home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add



16

TRUJILLO HAD SAID he was riding a tiger and if he ever fell off the tiger would devour him.

Please dont talk like that; put it out of your mind, Andres had told the old man, the Benefactor, who not only ruled his country for thirty years he owned it and was worth-with his sugar, his rice, his sisal, cattle, cement, his tobacco-some $800 million the day he fell off the tiger and was devoured.

Andres had tried for the next few days to transfer bank accounts and titles to property, searching for people he could trust to help him, and finally had to run for his life to Miami by way of San Juan with less than twenty thousand in cash and a cardboard box of photographs.

They hung in his study, all that was left of that time. Photos in black and white of Andres with Trujillo, with Peron, with Batista, with Anastasio Somoza, with P'erez Jimenez of Venezuela. A photo with U.S. Marine officers taken when U.S. Marines maintained tranquility and could be trusted. There was the photo of Andres holding the submachine gun that belonged to Trujillos brother, Arismendi. They would go out on Trujillos yacht-Andres and Arismendi, who was called Pet'an-and fire the submachine gun at the sharks off Monte Cristi, the sharks gorging on the rotten meat the sailors threw over the side, the two of them having a splendid time blowing the man-eaters to pieces.

Here it was another kind of boat-ride with a different species of shark circling, waiting for the boat to tip over. Riding this boat or riding a tiger it was the same end if you werent careful. Trujillo had got old and failed to listen, failed to keep his enemies frightened of him. Which was easy enough to do.

Choose one from a group of suspected enemies and shoot him. Or drown him, it didnt matter. The others would look at the ground or close their eyes, not wanting to meet the eyes that would choose the next one.

But he had stared at Moran and Moran had not looked at the ground or at the man drowned in the pool. Moran had stared back at him. Perhaps he should have given Moran to the Mendoza brothers to be taken to sea with Rafi. It was possible Moran was not involved in the plot, but Jiggs Scully had made a point saying, Either way you got to do Rafi. So let Moran watch and have second thoughts in case he is involved. Give him pause, as you say. Jiggs said he had questioned Rafi and there was nothing to learn from him, he was a third stringer. Whatever that meant.

Jiggs said he had discovered Rafi through informants and was closing in on the others. Jiggs saying so much, Jiggs finding out about this plot and the people taking part in it. Jiggs giving, he said, all his time to it. But not saying anything about being paid.

Andres, the day before, had called Jimmy Cap to discuss this with him, to say he appreciated Jimmy Caps concern, sending Jiggs to help. See if he had actually sent him. But Jimmy Cap was in Buffalo for several days and could not be reached.

So now late at night Andres sat behind his seven-foot desk drinking Cognac, staring vacantly at his past life in photographs, wondering what was taking place in the present.

Trying to see it clearly without interruptions.

First Corky. Corky in the doorway, a manila envelope under his arm, saying the business with Rafi Amado was finished. Then, remembering the manila envelope, coming into the study only far enough to place the envelope on de Boyas desk next to the brandy decanter, Corky reaching out, not wanting to intrude himself. It came today from Marshall Sisco. The door closed. Andres picked up the envelope marked personal& confidential.

Almost immediately the door opened again and Andres put the envelope down.

Now Mary stood in a white dressing gown that reached to the oriental carpet. She said, Who was here? She said, Andres, whats going on? Curious, perhaps alarmed.

But not without insolence. The way she always stood with her thin legs apart, one foot pointed out, shoulders slightly drooped. Demonstrating the bored insolence of American women as she asked her insolent questions. Will you please tell me?

He walked over to her.

Andres-

And closed the door in her face.

He returned to his desk trying to remember at what point he had left his mind, interrupted-ignoring for the moment the envelope Corky had brought-yes, he remembered now.

The cartridge was already in the tape machine on his desk, the recording of a phone conversation made earlier this evening at his office in the Biscayne Tower. A conversation with an old friend, Alfonso Silva, who was Cuban and zealously anti-Castro, a survivor of the Bay of Pigs, a former agent of the CIA and member of Leucadendra Country Club. Andres pushed the ON button, listened patiently to their voices, sipped cognac, then began to stroke, gently, his dark cap of lacquered hair as he heard:


ANDRES: You know the one named Scully who works for the ITALIANS. Tell me again what you think of him.

ALFONSO: He does what we have spoken of before. Anything you want. If you trust those people you trust him. Its a decision you have to make.

ANDRES: But his appearance How is he able to get information on the street? Hes not one of us.

ALFONSO: With money. How else? Miami is a city of informants. What do you want to know?

ANDRES: He sent me two brothers, Mendoza

ALFONSO: Ave Maria.

ANDRES: You know them? He said they worked for the CIA.

ALFONSO: They went to Cuba to do some work and were arrested and put in prison. Now they come back on the boatlift from Mariel. They wear red and white beads?

ANDRES: Yes, I believe so.

ALFONSO: To protect them from police. They belong to Chang'o, a cult of bandits and convicts, very bad men. They believe they have a dispensation to kill, given them by African gods.

ANDRES: Can I trust them?

ALFONSO: Theyre not of the revolution; theres no money in it, thank God and His Mother. They work for the one who pays the most.

ANDRES: I want to know about someone else. George Moran. He was a member of the club at one time.

ALFONSO: Moran let me think. Is he the one you believed wanted your wife?

ANDRES: I want to know if hes active in a cause.

ALFONSO: I hear nothing of him.

ANDRES: Rafael Amado, a Dominican.

ALFONSO: No, I dont know him. But the one named Moran I hear something in your voice. What is it now, still the wife? You get something in your head, Andres

He turned off the recorder, poured himself another Cognac.

It was more than something in his head, his imagination. It was Moran coming here. It was Moran calling his wife on the phone. He had instructed Altagracia, finally, to tell him his wife wasnt home. Then, mysteriously, the telephone was dead, the outside wire damaged. Security men on watch and something had happened to the wire. He questioned the Mendoza brothers and one of them said it must have been caused by the shooting the night before, a bullet struck the line and weakened it. Or it was old. The Mendoza brothers said they had no knowledge of telephone wires. They said the man from the telephone company who came fixed it, but didnt seem to know much himself, how it could break.

He had not told Alfonso Silva any of that. He could phone him now, tell him Rafi Amado had gone to sea and was no longer a problem. He could tell Alfonso how Moran stared back at him, not looking at the ground or closing his eyes. Ask Alfonso if that was something in his head.

He opened the manila envelope marked PERSONAL& CONFIDENTIAL, feeling the tape cartridge inside, letting it slide out on the desk, but in his mind still seeing Moran staring back at him. Andres snapped the cartridge into the recording machine-a conversation with Marshall Sisco the investigator, remembering some of it from two days ago-ran the machine forward and stopped, listened; ran it forward again until he found the part that began:


MARSHALL: answer to your question, no. The latest report, I dont see any radical affiliations, any close friends of Hispanic origin. Guy worked for a cement company before he went with Sutton Developments. Now he runs his motel and that seems to be all he does. His credits not bad and neither Broward or Dade have ever issued a warrant on him, even a misdemeanor.

ANDRES: He has affairs with women married women, doesnt he?

MARSHALL: If he does hes superdiscreet about it.

ANDRES: When he was in Santo Domingo

MARSHALL: Yes sir, Ive got that right here. Stayed at the Embajador. Got his name in the paper as a war hero looking for a girl he fell in love with sixteen years ago, the time Johnson sent in the troops. They got very excited down there about him looking for the girl, but evidently he didnt locate her. Her names Luci Palma. He was seen in the company of an American woman staying at the hotel and returned to Miami with her on the same flight.

ANDRES: Whats the womans name?

MARSHALL: Guy I talked to wouldnt say. You want it documented Ill have to send somebody down, spend a few bucks.

ANDRES: Do it. I want to know exactly

Andres turned off the recorder. He picked up the manila envelope again and brought out a sheet of Marshall Sisco Investigations, Inc. letterhead that bore a handwritten note Andres didnt bother to read. Folded inside the sheet was a photocopy of a hotel registration card.

The name on the card in block letters read MARY DELANEY. The signature, very clear, precise, familiar, also read Mary Delaney.

Andres poured another Cognac. From the middle drawer of his desk he brought out a typewritten sheet that bore his attorneys letterhead, the sheet stapled to several copies of a legal-size document. With a paper clip he attached the photocopy of the hotel registration card to the legal papers.

Before getting up from the desk Andres sipped his Cognac and sat for several moments looking at the photograph of himself with Pet'ans submachine gun, the old Thompson. He had loved that gun, the feel of it jumping in his hands, hearing Pet'ans hoarse laughter, the sharks thrashing in a frenzy as the water turned a rust shade of red

Marys eyes came open with the sound of the door banging against the wall. Andres was at the bed, a shape outlined in the light from the hall, ripping away the sheet before she had time to move. As she tried to roll away from him his hand caught the back of her nightgown, tore it from her body and pulled her by the hair from the bed to the floor.

Mary screamed his name, once. Then silence. She could hear his breathing, grunts of effort.

She came to her feet submissive, looked in his face and cracked him as hard as she could with an open hand, seeing only his face, a flush of color rising, the moment before he hit her with a fist, drove it hard into her mouth and she saw pinpoints of light explode, falling, and felt him pull her again from the bed, locking an arm around her neck as she tried to butt him and dragged her naked from the room, across the hall and into his bedroom. The door slammed. Lights came on. When he threw her at the bed her knee struck the marble pedestal and he had to lift her, breathing through his nose, getting a knee between her bare thighs and now threw himself with her onto the bed, pushing to his knees to open his clothing, Mary feeling the wavy movement of the water bed beneath her, still aware of it, sinking without sinking, his weight pressing down on her again. He smelled of brandy, breathing through his nose, getting all of him between her thighs and using his hand, his fingers to pry and push himself into her, her legs stretched aching with the grinding of his hips. Now face to face as Andres levered his body to look at her, Mary staring back, dull eyes locked like arm wrestlers, Andres breathing with the labor of his body; and when he pressed his mouth against hers, when he gasped, sucking his breath in, she smelled his brandy with the taste of her own blood, felt it slippery wet on her face against his until his face slipped from hers to the pillow. He lay on her without his arms beneath him now, dead weight. Mary didnt move. She waited and would wait as long as she needed to. It was over now, there was nothing more he could do. She turned her head and saw their reflection in the wall of mirrors that covered the doors to Andress closet. Saw her face strangely painted, blood-smeared. Saw her thigh upright against the mass of his pale naked hips. Saw the hem of the bedspread hanging and the marble pedestal that had the appearance of a solid block beneath the water mattress. Making love on millions now raped on millions to mark the end of a marriage, Andres having the last word. Let him.

When he pushed up, throwing her leg aside as he got off the bed to stand with his clothes open, wiping a hand over his face, he looked at her and said, Whore. Does he do that to you?

She got up and walked out of the room, aching, feeling her front teeth, testing them with her fingers. In her bathroom she turned the light on to stare at her reflection, slipped on a terry-cloth robe now as she studied a face she had never seen before. God, she was a mess, mouth swollen, teeth aching with a dull throb. She bathed her face with warm water. It surprised her to realize she was alert, more relieved than resentful, a feeling of confidence giving her new energy. Then jumped in spite of her calm as Andress face appeared behind her in the mirror.

Im not finished with you.

He gestured to her to come with him. When Mary hesitated he took her by the arm through her room and across the hall into his bedroom again. Goddamn whore, he said, go over there, and pushed her toward a bank of low dressers. She saw the legal papers, a gold ballpoint pen. Read them or dont read them, I dont care, Andres said, as long as you sign.

She saw her name in block letters on the copy of the hotel registration card, knowing at once what it was, feeling some of her confidence slip away. She picked up the photocopy and looked at it, remembering the moment-standing at the desk and writing in 700 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, making up an address but using her actual maiden name-thinking of Moran in the same hotel five floors above her. Thinking of him now

Sign it.

Andres was coming out of his walk-in closet carrying luggage, a full-size Louis Vuitton fabric suitcase in each hand. He swung them in Marys direction to drop in the middle of the floor.

Sign each copy. Then pack your clothes, everything you own, and get out. He turned and went back into the closet.

Mary picked up the legal papers, saw the heading, Amendment to PreNuptial Agreement, and glanced through the typewritten page, familiar with the legal terms, the ponderous sentence structure. She looked up as Andres came out of the closet with a second pair of Vuitton suitcases.

These I give to you, he said, dropping the luggage. There are more in the closet, all you need. Take them and get out.

Let me be sure I understand this, Mary said, with cold composure, nothing to hide now, nothing to lose. It had begun as a business deal and was ending as one. The divorce settlement is now an option?

Andres was moving toward her. Thats correct. He picked up the pen from the dresser.

And its up to you whether you want to honor it or not.

Yes, I have the privilege of not paying a wife who whores with other men.

Before, it didnt matter, Mary said, composed, but with an effort now. You insisted on a two-million-dollar agreement, regardless of what might cause a divorce.

Now I change my mind, Andres said. You get nothing in settlement, you get nothing in my will, no matter when I die. So if youre plotting my death with your lover you been wasting your time.

The words stunned her, yet were believable coming from Andres. She could study him six more years and still not understand the twists and turns of his mind, the man refusing to accept reality, or still living in another time.

She said, Youve got a lot of class, Andres. You know how long Ive been trying to talk to you?

I would believe, Andres said, since you began fucking in hotel rooms.

God-she wanted to hit him and tried to, bringing up her hand, but he caught her wrist and slapped her hard, slapped her again and forced her over the dresser, face stinging, eyes blurred, and worked the pen into her hand.

Now sign it! Holding her head bent with his fist tangled in her hair.

She wrote her name and he turned to the first copy.

Sign it!

She signed twice again, writing Mary de Boya in a scrawl that seemed as unrelated to her as the name itself, Mary de Boya, signing an identity that was no longer hers.

Once she finished he was finished. Andres pulled her upright, his hand still knotted in her hair, and threw her to the floor, discarded. He walked over to his closet, threw out another suitcase, then went through his dressing room to his bath and slammed the door closed. Within a few moments Mary heard the shower running.

She lay on the floor among several thousand dollars worth of matched Louis Vuitton luggage, eyes level with the pedestal supporting the king-size bed. She moved, pushing up on her elbow, and saw her shadow move on the dull sheen of Italian marble. She was aware of a faint ringing sensation, a feeling of pressure within her head.

But her mind was clear. A deal was a deal.


| Cat Chaser | c