Читать онлайн "Sudden prey" автора Sandford John - RuLit - Страница 14


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''You coulda tried lying,'' Stadic shouted. His fingers twitched at the gun butt.

''You wasn't there,'' Harp said. ''You don't know.'' Stadic took a breath, as though he'd just topped a hill, turned in place, then said, ''So what'd they want with my name?''

''They need some information from you.''

''Tell me.'' He was nibbling nervously at a thumbnail, ripped off a piece of nail, spit it out, tasted blood. The nail was bleeding, and he sucked at it, the blood salty in his mouth.

''They want personnel files,'' Harp said. ''From the police department.''

LACHAISE HAD SPENT WHOLE DAYS THINKING ABOUT it, daydreaming it, when he was locked up: the requirements of the coming wars. Us against Them. They would need a base. In the countryside, somewhere. There'd be a series oflog cabins linked with storm sewer pipe, six feet underground and more sewer pipe set into the hills as bunkers. Honda generators for each cabin, with internal wells and septic fields.

Weapons: sniper rifles to keep the attackers off, heavy-duty assault rifles for up close. Hidden land mines with remote triggers. Armor-piercing rockets. He'd close his eyes and see the assaults happening, the attackers falling back as they met the sweeping fire from the web…

The attackers were a little less certain; some combination of ATF agents and blacks from the Chicago ghettos, Indians, Mexicans. Though that didn't seem to make a lot of sense, sometimes; so sometimes, they were all ATF agents, dressed in black uniforms and masks…



LaChaise and Butters drove down to the Cities in Elmore's truck, with Martin trailing behind. They needed two vehicles, they decided, at least for a while.

Butters and Martin caught Elmore in the barn, while Sandy was out riding, and squeezed him for the truck keys.

''Just overnight,'' Butters said, standing too close. '' Martin's got some warrants out on his car, if the cops check- nothing serious, but we gotta have some kind of backup. We won't do nothin' with it.''

''Guys, I tell you, we're moving stuff today…'' Elmore stuttered. Martin and Butters scared Elmore. Martin, Elmore thought, was a freak, a pent-up homosexual hillbilly crazy in love with LaChaise. Butters had the flat eyes of a snapping turtle, and was simply nuts.

Elmore tried to get out of it, but Martin put his hands in Elmore's coat pocket, and when Elmore tried to wrench away, Butters pushed him from the other side.

Martin had the keys and said, ''We'll get them back to you, bud.''

THE HOUSE WAS A SHABBY TWO-STORY CLAPBOARD wreck on a side street in the area called Frogtown. The outside needed paint, the inside needed an exterminator.

Half the basement was wet and the circuit box hanging over the damp concrete floor was a fire marshal's nightmare. Martin had brought in three Army-surplus beds, a dilapidated monkeyshit-yellow couch and two matching chairs, and a dinette set, all from Goodwill, and a brand-new twenty-seven-inch Sony color TV.

''Good place, if we don't burn to death,'' Martin said. The house smelled like wet plaster and fried eggs. ''That wiring down the basement is a marvel.''

''Hey, it's fine,'' LaChaise said, looking around.

No web of sewer pipe, no Honda generators. No land mines.

That evening, Butters sat in one of the broken-down easy chairs, his head back and his eyes closed. Martin sat crosslegged on the floor with his arrows, unscrewing the field points, replacing them with hundred-grain Thunderheads, a can of beer by one foot. He would occasionally look at LaChaise with a stare that was purely sexual.

''We're gonna do it,'' LaChaise said. He had a half-glass of bourbon in his hand. ''We've been talking for years. Talk talk talk. Now with Candy and Georgie shot to pieces, we're gonna do it.''

''Gonna be the end of us,'' Martin said. His beard was coppery red in the lamplight.

''Could be,'' LaChaise agreed. He scratched his own beard, nipped at the bourbon. ''Do you care?''

Martin worked for another minute, then said, ''Nah. I'm getting crowded. I'm ready.''

''You could go up north, up in the Yukon.''

''Been there,'' Martin said. ''The goddamn Canadians is a bunch of Communists.

Even Alaska's better.''


''I'm a goddamn American.''

LaChaise nodded and said, ''How about you, Ansel?'' Butters said, ''I just want to get it over with.''

''Well, we got to take our time, figure this out…''

''I mean, everything over with,'' Butters said. ''I can take my time with this .''

LaChaise nodded again. ''It's the end for me, for sure. But I swear to God, I'm taking a bunch of these sonsofbitches with me.''

Martin looked at him uncertainly, then nodded, and looked away. They worked together, comfortable but intent, like they did in hunting camps, thinking about it all, drinking a little, letting the feeling of the hunt flow through them, the camaraderie as they got the gear ready.

They checked the actions on their weapons for the twentieth time, loading and unloading the pistols, dry-firing at the TV; the good smell of Hoppe's solvent and gun oil, the talk of old times and old rides and the people they remembered, lots of them dead, now.

''If I lived,'' LaChaise continued, ''I'd do nothing but sit in cells for the rest of my life anyhow. Besides…''

''Besides what?'' Martin asked, looking up.

''Ah, nothin','' LaChaise said, but he thought, Mexico. He'd always planned to go, and hadn't ever been.

''It cranks me up, thinking about it,'' Butters said. His face was flushed with alcohol.

SANDY HAD BLOWN UP WHEN SHE'D COME BACK FROM her ride, and Elmore had told her about the truck. She jumped in her van and went after them, but they were gone.

She gotto the St. Croix, realized the futility of the chase, slowed, turned around and went back.

''What were you thinking about?'' she shouted at Elmore. ''You shoulda swallowed the keys.''

That night, Elmore was in the kitchen making a pot of Rice-a-Roni with venison chunks, and she could smell the chemical odor of the stuff as she sat in front of the TV. She heard the rattling of the dishes, and finally, Elmore stood in the hallway behind her. She pretended to watch the sports.

He said, ''We oughta talk to the cops.''

''What?'' She pushed herself out of her chair. She hadn't expected this.

Elmore's voice rose to a nervous warble: ''If we stick with this, only two things can happen. We get killed, or we go to jail for murder. That's it: them two things.''

''Too late,'' she said. ''We gotta sit tight.''

Tears came to his eyes, and one dribbled down a cheek, and Sandy suddenly didn't know what to do. She'd seen Elmore frightened, she'd seen him cower, she'd seen him avoid any serious responsibility, but she'd never seen him weep. ''Are you okay?''

He turned his head toward her, the tears still running down her cheeks: ''How'd this happen?'' he said.

She'd thought about that: ''My sister,'' she said. ''The whole of this is because of Candy. And because of your dad's trailer. It's because of nothing that means anything…''

''We've got to go to the police.''

''But what do we tell them? And why would they believe us?''

''Maybe they won't,'' he rasped. ''But you saw all those guns and all that other shit that Martin had. How're they going to Mexico with all that shit? How are they gonna get across the border with it? And if they do get across, what arethey going to use for money? They ain't going to Mexico. They're gonna pull some crazy stunt.''

''No-no,'' she said, shaking her head. ''They're out of here. Dick LaChaise is nobody's fool.''

''Dick LaChaise is fuckin' nuts,'' Elmore said. ''You want to know what's gonna happen? We got two or three more days, and then we'll be dead or in jail. Two or three more days, Sandy. No more horses, no more trail rides, no more going up to the store or running down to the Cities. We're going to jail. Forever.''



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