Читать онлайн "Before The Killing Starts" автора Harper James - RuLit - Страница 5


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Chico let out a short bark of a laugh and turned away from the window. 'No shit? Either that or it was a damn good guess. A random mugger's three million dollar lucky break. Somehow I don't think so.'

'Who else knew about it?'

'Alvarez and his guys of course.'

'What? You think they did the deal, lots of big smiles and back slaps all round, then followed them and stole the money back again.'

Chico waved that away. 'Who knows? Somebody's got it.'

'Anyone else?'

Chico gave him a pained look.

'If I knew all the answers, I'd have the money back by now,' he said in the quiet, measured voice of a disappointed parent.

'I suppose so.'

'I need you to find out what happened,' Chico said.

'I thought you already sent a couple of men.'

'Men!' Chico snorted. 'You see any men around here; you point them out to me. I might as well have sent my mother-in-law. They caught up with her but she got away from them.'

'You still don't know it's anything to do with her,' Dixie said again.

'So where is she? Why did she run?' Chico said crossing his arms and sticking his thumbs in his armpits.

'You have . . . a reputation. I'd probably run.'

Chico crossed the room and sat on the corner of his desk and smiled for the first time that morning. He shook his head. 'Not you. Cojones the size of a bull.'

Dixie smiled at the compliment.

'She's probably scared. Even if she hasn't got the money herself, she's the one who lost it. Maybe she hasn't heard about Chico's legendary leniency. Just because you wear a dog collar doesn't mean you forgive people.'

Chico actually laughed out loud at that. Dixie started laughing too.

'Why can't you teach Ricardo to be more like you?' Chico said, the laughter fading, a rueful smile taking its place. 'Kick him into shape like he's your kid brother.'

Dixie studied his shoes for a moment; they could do with a shine and he rubbed the toe of the left one against his right calf. It didn't make a lot of difference so he didn't bother doing the other one. He really didn't want to get into all this now. Sure, he'd like to kick Ricardo, but not into shape. He knew Chico and his son had their problems. Ricardo's resentment of his own relationship with Chico was one of them; the only one as far as Ricardo was concerned. For Chico it was more to do with the fact that his son was an idiot. He got his brains from his mother, according to Chico.

Dixie stretched his arms above his head, then laced his fingers behind his head. 'What do you want me to do?' he said, getting the conversation back on track.

'Go and talk to Alvarez first. See what he has to say. Then find her. One of them's got it.'

'Or somebody else altogether.'

'Or somebody else altogether,' Chico agreed without much conviction.

Dixie nodded. 'At least you're prepared to consider other possibilities. That's a move in the right direction.'

Chico considered him carefully, his eyes clear and cold. Dixie shifted in his chair. Sometimes he saw his grave in those eyes, heard the shovels in the dirt.

'I don't know why you're so keen to put the blame on somebody else—you're not sticking it to her, are you?'

Dixie forced a laugh so that Chico understood what a ridiculous notion that was and shook his head, although he didn't exactly straight out deny it.

'Leave it with me. I'll make a start tomorrow.'

Chapter 5

The talk of kid brothers and kicking them into shape brought back some memories that Dixie didn't want to think about right now. About the day his own kid brother killed himself. But he couldn't blame Chico, he wasn't to know about that. He'd been working ridiculous hours—nothing new there—and hadn't been back to his apartment for a couple of days, just grabbing a few hours sleep wherever and whenever he could. And when he'd finally got back home there were two messages waiting for him on the answering machine.

Hey, it's Remy. I need to talk to you. Want to get some breakfast this morning?

And then, the voice a little more strained:

Me again. I guess you're really busy. How about a beer later? Call me.

But Dixie never got to make the call, because by then he already knew his brother was dead. If only he'd called him on his cell? Why call the house for Christ's sake?

All Remy had wanted was a quiet drink with his brother; maybe ask his advice on something that was bothering him, who knows, but his brother was busy—nothing new there. What are you gonna do? You can't find anybody to talk to about your problems, you might as well make them go away for a while—so he'd had a drink with Charlie instead, because Charlie was always there for you.

The medical examiner said there was no evidence of long-term abuse—it was just one of those things. Apparently you didn't need a history to choke to death on your own vomit. Like that made it easier to accept.

He still saw Remy from time to time. He'd be sitting up at the bar and see a movement out of the corner of his eye. He'd turn to look and there would be Remy turning away, disappearing into the crowd. The first times it happened he'd jump up and chase after him, but he'd be gone, of course. He'd push his way through a crowd of people and then stand there in the middle of the floor, head frantically turning, everybody staring at him, their faces softening as he changed from a rude drunk into an object of pity.

It didn't happen so often now and he never tried to catch him up anymore, but every now and again he'd sense movement . . .

Chapter 6

Evan pushed open the door to Kelly's Tavern and stepped inside. He'd spent a lot of time in different bars over the years and, like anyone else who's a regular bar-goer, it didn't take any longer than that for him to get the feel of the place. There's a difference between a tough, blue-collar bar and a white-trash dive and although he'd never been in the place before, Evan knew he was in the latter. Maybe it was the clientele—men with too much time on their hands and too little money in their pockets who came in to try to forget about what they've lost or never had in the first place. Men who feel comfortable in the knowledge that they're unlikely to come across reminders of all the good things they've been missing, all the things they can never have. Or maybe it was that indefinable smell—a subtle mix of strong beer, sweat and stale cigarettes with an aftertaste of vomit. Whatever it was, you couldn't miss the fact that the place was a dump.

The bartender looked up briefly as Evan came in and went back to watching the TV. They probably got a lot of people come in, take a quick look around and head straight back out again. Evan would normally have been one of them. Coming in from the bright sunlight outside, it took his eyes a minute to adjust to the darkness. It was still early and the place was almost empty. There were three inbred-looking guys at the end of the bar drinking beer, talking and laughing loudly, another two shooting pool in the back and a couple more sitting at a table who somehow didn't look quite so much like losers as the rest of them. Maybe they weren't regulars.

The inbreds stopped talking and laughing and watched Evan as he walked up to the bar. Evan would have liked a few more people in the place, perhaps some loud music to drown out his questions. As it was the whole bar would be able to hear every word he said. Somehow he didn't get the impression that more pairs of ears meant more chance of somebody being able to help him. One thing was for sure—he knew why Ellie hadn't wanted to come to the place herself. Why she wanted to find somebody who chose to come here on a regular basis was a different matter.

The bartender turned his back to get a better look at the TV as Evan sat down on a stool at the bar. Evan was surprised by his sudden interest in world affairs—he looked like the kind of guy who's normal attitude to anything going on in the outside world was who gives a shit? He was heavyset with a crew cut and even though he was in his fifties you could see he still thought he had it in him. Maybe he did.



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