فصل 09

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فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

Catching Crocker

Latto and Martinez went through the plan carefully. When they reached agreement, Martinez went out to his car and came back with an MP3 recorder. He joined it up to the motel room phone. Latto picked up the phone.

‘Matthew Crocker, please,’ he said when it was answered.

Crocker’s secretary wanted to know his name and his business.

‘Tell Mr Crocker it’s Dr Mark Latto calling. And I want to speak to him about a book - a book to help patients who have Parkinson’s Disease.’

Crocker was on the line in less than thirty seconds.

‘What can I do for you, Dr Latto?’

Latto smiled to himself. ‘I think it’s more a question of what I can do for you,’ he said.

‘Really?’ Clearly Crocker wanted to find out how much Latto knew.

‘I believe I have a copy of a book you’re interested in,’ said Latto.

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ replied Crocker. His voice didn’t sound worried at all.

‘I understood you were interested in copies of a book about helping Parkinson’s patients.’

‘What makes you think that?’ asked Crocker.

‘Don’t play games, Crocker,’ said Latto, his voice becoming hard. ‘You know Ray Molinaro. You are interested in this book. And I have a copy.’

‘I think not, Dr Latto,’ said Crocker. ‘I am told there are no copies left.’

‘I’m afraid you’ll find that you’ve got some wrong information there,’ explained Latto. ‘As you probably know, I came over to California to see Deborah Spencer. Well, just before I came, she emailed me a copy of her book. She asked me to read it before I came.’

‘Really?’ said Crocker. ‘How interesting!’ His voice didn’t sound interested. Latto began to worry.

‘Of course I copied the book onto CD. I don’t keep things like that on my computer,’ he continued. ‘And anyway, my computer unfortunately got stolen - but, of course, I’ve still got the book on CD.’ Latto said nothing for a moment so that Crocker had time to consider what he had said. Then he spoke again. ‘I’m sure I can find another buyer, if it’s not of interest to you.’

No-one said anything for what seemed like minutes. Martinez watched Latto closely.

Then Crocker spoke. ‘Can I call you back, Dr Latto?’

‘No,’ said Latto. ‘I’ll call you. Five minutes. No longer.’ He put the phone down.

Latto took out a handkerchief to dry his hands.

‘He’s calling Molinaro to check that it’s possible you have a copy,’ explained Martinez.

‘Sure,’ said Latto.

‘You’ve also got to make him believe that you want to sell it,’ said Martinez. ‘It might seem strange to him. I mean, you come here to see Ms Spencer and find out about her work so that you can help people with Parkinson’s Disease. But now you want to sell the key to her work - without finding out how you can help those people.’

Latto nodded, looking thoughtful. They waited, saying nothing.

After a few minutes Latto looked at his watch and picked up the phone again.

‘I’m not sure why you want to sell this book,’ said Crocker when he came on the line. ‘Or, in fact, why you think I might want to buy it.’

This is like fishing, thought Latto. I’m holding out a piece of bread and waiting for the fish to bite. I’m giving him what he wants and I have to make him think it’s OK - it’s not going to hurt him.

‘I’m selling it for the money,’ said Latto. ‘That’s easy. Sure, I was interested in what Deborah Spencer had to say. But at that time I didn’t know how valuable her ideas were, how much they were worth to you. I mean, with the $150,000 you’re going to pay me, I’ll be able to start my own health centre back home.’

There was a laugh at the other end of the line.

‘Dr Latto, if you think I’m going to pay $ 150,000 for your CD, you’re making a big mistake.’

‘I think you’re wrong there,’ said Latto. ‘I mean, think about how much your company earns from the anti- Parkinson’s drugs you sell at the moment. And think about how much you are spending on the development of new drugs. Well? $150,000 is nothing.’

Crocker said nothing. He was being very careful.

‘How will I know it’s the only CD you made?’ he asked.

‘You won’t,’ replied Latto. ‘You’ll just have to believe me. $150,000 is all I want. Once I get it, I’ll be off back to Britain.’

Crocker said nothing.

Latto waited a few moments, then he said, ‘Well, do we have an agreement?’

‘I need to think about this,’ said Crocker.

‘You’ve got ten seconds,’ said Latto.

Crocker only needed five.

‘OK,’ he said. ‘We have an agreement.’

‘Right,’ said Latto. ‘$150,000. Old notes. Tonight…’

‘Tonight! Impossible,’ began Crocker.

‘Tonight is possible,’ said Latto. ‘If not, I’ll take the CD somewhere else. We’ll meet at the University of Santa Cruz arboretum.’

‘The what?’ asked Crocker.

‘Arboretum - it’s like a garden, a very big one, but it has trees in it which the university use for study. I was out there yesterday afternoon. It’ll be nice and quiet at night.’

Meeting at the arboretum had been Martinez’ idea. Late at night it would be empty, and Martinez could get them in.

‘I don’t know where it is,’ said Crocker. ‘I’ve only been to Santa Cruz a couple of times.’

‘Find it,’ said Latto. ‘You want the CD. You find it. Make sure you come alone - that’s important. And bring the money. The arboretum will be open. Come inside and walk up the hill in front of you. Walk round to the left and you’ll see an open-air theatre down to your left. Go down there and wait for me. Midnight.’

‘I can’t get $150,000 by midnight.’ Crocker sounded angry.

‘Of course you can,’ said Latto. ‘You work for a large company that makes medicines all over the world. Don’t tell me you can’t find $150,000 when you need it. Midnight. Don’t be late.’

Latto put the phone down.

Martinez stood up and put a hand on Latto’s shoulder. ‘Good work, doc,’ he said. ‘I’ll go and pick up one or two things we’ll need. I’ll be back about eleven o’clock.’

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