Читать онлайн "Sudden prey" автора Sandford John - RuLit - Страница 8


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''Okay,'' Sand said. To Amy LaChaise: ''I'll have to hold your purse.''

The deputy sheriff had gotten out of his car, nodded to Sand, as Amy LaChaise handed over her purse. ''Everything okay?'' he asked.

''Yeah, sure.'' Sand drifted over to chat with him; La-Chaise wasn't going anywhere.

AMY LACHAISE PLANTED A DRY LIZARD'S KISS ON HER son's cheek and said, ''They was shot down like dogs.''

''I know, Mama,'' LaChaise said. He looked past her to Sandy Darling on the porch, and nodded curtly. To his mother he said, ''They told me about it.''

''They was set up,'' Amy said. She made a pecking motion with her nose, as if to emphasize her words. ''That goddamn Duane Cale had something to do with it,

'cause he's just fine, talking like crazy. He'll tell them anything they want.

All kinds of lies.''

''Yeah, I know,'' LaChaise said. His mother was worried because Candy had given her money from some of the robberies.

''Well, what'cha gonna do?'' Amy LaChaise demanded. ''It was your sister and your wife…'' She clutched at his arm, her fingers sharp and grasping, like buckthorn.

''I know, Mama,'' LaChaise said. ''But there ain't much I can do right now.'' He lifted his hands so she could see the heavy cuffs.

''That's a fine thing,'' Amy LaChaise moaned, still clutching at him. ''You just let it go and lay around your fat happy cell.''

''You go on into the chapel,'' LaChaise said, with a harsh snap in his voice.

''I want to take a look at 'em.''

Amy LaChaise backed away a step. ''Caskets are closed,'' she ventured.

''They can open them,'' LaChaise said, grimly.

Sandy Darling, still on the porch, watched the unhappy reunion, then turned and went inside.

LOGAN, THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR, WAS A SMALL, BALDING man, with a mustache that would have been tidy if it hadn't appeared moth-eaten. Although he was gray-faced, he had curiously lively, pink hands, which he dry-washed as he talked. ''In a case like this, Mr. LaChaise,'' he said, looking nervously at

LaChaise's handcuffs, ''we can't be responsible for the results.''

''Open the boxes,'' LaChaise said.

Logan, worried, cracked the lids and stepped back. Way back. LaChaise stepped up, raised them.

Candy, his wife.

She'd been shot several times through the body, out of sight under her burial dress, but one shot had gone almost straight through her nose. The nose had been rebuilt with some kind of putty. Other than that, she looked as sweet as she had the day he first saw her at the Wal-Mart. He looked at her for a full minute, and thought he might have shed a tear; but he didn't.

Georgie was worse. Georgie had been hit at least three times in the face. While the funeral home had sewed and patched and made up, there was no doubt that something was massively wrong with Georgie's skull. The body in the box looked no more like the living Georgie than did a plastic baby doll.

His sister.

He could remember that one good Christmas when they'd had the tree, he was nine or ten, she was three or four, and somebody had given her pajamas with feet in them. '' Feetsies,'' she called them. ''I'm gonna put on my feetsies.'' Must have been twenty-five years gone by, and here she was, witha head like a football. Again he felt the impulse toward tears; again, nothing happened.

Logan, the funeral director, his face drained of blood, cleared his throat and said, ''Mr. LaChaise?''

LaChaise nodded. ''You did okay,'' he said, gruffly. ''Where's the preacher?''

''He should be here. Any minute.'' Logan's hands flittered gratefully with the compliment, like sparrows at a bird feeder.

''I want to wait back here until the funeral starts,'' La-Chaise said. ''I don't wanna talk to my mama no more'n I have to.''

''I understand,'' the funeral director said. He did: he'd been dealing with old lady LaChaise since the bodies had been released by the Hennepin County Medical

Examiner. ''We'll move Candy and Georgie into the chapel. When Reverend Pyle arrives, I'll step back and notify you.''

''That's good,'' LaChaise said. ''You got a Coke machine here somewhere?''

''Well, there is a Coke box in the staff area,'' Logan said.

''I could use a Coke. I'd buy it.''

''No, no, that's fine…''

LaChaise looked at the escort. ''How about it, Wayne? I'll buy you one.''

Sand drank fifteen caffeinated Diet Cokes a day and got headaches if he went without. LaChaise knew that. ''Yeah,'' Sand said. ''A Coke would be good.''

''Then I'll make the arrangements,'' the funeral director said. ''The Coke box is back through that door.''

He pointed back through the Peace Room, as the staging area was called, to a door that said, simply, ''Staff.''

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAFF DOOR WAS A storage room full of broken-down shipping cartons for coffins, eight or ten large green awnings, folded, for funerals onrainy days, a forklift and a tool bench. The Coke box was just inside the door, an old-fashioned red top-opening cooler, with a dozen Coke Classic cans and a couple of white Diet Coke cans bathed in five inches of icy water.

''Get one of them Diets,'' Sand said, looking down into the water. He was watching his weight. LaChaise dipped into the cooler and got a regular Coke and a Diet, and when he turned back to the escort, Crazy Ansel Butters had stepped quietly out from behind the pile of awnings. He had a. 22 pistol and he put it against Sand's head and said, ''Don't fuckin' move.''

Sand froze, then looked at LaChaise and said, ''Don't hurt me, Dick.''

''Gimme the keys,'' LaChaise said.

''You're making a mistake,'' Sand said. His eyes were rolling, and LaChaise thought he might faint.

''Give him the keys or you'll be making a mistake,'' Butters said. Butters had a voice like a bastard file skittering down a copper pipe.

Sand fumbled the keys out of his pocket and LaChaise stuck his hands out. When the cuffs came off, he rubbed his wrists, took the keys from Sand and opened the leg irons. ''That deputy still out by his car?'' he asked Butters.

''He was when I come in,'' Butters said. He slipped a Bulldog. 44 out of his coat pocket and handed it to LaChaise. ''Here's your 'dog.''

''Thanks.'' LaChaise took the gun and stuck it in his belt. ''What're you driving?''

''Bill's truck. Around the side.''

''Did Mama see you?''

''Shit no. Nobody seen me.''

LaChaise stepped close to the escort, and turned him a bit, and said, ''All right, Wayne, I'm gonna cuff your hands. Now you keep your mouth shut, 'cause if you start hollering beforewe get out of here, we'll have to come back and do something.''

''I won't say a thing,'' Sand said, trembling.

''You scared?'' LaChaise asked.

''Yeah, I am.''

''That's good; keep you from doing anything foolish,'' LaChaise said. He snapped the cuffs over Sand's hands, then said, ''Lay down.''

Sand got down awkwardly, and Butters stepped up behind him and threw a half-dozen turns of packaging tape around his ankles. When he was finished,

LaChaise took the roll of tape, knelt with one knee in the middle of Sand's back, and took three more turns around his mouth. When he was finished, LaChaise looked up at Butters and said, ''Borrow me your knife.''

Sand squirmed under LaChaise's knee as Butters passed a black lock-back knife to


LaChaise grabbed a handful of Sand's hair and pried his head back and said,

''Shoulda bought me them Big Macs.''

He bounced Sand's head off the concrete floor once, twice, then said, ''You asshole.'' He pulled his head straight back, leaned to the side so he could see

Sand's bulging eyes. ''You know how they cut a pig's throat?''

''We gotta move along,'' Butters said. ''We can't fuck around.'' Sand began thrashing and squealing through the tape.



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