Everybody dies, p.38
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       Everybody Dies, p.38

         Part #14 of Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block
Page 38


  "Crazy day," Andy said. "I couldnt reach anybody. I tried what numbers I had for you, Mick, and I called a couple of bars looking for you. I didnt really think youd be there but I didnt know how to get in touch with you. "

  "I tried you and could never find you in. "

  "I know, my old lady said you called. I was out all day, I took my cousins car and drove around. I was going stir crazy, you know? I even went into Manhattan and drove past the bar. You probably already seen what it looks like, all plywood and yellow tape. "

  "I drove past it myself the other evening. "

  "And I called you, Matt, but I hung up when the machine answered. And then I called a couple of times and the line was busy. I figured the two of you were talking to each other and that was why I couldnt get through to either of you. "

  He put the car in gear, and when the traffic thinned he pulled away from the curb. He asked if he should head anywhere in particular. Mick told him to drive where he liked, as one place was no worse than another.

  He drove around, coming to full stops at stop signs, keeping well under the speed limit. After a few blocks he asked if either of us had spoken to Tom. "Because I was trying to reach him, too, and nobody answered, and you know the woman he lives with never leaves the house. All I could think of was he took pity on her and took her to a movie, or she had a stroke or something and he took her to the hospital. Or there was something wrong with the phone, so I went over there and leaned on the doorbell. "

  "When was that?" Mick wondered.

  "I dont know, I didnt notice the time. Maybe an hour ago? I rang the bell and knocked on the door, and then I went around and rang the back doorbell and knocked on that door, and when I saw nothing was happening I got back in my car. You want to give him a call? Or even go over there, because Ill admit it, Im spooked. "

  "Weve just come from there," Mick said, and told him what wed found.

  "Jesus," Andy said. He hit the brake, but not as abruptly as Mick had done when he learned TJ had been shot. He checked the mirror first and braked to a smooth stop, pulled over and parked. "I got to take this in," he said evenly. "Give me a minute, huh?"

  "All the time you want, lad. "

  "Both dead? Tom and the old woman?"

  "They shot him dead and cut her throat. "

  "Jesus Christ. All I can think, that could have just as easy been our house, and me and my mother. Just as easy. "

  "I was glad just now when she said you were home," Mick said, "but before that I was glad just to hear her voice. For I had the same thought myself. "

  Andy sat there, nodding to himself. Then he said, "Well, this just adds to it, doesnt it? Reinforces it. "

  "Hows that?"

  "Why I was trying to get in touch," he said. "Something I was thinking. "

  "About what?"

  "About them coming after us the way theyre doing. Picking us off one by one. I had an idea. "

  "Lets hear it. "

  "Theres just the three of us left. I think we got to stick together. And I think we got to pick someplace thats safe. Im out here in the Bronx, and anyone comes for me, all they got to do is kick the door in. Matt, youre in a doorman building, maybe its a different story, but you cant stay inside with the door locked all the time. And even if you do, whats to stop them from shooting the doorman like they been shooting everybody else, and then going up and kicking your door in?"

  "Nothing," I said.

  "And Mick, youre holed up and not telling anybody where, and thats smart, but all you got to do is move around like youre moving around right now, riding around in a car, and youre a pretty identifiable guy. All you need is one person to see you and the wrong person to get wind of it, you know what I mean?"

  "And whats your answer, then?"

  "The farm. "

  "The farm," Mick said, and thought about it. At length he said, "I told Matt he ought to go to Ireland. He said I should come along and show him the country. Isnt this the same thing?"

  "Not exactly. "

  "Either way Im running from them. "

  "You wouldnt be running away, Mick. Thats the whole point. Youd be taking a position and, waiting for them to come to you. "

  "Now youve got my interest," Mick said.

  "We go there tonight and settle in. Right away, without giving the bastards another shot at us. We set up our defenses. Theres just the one entrance, isnt there? The long drive we took the last time we were there?"

  "With the horse chestnut trees. "

  "If you say so. All I know is Christmas trees and the other kind. They come up that drive when we know theyre coming, be like fish in a barrel, wouldnt it?"

  "Keep talking. "

  "I dont even know who knows the farm exists outside of the three of us. But theres probably some that do. But what I was thinking, and you got to remember I had all day long with nothing to do but think about this…"

  "Youre doing fine, man. "

  "Well, see, we settle in. And then we get the word to someone with a big mouth. One thing we know about these guys is theyve got good sources of information. If the words on the street theyre gonna hear it. And the wordll be that the three of us are holed up where were sure nobody could ever know about it, and were drinking like fish and running broads in and out of the place, just partying it up day and night. Do I have to spell it out? You can take it from there, Mick. "

  "Theyd expect to have it easy. But wed be waiting for them. "

  "And trap the lot of them, Mick. "

  "All on the farm," he said. "Itd mean digging, wouldnt it? And wed need a bigger hole than last time. " The corners of his mouth lifted. "But Ill not mind the work. Id say we can use the exercise. "

  Wed go right away, we decided. We didnt need anything. There was food enough on the farm to last the winter, between what was growing in the garden and what Mrs. OGara had put up in jars. There was a store in Ellenville, and if we were there long enough to need a change of clothing we could buy what we needed there.

  And Micks leather satchel was in the back seat, with guns and ammunition and cash. He even had his fathers apron in there, and the old mans cleaver. And there were extra firearms out at the farm, OGaras twelve-gauge shotgun and a deer rifle with a scope sight.

  "Just one thing," Andy said. "I want to go by my house, tell my mother she wont see me for a few days. "

  "Call her," Mick said. "Use my cell phone or wait and call her from the farm. "

  "Id rather tell her in person," he said. "Ive got another box of shells in my room for the gun Im carrying. Id just as soon bring them along. And itll give me a chance to smoke a cigarette. Its a long way out to the farm without a cigarette. "

  "Its your car youll be driving," Mick said. "I guess you can smoke in your own car if you have a mind to. "

  "Makes it hard on a couple of nonsmokers," Andy said. "Its close quarters in a closed car, or even with a window open. Ill just smoke a cigarette at the house before we go. And theres another thing. Im going to tell her to go visit my uncle Connie north of Boston. Shes been saying she hasnt seen her brother in a long time, and what better time for her to go? Because they could come looking for me, Mick, and it might not matter if I was there or not, and I wouldnt want anything to happen to her. "

  "God, no. "

  "Who knows if shell even go, but it wont hurt to suggest it to her. And when I think about Tom and the old lady…"

  "Enough said. "

  It didnt take long before we were back on Bainbridge Avenue and parked in front of Andys house. He got out of the car and trotted up the walk, used his key, and disappeared inside the house. After a moment Mick got out his cell phone and dialed a number, then almost immediately snapped the thing shut. "I thought Id call OGara," he said, "but I dont want to call on this thing. My luck the wrong person would pick it up. "

  "On the fillings in his teeth. We can find a pay phone. "

  "We can just go out there," he said. "Its not that late, and he neednt have
advance warning. " He was silent for a moment, then sighed heavily. "Change seats with me," he said. "Ill get in back where I can put my feet up. I might even close my eyes and get a little sleep on the drive out. "

  I got out of the car and we changed seats. He walked around the car and got into the back seat behind the driver, turning so that he could put his legs up on the seat.

  A few minutes later Andy emerged. He had a cigarette going, and stopped on the sidewalk to take a long drag on it. He took a final drag as he stood beside the open car door, then flicked the butt out into the street. Sparks danced when it hit the pavement.

  He got in the car, turned the key, gunned the motor. He grinned, tapped the steering wheel twice. "Were off," he said. "Everybody watch out. "

  Andy took the Grand Concourse to the Cross-Bronx, then drove straight west. We crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey and picked up the Palisades Parkway. Mick had been silent until then, and I thought he might have nodded off back there, but now he said, "Ive been thinking. This is a grand idea of yours, Andy. "

  "Well, I had time on my hands, and no dartboard handy to take my mind off of things. "

  "Youre a strategist," Mick said. "Youre another Michael Collins. "

  "Oh, come on now. "

  "You are indeed. "

  "Im his Russian cousin," Andy said. "Vodka Collins. "

  "Well lure em into a trap," Mick said, "and draw the ends tight, and there theyll be. Ah, Ill want to see the look on his face when he knows Ive done for him. Hes a Bronx boy, Andy. Did you know that?"

  "No. "

  "Hes the long-lost bastard son of Paddy Farrelly, and Im going to send him to the same place I sent his dirty bastard father. Yes, hes a Bronx boy, though he moved away years ago. Where was it he moved to, Matt? Upstate, was it?"

  "He was ten or eleven when he moved from Valentine Avenue," I said, "but I dont know exactly when that was. "

  "He lived on Valentine Avenue? Thats like two blocks over from Bainbridge. "

  "He was in the eleven hundred block," I said, "so its not like he was living next door to you. They moved when he was eleven, and he was living in Rochester when he committed the crime he went to prison for, but I dont know what interim moves his mother might have made. "

  "Twas in the Bronx he spent his formative years," Mick said, rolling the phrase on his tongue. "His formative years. So we may safely call him a Bronx boy. Well, set a Bronx boy to catch a Bronx boy, eh? While we drove around I found myself thinking what a splendid borough the Bronx is. It became a joke for a while there, didnt it? But theres beautiful parts to it. "

  "I was thinking that myself. "

  "Matt lived in the Bronx himself. Or am I misremembering?"

  "Theres nothing wrong with your memory. But we only lived there for a short time. "

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