Everybody dies, p.40
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       Everybody Dies, p.40

         Part #14 of Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block
 
Page 40

 

  "And he turned you. Turned you against me. "

  Andys arms hung at his sides. His jaw was slack and his eyes glassy. He said, "I dont know what happened, I swear I dont I guess it was the carrot and the stick both at once. He said I got table scraps from you, that thered be a lot of money if I threw in with him. And he said Id be dead if I didnt. And her with me. "

  "Your mother. "

  "Yes. "

  "You should have come straight to me, Andy. "

  "I know. God, I know. I never thought…"

  "What?"

  "I dont know," he said. "I dont know what I thought. What difference does it make? Youre gonna kill me. Well, hell, go ahead. I cant say I dont deserve it. "

  "Ah, Andy," he said. "Why would I kill you?"

  "We both know why. God knows I gave you cause. "

  "Didnt I tell you weve a great national tradition of informing? You made your bed, but why lie in it if you can make it again?"

  "What do you mean?"

  Mick clapped him on the shoulder. "You changed sides," he said, "and now youll change em again and come back where you belong. Theyve set a trap for us, have they? Well have at them, the three of us, and see them caught in their own trap. "

  "Youd let me come back?"

  "And why not? Jesus, youve been with me for years and against me for days. We need each other, Andy. "

  "Mick, Im a bastard. Youre a good man and Im nothing but a bastard. "

  "Forget that for now. "

  "Mick, we can do it. Theyre expecting us to drive in like we own the place. Then I park the car where I always park it and I hang back and smoke a cigarette while you and Matt go up to the house. And they come out of the house with guns in their hands. "

  "It was a good plan. Would they have a sentry posted, do you think? Someone to spot us when we turn into the drive?"

  "They might. "

  "I would," he said, "in their place. Id put someone where he could see the headlights. What about OGara? Have they killed him yet?"

  "I dont know. They didnt tell me much. Tom Heaneys landlady, that took me by surprise. I didnt think they would do that, I really didnt. "

  "And it bothers you, but is it worse than killing poor Tom? Ah, let it go. Talk wont bring him back, or any of the others. John Kenny and Barry McCartney. You knew they were going to the storage place. You went along with Dowling, didnt you?"

  "I stayed outside," he said, "So they wouldnt see me. It was supposed to be a straight hijack, and I was going to drive the truck. Then I heard the shots. " He took a breath. "I didnt know there was going to be any killing, Mick. It started out as a way to steal from you. They were going to grab the liquor and sell it and I was going to get a cut. "

  "And no one was going to get hurt. "

  "Not the way I heard it. And then Barry and John were dead and I was in the middle of it And then it just fucking grew. "

  "Out of control," Mick said. "Like wildfire. "

  "Worse. "

  "Worse. Peter Rooney, and Burke, and all those that died at Grogans. And Matts friend, that went to retreat with the Zen Buddhists. And myself saved for last. Didnt they try to get you to do it, Andy? It would have been easy for you. A bullet in the back of the head when I was looking the other way. Easier than setting up at the farm and luring me there. "

  "I could never do it, Mick. "

  "No, I didnt think you could. "

  "And he wants to do it himself. He hates you. "

  "He does. "

  "He says you killed his father. I dont know if he ever saw the man, and whats it matter anyway? Its ancient fucking history, for Christs sake. "

  "Sos the Battle of the Boyne," Mick said, "and yet theres some that never got over it. Ah, Andy. It had to be you or Tom, and once I saw Tom dead that left only yourself. It broke my heart, knowing that. "

  "Mick…"

  "But youre back, and thats what counts. Its good to have you back, Andy. "

  "Jesus, Mick. Youll never have to worry about me again. I swear to God, Mick. "

  "Ah, dont I know it?" he said, and rested a cupped hand at the back of Andys head, and put his other hand beneath Andys chin, and moved both hands, and broke Andy Buckleys neck.

  "What choice did I have? What else could I do?"

  I didnt have an answer. He got the keys from the ignition, walked around to the trunk, unlocked it. He came back and picked up Andys corpse without any apparent effort and carried him on his shoulder, then laid him gently in the trunk and slammed the lid. The noise when it swung shut was sharp and sudden on that dark and silent country road.

  "No choice at all," he said, "and I swear I didnt want to do it. "

  "I didnt think you were going to," I said. "Not then, at any rate. You took me by surprise. "

  "And him as well, I shouldnt wonder. I wanted to give him a bit of hope, you know, and put him at his ease. Its fear thats hardest on a man, and I wanted to spare him that. As it was, there must have been an instant when he knew what was happening, and then it was over. Ah, Christ, its a bad old world. "

  "Its that, all right. "

  "A hard life in a bad old world. He was as close as Ill ever come to having a son. Paddy Farrelly got himself a son, as like as not by forcing himself on the Dowling bitch, and his boys painting the city with blood to avenge his fathers memory. And my sons helping him do it. " He steadied himself, drew a breath. "Except hes not my son and never was. Just a decent lad who never added up to much. A good steady hand, with a dart or a steering wheel. Do you think I should have let him live?"

  "I cant answer that. "

  "What would you have done yourself? You can answer that, cant you?"

  "You could never trust him," I said.

  "No. "

  "Or rest easy, knowing what hed done. All those people, all that blood. Being the man you are, I dont see how you could have acted differently. "

  "Being the man I am. "

  "Well, youve never been one to forgive and forget. "

  "No," he said. "I never have. And too old to learn new tricks, Id have to say. " He bent down, picked up a pack of Marlboros Andy had dropped. "A clue," he said ironically, "and now its got my prints on it. And who gives a fuck, anyway?" He flung the pack across the road bent down again and came up with Andys Zippo lighter. I thought he was going to throw that as well but he frowned at it and stuck it in his pocket. Then he reached to scoop up a handful of gravel and hurled that after the cigarettes.

  I waited while he leaned against the side of the car and let the fury drain out of him. Then in an entirely different tone of voice he said, "What they dont know is theres another way onto the property. It backs up against state land, you know. And theres a back road goes into the state land, and then you can walk through a few acres of woods and youre on my land out behind the old orchard. Theyll only know to watch the driveway, and theyll be waiting for three men in a car, not two men on foot. "

  "That gives us a little bit of an edge. "

  "And well need it, as theres two of us and who knows how many of them. I should have asked him how many they had, but would he even have known?"

  "There were the two who mugged me. Donnie Scalzo and the one whose face I never did see. The Vietnamese is dead, but his partner Moon Gafters still around, and hell probably be on hand for the finale. Thats three, and Dowling makes four, but there could be one or two others we dont know about. "

  "Four at a minimum," he said. "Very likely five, and possibly six. All arrayed against the two of us. Theyre defending and were on the attack, which is to their advantage, but we know the ground better than they do. Weve a bit of the home field advantage. "

  "And the element of surprise. "

  "And that," he agreed. "But, you know, Im presuming something, and Ive no right to. Because you dont have to be a part of the rest of it. You can go home. "

  I just shook my head. "Its too late for that," I said. "Unless we both go home. They set a trap and you figured it out and
walked away from it, and took out the man who set it. You could walk away and let them figure out what to do next. "

  "Id rather deal with them now, while Ive got them all bottled up in there. "

  "I agree. And Ill be there with you. "

  We got in the car. He started it up. I found myself trying to determine if the car felt any lighter now that we didnt have Andy with us anymore, and then I remembered that the weight was the same. Hed been behind the wheel before, and now he was in the trunk.

  "I had a feeling, you know. "

  "About Andy. "

  "From early on, it must have been. After the trouble at the bar, I made sure I dropped him off and kept the car. I didnt want him to know where I was staying. And I didnt let him have the cell phone number. "

  "I dont know about the second sight," I said, "but Id say you have good instincts. "

  "And that may be all it is," he said, "but I dont know. Let me concentrate now, weve got our turn coming up and its an easy one to miss. Ah, will you look at that!"

  Ahead of us, a whole herd of deer bounded one after another across the narrow road. I counted eight of them, and I may have missed one.

  "Theyre hard on crops and shrubbery," he said, "and a fucking menace on the highway, but what a beautiful sight they are. Why the hell would anybody want to shoot them?"

  "Ive got a friend in Ohio, a cop named Havlicek, whos always trying to get me to go out there and hunt deer with him. He cant understand why Im not interested, and I cant understand why he is. "

  "Its enough of a strain killing people," he said. "Ive no time to waste on deer. "

  He found the back road he was looking for and we made our turn. Half a mile in there was a chain across the road with a sign on it announcing that access was forbidden except to authorized personnel. I got out and unhooked the chain. He drove through and I replaced the chain and got back in the car.

  We followed the one-lane road through the woods. I couldnt say how far we drove. We crept along slowly, rarely going over ten miles an hour. I kept waiting for more deer to explode out of cover in front of us, and God knows the woods were full of them, but we didnt see any others.

  Eventually the road ran out in a small clearing. There was a little cabin there, and a canvas-topped 4WD utility vehicle parked not far from it. Mick reached into the back of the Chevy and went through the leather satchel, selecting some of its contents and adding them to a dun-gray canvas sack. He took mostly guns and extra ammunition, and left behind the money and papers from the safe. Hed already grabbed up a red plastic flashlight from the glove box, and on a hunch I checked the utility vehicle. It was unlocked, as Id figured it would be, and it had a flashlight mounted on a clamp above the passenger door, encased in hard black rubber and twice as bright as the one from the Caprice.

  "Good man," Mick said.

 
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