Ross Thomas: Missionary Stew

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Ross Thomas Missionary Stew
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Missionary Stew: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Hired by a political kingmaker to investigate a cocaine war, journalist Morgan Citron uncovers a scandal involving the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. It’s a story that will make Watergate look like a parking ticket — if Citron lives to tell about it.

Ross Thomas: другие книги автора

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“If something goes kaput, call a plumber or a carpenter or an electrician. Whatever. I’ll give you a list of numbers. It’s cheaper in the long run. Professional maintenance, I mean.”

“All right.”

“I’ve only got two rules. Maybe three. Don’t rent to any coke dealers or whore ladies. And anyone who doesn’t come up with their rent by the tenth of the month is out on their ass. No exceptions. Okay?”

Citron nodded. “Okay.”

“Then you’re hired,” she said.

Out of loyalty and gratitude to his new employer, Citron sat through her speech, which turned out to be predictably gloomy and uncommonly trenchant. When the pledge cards were passed around, he pocketed his and told a vaguely familiar-looking young television actress that he’d mail his check in.

Chapter 4

The name that Jack Replogle signed to checks and contracts was John T. Replogle. The T stood for Townsend. He built things. Or rather Replogle Construction, Inc., did. With its headquarters in Denver and offices in Jidda and Rome and Singapore, it built things all over the world — roads, docks, airfields, hospitals, pipelines, virtually anything. Replogle was the firm’s president and chief executive officer. He was both very rich and very smart, and if he had a hobby, it was politics.

Over the years Replogle had come to specialize in political fund-raising, which he always called “shaking down the flush-bottoms back East” — although back East to Replogle could mean Dallas or Tulsa or Kansas City or Chicago. Over the years he had shaken them down for close to forty million dollars.

It was around 10:00 when he and Draper Haere stopped in Idaho Springs for breakfast, a meal Haere had never been able to do without. Although he regularly skipped lunch, Haere could never deny himself breakfast, which was invariably the same: two eggs over easy; bacon or sausage; toast and hash browns, or — if he was in the South — grits. He had grown fond of grits in Birmingham.

Haere noticed the big high-sprung dark-blue pickup truck when they pulled into the café. It was a Dodge. He noticed it because of the angle parking that made it almost impossible not to read the sticker plastered across the pickup’s tailgate. The sticker read: “Is There Life After Death? Fuck with This Truck and Find Out.”

Replogle ordered only coffee, which he scarcely touched. He told Haere he didn’t eat much anymore and that the drugs he had to take made everything taste like brass. For some reason, however, the drugs didn’t affect the taste of liquor, so he was drinking more than he probably should, although at this point in his life he didn’t think anyone was bothering to keep score.

Back in the station wagon, Replogle again buckled his seat belt, and again Haere didn’t. But this time Replogle failed to go through the fighter-pilot-goggles business, either because he forgot, or because he thought that once a day for the old joke was enough.

They drove in silence for five minutes or so admiring the scenery. It had also snowed the night before in the mountains, and there was a seasonal accumulation of three or four feet on level ground and much deeper than that in the drifts. The snowplows had already been through that morning, and the highway was clear and even dry in places where the sun had managed to get at it.

Replogle lit another of his cigarettes and said, “When they told me they were going to have to cut, I decided to take a little trip.”

“How little?”

“Not so little. Around the world. I started in Jidda, where I fired a couple of guys and brought in three more. Then I doubled back to Rome, where I didn’t fire anybody because you can’t beat those Italians for hot-weather construction. I even hired a couple of real finds there and then flew on out to Singapore. That’s where it happened. In Singapore.”


“What I’m going to tell you about, which is the reason you’re here.”


“You know about me and Langley.” It wasn’t a question.

“No,” Haere said. “I don’t.”

“At least you suspected.”

“All right. I suspected.”

“You never said anything.”

Haere shrugged. “It wasn’t any of my business.”

“When’s that ever bothered you?”

“Okay,” Haere said. “I presumed.”

That seemed to mollify Replogle. “Okay, let’s say you also presumed that before anything gets built in some country where the weather’s hot and the people’re poor there’s going to be some graft — some dash, baksheesh, whatever you want to call it. Otherwise, the poor folks aren’t going to get their shiny new doctorless hospitals, or their four-lane highways going nowhere, or their brand-new international airports where they can go out every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday and watch a twenty-year-old DC-8 drop in — maybe. At least none of these things — without graft — is going to be built by Replogle Construction. Instead, they’re all going to be built by the British or the Italians or those fucking Koreans, who’re getting to be a real menace. So. I’ve spread a little money around — right?”

He seemed to be expecting some sort of answer, so Haere said, “Right. Absolutely.”

“And the first thing you know the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Works and Progress, who’s been getting to work in his five-year-old VW, if he’s lucky, suddenly starts showing up in his brand-new chauffeur-driven BMW that he thinks nobody’s going to notice the way they would a new Mercedes, which is what he and his wife and his girlfriend really had their hearts set on. I’m making myself clear, I take it?”

“I thought Congress made them tax-deductible. Bribes, I mean.”

“Not if it’s against the law in the country where you hand out the grease. And I’m not talking about tipping the headwaiter. I’m talking about corruption. Big bucks.”

“You’re also exaggerating.”

“A little. But not much. Not much.”

“It’s an old story anyway,” Haere said.

“Old as the Pyramids — and the Acropolis and El Tajin and the fucking hanging gardens of Babylon. Nothing public ever got built clean. Not even by the WPA. I’m convinced.”

“So what happens?”

“So what happens is that I’m awarded the contract. And maybe four or five months or even a year later, I’m back out there where it’s hot in my air-conditioned suite at the Inter-Continental — it’s almost always the Inter-Continental, for some reason — and I’m trying to find out why my cement is still a little soupy, or why my steel I-beams are maybe a touch brittle — and the phone rings.”

“The phone rings,” Haere said.

“If it’s working that day, yeah. And on the phone is the second secretary or maybe the commercial attaché at the embassy who wants to know if he can drop by for a minute.”

“Whose embassy?”


“Right. Ours.”

“Well, he shows up in his Haspel seersucker and his black knit silk tie and his lace-up cordovans and no, he doesn’t think he’ll have a drink because it’s still a tiny bit early for him, but I should go right ahead, if I really want one, and he’ll just have a Perrier, if I have it, but if not, no problem, club soda will do just fine. Well, already I’m a morning lush. So he talks about this and that for a while and then wants to know if there’s anything the embassy can do for me, because if there is, all I need to do is holler, except he doesn’t say holler because he went to Princeton or Yale or Harvard, like you, and Har-vards don’t say holler much.”

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