His trail had gone cold, that did not stop me for a moment.
The flight he took to Brazil landed and he disappeared I knew why he went to Brazil, as they did not have an extradition treaty. Before booking my flight, I went to see Leo the drug dealer. He had come to Joe’s funeral and left a note at my apartment. I could not believe he had offered to help me find Joe's killer.
Leo was originally born and raised in Brazil and had many relatives still living there. In addition, many people in his line of business. He was well connected. I called his office, a girl answered asking me my name and number and telling me someone would get back to me. Within ten minutes, Leo returned my call.
“What can I do for you pretty lady?” He asked.
I laughed remembering the last time we had spoken in his office he had called me a bitch. It seemed like a century ago. I asked if we could meet somewhere not at his office.
“Remember where we met when you were a detective.” He knew I was not one anymore.
“Yes I do.” I Answered.
“I will be there tonight at ten o’clock, come alone.” A click sounded.
He was waiting again at the big house, and then he guided me to the small house in the trees just like the last time I had been here was with Joe. A bottle of Scotch with two glasses and ice sat on a table.
I took the iced glass shaking my head for no water. We sat like old friends if someone had been watching that would be the impression they would have. All his fingers were bare of rings, his rotund body had a sleeker look to it. He had lost weight.
“I understand you have left the force my dear.”
“It will be six months tomorrow and I don’t miss it one bit. I would like your help in finding the man who killed Joe, he is in Brazil.”
“You helped put the killers of my lovely Kitty away, of course I will do what I can.”
“I need contacts in Brazil that are not connected to the police.”
He laughed, “You planning on taking this person down yourself outside the law.”
“He killed my partner and best friend and the answer is yes.”
“I think he was more than a partner and best friend my dear.”
“I will have an envelope ready for you by tomorrow at your apartment.” You should finish your drink as I have a business meeting here soon. Thanking him I left as I drove out two dark vehicles were driving in. Guess he had not retired after all.
A hard knock at my door the next morning, a large man handed me a brown envelope, not saying a word, he was gone before I had a chance to thank him.
Clearing my coffee table, I spread out all the contents, pictures, with names phone numbers of contacts. Relatives if I needed help or a place to stay. Including a new passport and identity papers, the picture could pass for me. Leo was very thorough.
Tom was my only phone call from the airport ,I told him I was going away for a time, but would stay in touch. His last words to me were to stay safe. If I needed anything I knew where to find him. Before hanging up Tom told me Mathew had cleaned out his wife’s bank account and written a forged cheque on his father-in-law's account. Totaling, well over two hundred thousand dollars. I believe Tom guessed what I was going to do.
The trip was long with a couple of plane changes.No problem with luggage as I always packed light, only carry on. I could always buy what I needed, as I emptied my bank account, closed up my place, throwing out any perishables from the frig.
It was humid when I landed, a card with my name on it held high. A young man smiled as I came towards him. “Leo is my uncle,” As he took my bag, steering me towards an older car. We were heading into town before I had time to ask his name. His mother was expecting me at the house. When I told him I would be staying in a hotel, he shook his head and kept on driving.
The house painted with white - wash, a garden behind the walls, a mass of colorful flowers filled the entrance opening onto the courtyard, with vegetables growing profusely. The aroma of vivid flowers filled the air.
A heavyset woman greeted me putting her arms around me with a hug. She jabbered in broken English interspersed with Portuguese spreading her hands towards a table full of food. Leo would have been better to stay here in Brazil for a better life.
A bell sounded in a few minutes the table filled with people, a man that could have been Leo sat down next to me. He spoke perfect English, he was Leo’s twin brother. An aged woman sat at the head of the table this was the Mother everyone showed respect towards her helping her fill her plate, poring a half glass of wine for her. Many children sat quietly until after Grace was said by Leo’s brother and a toast to me, and then the chattering began. The food was spicy the smell filled the air, Joe would have really enjoyed all the different flavor of the dishes.
After our meal, I thanked them all for the hospitality that is when Leo’s brother took me outside for a talk. This grandfatherly man had spoken to Leo knew why I was here and told me he would help with some men to get Mathew Sparks. They had tracked him to a hacienda near the beach. He had moved four times, every few months to a different location. He was seen last a month ago with a woman living in her house. He calls himself, Gregory Smith.
I asked how they had been tracking him for so long when I had only approach Leo a week ago. Tony laughed, “Leo has had us watching him for six months.”
Leo knew me better than I thought, he knew I would go after him and saved him for me. He also was not taking any chances with his brother and family, with phony fictitious names of people he told me would help. His family was my help.
Tony and two nephews drove me over to Santa Catarina right on the southern coast an hour drive from their home. The landscape changed as we drove, the grass was brown from lack of water but still picturesque as we climbed a scattering of villas appeared.
“This is where he was seen two days ago when he left the woman's house.” Tony remarked.
“I want to do this on my own Tony, you have been enough help I do not want you’re family involved.” Smiling I got out of the car with my backpack.
“Let me stay for backup Meg.”Tony said.
“When I am done I will hitch a ride back to you before I leave I promise.” Waving as I headed towards a small hotel on the beach.
Asking for a one bedroom with a waterfront view, I paid cash for a week. A young man took down my phony identification, I was given a key to find my own way. Opening the sliding door to the patio, I had a view of the coast for miles. Bright red and blue cabanas lined the sand with a bar set up at the end of the pool. Flowers planted in many vibrant colors around the hotel and the scent traveled through the air. Music, melodious to the ear.
My dyed blond short hair the twenty pounds that I had lost and more eye makeup than usual I was sure Mathew would not recognize me. I hid my gun inside the air conditioner. Changing into my swimsuit, sunglasses and book in tow I headed down to the pool. Picking up a towel finding a lounge that gave me the view of the whole area and settled in to wait to see if he appeared.
An older man sat down in the next lounge asked in perfect English if he could buy me a drink. Thanking him, I told him it was a bit early for me. He sauntered off towards the bar stopping to talk to another women. Looking for someone to talk to was my guess.
Then I saw him, his hair dyed jet black, he looked around, settled in a chair at the bar. I just hope my dye job did a better job of disguising me. His drink arrived, he finished it with two swallows, ordered another, getting up he headed towards the bathroom. He had left his keys on the bar, I quickly went over as I ordered a beer, and I took in the number of his suite. Then I settled back to watch him when he returned. He stayed and talked to a few people at the bar for an hour. I left to have a shower before dinner.
My hands were shaking when I arrived for dinner, I was standing right in his line of vision, he was occupied with a dark haired older women talking intimately he never looked up as I passed him on the way to my table. I had lost my appetite so ordered a salad with a glass of white wine.
The man who had asked if I wanted a drink by the pool, stopped, “Please do not turn me down a second time for a drink.”
Smiling, I accepted another glass of wine. “May I ask where you are from dear lady and what you are doing in Brazil?”
“My name is Susan and I live in Canada and on holidays.” I lied.
“Such, a beautiful young women to travel alone.”
“I am meeting some friends here.” Lying again.
Thanking him for the wine, I got up to leave. He held my hand.” Would you accept a dinner invitation for tomorrow evening?” Telling him sorry, I was busy leaving him standing there. All I needed was a man following me around.
They were finishing dinner, the bill arrived and the woman pulled out her credit card, he had experience being a gigolo as I am sure he married his wife for her money and when he could not get more he killed her family.
I waited in the hallway until he left then followed to see if he went back to his room alone. He went to the woman’s room. I broke into his room searched around, and found a gun under his mattress leaving before he came back.
Putting a do not disturb on the outside of my door I slept. Ordering coffee and toast sent up I watched from my patio to see if he would appear on the veranda as breakfast was served. Only his woman friend sat alone.
I put on a light dress and sandals, my large purse with my gun tucked inside I headed out, as there was a market set up a few blocks from the hotel. The music loud, men and women in costume danced to the beat. Little girls in bright dresses, boy’s faces scrubbed clean, some shoe-less. Everyone smiling showing their white teeth, the food smelled delicious, spices filled the air along with flower and many fruit stands with a wonderful variety.
Sauntering along I spotted him almost immediately, he was coming out of the local bank. He seemed to be looking for something as he stopped a man, the man pointed down the street. Following at a distance, he turned down an alleyway. When I got there, he was gone.
I went back to the market picking up a few trinkets, some fresh fruit, when I felt eyes on me. Turning slowly Mathew was behind me, he grabbed my arm tightly moving in close to my face. ‘What are you doing here, how many cops have you got with you?”
Did I want to let him know I was alone? He moved me away from the market and the crowd. Guiding me further away, saying he had a gun in his pocket. He was not aware that I had removed the bullets the night before.
We rounded a corner and the man from the hotel who had asked me for a dinner stood waving I gave him a big smile waving back as he came towards us.
“Have your friends arrived yet Susan?” he asked.
Now Mathew would know I was traveling under another name.
“They should be here shortly.” Lying became easier each time.
Mathew moved slightly away, “This is Mathew Sparks.” I introduced him, as if we were old friends.
“We will meet later.” as Mathew turned and left.
“May I buy you a coffee at the market,” he asked, as we walked back towards the crowd.
When I reached the hotel, I stopped to ask if Gregory Smith was in, “You just missed him he checked out half an hour ago.”
“Did he leave a forwarding address?” I knew the answer before he said no.
Now I was back to square one not knowing where he was headed. The women he had spent the night with sat at the bar. Sitting down next to her, I casually asked was she having a good holiday.
“Yes, I have met a lovely man and we are traveling to my home in Armacao dos Buzios later today. I come to this hotel every year as my late husband and I were married here many years ago. I believe I am fortunate to have met someone to spend my time with.”
I left telling her to enjoy her trip home. Looking at a map the place where she lived was a few hundred miles farther south.
Back at the desk, another clerk was on duty, asking him to exchange some cash, as he left to get my money. I turned the ledger around flipping through until I came across her name and address. I hired a car and left knowing he would take this opportunity to hide from me not knowing I would be there to meet him when he arrived. Checking out I was on the road within the hour.
The place was not as touristy and the area filled with large villas. Mathew certainly knew how to pick his prey. Finding her place on a hill over looking the ocean, I had found a perfect spot to watch all the traffic hidden from the road.
A limousine arrived about an hour later, she was alone, had I misjudge him. I waited frustrated that I had made a crucial mistake. I would have to ask Tony to track him again. Then a bright red convertible sped up her driveway, Mathew was the driver.
I ate two chocolate bars and a can of pop waiting for darkness. Walking to the edge of her property I slowly started up her driveway staying on the grass. I must have hit a wire as the lights came on and an alarm blared. I ran into the bushes that surrounded her house and the sprinkler system went into overdrive. I was soaking wet in minutes.
A spotlight came on circling the area, then her voice telling Mathew, “It happens all the time it is animals just passing through.” She went inside but Mathew’s silhouette showed from the light shinning through the window. He stood absolutely still, looking towards the driveway with something in his hand. As he passed the light from the window, it was hard to see him as he descended the stairs, only a dark shadow emerging towards the driveway.
Did he know I was there? Had his friend mentioned about talking to me at the bar? No movement from him, he was listening for something to tell him someone was there. Did he think I had brought police? How foolish that thought was, they would have shown themselves by now. My heart was racing.
He was getting closer to the bush I was hiding behind, a branch moved, I could hear his nervous breathing. I held mine.
“I know you are here, detective,” he whispered.
That is when I stepped from behind the bush pointing my gun.
“Drop your gun now.” I yelled.
He suddenly charged, lashing out with a piece of wood to my face I hit the ground hard, face first, rolling on to my back, I could feel blood running down into my eyes blinding me for a minute as I tried to wipe it away with my wet sleeve. Looking up into the darkness, I could see he had his gun pointed at me.
“You thought you were so smart, but now it turns out I am the smart one,” he chided.
A women’s voice calling him from the house, “What are you doing out there, Gregory?”
He turned towards the house,yelled his voice annoyed, “Be there in a few minutes.”
That is when I grabbed my gun from beside me and rapidly shot two bullets into his body.
Feeling his neck with my sleeve no pulse, he was dead, I searched in the dark for the two casings. Covered my footprints and headed to my car.
I drove to Tony’s house just as the sun was rising, he was in his garden as if he was waiting for me.
Smiling I handed him back his gun, no words needed.
“You have time for a shower before breakfast my dear.”
Sitting at the table as Tony said grace, I said my own prayer to Joe.
I felt contentment in my soul.