Читать онлайн "Before The Killing Starts" автора Harper James - RuLit - Страница 13


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They'd all see who was the stupid one soon enough.

'It's simple,' Alvarez carried on, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. 'You call the number; it sends you a text message back with a link. Click the link and it displays a map on your screen showing the location,' He sounded like he'd invented it himself.

Dixie didn't like to show it but he was impressed. 'Really?' he said.

'Yeah, really,' Alvarez said, 'and it only costs about a hundred bucks. Tell Chico he should get his ass into the twenty-first century. And tell him not to be such a tightwad.' He laughed some more but then he grabbed the back of Dixie's chair and spun it around. Dixie started to get up but Alvarez pushed him back down and pointed his finger directly at the middle of Dixie's face. 'But I don't want him getting any ideas about putting one of those things in my merchandise.'

Heaven forbid. Dixie thought it sounded a good idea if Alvarez was going to put one in with the money, but he decided to keep that to himself.

'Now ring the number,' Alvarez said, spinning Dixie around to face the desk again.

Dixie rang the number and, sure enough, a text message pinged back. He clicked the link and a map opened up on his screen. He couldn't help but smile when he saw the location.

Alvarez took the smile as confirmation of his own good sense and planning.

'There's your money,' Alvarez said, leaning over and tapping Dixie's phone screen. 'Now all you have to do is go get it, make sure it's not sitting in one of my'—he pointed at his chest—'warehouses like Chico thinks, and everyone's happy.'

It seemed to Dixie that Alvarez was putting a bit too much faith in the technology. He was ignoring the human element. Dixie didn't want to be negative, but what Alvarez seemed to be overlooking in his enthusiasm was that what he was actually looking at on his phone was a map showing the location of the tracker—and that wasn't the same thing as the money. Not by a long shot. The thought set off a nasty niggling doubt in the back of his mind.

Alvarez straightened up and put a massive hand on Dixie's shoulder and gave it a bone-crushing squeeze. 'And you can tell that old bastard Chico there's no hard feelings because he thought I cheated him.'

Chapter 14

'I wondered why they moved the money there,' Alvarez said to Miguel after Dixie and Crispy had left. He had his feet up on the desk, his hands clasped behind his head, rocking gently back and forth in his chair. 'Did you see the look on Dixie's face when I asked him if he was accusing me of stealing it? I thought he was going to crap himself.'

Miguel turned back from the window where he'd been watching them drive off and laughed. He pulled a chair up to the desk and sat on it backward. 'Looks like the woman stole it, eh?'

'Looks that way.'

'She must have had somebody else working with her.'

Alvarez nodded absently, a distant smile on his lips. 'Probably. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Chico's an evil son of a bitch.'

'Do you think she's working with Ricardo?'

Alvarez stopped rocking and looked at Miguel, his eyes widening. Where the hell did that come from? 'What? You think maybe the retard's trying to cheat his old man?'

Miguel shrugged. 'Who knows? Everybody knows the kid hates the old man.'

'Do they? I didn't know that.'

'Yeah. I think it's something to do with Dixie as well.'

Alvarez raised an eyebrow at that.

'There's something else not right,' Miguel said.

Alvarez swung his feet off the desk. They landed on the floor with a thump. A frown creased his forehead.

'Did you see the tattoo on his hand?' Miguel said.

'Who? Dixie?'


Alvarez shook his head. 'I don't think so. Why?'

'It's not like anything else I've ever seen before. It's not a prison tat. Guys like him normally have 666 or AB or the number 12—'

'That's Aryan Brotherhood.'

Miguel nodded. 'That's what I'm saying; it's not any of the normal white guy stuff—'

'So what is it?'

Miguel thought about it. 'It's like a triangle with a line across it and the number 29 underneath.' He picked a pen up off the desk and drew a picture. Alvarez looked at the drawing.

'You're right, it's not anything I've ever seen either. So what about it? The guy made up his own tattoo.'

'It might not be anything—'

'Just spit it out, for Christ's sake.'

'—but, even though I've never seen it before, I've heard about something that sounds like it.'

Not for the first time Alvarez wondered if this was going anywhere. Miguel was a good man—if there was any dismembering to be done, Miguel was the go-to guy—but he was also the sort of guy who’d try to piss out a window without remembering to open it first.

'What did you hear?'

'It's just rumors. You know. Rumors about a couple of guys who both had a tattoo that sounds just like that.' He jabbed his finger at the drawing on the desk and told him what he'd heard.

Chapter 15

The glass in Chico's hand exploded with a loud crack. He stared at his hand as if he didn't understand what had just happened, then opened his fingers letting the shards of broken glass fall to the floor. Tequila mingled with blood in his palm, the fiery, stinging liquid seeking out the deepest cuts before dripping onto his pants. It could have been water for all the pain he felt.

One of his men stepped forward and offered a handkerchief but Chico shooed him away with a dismissive flick of his hand, little droplets of blood and Tequila spraying across the room. In his other hand the plastic case of his phone flexed and creaked in protest.

'What the hell was that?' Alvarez said on the other end of the line.

'It's nothing,' Chico snapped. 'I broke a glass. Are you sure about this?' He extended his arm over his desk and curled his fingers into a fist, clenching hard like he was trying to squeeze the juice out of a lemon. He felt the pain now, sharp and bright, as he watched his blood drip onto the desk. He could feel a sliver of glass caught in his flesh and squeezed tighter still.

'Not one hundred per cent, no,' Alvarez said. 'Miguel's a retard, a bit like . . .  but I thought I should let you know. So you can make your own mind up.'

Chico closed his eyes and breathed deeply, concentrating on the throbbing pain radiating out from his hand, clean and cathartic, keeping at bay the other, far worse, torment that waited its turn somewhere close behind.


'Yes, yes, thank you Enrico. That was the right thing to do.'

Chico heard Alvarez chuckle softly on the other end of the line.

'Lucky you sent him to see if I stole your money, eh?'

Jesus wept.

Chico cut off a strangled groan in his throat. He held his cut hand to his brow, felt the wetness of his blood on his skin and counted to five in his head. No, make that ten.

'I hope he didn't give you that impression, Enrico,' Chico said in a calm, measured tone. Where it came from he had no idea. 'That was never a possibility in my mind.' He coughed a cheerless laugh. 'Given what you just told me, I think we can assume he was trying to cause trouble between us.'

Chico didn't really care whether Alvarez believed him or not, but it never hurt to say what people wanted to hear.

'I'm sure you're right, Chico,' Alvarez said, managing to make it sound like whatever.



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