Read A Catskill Eagle Online

Authors: Robert B. Parker

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Detective, #Mystery, #Crime & mystery, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Suspense, #Hard-Boiled, #Crime & Thriller, #Mystery & Detective - Hard-Boiled, #Mystery fiction, #Boston (Mass.), #Political, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Private investigators, #Spenser (Fictitious character), #Escapes, #Private investigators - Massachusetts - Boston

A Catskill Eagle (3 page)

BOOK: A Catskill Eagle
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CHAPTER 6

OFF TO THE RIGHT, CLEAR IN THE LUCID predawn stillness, I could see Candlestick Park on the edge of the bay. When I was a kid the Giants played at the Polo Grounds, and the ‘49ers played at Kezar Stadium and I didn’t even know Susan Silverman.

“The cops take me to the pokey and last I see they giving Russell some ice in a towel to hold on his mouth. And Susan still frozen, weird little smile, and she crying.”

I was silent.

“There a picture of you,” Hawk said. “In her condo.”

Ahead I could see the outline of the Transam tower on the San Francisco skyline. “Boogaloo,” I said.

“Knew you’d like that.”

“You broke three of Costigan’s teeth,” I said.

“He got some left,” Hawk said.

“I know. We’ll get to that.”

“We surely will,” Hawk said.

“But first we get Susan,” I said.

“We surely will,” Hawk said.

“And then we’ll see about the Costigans.”

“We surely will,” Hawk said.

“And Mill River,” I said. “Might neaten that up a little, too.”

“While we doing all this, be better if the cops don’t catch us,” Hawk said. “Be pretty soon they figure out who you are.”

“And then they’ll check the airlines and the rental agencies and have a fix on this car.”

Hawk said, “How much bread you have?”

“About two hundred,” I said.

“Jesus Christ,” Hawk said. “Diamond fucking Jim Brady.”

“And the American Express card,” I said.

“That be a lot of good,” Hawk said. “Check right into the Stanford Court with it, sit around and have room service till the cops come.”

“Not my fault,” I said, “you don’t have rich friends.”

We went down the ramp off the expressway at Golden Gate Ave past the Civic Center and turned left onto Van Ness.

“We need to get off the street,” I said.

“Costigan will figure it gotta be you,” Hawk said. “Get that picture from Susan, show it to the fuzz we locked up, and they got your name on the wire. Mine too. Me for murder one, you for accessory after the fact, both of us for felonious escape from a sardine can.”

“Up around Geary Street,” I said. “There’s a hotel with an all-night garage underneath it.” Hawk spoke into his clenched hand. “All units,” he said, “be on the lookout for gorgeous Afro-American stud in company of middle-aged honkie thug.”

He pulled into the garage and took a ticket and cruised on down the lane looking for a slot. “Nice talk,” I said. “I gallop into Mill River and rescue you like the white knight that I am and you sit around and make honkie remarks.”

Hawk pulled the car into a slot beside a green BMW and parked and shut off the engine. I got my Tiger sport bag out of the trunk and got a clean shirt and some Nike running shoes and changed in the car. I put the .25 in my hip pocket, tucked the Mill River .38 in my belt under my shirt, and got out. Hawk pulled his shirt out and let it hang over his belt. He stuck the big .44 in his belt in front. “Hungry,” Hawk said.

“There’s a donut shop,” I said, “across the street. Opens early as hell.”

“You leaving the bag?” Hawk said.

“Yeah, less conspicuous.”

“How ‘bout I carry it on my head and walk behind you.”

“Probably be a good cover,” I said, “but it might perpetuate a racial stereotype.”

We went across Van Ness. There was a bare hint of light east down Geary Street, and an occasional car had begun to move on Van Ness. A bus came down Van Ness and stopped at the corner of Post and an elderly Oriental man got off and went up the hill past the Cathedral Hill Hotel.

The donut shop was open and smelled steamily of coffee and fresh baked goods. We each had two donuts and two coffees, and stood at the little counter near the window and ate. A black and white San Francisco Police car stopped out front and two cops got out and came in the restaurant. They were young, both had thick mustaches. One was hatless. They got coffee and French-twist donuts to go and left.

“Probably looking for a gorgeous Afro-American and a middle-aged honkie,” I said. “No wonder they didn’t make us.”

Hawk grinned. “Less see,” he said. “We got two hundred dollars…”

“Hundred and ninety-seven now,” I said. “We just did three bucks’ worth of donuts.”

“Hundred and ninety-seven bucks, ‘bout seventeen rounds of ammunition. We three thousand miles away from home and we don’t know anybody in the area, ’cept maybe that lady lawyer and I figure she can’t do much now.”

“I think the bar association gets on your ass about aiding and abetting,” I said.

“And Susan gone and we don’t know where…”

“Except we figure it’s got to do with Costigan,” I said.

“And Costigan’s papa one of the richest and also one of the baddest men in this great nation,” Hawk said.

Outside the hint of sunrise made Van Ness Ave look a pale gray and the still-lit streetlamps showed a milder yellow, as their influence waned.

“And we got no car, no change of clothes, no toilet paper, no champagne.” Hawk finished his second cup of coffee.

“Lucky it you and me,” he said.

“We’re going to find Susan,” I said.

Hawk turned his intense expressionless gaze on me. “Oh, yes,” he said.

CHAPTER 7

THE SKY OVER THE BAY WAS ROSY AS WE strolled toward union Square. Morning, seven o’clock. Along Polk Street bars and boutiques with names that punned on oral sex were unshuttering.

“We need to get organized,” I said.

Hawk nodded. “We need to get bread, too,” he said.

“Part of organizing,” I said. “First thing we’ve got to do is get off the street and get a base.” Hawk and I were walking briskly, two guys on their way to work. No loitering, no dillydally.

“We got to be on the wire by now,” Hawk said.

“Yeah, but maybe no pictures yet.”

“Don’t need pictures. Cops can stop every black guy and white guy walking together they see,” Hawk said.

“We could hold hands,” I said, “and blend into the ambience.”

Traffic was moving now in San Francisco. A lot of cabs. A lot of smaller foreign cars. There were people on the streets. A lot of young women, smelling of floral shampoos and scented soap and expensive perfume. They were wearing man-tailored suits with high slit skirts and carrying purses designed like briefcases. Many wore running shoes with their expensive dresses and carried their high-heeled shoes in shopping bags with Neiman-Marcus logos, or the name-GuMP’s. Working women, full of excitement, or vivacity, or desperation. Land of promise.

We turned the corner on Powell Street at Union Square and walked up Powell in front of the St. Francis Hotel. The cable car was not running while the system was being overhauled, and traffic moved along Powell Street better than I’d ever seen it. At the corner of Post two good-looking women stood watching people go to work. As we passed one of them said, “You gentlemen looking for adventure?”

Hawk looked at me, his face beginning to brighten.

“At seven thirty in the morning,” I said.

They were both blond. The one who spoke wore a neat red dress with big white buttons up the front and white high-heeled shoes. Her hair was cut short like Princess Di’s and her makeup was expert and unobtrusive. Her friend had on designer jeans and high heels and a beige cotton sweater with a V neck. The sweater was belted with thick blue cord.

Red Dress said, “Never too early for fun.” Hawk said, “You ladies got a place we can go?”

Red Dress said, “Sure. Nice apartment. Cost you a hundred dollars each.”

“Hundred bucks apiece off the street?” I said.

Red Dress shrugged. “Worth twice that ‘much,” she said. “I’m Fay, this is Meg.”

I looked at Hawk. He was grinning. “The Lord will provide,” he said.

“Shall we take a cab,” I said to Fay.

“Yes,” Fay said. “Best bet is in front of the hotel.”

We walked over and the doorman got us a cab. I tipped him a dollar. Hawk and I got in back with Meg. Fay sat up front with the cabbie.

“What are your names?” Meg said. “Frick,” I said.

“Frack,” Hawk said.

Meg nodded seriously. “I’ll remember by rhyming them,” she said. “Frack as in black.”

“And Frick as in prick,” Fay said from the front seat. The cabbie laughed and pulled away. We went around Union Square, down Stoekton and across Market. We ended up outside a four-story beige building with the stucco flaking off at the corner of Mission and Seventh: There was a video game arcade on the first floor. We paid the cabbie and followed the two women into a door to the left of the arcade. There was a narrow corridor and a stair leading up. We went up the stairs and into an apartment that fronted on Mission. There was a big square living room with a white porcelain sinkstove-refrigerator unit along one wall. There was a daybed covered with a green corduroy throw, an oak table, four chrome chairs with plastic mesh seats, and a pine bureau painted yellow. Across from the daybed a color television sat on an imitation-brass television stand. A short corridor ran off to the right, past the appliance unit.

“You boys want a drink or anything?” Fay said.

“A little early,” I said. “Mind if I turn on the TV?”

Fay shrugged.

Meg said, “How about coffee?”

Hawk said, “Fine.”

I turned on the TV and Diane Sawyer sprang into focus. So close and yet so far. I turned the sound low.

Meg was at the stove.

Fay said, “Business first, fellas. That’ll be two hundred up front.”

I said, “You have a pimp?”

Fay looked at me as if I were a child. “Course. Won’t let you operate without a pimp.”

“He come around and collect every day?” Meg turned from the stove and looked at me. Fay smiled and stepped toward me and put her arms around me and pressed against me. “Never mind him, honey, let’s you and me get closer,” she said.

I said, “You’ll feel it anyway. There’s a gun in my belt and I’m not a cop.”

Fay stepped away. “What the fuck is going on,” she said.

Meg was turned away from the stove, a jar of instant coffee in her hand.

“You guys are vice,” Meg said.

“Nobody not cops as much as us,” Hawk said. “When your pimp come to collect?”

“We got no pimp,” Fay said. “You guys got us wrong. We’re just looking for a little fun. You want a little fun?”

“No fun,” I said. “We want to know when your pimp comes to collect.”

“And we want to know pretty bad,” Hawk said.

On the quiet television the network cut away for the eight twenty-five local news. A picture of Hawk and one of me appeared on the screen. I stepped over and turned up the sound.

“Bay area police,” the announcer said, “are seeking two men wanted in connection with a daring jailbreak that took place early this morning in Mill River.”

The women both stared at the screen as our names and descriptions were given.

“The two men, both from the Boston area, are considered armed and dangerous. Now this from Hoffman’s Bakeries.”

I shut the television off.

“They got me fifteen pounds too heavy,” I said.

“That’s the picture of you from Susan’s apartment,” Hawk said.

“How come they didn’t get you fifteen pounds too heavy,” I said.

Fay said, “Jesus Christ.”

Hawk said, “Told you we wasn’t cops.”

“But we did lie about the names,” I said. “You had to know sometime.”

Meg said, “What do you want?”

One last time,“ I said. ”When does your pimp collect.“

“Mondays and Fridays.” Meg had olive skin, which made you wonder about the blond hair. She swallowed hard as if her throat was tight. “What are you going to do?”

“Today’s Thursday,” I said. Hawk nodded. “Day and a half resting up, talking to these ladies, and the pimp comes along with a pocket full of cash.”

“You can’t rob Leo,” Fay said.

“Pimps good to rob,” Hawk said gently. “They got money, and they ain’t likely to call the cops. And mostly they deserve it.”

“Leo’s bad,” Meg said. “Leo’s really bad. He set one of the girls on fire once.”

“We not one of the girls,” Hawk said.

“What are you going to do to us,” Fay said.

“Nothing,” I said. “We will just stay here for a day or two and then be gone.”

“And what the hell do we do,” Fay said, “while you’re sitting around in here? We got a living to make.”

“You’ll have to take a short vacation,” I said. “You can do anything you want except use the phone or leave the apartment.”

“How long,” Meg said.

“Couple of days,” I said. “No more.”

“I’m not staying cooped up in here with you two mugs for a couple of days,” Fay said.

Hawk looked at her for a moment and said, “Shhh.”

Fay stopped as she was about to speak.

Meg said, “We don’t want any trouble. You guys want to fuck us?”

I said, “No. Take a rest for a couple of days.”

Meg looked at me and her eyes widened. “You don’t?”

Hawk said, “He speaking for himself. He in love.”

“It’s not natural,” Meg said.

“It natural for him,” Hawk said.

“Tell me about Leo,” I said. “Does he come alone?”

Fay shook her head. “We got nothing to do with this, mister.”

“Fay,” I said, “you have everything to do with this. I am looking for a woman, and I am going to find her. I’ll do anything I need to do, and that includes hurting a couple of innocent whores. Does Leo come alone?”

“No,” Meg said. Fay didn’t speak, her lips were pressed together. “He has Allie with him,” Meg said. “Allie’s his bodyguard.”

Meg didn’t look at Fay.

“Does Leo carry a piece?” I said.

Meg shook her head. “I don’t know. I know Allie does. But I don’t know about Leo.”

“What time does he come?”

“Five,” Meg said. “He comes exactly at five in the afternoon, every time.”

“Does he collect other places first?”

Meg shrugged. Hawk said, “Probably, evening is heavy work time for the girls, he probably collects during the day.”

“And stops here last,” I said.

“With the day’s receipts,” Hawk said. “How nice.”

There was a bath and two bedrooms down the short corridor. I sent the women down to one of the bedrooms. Hawk leaned in the doorway of the corridor to see that they stayed in the bedroom, and I called New York City Information and got the number for Rachel Wallace.

“She the writer that got kidnapped on you?” Hawk said.

I was dialing 212. I nodded.

“Maybe she don’t feel too helpful toward you,” Hawk said.

The phone was ringing. “I got her back, didn’t I?”

“That would help,” Hawk said. Rachel Wallace answered.

I said, “Spenser’s the name, heterosexuality is my game.”

Rachel Wallace said, “How good to know you haven’t aged. How are you?”

“Bad,” I said. “I need help.”

“You need help?”

“Yes,” I said, and told her.

“I can get there by evening,” she said.

“No,” I said, “thank you. There’s nothing, right now, for you to do out here. What I need is research. I want to know everything I can know about Jerry Costigan and his kid.”

“What’s the kid’s name?”

“Russell. I don’t know whether Jerry is the old man’s real name or short for Gerald or Jerome or whatever.”

“It’s all right,” Rachel Wallace said. “I’ll find it. It’s a little after noon in New York. I’ll go down to the public library, I should have something for you by suppertime. Can I call you?”

“Yes,” I said, “call me here.” I gave her the number. “Helping me is against the law,” I said. “Probably makes you an accessory after.”

“I know,” she said. “I’ll call you about nine tonight, your time.”

“I’ll be here,” I said and hung up.

“She the lesbian,” Hawk said. “I saw her on the tube once.”

“Lesbian, feminist, gay-rights activist, probably opposes racism too,” I said.

“Don’t sound to me like a good American,” Hawk said.

I got up and walked to the window and looked out at the Post Office Building across Mission. “We got a couple of things to do after we roust Leo,” I said. “We go see Dr. Hilliard and we visit Jerry Costigan.”

“Who Dr. Hilliard?” Hawk said.

“A name on Susan’s calendar. Probably a shrink.”

“And where we find Jerry Costigan?”

“He must be in Mill River. I think Rachel Wallace will find his address. If she doesn’t we’ll just go down and ask.”

“Be good to get back to old Mill River,” Hawk said.

BOOK: A Catskill Eagle
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