Quicksilver had lived up to his na into the hard-packed sand of the countryside Away froht winking off of his collar A high-intensity flashlight was tucked indown in rattlesnake and scorpion country to crouch and dig for technological help

I heard lightning crackle in the distance and stared up at the starless night We were still close enough to Ciudad Juarez that the city lights ain I slowedI heard, or the crack of El Demonio’s thirty-foot bull whip? He must be encamped near the city And Ric, of course, would be hunkered down right on top of his immortal enee-covered hill, realizing Quick’s feathered lower legs would be picking up burrs and cactus thorns No insoles or ankle boots for dogs I wished for the booties the search-and-rescue dogs had used at Ground Zero in 9/11, but my idea came a little late

Quicksilver would have scorned such niceties, anyway Now on the scent, his churning legs were kicking up sand and rarin’ to breast the brow of the hill I charged up alongside him, only to teeter on the brink of a pit I surveyed a stretch of shifting, sizzling, hissing sand quivering with nocturnal desert life,lizards and tarantulas and scorpions and rattlesnakes! It was a desert verhtlife scra to escape en masse?

Chapter Thirty

QUICKSILVER SAT, HIS head al weren’t going to dothefloor of crawling insects and reptiles wasn’t confined to just a piddly gravel pit

My gaze scanned a gash in the earth that ran as far as the eye could see in both directions The creatures struggling to escape the deep depression seeet traction on each others’ as and clawed limbs tried to scale htlife of the desert assee and crouched to dig out the binoculars I’d brought These weren’t the governrass had used in Wichita, but they and the alh to sho far the living line of desert vermin extended And, maybe, to reveal what had caused them to cluster like this

I put the binoculars tothem