Underbelly

Underbelly by Gary Phillips

Book: Underbelly by Gary Phillips Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gary Phillips
service. Whoever did the deed had been invited in, as I understand from my initial round of give and take with Stover. That’s why he liked you for the deed, as he assumed you and the late street entrepreneur had business together.”
    That was somewhat different than what Stover had barked at him, but that just meant he was trying out a few theories to see which case jacket he could snugly fit on him, the motherfucker, Magrady groused. “If you can, Gordon, please check your notes today. That would be most useful.”
    â€œI will. But I must warn you not to interfere with an ongoing investigation et cetera, et cetera. You know the consequences for messing around in the LAPD’s sandbox.”
    â€œI got that, counselor.”
    â€œYeah, okay,” he said without much conviction.
    Magrady added, to put him at ease, “How the waves treating you?” Walters was in his fifties yet had still continued to pursue his avocation of surfing since his days as a teen growing up in Gardena—one of a select group of the Southland’s black surfers. He had plenty of stories to tell of incidents where the mantra of ’locals only’ being spouted at him by the stereotypical blue-eyed, blond-haired beach boys had double and triple meanings when he showed up to shred.

“Going to Tobago for this tourney next month.”
    â€œYou ever run into Wakefield Nakano at these events?”
    â€œFunny you should ask, I have a time or two. He’s not a bad shredder.”
    â€œYou two hang?”
    â€œNot really. Why?”
    â€œCan’t find out the answers if I don’t ask.”

    He chuckled deep in his throat. “Talk to you.”
    â€œRighteous.” By the time he got back downtown, an orange glow tinged the bottom edge of the sky to the southeast. He and several other pedestrians gazed at this. Was it a fire or some new form of mutant smog?
    â€
Que lástima,”
a heavyset woman balancing a plastic basket of freshly dried clothes on her head intoned, “
y no tengo carne para asar
…” They exchanged wan smiles and he walked on.
    Passing by a corner liquor store, he heard on the radio newscast from inside that an as of yet unidentified aircraft had crashed in the Cleveland National Forest. The 130-mile swath of nature preserve created by President Teddy Roosevelt butted up against Riverside County with the bulk of its land covering the San Diego area. The exploding plane had ignited a spreading fire that several fire departments from the respective counties were responding to with all urgency. Magrady had a fond memoryof being totally ripped on blow and beer while fishing at the reservoir there with some army buddies years ago.
    At Urban Advocacy, Bonilla eyed him with a bemused look on her face as he entered. “You look worn out. Maybe you better take a nap, grandpa.”
    â€œI’m the one the Energizer Bunny comes to when he needs a boost.”
    â€œLook here,” she said, indicating a desk with a cassette tape machine on it. “Ain’t I good to you? It was in a desk we’d put in a back room. Carl had remembered seeing it there.”
    He was already over at the player and inserting the cassette tape he’d swiped from Chambers’ sister. “Now we’re getting somewhere.” He depressed the play button and bent to listen. Bonilla came over too.
    First there was a female voice saying, “Test, test,” then she blew into the microphone. This was followed by a measure of silence on the tape when finally a male voice said, “It’s quite remarkable, actually.” Wind buffeted the mic.
    The woman asked, “So who was Talmock, Professor Langston?”
    â€œWell, you see,” he began, clearing his throat. “The Chumash had what we might call a sect of craftsmen. These were men who passed on their skills at making and waterproofing the canoes, the various uses of whale blubber,

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