F Wilson: Fatal Error

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F Wilson Fatal Error
  • Название:
    Fatal Error
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  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Fatal Error: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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"Please, Russ. I can't talk about it. And you mustn't talk about it either. Just let it be. I'm handling it."

"Is it a police thing?"

"No! Not the police! Please don't say anything to the police. I was warned"-in sickeningly graphic detail-"about going to the police."

Russ leaned back against the door and stared at him.

"Jesus… is this as bad as I think it is?"

Munir could do no more than nod.

Russ jabbed a finger at him. "I know somebody who might be able to help."

"No one can help me."

"This guy's good people. I've done some work for him-he's a real four-oh-four when it comes to computers, but he's got a solid rep when it comes to fixing things."

What was Russ talking about?

"Fixing?"

"Situations. He solves problems, know what I'm saying?"

"I… I can't risk it."

"Yeah, you can. He's a guy you go to when you run out of options. He deals with stuff that nobody wants anybody knowing about. That's his specialty. He's not a detective, he's not a cop-in fact, if the cops are involved, this guy's smoke, because he doesn't get along with cops. He's just a guy. But I'll warn you up front, he's expensive."

No police… that was good. And money? What did money matter where Barbara and Robby were concerned? Maybe a man like this was what he needed, an ally who could deal with the monster that had invaded his life.

"This man… he's fierce?"

Russ nodded. "Never seen it, and you'd never know it to look at him, but I hear when the going gets ugly, he gets uglier."

"How do I contact him?"

"I'll give you a number. Just leave a message. If he doesn't get back to you, let me know. Jack's gotten kind of distracted these days and picky about what he takes on. I'll talk to him for you if necessary."

"Give me the number."

Perhaps this was what he needed: a fierce man.

4

I'm running out of space, Jack thought as he stood in the front room of his apartment and looked for an empty spot to display his latest treasure.

His Sky King Magni-Glow Writing Ring had just arrived from his connection in southeast Missouri. It contained a Mysterious Glo-signaler ("Gives a strange green light! You can send blinker signals with it!"). The plastic ruby unfolded into three sections, revealing a Secret Compartment that contained a Flying Crown Brand ("For sealing messages!"); the middle section was a Detecto-Scope Magnifying Glass ("For detecting fingerprints or decoding messages!"); and the outermost section was a Secret Stratospheric Pen ("Writes at any altitude, or under water, in red ink!").

Neat. Incredibly neat. The neatest ring in Jack's collection. Far more complex than his Buck Rogers Ring of Saturn, or his Shadow ring, or even his Kix Atomic Bomb Ring. It deserved auspicious display. But where? His front room was already jammed with radio premiums, cereal giveaways, comic strip tie-ins-crassly commercial tchotchkes from a time before he was born. He wasn't sure why he collected them, but knew when and where the addiction had started: in his teens when he'd worked at a store that specialized in junk. But he didn't know why. After years of accumulating his hoard, Jack still hadn't found the answer. So he kept buying. And buying.

Old goodies and oddities littered every flat surface on the mismatched array of Victorian golden oak furniture crowding the room. Certificates proclaiming him an official member of The Shadow Society, the Doc Savage Club, the Nick Carter Club, Friends of the Phantom, the Green Hornet GJM Club, and other august organizations papered the walls.

At least the place was his again. Weezy had moved out after Thanksgiving. She'd finally accepted that no one was looking for her anymore, and had found a sublet a few blocks away in a new high-rise. Still, she'd insisted on renting it under an assumed name.

Jack glanced at the Shmoo clock on the wall above the hutch. Time for a brew or two. He placed the Sky King Magni-Glo Writing Ring next to his Captain Midnight radio decoder, pulled a worn red Lands' End Windbreaker over his flannel shirt, and headed for the door.

Outside in the frigid darkness, he hurried through the Upper West Side, feeling kind of bummed that Gia and Vicky were leaving for Iowa tomorrow. Out of the blue she'd come up with this idea to visit her folks back home. She went back a couple of times a year to keep Vicky in touch with her grandparents-the little girl's paternal family, the Westphalens, had been scoured from the face of the Earth-but usually in warmer weather. If it was this cold in Manhattan, what the hell was it like in Ottumwa, Iowa?

Didn't make sense, but since when did family need to make sense?

He passed trendy boutiques and eateries that catered to the local yuppies and dinks. The economic downturn that started back in '09 had caused a few to close, but the effect here had been mere decimation rather than the holocaust elsewhere. They were coming back already.

No recession at Julio's. Even on a Monday night, the drinkers stood three deep around the bar, two-hundred-dollar shirts and three-hundred-dollar sweaters wedged next to grease-monkey overalls. Julio's had somehow managed to hang on to its old clientele despite the invasion of the Ralph Lauren, Armani, and Donna Karan set. The yups and dinks had discovered Julio's a while back. Thought it had "rugged charm," found the bar food "authentic," and loved its "unpretentious atmosphere."

They drove Julio up the wall.

Julio stood behind the bar, under the FREE BEER TOMORROW… sign. Jack waved to let him know he was here. As Jack wandered the length of the bar he passed a blond dink in a gray Armani cashmere sweater that had to cost north of a grand. He must have been here before because he was pointing out the dead succulents and asparagus ferns hanging in the windows to a couple who were apparently newcomers.

"Aren't they just fabulous?" he said between quaffs from a mug of draft beer.

"Why doesn't he just get fresh ones?" the woman beside him asked.

She was sipping white wine from a smudged tumbler. She grimaced as she swallowed. Julio made a point of stocking the sourest Chardonnay on the market.

"I think he's making a statement," the guy said.

"About what?"

"I haven't the faintest. But don't you just love them?"

Jack knew what the statement was: Callusless people go home. But they didn't see it. Julio was purposely rude to them, and he'd instructed his help to follow his lead, but it didn't work. The dinks thought it was a put-on, part of the ambience. They ate it up.

Jack stepped over the length of rope that closed off the back half of the seating area and dropped into his usual booth in the darkened rear. As Julio came out from behind the bar, the blond dink flagged him down.

"Can we get a table back there?"

"No," Julio said.

The muscular little man brushed by him and nodded to Jack on his way to bus the empty glasses. Jack signaled for a Yuengling.

"Hey, Jack."

Jack looked up to see Russ Tuit stepping over the cord and approaching.

"Russ," he said, shaking his hand. "A little far from home, aren't you?" He lived over on Second Avenue.

"Need to talk to you."

Jack had his back against the wall and indicated a chair opposite him.

"Looking for work?"

Russ was Jack's go-to guy for all things cyber-legal or not so legal. He'd done time for hacking a bank and was still on probation.

He smiled. "Believe it or not, I'm gainfully employed. Full time too. And you'll never guess by who."

"The feds."

Russ's face fell. "How… how…?"

Jack had to laugh. "Well, you said I'd never guess, so I figured the least likely people to hire a federal felon would be the feds. What've they got you doing-hacking citizens?"

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