فصل 06

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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

Following Ray Molinaro

At eight o’clock Latto woke to the sound of the sea lions under the wharf. He had a cup of coffee, then got out his map of Santa Cruz and checked where Ray Molinaro’s office was. It was on Frederick Street, about five or ten minutes drive from the motel. The sun was up and it looked like being another fine day. Latto put on a yellow T-shirt and some old blue shorts. He put some water in a bottle to take with him and took his camera from the small cupboard beside his bed.

Latto found driving in California quite easy. OK, he was on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, but people drove slowly and carefully. Once downtown, Latto turned right onto Broadway, through an area of nice, well-kept houses. At the end of Broadway, he turned left onto Frederick Street. Molinaro’s office was at the end of the street on the right, one of a number of offices beside the car park of the Dominican Hospital. Latto thought that Molinaro was probably nothing to do with the hospital, but that he just paid to use one of these offices.

It was eight thirty. There was no-one about. Latto parked his car and waited. He went back over the idea he had had last night before he fell asleep. He wanted to be sure it was right. He had just started to get his email yesterday morning when Koning and Molinaro had arrived. They had all sat outside, then Molinaro had gone into Latto’s room. The computer was open on the desk so perhaps Molinaro saw that Deborah Spencer had sent him an email. Maybe he also saw that there was an attachment. He couldn’t look at the email because Latto would know that someone had opened it. But he wanted to know what was in the attachment. So he, or someone he knew, had come back and stolen the computer. But why? Did Molinaro want to steal Deborah Spencer’s ideas for himself? And if so, did Sylvia Koning know what was happening? Was she part of it too? Or was it really just someone who wanted money to buy drugs? Latto hoped Koning had no part in what was happening. She was an intelligent and interesting woman and he was beginning to like her.

Time passed. Latto wished he had brought a book or a newspaper. Then a white Dodge turned into the car park. It stopped outside Molinaro’s office and a young man got out. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt that said ‘Surf Santa Cruz’. He was carrying a bag. He tried the door of Molinaro’s office. Finding it locked, he went back to his car and put the bag back inside. Although he was wearing different clothes, Latto knew him from his ear-ring and baseball cap.

Standing next to his car, the man took a newspaper off the front seat and started to read it while he waited. Latto sat lower in his car seat, but the man didn’t seem interested in any of the other cars in the car park. After a few minutes the man put his paper back on the front seat. Just then, a black Nissan turned into the car park and stopped next to the Dodge. Molinaro got out.

Molinaro and the man had a short conversation. Molinaro was wearing the same clothes as the last time Latto had seen him, but now he had a jacket over his T-shirt. During the conversation he reached inside his jacket, took out a thick envelope, and gave it to the man with the ear-ring. Latto had his camera ready and took photos. The man with the ear-ring reached into his car, took out the bag and gave it to Molinaro. Interesting envelope, thought Latto, just the right size for some money; and an interesting bag, just about the right size for my laptop. He took some more photos. The man got back in his car and drove off. Latto decided to stay with Molinaro.

Molinaro put the bag on the back seat of his car, locked his car and then walked over to his office. He went inside for a few minutes and then came out again. He got back into his car and drove off. Latto followed.

Molinaro drove out of Frederick Street and then out of town east on Highway 1. After Watsonville, he headed onto Highway 101 for Salinas. Soon he turned off again. Latto followed, keeping as far back as possible. A kilometre further on, Molinaro took a right turn and stopped in front of a large building. Latto drove past. A few hundred metres down the road he turned round and drove slowly back. Molinaro’s car was parked out front. Molinaro was just going in through the front doors, the bag in his hand. Latto looked at the name on the building: Keiffenheim Laboratories Inc. Next to the name was a picture of two scientists in a laboratory. Both were wearing white coats. The first, a woman, was holding up a pill and looking at it carefully; the second, a man, was taking notes.

Latto drove on past and found his way back to Highway 1. He drove north back towards Santa Cruz. Molinaro might be in the building for hours. Latto didn’t want to wait there. He needed to get back and speak to Martinez. He had information for him and some more questions. The most important one of all: what was a doctor of Asian medicine doing visiting a laboratory that made medicines used by western doctors?

Latto arrived back at his motel feeling hungry and thirsty. He had gone out without breakfast. He took a plastic bottle of orange juice out of the fridge. Before he opened it, a drop of juice appeared on the top of the bottle. He put down the bottle and the drop went away. He pressed the sides again, harder. A thin jet of juice shot out of the top. He looked carefully. There was a very small hole in the top of the bottle. He put the bottle down on the table, found Martinez’ phone number and picked up the phone.

‘Martinez. It’s Latto. I’m at the Ocean View. I’ve got a big problem. I think you should come over here now.’

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