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48

WHAT MIKEY believed in was patience; that's what he told his crew all the time. "Don't fuckin jump into nothin, be patient. First find out what the fuck, and then it's fuckin yours."

Another thing Mikey believed in was revenge. He probably believed in revenge more than in patience or anything else, if it came to that. If Mikey were ever to build a shrine to something other than himself, it would be to revenge.

Also, a third thing Mikey believed in, passionately and without question, was profit. Everybody earns; everybody's taken care of. If you don't have profit, what have you got? Nothing. QED.

In the O.J. Bar Grill business, the three things Mikey believed in were finally about to come together. A sweet deal he'd set up had been queered for him by some stumblebum heister named Dortmunder, not Dortmund as originally reported, plus a few of Dortmunder's unconnected loser pals. So what was needed? What was needed was to get revenge on Dortmunder and his pals, and to make a profit out of that revenge, and for all that to happen, Mikey had to be patient, which he damn well knew how to be.

This Dortmunder was such a clown, Mikey's people had been tailing him for two days, ever since Mikey's guy had picked up that name, almost the right name, in the O.J., and not once had Dortmunder even suspected there was somebody on his trail.

Not that he did much, most of the time. Once on Wednesday, and again this morning, he'd gone to the Upper West Side to the same apartment building, and this morning he'd come out of it with some gnarled little jerk, and they'd taken a cab over to Fifth and Sixty-eighth, where they'd met up with three other guys that were definitely part of Dortmunder's crew, part of the bunch that had screwed up Mikey's deal at the O.J. This time, they had a pretty big truck with them, and they and the truck all went into a garage on Sixty-eighth.

When all this was reported to Mikey, at home in New Jersey, he said, "We'll fuckin meet right there. In the fuckin park. Pass the word. We want the fuckin crew and we want some fuckin cars."

On his way to Central Park from farthest New Jersey, Mikey saw how it was going to play out, how it had to play out. Dortmunder and his people were heisters, independent heisters — he knew that much — and the story was, the reason they'd involved themselves with his sweet deal at the O.J. and loused it up the way they did in the first place was that they wanted to make a meet in the O.J.'s back room, because that was where they always met when they were planning a job.

Planning a job. Was that perfect? There they were now, in that garage, loading up the truck with something or other valuable from that house — or more likely the small private museum on the next street behind it.

Mikey would be patient. He would give them all the time they needed, all the time in the world, and whenever they finally did bring that truck back out of that garage, Mikey and his friends would be there to take it away from them. Revenge and profit, in one neat ball.

The only little potential difficulty was the fact that all this was taking place in New York City. Mikey's crew, and his father Howie's entire outfit, operated within an agreement with the families in New York: that the New York guys didn't interfere with New Jersey, and the New Jersey guys didn't interfere with New York. Pulling off anything at all on this side of the river could be looked at, by anybody who wanted to be a stickler for detail, as a violation of that agreement, which could possibly end in consequences.

On the other hand, this wasn't any New York City operation Mikey was messing in; this was a bunch of no-connection independents against whom he had a legitimate beef. So this would be like what the army guys call a surgical strike: invade, pull the job, clear out. Everything beautiful.

(The O.J, bustout, if it had gone down the way it should, would also have been a technical violation of the interstate agreement, but there it was a unique deal, with Mikey the only one who could get hold of the place to squeeze it, and at the end of the operation the appropriate New York family would have been given an explanation, an apology, and a small piece, and there would have been no trouble. This, involving hijack, maybe guns shown, violence on the streets of Manhattan, was a different matter entirely.)

By eleven Mikey had everything in position. Sixty-eighth Street was one-way east, so he had a car stopped by a hydrant down toward the other end of the block. The next intersection, Madison Avenue, was northbound, so he had a car stopped around the corner on Madison, and a third waiting beyond Madison on Sixty-eighth. He had two soldiers in each car, equipped with cell phones.

Whichever way the truck went, Mikey's people would be on it, two cars at first and the third catching up. They would tail it and wait for just the right spot to crowd it to a stop, throw those people out of there, take over the truck themselves, and drive it straight to New Jersey.

Also, unless Dortmunder's crew acted wise, which Mikey didn't expect to happen, in deference to the agreement with New York there would be minimum violence and, if possible, no shooting. Smart, you had to be smart.

Seated on a bench in the park, though it faced the wrong way, Mikey could twist halfway around and look back past the low stone wall at the park's edge and across Fifth Avenue and straight down Sixty-eighth Street. Like a general with an overview of the battlefield; nice.

Mikey sat there, on the bench in Central Park, and was patient.


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