Читать онлайн "Sudden prey" автора Sandford John - RuLit - Страница 6


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He didn't like this winter: there'd been good snow, followed by a sleet storm that covered everything with a quarter-inch of ice. The ice could kill off the grouse, just when the population was finally turning back up.

He looked for grouse sign, didn't find any. The season was too new for bear sign, but in another six weeks or eight weeks they'd be out, he thought, sleek and quick and powerful. A young male black bear could run down a horse from a standing start. Nothing quite cleared the sinuses like bumping into a big old hungry bear when you were out on snowshoes, armed with nothing but a plastic canteen and a plug of Copenhagen.

At two o'clock in the afternoon, heading south, he saw a coyote ripping at something in the foot-high yellow grass that broke through the snow beside a creek. Voles, maybe. He pulled the truck over, got out a Bausch and Lomb laser rangefinder and the AR-15. The rangefinder said 305 yards. He figured a nine-inch drop, maybe two inches of right-toleft drift. Using the front fender as a rest, he held a couple of inches over the coyote's shoulder and let go. The . 223 caught the mutt a little low, and it jumped straight up into the air and then came down in a heap, unmoving.

''Gotcha,'' Martin muttered, baring his teeth. The shot felt good.

Martin crossed the St. Croix at Grantsburg, stopped to look at the river-the surface was beaten down with snowmobile trails-then made his way reluctantly out to I-35. The interstate highways were scars across the country, he thought: you couldn't get close enough to see anything. But they were good when you had to move. He paused a final time at an I-35 rest stop just north of the Cities, made a call and then drove the rest of the way in.

• • •

BUTTERS WAS WAITING OUTSIDE AN AMOCO STATION off I-94, an olive-drab duffel at his feet. Martin eased to the curb and Butters climbed in and said, ''Straight ahead, back down the ramp.''

Martin caught the traffic light and said, ''How you been?''

''Tired,'' Butters said. His small eyes looked sleepy.

''You was tired last fall,'' said Martin. Martin had passed through Tennessee on one of his gun-selling trips, stopped and done some squirrel-hunting with


''I'm more tired now,'' Butters said. He looked into the back of the truck.

''What'd you bring?''

''Three cold pistols, three Chinese AK semis, two modified AR-15s, a bow, a couple dozen arrows and my knife,'' Martin said.

''I don't think you'll need the bow,'' Butters said dryly.

''It's a comfort to me,'' Martin said. He was a roughmuscled, knob-headed outdoorsman with a dark reddish beard over a red-pocked face. ''Where's this guy we gotta see?''

''Over in Minneapolis. Just outa downtown. By the dome.''

Martin grinned his thin coyote-killing smile: ''You been studying up on him?''

''Yeah, I have been.''

They took I-94 to Minneapolis, got off at the Fifth Street exit, got a pizza downtown, then went back to Eleventh Avenue. Butters directed Martin to a stand-alone two-story brick building with a laundromat on the ground level and apartment above. The building was old, but well-kept: probably a neighborhood mom-and-pop grocery in the forties. Lights showed in the apartment windows.

''He owns the laundromat,'' Butters said. ''The upstairs is one big apartment.

He lives up there with his girlfriend.'' Butters looked up at the lights. ''She must be there now, 'cause he's downtown. He runs his boys right to closingtime.

He got back here last night about two, and he brought a pizza with him.''

Martin looked at his watch, a black military-style Chronosport with luminescent hands. ''Got us about an hour, then.'' He looked back out the window at the building. There was just one door going up to the apartments. ''Where's the garage you were talking about?''

'' 'Round the side. There's a fire escape on the back, one of them drop-down ones, too high to get to. What he did last night was, he pulled into the garage-he's got a garage-door opener in his car-and the door come down. Then, a minute later, this light went on in the back of the apartment, so there must be an inside stairs. Then he come down through the back again, out through the garage, around the corner and into the laundromat. He was in the back, probably countin' out the machines.''

Martin nodded. ''Huh. Didn't use them front stairs?''

''Nope. Could be something goin' on there, so I didn't look.''

''All right. We take him at the garage?''

''Yeah. And we might as well eat the pizza. We only need the box, and Harp ain't gonna want any.''

They chatted easily, comfortable in the pickup smells of gasoline, straw, rust and oil. Then Martin, dabbing at his beard with a paper napkin, asked, ''What do you hear from Dick?''

''Ain't heard dick from Dick,'' Butters said. He didn't wait for Martin to laugh, because he wouldn't, although Butters had a sense that Martin sometimes enjoyed a little joshing. He said, ''Last time I talked to him direct, he sounded like he was… getting out there.''

Martin chewed, swallowed and said, ''Nothing wrong with being out there.''

''No, there ain't,'' Butters agreed. He was as far out thereas anyone. ''But if we're gonna be killing cops, we want the guy to have his feet on the ground.''

''Why? You planning to walk away from this thing?''

Butters thought for a minute, then laughed, almost sadly, and shook his head.

''I guess not.''

''I thought about goin' up to Alaska, moving out in the woods,'' Martin said, after a moment of silence. ''You know, when I got the call. But they'll get you even in Alaska. They'll track you down anywhere. I'm tired of it. I figure, it's time to do something. So when I heard from Dick, I thought I might as well come on down.''

''I don't know about that, the politics,'' Butters said. ''But I owe Dick. And I got to pay him now, 'cause I am gettin' awful tired.''

Martin looked at him for a moment, then said, ''When you're that kind of tired, there ain't no point of being scared of cops. Or anything else.''

They chewed for another minute and then Butters said, ''True.'' And a moment later said, ''Did I tell you my dog died?''

''That'll make a man tired,'' Martin said.

LIKE THE SEVEN DWARVES, DAYMON HARP WHISTLED while he worked. And while he collected: unlike Snow White and her pals, Harp sold cocaine and speed at the semiwholesale level, supplying a half-dozen reliable retailers who worked the clubs, bars and bowling alleys in Minneapolis and selected suburbs.

Harp had seven thousand dollars in his coat pocket and he was whistling a minuet from the Anna Magdelena Notebook when he turned the Lincoln onto Eleventh. A pale-haired kid with a pizza box was standing on the corner outside his laundromat, looking up at the apartments. The pizza box was thething that snared him: Harp never thought to look for the delivery car.

Daymon turned the corner, pushed the button on the automatic garage door opener, saw the kid look down toward him as he pulled in, then killed the engine and got out. The kid was walking down the sidewalk with the pizza box flat on one hand and Daymon thought, If that fucking Jas has gone and ordered out for a pizza when she's up there by herself…

He was waiting for the kid, when Martin stepped up behind him and pressed a pistol to his ear: ''Back in the garage.''

Daymon jumped, but controlled it. He held his hands away from his sides and turned back to the garage. ''Take it easy,'' he said. He didn't want the guy excited. He'd had a pistol in his ear before, and when caught in that condition, you definitely want to avoid excitement. He tried an implied threat: ''You know who I am?''



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