I swung in the hammock on the porch of the villa. It had only taken me about two hours to find Marcie after my plane touched down in Acapulco. She was stretched out in a beach chair next to the pool of a luxury hotel, sipping an umbrella drink and reading an art magazine. She burst into tears when she saw me, hugged me hard.

Then punched me square in the face.

We've reached an understanding since then.

Once I'd determined that Amber was going to be okay, I let her have the Impala to drive back to Orlando. I gave her every cent I had on me to make sure her trip went okay and told her it might be six months or so before I could contact her and Danny again. I needed to lay low for a while. She let me know I could contact Danny through Clemson University. She'd see to it.

She really did seem like she was going to be okay as she dropped me off at the Chattanooga Airport. She kissed me on the cheek again, said I'd be in her thoughts.

I put a plane ticket to Mexico on Minelli's credit card.

In the ninety minutes I had before my plane left, I dropped the key to the airport locker in the mail. I used the card Agent Dunn had given me to get the address. I also sent him a note saying one of the conditions for my help was to put Stan in a witness relocation program if they ended up nabbing him. Maybe Dunn would even be grateful enough to do it.

It would be strange for a while without Stan's guiding hand, but I was starting a new life. I was my own boss now.

A slight breeze picked up. I rocked in the hammock. Marcie and I had stayed in the luxury hotel one night before I'd explained we'd have to make her cash stretch for as long as possible. We were waiting to hear if the real estate agent had sold her house. Until then we'd moved into a reasonably safe and clean neighborhood with the locals. Rent on the villa was modest.

I heard someone approach the villa, but I kept my eyes closed. I knew what Marcie's quick steps sounded like on the cobblestones. She climbed the stairs to the porch and put something on my chest. I pretended I was still asleep.

She cleared her throat pointedly, and I opened my eyes.

I was looking straight into the eyes of a big stuffed iguana.

"Please tell me this isn't dinner," I said.

"Do you know what they're charging for these nasty things in the tourist shops?" she asked.


"Take a guess."

"Twenty bucks," I said.

"Not dollars, dumbass. Pesos."

"I have no idea."

"Two thousand fucking pesos." She put her hands on her hips. "Can you believe that?"

"It's unbelievable."

She grunted her derision at me. "Laugh it up, boy-toy. We need to make a living. I could stuff these things in my sleep." She picked up the lizard and shook it at me. "I have a very marketable skill here, you know."

"I can always go in on that deal with Hernandez," I told her. Hernandez was a shady fellow I'd met a few nights ago in one of the local saloons. We got to talking over a few pints of tequila, and he told me about a scheme he had going where he and his pals stole cars in Texas and smuggled them over the border to sell in Mexico.

"No!" Marcie smacked me on the forehead with an open palm. "We don't do things like that anymore. You want me to kick your ass?"

I just laughed.

She tucked the iguana under her arm and went inside the villa. "I'm serious," she called over her shoulder. "We have to earn a living somehow."

I unfolded the telegram that had arrived an hour earlier, read it again.

Stash all counted. Account in your name at Bank of Zurich. Account number: DH123-45567. Balance: $1,428,076.00.

┬ĘC Jimmy the Fix

"We'll get by somehow," I shouted at her.

I closed my eyes. The breeze picked up just a little as I slipped into mariachi dreams.

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