Monday, April 28, 2014

L.A. Storm excerpt by P.A. Brown

In L.A. Storm by P.A.Brown, a heavily revised re-write of L.A. Bytes, Los Angeles' Ste. Anne's Medical Center has been hacked by a brilliant, malicious cracker. Christopher Bellamere has been hired to find out who is behind the break in. When tampered medical records nearly kill his lover, Homicide Detective David Eric Laine, the stakes go up and Chris goes after the cracker with all his skills. Digital Armageddon descends on the city of Angels. Can Chris and David stop him in time?  

L.A. Storm
Bristlecone Pine Press (March 18, 2014)


Chapter One

Friday, 3:55 p.m., Sunset Junction, Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Homicide detective, David Eric Laine, glanced across at Martinez Diego, his partner off and on for twelve years, staring out the window of their mud-brown Crown Victoria.

"Change is coming," Martinez said, looking at the cloudless blue sky and the nearby row of coffee shops, clothing stores, and dry cleaners. My father always talked about knowing when things were going to happen. He had the gift."

"Your father was a butcher in Eagle Rock." When Martinez opened his mouth, David added, "Your mother was a grade school teacher. You know as much about that kind of stuff as I do."

Martinez scowled. "Comes a time a wife knows too damn much."

"I'm not your wife."

"Might as well be seein' as we been together more over the last decade than me and Inez."

"Well then, we're getting a divorce," David said, shoving the Crown into gear. "You get the kids. I'll settle for Senor Contreras."

Jesus Contreras choose that moment to step through the doors of the pink Intelligentsia, the cafe Chris had taken to in pursuit of his latest hobby, the search for the perfect coffee. The stocky, heavily inked Salvadoran paused to pull sunglasses out and slip them on after a quick look around. David wasn't surprised at his watchfulness. This Salvadorian drug dealer had a lot of folks looking to hook him up. LAPD and a trip to the Twin Towers was the least of his worries.

Contreras jay-walked Sunset and slipped into a metallic lime-green Navigator.

"Who paints a sweet car like that the color of Jello?" David shook his head.

Their target whipped into pre-rush hour traffic fast enough to leave a trail of brakes, squealing tires and curses in half a dozen languages behind him. So much for not attracting attention.

"Bangers got too much money and no taste," Martinez said. "Here we go."

David goosed the gas and Martinez flipped on the dashboard lights.

Contreras ignored them. Martinez called for backup and gave their twenty.

"Good guess, partner. Looks like your father has better intel than our CIs. Maybe he should go on the payroll."

"Mi abuelo taught him."

"Thank both of them. Now let's go nail this cabron."

Jesus Contreras was wanted on multiple extortion beefs, kidnapping, murder and arson to cover the murder. As Chris, his lover would have said, he was one seriously messed up dude. The Feebs thought he was hiding in Mexico but a month ago word had come down to the LAPD gang unit that he was in town and back in business. Business, David planned to put an end to. This time permanently.
The Navigator squealed around the corner onto Sanborn. Contreras might have had the green to buy an eighty thousand dollar set of wheels, but he never put anything into learning how to drive it. David was sure the SUV was going to take the corner on two wheels or lose control and plow into Circus of Books and its graffiti covered walls. A car in the left lane slammed on its brakes. The SUV never slowed even when it barely missed a young couple with a baby carriage stepping off the curb.

David ignored them. If they were in any trouble Martinez would report it. Every few seconds Martinez would bark, "Clear," and David would keep on driving.He kept his eyes on the fleeing vehicle. Sanborn was a residential street. Cars lined both sides and David was about to call off the chase before some civilian got hurt or worse. He barely took his foot off the gas when a pair of black and whites blockaded Effie Street ahead of them. A third roared up behind David.

At first David thought the fool, Contreras, was going to ram the cruisers, but a grain of self-preservation kicked in and he ditched the car half on, half off the curb, climbed out of the still running car and bolted between two bungalows.

Bouncing over the hood of a parked car Contreras almost made it to the fence separating the backyards when David spun the wheel of the Crown and cut him off. David slammed the car door open as Contreras zigzagged past them. Knocked off balance, the young Salvadoran recovered before David reached him. But not fast enough. David body-checked him and when Contreras lay proned out he cuffed him, hauling the cursing man to his feet.

Contreras's face bled from a few abrasions. Whether from being laid out on the paved driveway, or from the prickly bushes bordering it,David didn't know or care.

Two of the three tattooed tear drops under the banger's left eye were now leaking real blood.

"The look suits you," David pushed the cuffed man toward the nearest uni. "Get him out of here."

Contreras kept up a steady flow of curses in Spanish. David had only a rudimentary understanding of the language, but he was fluent in the profanity of a dozen languages. He shook his head. "Not very imaginative, ese. Maybe while you're sitting in the Towers you can come up with a few better ones."

"Si," Martinez said. "Something to impress the boys at Quentin."
Contreras lapsed into silence, a snarl frozen on his lips. His inked neck flamed red. He tugged at his bracelets and finally spoke in heavily accented English. "These is tight. You hurting me. My lawyer will sue you and these stinking city."

"Well, if that isn't an original one." David followed Martinez back to their Crown sweltering in the sun that bounced light off the glass and metal frame. He winced. He'd forgotten his shades in the car. "Too damn late in the year to be this hot."

"It's dry heat, right?" Martinez said. "Not hot at all."

"An oven is dry heat, and I'm cooking."

"Could be worse. Could be a blizzard. Heard they're getting some nasty ones back east."

David climb onto the griddle hot seat was interrupted by a violent sneeze, followed by a second one. Before he fired up the Crown and got the AC going, he sneezed three more times.

"Thanks," he muttered when Martinez handed him a handful of tissues. "Damn allergies."

"Guess it's that time again, hey, ese."

Like he didn't know it was time to get his seasonal allergy shot. Martinez knew how much his partner hated needles and wasn't above ribbing him about it. But he didn't come close to Chris. For almost every hour they were awake for the last two days Chris had nagged him to make the appointment. He had finally broken down last night. Monday. He'd promised to go on Monday.

"Let's get out of here." David ignored Martinez's ongoing grin. "I'm feeling so good the beer's on me."

see also excerpt from 3/1/2010


Jon Michaelsen said...

Terrific start to L.A. Storm; already hooked. Very nice, Pat!

Anonymous said...

God job, Pat! It still has punch and grit. This new revision gives me an excuse to read it again!
Joe DeMarco