Ramirez guided me to an enclave outside of Oaxaca where support for the Emperor has not waned, and where a rare book store offered us many treasures - including a second print edition history of the Pastry War. I believe you will find the book quite interesting. I apologize for the blood stains. Other brown calf-skin bound pages held memories of untold numbers of cigarillos commingled with the writings of the great French masters.
I spent my Christmas trying to figure out what the hell happened to Deseilligny. I long to believe that his death was a good omen, but I cannot when he did not face a commando in the moment of truth. It, and rough seas soured my dinner, at least to the extent that lutefiske can be soured. The mail is slow to reach Corporal in the mountains and I cannot imagine you are in a safer place.
Mercerier was in Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos. Though he is long gone, his imprint on Oaxaca is clear. Starting with the book seller. He confronted me between the stacks, taking note of my interest in Tartuffe and The Learned Ladies, asking whether I would prefer the Spanish or English translation. When I told him my preference was the original French, his face dropped. The sickly green fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling began to flicker as if on cue. The look in his eyes changed from skeptical curiosity to something more martial. He motioned to me to stay and promised he had an antiquities book shelf which he thought would be more to my liking, He then falsely sauntered away, navigating the delicate labyrinthine shelves of the shop, towards a rear egress.
Ramirez was there to meet him. When the book seller unsheathed a small .380 ACP pistol, Ramirez closed the distance, pulling him in by his arm and near simultaneously drawing a knife under his belly. He knocked the man’s draw arm against the bookshelf, which wavered with the blow. The gun and entrails fell to the floor. As the moment stretched out, I had closed the distance and found my hand over the booksellers mouth and my knife to his neck. I felt him trying to scream obscenities before he instead decided to relieve his pain by biting down hard on the blade of my hand. I felt the blood began to flow and brought the knife closer. In a second I realized the situation was too far gone, and that we were already going to be cleaning up a mess, rather than getting information. I ended it.
But Ramirez, clever haruspex bastard, had an idea. Did I mention he was part Mixtec? He started in with the intestines, apparently after he noted a half-eaten snail. There can’t be too many places in town that are selling escargots. Wilson and Heath, back at the safe house, begin the search.
Meanwhile, I am stuck here dragging the book dealer to the back room, setting out wet floor signs and mopping the floor. Ramirez took over the register when another customer walked in less than ten minutes after tonight’s soiree. Strange to see him with the wire rimmed glasses he found in a drawer set upon his nose, struggling to give advice about Ochoa. I smile at the customers and try and explain the blood on the floor by pointing at my heavily bandaged hand. The floor is dark with blood, slick and dangerous now that the overhead light has gone out.
After the customers leave, Ramirez takes great pleasure in asking me if the Royal Ontario Museum was burning, would I rather rescue a painting or a cat. Art is but an imitation of life. And besides the changes to the museum look like hell. I'm not sure I wouldn't just watch the whole place burn down from the McDonald's across the street.