Bullseye (Michael Bennett #9) - James Patterson Page 0,1

it. There was an instinctual power to being above that truly thrilled him. He also liked the surprisingly smooth, graceful sucker punch speed of the Beemer, throttle open downhill. They would be in theater right quick. Speed and surprise from above were two excellent angles of advantage.

They certainly needed every advantage they could get, since there were seven in the well-armed drug crew. They had two AK-47s in the cook apartment in case of emergency, and they all carried straight blowback Glock 18 machine pistols in 9mm caliber.

The damn Glock 18s bothered him. They were excellent for close combat. No bulky stocks or long barrels to bang against corners or stair banisters. And they were looking at the closest of combat in the crumbling prewar building’s coffin-wide hallways and slot-canyon-of-death stairwells.

Worse, the Glock 18s indicated tactical intelligence. And that kind of intelligence made him think that no matter how much they’d planned it, there might be something they’d missed.

But that was part of it, too. It was actually better to assume you missed something so as to keep your eyes open.

He glanced forward, up Amsterdam, at the snow drifting in the cones of the streetlights. Bits blowing this way and that, shifting and reshifting in the gusts.

No need for cocky in this line of work. You had to know that even great plans had a funky habit of changing on you.

“I see it! It’s there,” said the rider, suddenly pounding on the driver’s back. “The car—the Chevy. It’s pulling up out in front. Go! Go! Go!”

The spinning tires of the BMW threw up a fat rope of slush as the driver ripped back on the throttle. Then he let off on the brake, and they were hitting the corner and going straight down.

Two

The cooking lab was in the east wing of the building, on the third floor. It was in a type of apartment known as a junior four, a one-bedroom with a formal dining room off the living room. The dining room was usually separated with French doors, but since the cooking lab was set up there, they’d taken off the doors and Sheetrocked the doorway.

In the lab, just to the right of the kitchen door, was a barrel of sodium hydroxide, a big white fifty-gallon industrial drum of the stuff, plastered with bloodred DANGER: HAZARDOUS MATERIALS diamonds. In front of the drums were two lab tables where two HCL generators were going full tilt.

The generators were chemistry industry standard, a bubbling, dripping, steaming mousetrap setup of hot plates and beakers and rubber tubing and inverted funnels. The HCL rig was for turning solids into liquids and liquids into evaporated gases that were separated and condensed back down into newer, much more lucrative solids.

Hustling busily between the barrel and the lab tables and the kitchen was a tall and wiry, handsome, black-haired Hispanic man. He was the drug crew’s head, Rafael Arruda. No dummy, Rafael, he wore a super-duty gray-hooded hazmat suit with full respirator, two pairs of sea-green rubber medical gloves over his hands, and plastic nurse booties over his vintage Nikes. All the seams taped nice and tight to avoid the highly caustic fumes and chemicals.

He was whipping up some MDMA, the main ingredient in the drug ecstasy. He’d already cultivated about three ounces of the drug’s blazingly white crystals in the plastic-lined collecting tin beside one of the generators. About thirty grand worth once it was cut and packed down into pills.

He’d shoot for a half pound tonight, before he pulled the plug around one or two and went home to his wife, Josefina, and his daughter, Abril, who had come home for the weekend from Georgetown, the school that he himself had attended, majoring in chemistry on some rich oil guy’s Inner City Golden Promise scholarship fund.

His promise in the field of chemistry had paid out all right. At least for him. When he wasn’t cooking drugs, he was a tenured professor and cohead of Columbia University’s undergrad chemistry department and lived in a four-million-dollar town house in Bronxville, beside white-bread bankers and plastic surgeons.

It was about seven thirty when he noticed the clogged dropping funnel in generator one. That happened from time to time with the new, iffy stuff he’d gotten from a chemical supply house in Canada. The stuff was cheaper, especially the hydro, but it was becoming more and more obvious that it was subpar with impurities, probably Chinese-made.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, Rafael thought as he immediately lowered