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Чтение книги "Hard Night in the Suburbs" (страница 1)

   Elena Breus
   Hard Night in the Suburbs


   Special agent Paul Krosby moved swiftly through corridors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His forehead was wrenched into a deep furrow, the corners of his mouth gloomily turned down, eyes squinted but glaring.
   His office assistant, Ms. Lind, beamed at him, but her cheerful smile vanished when she saw his face. Miss Lind secretly adored her boss and had studied him thoroughly during the last six months. This menacing facial expression obviously indicated that something horrible had happened. Neither said hello.
   "Is Briks here?" Paul asked abruptly. Without waiting for an answer, he added, "Find him! I need him immediately!"
   "Bammm!" He slammed the thin door of his small office, setting the French blinds on the windows trembling.
   Miss Lind exchanged scared glances with Sergeant Tubarik, who stood frozen next to the copy machine. Both clearly understood that this frame of mind could result in a bunch of trouble for all subordinates. The girl broke into a fast trot to look for the missing colleague. Fortunately, she was perfectly aware of his whereabouts. She ran directly to the smoking area. The numerous FBI smokers spent short gaps here between their accomplishments of secret operations and following successful writing.
   "Alan!" she yelled into the clouds of smoke, "Hurry up! Boss wants to see you!"
   "Hey, Rosa! What's the rush? Did he develop diarrhea and run out of toilet paper?" The speaker, a tall man with black, curly hair, comfortably occupied an armchair and obviously had zero intent to make a move. Colleagues around him met these words with loud laughter.
   "Alan! Something’s happened!" the girl repeated indignantly. "His face is such… Such…!" She was unable to find the proper words. Instead, she bulged her eyes and twisted mouth and brows, in an attempt to portray Paul Krosby in a rage.
   "Oh!" Briks was slightly puzzled. He paused for a moment and airily waved his hand. "Look, if he has THAT face, you'd better let him know that you didn't find me!"
   "Briks!!!" Ms. Lind went on, outraged, "If you don't report to him immediately, I would say that, that…" Once again, she failed to express her emotions verbally. Her face turned red with wrath. She breathed deeply and slightly inclined her head, like a goat ready for a head butt.
   "OK, OK, dear! Calm down! I'm coming!" Briks reluctantly raised himself up. "No more screaming, please!"
   The office assistant didn't grace him with an answer. She gave him a withering look and hastily turned back to the office. Any person who dared to make fun of the boss's orders did not deserve even her minimal respect. She ran quickly back to her desk and sat there, motionless and breathless, with eyes fixed on the door of her adored Chief.
   She wanted to be the most helpful person for him, and deep in her mind, she fostered a hope that at some time this iron man would come to appreciate her diligence, dedication, and hard work… as well as her blue eyes, long legs, nice personality, and all her other excellent features… These vague dreams raised blushes on her cheeks and increased her heart rate.
   Briks entered the room a minute later and his penetrating gaze recognized her secret thoughts. His mouth stretched into ironic smile and Ms. Lind turned scarlet.
   "OK! I'm here!" he announced loudly. He made his way in front of the now confused office assistant and approached the door of the Section Chief. Drawing a deep, heavy breath, he pulled the handle. The ironic smile disappeared immediately when he saw his boss. "Is something wrong with Robert?" he asked, his tone becoming agitated.
   "Robert is dead!" Paul Krosby shut his eyes in anguish.
   "What???" The blood drained from Briks's face.
   Their colleague Robert Magnus was assigned to a special undercover task and yesterday they had lost all contact with him.
   "His body was found this morning at the secret address and brought to the local police station,” Krosby explained. “I’ve already made arrangements to bring him here."
   Krosby spoke in a flat manner, but his tightly clenched fists revealed barely controlled anger. Agent Magnus had been planted into the secretive criminal structure oriented on narco-business. Because of its highest secrecy, they had managed to slip through the police nets for several years and the decision had been made that the best agents from the FBI should join an operation. This counter-drug action had been thoroughly prepared for several months, but now the sudden death of its key figure had rendered it totally ineffective.
   "How did he die? Who killed him?" Briks's fingers shook as he tried to loosen the knot in his tie. He found the death of that jolly fellow Robert hard to believe. Magnus’s cubicle was next to his. He’d never see Magnus, with his regular bottle of diet cola in his left hand, come strolling into the office again!
   A storm raging inside Paul Krosby launched him out of his chair. He raised his hand and slammed the defenseless desk surface. Pens and pencils jumped out of the jar and rolled around in panic.
   "These are the questions we must answer!" Krosby's roar of anger was heard far beyond his door. "And we will do this!"

   Chapter 1. Behind the Dumpsters

   The Mokasche brothers returned home late that night. They had already made several miles on foot but were now so exhausted that couldn't argue any longer.
   The older brother, Gustav, suffered much more. His short legs not only had to carry an ample beer belly, but also felt every roughness of the pavement through the thin soles of his expensive shoes.
   Hugo, the younger brother, was in a better position, since he had neither excess weight nor money for good footwear. Nevertheless, he looked much gloomier and more distressed. His brother blamed him for spending the last fifty backs on the card table, although it was Gustav who had actually done the gambling.
   "Bloody fool!" wailed Gustav, as he stepped on a sharp stone. He had said the same thing more than a hundred times already. "You should’ve stopped me! And now, thanks to your stupidity, we cannot take a taxi and enjoy happy dreams in our beds!"
   Junior Mokasche didn't answer. He was used to the fact that he was responsible for everything bad that happened to his brother.
   Gustav had to eat stale bread for breakfast? It was because this bastard Hugo forgot to buy fresh rolls! Gustav was fired from his job again? Of course, it was Hugo's fault! He’d failed to wake Gustav up over the last three months and the poor guy was always late! The older brother was not on good terms with women? Oh, it was absolutely clear why he was still alone! If only this young idler of a brother would stop hustling around and messing up everything with his sweet, arrogant face!
   This continuous abuse boosted Hugo's immunity to harassment and he usually could take it rather philosophically, but today's rebukes were extremely unfair. He strode behind Gustav with a scowling face and aggrievedly sniffled from time to time. His overfilled bladder demanded an ease at the nearest corner, but he kept grim silence. He didn't want to please Gustav with a refusal to stop.
   Fortunately, Gustav's bladder also had limited capacity and pretty soon all the cocktails absorbed by him in the bar were ready to go out.
   "Halt!" The older brother pointed to a dark corner between two buildings and behind dumpsters. He raced there, unbelting his pants on the way.
   Junior Mokasche eagerly followed him, and in a few seconds, two powerful streams hit the wall.
   With his much anticipated relief, easy-going Hugo cheered up a bit. He opened his mouth to announce that they were not far from home, but his encouraging words were interrupted by a sudden noise.
   Coming on at a good speed, a car spun around the corner and stopped on the other side of the dumpsters with a loud brake squeal.
   Hugo was very glad that they had chosen the dark niche for their minor public nuisance, as they had escaped the beams of the driving lights. He zipped pants hastily and listened. The clang of a trash can lid and human wheezing left him in no doubt that the car driver was placing something heavy into the garbage. Seconds later, the invisible driver got back into the car and rushed away, leaving the smell of burning tires behind. Hugo craned his neck and observed the rear part of a white pickup racing away.
   The brothers exchanged puzzled glances. Respectable people do not dump their trash on a deserted street and race away wildly afterwards.
   "Go and have a look at what's inside!" commanded Gustav. He emerged from the dark corner and pointed his finger at the trash can.
   "Why should I?" protested the younger brother.
   "Open it, now!" Gustav raised his voice.
   Hugo rolled up his sleeves obediently and lifted the lid. The darkness inside the stinky and filthy can reported no details, but right at the top he could see two black leather soles. Hugo slightly pushed one of them with his finger and it slowly moved to the left, revealing a hairy leg in a raspberry sock.
   "Holy Bleu!" He turned away from the can in panic. "It's a dead body!"
   "What the hell you are talking about!" queried Gustav angrily. He raised himself onto his toes and looked inside the bin. For a moment, he was silent. "May be he is still alive?" he asked doubtfully, staring at legs.
   "He can't be alive! He's not moving! Moreover, who would put a living person into the dumpster?" murmured frightened Hugo, "Let's get out of here as fast as possible! We don't want trouble with police!"
   From time to time, the Mokasche brothers would be involved in some sort of illegal activity so trouble with police always needed to be avoided, but the older brother was looking at the black-shoe-legs meditatively and showed no indication of rushing.
   "Gustav! Let's go!" repeated Hugo, in agitation. He took several steps away from the scary place.
   The older brother didn't respond. He was deeply absorbed in thought. "Take him out of there!" He returned to his usual imperative tone after a few minutes of reflection.
   "Never!" exclaimed Hugo, moving further away from the dumpster.
   "Do what I said!" roared Gustav indignantly. "I should be getting lucky today! I knew that from the early morning! This must be the case!"
   "Gustav, you’re crazy!" Hugo yelled. After his brother's last remark, he understood why Gustav had spent his last cent gambling. He’d been sure of his good luck today!
   "If you don't help me, I take it out myself!" said Gustav angrily. "But then, I would not share with you whatever I found!" He grabbed one leg with both hands and tried to pull it.
   "I don't need a share of a dead body!" Hugo made a sign of the cross and peered nervously at the can, "Let's leave this place, please! No good will come of it!"
   "You damned fool!" snarled Gustav, as he grabbed the second leg, "He could have a lot of money in his pockets! Tons of money!!!"
   Hugo was going to say that any person, placing a dead body into the trash, would hardly leave cash in its pockets, but he had no time for that. The older Mokasche was already pulling both legs up.
   "I'm definitely lucky today…," Gustav murmured.
   The dumpster tipped forward and a body in a well-tailored brown suit fell out. Both the body and the can knocked Gustav to the ground. Hugo barely managed to step aside to avoid contact with the plentiful and smelly garbage coming out.
   "Don't just stand there, you idiot!" yelled Gustav, struggling helplessly on his back. "Help me!"
   Assisting his brother was well-established procedure and Hugo rushed to erect Gustav, ignoring his fear of the dead body. He stretched out his right hand to his brother and was going to push aside the corpse in a brown suite with the left one, but he suddenly froze in position.
   "Jesus…" His voice sank to a trailing whisper. The body had no face. Well, in fact, it had once had one some time ago, but now, in its place, was a bloody mask of a chopped meat with one intact eye and part of one brow. Hugo took a step back, turned as white as his cocktail shirt, and fainted.
   "I will kill you, you bastard!" snarled Gustav, furious that Hugo was now unable to help him. He turned onto his left side and managed to get out of the heap of junk himself. Climbing on all fours and shaking off stinky litter, he began to inform Hugo about everything he had in mind regarding the younger man’s behavior and personality, but he choked on his angry words. He too noticed dead man's face and his eyes went wide in horror. "My Lord!" he whispered and blessed himself with a cross several times, "Save and Protect!"
   "Let's run from here, Gustav! Hurry up!" Hugo came back to life and repeated fiercely, "Let's run!"
   "Shut up!" the older brother hissed. "We don't want somebody hearing us!"
   Junior Mokasche closed his mouth in fear and stared at Gustav, his eyes showing mute appeal.
   Gustav frowned and his nostrils quivered. He was thinking hard. A horoscope he had read that morning was quite positive that this day was going to bring him a lot of luck and success, increased income, and other gifts of fortune. He balanced in his mind these promises of fate with the natural fear and disgust induced by the dead man without a face. "Come here; don't be afraid!" he commanded his younger brother. "Search his pockets on the left and I will examine his right side!"
   "Don't do this, Gustav!" Hugo was almost crying, but his habit of obeying orders was already pushing him toward the dead body. His trembling fingers touched the brown wool suit, feeling for pockets.
   Gustav was actively doing the same job on the other side. "There’s nothing here!" he said, in frustration, after searching every stitch and fold of the clothing.
   Hugo was happy to finish with this terrifying task. "Nothing here either!" he said, but then stopped short. The left pocket of the jacket definitely contained something. Overcoming his disgust and panic, he grasped an invisible item with his shaking fingers and removed it.
   "What is it?" Gustav asked, impatiently, still believing in his good luck for the day. "Money? Credit cards?"
   "I d-don't know!" stuttered younger brother, quaking with fear, "S-something p-plastic!"
   "I knew it!" Gustav jumped up exultantly. "It's a credit card! Give it to me!"
   Hugo quickly passed him his finding without looking at it. He was extremely glad to get rid of it.
   "It's a driver’s license!" Gustav's face showed disappointment. "Are you sure there’s nothing else?"
   "Absolutely!" younger brother bowed with confidence. He would put his fingers back in dead man's pocket again only under the penalty of death.
   "Damn!!!" The older Mokasche spit onto the ground. He studied the picture on the driver’s license and his face distorted with anger. "Damn you, Andrews… What's your surname?" He raised the piece of plastic and had a closer look at the line with the owner's name. "…Andrews Corrado???" His mouth formed an "O" and has eyes flared with astonishment.
   He shifted a distrustful look from the piece of plastic to the body in the brown suit and then back to the license. "This is Andy Corrado???" Gustav’s tone suddenly became highly respectful, "Hugo! This is THE CORRADO!!" An excitement paralyzed Gustav’s knees and his backside heavily hit the ground.
   Hugo pulled a long face. He knew the name of the only son of the mafia boss, who had successfully controlled their district and overspread his long arms into all nearby areas. People said that Big Papa, Luke Corrado, was tied to the police and this fact made his business most effective.
   "Holy Virgin! The dead body of Andy Corrado is in the trash bin!" Gustav could not bring himself to believe it. He looked again at the driver's license and patted it affectionately. Suddenly, his eyes glittered. "The body of Luke's son is in the trash can!" he repeated, in agitation. "This is! Wow!" He jumped up, panting and gesticulating erratically. "Hugo! I knew! Knew!" he yelled in excitement, "Here it is – my good luck!!!" He looked at his brother with fiery eyes and upraised both hands to heaven. "Thank you, Lord!"
   The younger brother looked at him gingerly. Maybe Gustav was getting brain-sick? "Please, calm down, Gustav!” he said. “Let's get out of here!" he begged fervently, casting fearful glances around. "We'll have good luck if nobody hears you! Are you gonna get involved with the Corrado family?"
   "Yes!!!" exclaimed Gustav, "Exactly! I gonna get involved with them and as soon as possible!"
   "Gustav, you’re mad!"
   "No! This is it! My lucky chance!" Gustav clumsily danced along the pavement. "Can you imagine?"
   "I can imagine it rather well!" Hugo shivered with cold, his mind playing vivid pictures of possible actions that the powerful mafia boss could apply to them, if they were suspected in the death of his only heir.
   "You fool!" the older brother jumped for joy. "You don't understand!" He sprang towards Hugo and grasped his shoulders. Short Gustav had to raise his hands high to do this. "We'll bring Andy's body home! We'll save him from a disgraceful and obscure disappearance in a trash can! Look, the garbage collectors will be coming early in the morning and they'll take him to the city junkyard, and his family will never know what happened to their beloved son! But if we rescue him out of the dumpster, they should be grateful to us until the ends of their lives!"
   "Gustav!" Hugo gazed at his brother pleadingly, "Let's leave it as it is, please! Nothing good will come out of it!'
   "Shut up!" Gustav spat, getting annoyed. "Lift him up and put him on your shoulders!"
   "No way!" Hugo covered his face with his palms in fear.
   "Take his hands and hoist him onto your back!" Gustav scowled and lowered his voice in a threatening manner. He puffed out his chest, striking a superior posture.
   Hugo gave up. "Why don't we inform his family that we found him and they'll take care of everything?!" he suggested, as a last attempt.
   "Move on!" Gustav impatiently shook his head, without listening.
   Hugo sighed heavily and bent over the body. A sickening scent of rotten potatoes hit his nose. He closed his eyes and hastily grabbed the body's waist. Fortunately, smelly and mucoid potatoes didn't contact his fingers and he harshly hoisted the body over his shoulder. With the scary bloody mask out of his view, he felt somewhat relieved. In this position, he could easily imagine that these legs in raspberry socks, hanging from his shoulder, did not belong to a dead person, but, for example, to Gustav, when he was blind drunk and unable to stand up by himself, which was not an unusual thing.
   "Perfect!" wheezed Gustav, fussing around. "We are only a few steps away from his home! Do you have any idea where the Corrado family lives? I know that! I know everything! I am a King of this area!" Gustav puffed up with pride the area that he considered to be a chest but that all others considered a potbelly and started to splutter songs of praise to himself. His eyes twinkled.
   Hugo had gotten used to this behavior long ago and he headed the right direction without saying a word. He also knew location of the house occupied by the successful crime group and gave a quick thanks to the Holy Virgin that it wasn't far.
* * *
   They stopped at the massive metal gates few blocks down the street. Gustav panted with excitement as though he had been carrying the dead body all the way along. He approached the door and knocked.
   "There is a doorbell button on the right," suggested Hugo sepulchrally. He was aching to drop the terrifying burden off his shoulders and run away as fast as possible.
   "I know!" snapped Gustav, and pushed the button hard.
   In a few seconds a lantern flared over their heads and an angry voice roared from the speaker: "Who's there?"
   "We need to speak urgently with Luke Corrado!" faltered Gustav. "Matter of the greatest importance!"
   "With whom??? You're at the wrong place, you dumbhead!" the invisible voice said scornfully.
   "We have his son!" exclaimed Gustav, triumphantly pointing to the body on his brother's shoulder.
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