Red Mist, Chapter 8
Updated: Apr 20
On the drive back to the Automobile Digest office in Malibu, Max Koga received a text on his personal phone. He looked down at the monitor and saw that it had come from his best friend and recent work colleague Donald Rawlings.
Heard u hit jackpot at the dock. Let’s get a drink. See u at Gin’s Joint on Abbot Kinney, one hour?
Koga checked his watch, which showed ten o’clock. Sure, he typed. See you there.
After peeling off Pacific Coast Highway, Koga made his way to Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, when he noticed a motorcycle behind him making the same exact turns since he jumped off the Interstate. Its double headlights shone bright, making it difficult to tell the make and model of the bike, as it maintained a consistent distance of about four car lengths. It was probably just coincidence, he thought, but just to be sure, he made a quick turn into a narrow alleyway that took him through the back of a small shopping complex.
The bike continued straight ahead.
A few turns later, Koga spotted what looked to be the same headlights in his side mirror, again about four car lengths back in the adjacent lane. This time he could see the make and model of the bike: a Yamaha R1. He was now convinced; it was a tail.
It must be the Aqarib. Had Abdul’s defection been discovered, or has he been playing me?
While steering with his left hand, Koga reached under his seat with the other and pulled out his SIG Sauer 9mm, placing the firearm between his legs on the seat. He increased the speed of his car slowly, not wanting to let his pursuer know that he was onto him, but just enough to create more distance between his car and the bike. Then without touching the brakes, he yanked hard on the wheel, turning onto a side street and pulling into a nearby parking garage, whose entrance was blocked by a lowered gate arm, prompting Koga to quickly switch off his headlights.
A man wearing a worn light blue wind breaker, stepped out of a small wooden booth near the barrier gate.
“Twenty dollars,” he said.
Koga lowered his window. “I made a wrong turn. I’m going to back out. Can you keep the space behind me clear?”
“Yeah, sure,” the parking attendant said.
Koga glanced at his rearview mirror, waiting for the motorcycle to pass, but a dark red BMW Five Series pulled up behind him, blocking his rearward path. A second later, the Yamaha motorcycle passed by, seemingly unaware that the Lexus was sitting at the entrance of the parking garage. The Bimmer provided cover, which was a good thing, but now Koga’s car was stuck.
Seeing this, the parking attendant said, “I’ll open the gate for you, just make a U-turn and leave through the exit.”
Koga gave him a thumbs-up sign. “Perfect.”
After returning to the booth, the man raised the plastic gate arm, allowing Koga to enter the parking structure and turn around. With the headlights still turned off, he headed in the direction of the motorcycle.
The Yamaha’s red taillight shone about a block ahead. The bike had slowed down considerably, with the rider probably scanning the area for the RC F’s distinctive L-shaped taillights. Koga moved closer, to about five car lengths, staying behind a Metro bus and a couple of yellow taxi cabs.
Suddenly, the Yamaha R1 stopped and performed a fishtail turn, spinning around one-hundred-and-eighty degrees, eliciting nearby motorists to lean on their horns and shout obscenities, but the motorcycle did not move, sitting motionless in the middle of the road.
Realizing that he had been made, Koga pulled to a stop on the side of the road, his eyes fixed on the rider, who was dressed in a black leather suit. After lowering both windows, Koga placed his right hand around the cold grip of the gun, ready to shoot if the situation required.
As if on cue, the Yamaha’s rear tire spun wildly, spitting out white smoke into the night air as the front tire lifted off the ground. The bike sped down the street in Koga’s direction doing a high wheelie.
Quickly undoing the safety of the pistol with his thumb, Koga watched the rider’s hands for any sudden or suspicious movements, but the bike passed by with the rider never releasing his grip from the handle. There was no making out the identity of the mysterious motorcyclist, whose face was hidden under a full-face helmet and a tinted shield.
The Yamaha kept going, speeding down Abbot Kinney and disappearing around the first corner. Koga considered giving chase, but he knew that the bike would be out of reach before he could even get his car turned around. He stowed his handgun back in into the cubby, switched on his headlights and drove in the opposite direction, checking his rear-view mirror for any other suspicious vehicles on the road, but to his slight disappointment, there was none.