Tim Green: Exact Revenge

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Tim Green Exact Revenge
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    Exact Revenge
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    Триллер / на английском языке
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    Английский
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A promising attorney and political candidate, Raymond White was on the fast track when his life was suddenly derailed. Unexpectedly framed and convicted of murder, he is sentenced to solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison. Alone with his inner rage, Raymond methodically plots his revenge against those who schemed to ruin his career and take away his life. Now, after spending 18 years behind bars, Raymond makes his escape – and is ready to finally put his plan into action.

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“I’m fine.”

“They say you might be the one to replace me. I’m glad. I wish they asked me, but I’m glad anyway.”

I nodded and reached out to touch the back of his hand. The veins were pale and green and riddled with scabbed-over needle holes. His skin was cool, but dry. I regretted touching him anyway. The men in suits were watching.

“Hey,” I said, “this might be like the ’82 election. Remember that bounce-back?”

He started to laugh, but it ended in a painful-sounding choke that set the monitor off like a small guard dog. When he recovered, he turned his hand over and clutched my fingers in his own with an awkward grip. His nails needed a trim.

“My family left me two days after the first time I was elected,” he said. “That was my second wife.”

I nodded.

“Why?”

I shook my head.

“Duck hunting,” he said, again. “Standing in those cattails, remember? The sun not even up. The birds swarming in on us like insects. Clear your head, Raymond. As often as you can. You grow cobwebs inside you until you die. They only clear for those last few weeks? Why would He do that to us?”

His lips kept moving, but little sound came out. I leaned closer.

“… promise…”

“You want me to promise?” I asked.

He nodded and I moved even closer.

“You take this,” he said, squeezing tight. “Only you. I wrote it myself. Here. In New Jersey. Remember that. You give it to her. As soon as you get back. Right away, Raymond. No one else. You tell no one. Will you promise me that?”

In his other hand was a legal-size envelope. He held it out to me. A woman’s name and address were scrawled on the front: Celeste Oliver. I looked into his milky green eyes, red-rimmed and brimming with moisture, and took it from him. His eyes closed and his head went back into the pillow. The men in suits seemed to be oblivious to our arrangement, so I said good-bye to Roger, even though he was already asleep.

3

AT ELEVEN IN THE MORNING on Friday, the directors from Iroquois National Bank signed a seven-year retainer agreement for Parsons amp; Trout to be both their national and regional counsel in twenty-two different states. I threw my suit coat over my arm and jogged back to the Plaza. I threw everything into a suitcase, checked out, and left New York City for the first time in over four weeks.

The drive home took me just over four hours with a stop for gas and a drive-thru burger. The door of my black wedge-shaped Celica Supra stayed open when I jumped out into the brick flagpole circle in front of Parsons amp; Trout. Sunshine glared down from between the clouds. The agreement was clutched between my fingers and it ruffled in the warm breeze. I skipped the steps, leaping right to the threshold between the thick soaring columns that supported the pediment of the old post office.

Parsons amp; Trout bought the building cheap in the late seventies, then renovated it as a historical site with tax-free dollars all through the coming years. Now it was the most impressive office space in the state outside New York City. Inside, as I climbed the marble steps to the second floor, I realized that the firm would be able to keep it now. The brass banisters. The oriental rugs. The Tiffany fixtures.

Dan Parsons was my mentor, and I loved him almost as much as my own dad. He was tall and husky with curly white hair and a round florid face that changed colors easily. Three years without a cigarette had left him with a small potbelly. His nose was bulbous, but not big, and his eyes had crow’s feet from smiling so much. He was the kind of man who smiled even when he was raving mad. He had two kids my age whom he didn’t speak to and a young son with his second wife. She was a former Miss New York with false breasts and eyelashes and great muscular legs. But she also laughed at Dan’s jokes and stood by him in the worst of financial times.

Dan’s office was just off the old courtroom. His secretary kept people out, but I sprinted right past. I made a hard left and pushed through the leather-upholstered doors into the old courtroom. Fluted columns rose twenty feet to the ceiling. Gilt molding shone down on the crystal chandeliers and the parquet floors. Dan sat at the head of the long burl wood table at the other end of the room, under the shadow of the old mahogany judge’s bench. Next to Dan sat Bob Rangle, only twenty-seven but already the chairman of the Onondaga County Republican Party.

Rangle could be a twit, but he was so damn ingratiating that I couldn’t bring myself to dislike him, even though a lot of other people did. He was a thin man with big beetle-black eyes set close to a sharp little nose and well below the receding brown hair that he liked to slick back. His fingers were long and narrow and he liked to grasp all four with his other hand and crank his hand back and forth as if he were throttling a motorcycle or winding himself up. When he smiled, the pointed tips of his small white teeth made him look even more like a weasel. He wore a dark suit with padded shoulders, an electric blue tie, and a white shirt with big silver cuff links. A conservative Huey Lewis.

The two of them looked up at me like I’d forgotten my pants.

“Hey,” Rangle said, “Raymond.”

“I got the deal,” I said, waving the agreement in the air.

Dan jumped out of his seat and snatched the papers from my hand, scrutinizing the signatures as if he suspected a fake. He wore yellow suspenders and his blue shirtsleeves were unbuttoned and rolled up to his elbows. He plopped down into one of the leather swivel chairs, laughing, with his thumb and index finger spread across his forehead.

“He did it,” Dan said to Rangle, looking up.

“You did it,” Dan said again, this time to me.

The corners of my face were beginning to hurt.

“This is thirty million a year,” Dan said, snapping his fingernails against the paper. “Minimum. Your bonus will be over two… closer to three if I get my way. How’s that?”

“I’ll take it,” I said.

Dan stood and put his arms around me. He clapped me on the back before holding me at arm’s length to grin some more. Rangle sat looking at us with his head bouncing around like it was attached by a spring. He said “Congratulations” with that toothy smile of his.

“Goddamn, you’re cool. Cool under pressure. You know what I’m going to do?” Dan said. “Make you a congressman.”

“I just saw Roger on Monday,” I said, subduing my voice to a level I thought appropriate for a man who had just died.

I looked at Rangle. His smile thawed and he blinked at us.

“What about experience?” he said, cranking up his fingers.

“We were just talking about it,” Dan said to me. “Bob thinks it should be him.”

Rangle’s face turned blotchy. He folded his arms across his chest and shifted in his seat.

“Experience is going to be crucial,” he said. “Politics is my world. It was my father’s world.”

“That’s what’s perfect about Raymond,” Dan said, raising his hands into the air like a five-year-old, palms up, fingers splayed. “People don’t necessarily want insiders. They want an everyman. Like Jimmy Stewart… The governor agrees.”

“The governor?” Rangle asked.

“I talked to him,” Dan said. “You know how much money I’ve given him. He wants to announce it tomorrow night.”

Rangle’s mouth fell open and his head tilted at an odd angle.

“The committee will have to vote on it,” Dan said. “That’s why I wanted to see you. You’ll have to call an emergency meeting.”

“The governor?” Rangle asked, his eyes drifting off toward the beam of sunlight poking through the tall arched window by the old judge’s bench. “Of course, and Raymond’s an Indian…”

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