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Книга Army of Devils. Содержание - 7

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Then he took out a folding straight razor. He flicked out the gleaming blade. "What if? No ifs! He will answer. He will tell us everything!"

The capture of the weapon linked LAYAC to a terrorist operation unknown even to Mario Silva's Cuban masters.


Fernando Ruiz put the silver tube to the black mirror of polished onyx.

A line of pure crystalline cocaine, finely chopped and sifted, sparkled on the onyx like a mountain of diamonds rising from a black ocean.

With a finger pressing his left nostril closed, he snorted half the line up his right nostril. Then he switched sides and put the other half up his left nostril.

Falling back on the leather-upholstered couch, Ruiz closed his eyes to the exhilaration racing through his nervous system. His body seemed to float and vibrate in space; his mind pulsed purple behind the stars of his eyes, his arms and legs became flashes of radiating light, his beating heart the spinning orb of a protogalaxy.

All the flesh and organs of his body seemed space-splendorous with cocaine, every cell a star in the infinite black of space.

Except for his nose, which was a black hole of darkness and absence of pleasure, the membranes numb from days of intense cocaine snorting.

But no blood yet, he thought, the image real yet distant, fear merely an abstract thought in his orbit of pleasure. The crystalline coke hadn't cut his membranes up that much. I'll snort till I bleed, then maybe…

Freebase. He'd never before had enough cocaine at one time to reverse the refining process and precipitate coca paste for smoking.

Oh, yeah, freebase. When I'm bleeding, I'll drop some 'ludes and crash for a day or so. Then I'll get myself a freebasing kit. Do this right. Go totally through the top. Hyper space!

In the silence of the condominium, he heard the click of his telephone-answering machine as it intercepted another call. Set to take the call and message without ringing, the machine kept his co-workers at LAYAC away. Even if they came to his complex, they had to call his phone number to buzz his condo. And then the machine would intercept the call. Without an electronic key-signal from the owner or occupant of the unit, the visitors could not enter.

Let them bust through the iron fences and test the guards. Oh, yeah. Boom-boom. That's the advantage of a security complex. Keep my riffraff friends at a distance.

While I go through a kilo of cocaine. Ohhhhhh…

Even as he thought of the plastic bag in his freezer, he did not believe it actually existed. He had traded the machine gun for it, he had tested the cocaine again, he had spooned out a handful, he had reseated it and put in the freezer, but he could not believe it was real.

A kilo.

Could he snort it all? Could he freebase it and smoke it? Would he need to buy some hypos and needles? Could he buy intravenous equipment and drip it into a vein? No…

He'd die.

Too much. If he divided the kilo in halves, kept one pound and sold the other pound, he'd get…

Working the mathematics, he came up with $32,000.

He could put a down payment on a condo of his own — instead of this LAYAC unit.

Or a Porsche? A Mercedes? Lamborghini?

What did he want?

His laughter answered. Cocaine. That's all.

"You watch the news, Fernando?"

The voice shocked him upright. Hands seized his shoulders, another hand pressed down on his mouth to silence him.

Mario Silva, the chairman of LAYAC, stood in the center of the living room. He jangled a set of keys.

As the chairman of LAYAC, Silva had the key to the security condominium complex.

Three "street workers," wide-shouldered hard-faced ex-cons supposedly hired to mediate gang disputes but who actually served as Silva's enforcers, gripped Fernando Ruiz, holding him silent and immobile on the couch.

"Did you see the news tonight, Fernando?" Silva repeated. He glanced to his hired ex-cons. "Let him answer. You make any noise, we'll cut your balls off right now, right here. Now answer me."

To emphasize his questions, Silva opened a straight razor.

His eyes going wide, Ruiz stared at the gleaming blade. "No, I..."

"Then let me tell you what I heard on the news tonight." With the toe of his handmade shoe, Silva swept aside the ivory cigarette lighter and cut-crystal flower vase. He sat on the onyx table directly in front of Ruiz, his knees touching the youth counselor's knees.

"What I heard on the news was that the police have an XM-177. You know, one of those little M-16s. Now why do the police have one of those?"

"How could the pigs have that?" Fernando asked, not comprehending.

"That's what I'm asking you. Last night, some of the brothers went crazy on the petty bourgeoisie. And one gang got wiped out. And what did the cops come up with? An XM-177. What I want to know is this: is it one of ours?"

Ruiz had dreamed up the answer when he traded the black punk for the rifle. Now, the story did not sound right. But he had no other story.

"Yeah. Right. He said Shabaka sent him over for a weapon. That they needed one and some ammo. That was what I was supposed to do, right?"

"Did I give you the order?"


"Then why did you..."

"Shabaka told..."

"He didn't tell you anything. How many rifles did you give the gangs?"

"Only one. The brother who Shabaka sent over — I gave him..."

"Don't lie to me!"

"Only one. I thought..."

"You thought wrong."

Silva signaled to his "street workers."

The three hoods jerked him from the leather couch and marched him across the condo, one hood gripping each arm, one behind him. Ruiz felt steel press into his back.

A hood told him, "You're going with us. Make any noise and we kill you, you know? You gonna make any problems?"

"No. Not me. I'm cool."

The hoods laughed. Ruiz saw Silva smile at the remark and the laughter.

Fernando Ruiz knew they would kill him.

They don't want to do it here, he realized. They'll take me someplace. Someplace where they can kill me and dump me. But they're trying to make me think they won't. Dig it, you got to make them think you believe them!

"Shabaka sent them. Why don't you ask him?"

"We'll talk about that with him," Silva told him. "Now you're cooperating. You don't cooperate, we shoot you down, understand me?"

"Anything you want to know…"

Silva swung open the door. In the last minutes of the smoggy Hollywood afternoon, the sky gray, the air gray, the pool and landscaping of the complex grayed by the smoggy air, the five men left the condo. The three ex-con "streetworkers" stayed close, hands gripping his arms to restrain Ruiz. They went down the stairs to the underground garage.

The hoods released their grip on Ruiz as they descended. Silva and a hood walked ahead of him. The other two stomped down the stairs behind him. At the bottom of the stairwell, the first hood shoved open the fire door to the garage and held it open for the group.

Five steps in front of him, Ruiz saw a convertible waiting. The blond young man behind the wheel revved the engine impatiently as he waited to exit the underground structure. He eased forward, the Fiat's front bumper almost touching the steel security gate as it rolled aside.

Ruiz shoved past Silva and dived. As the hoods shouted, Ruiz opened the door and landed by the driver in the front seat. His legs screaming with pain where they hit the top of the convertible's door, his head jammed between the bucket seats, he reached down and pushed the gas pedal with his hand.

In the confusion and shouting, the driver popped the clutch. Tires squealing, the Fiat lurched up the ramp to the street.

"They want to kill me! Get me out of here. Get away from..."

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