Warren Murphy: Mafia Fix

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  • Название:
    Mafia Fix
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  • Жанр:
    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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When ten billion filthy drug dollars' worth of heroin pollutes the Jersey shore and threatens to make the Mafia a second Evil Empire, the president knows there's just one man who can stop a Jersey Kingpin from destroying the country and that's an ex-Jersey cop resurrected and nicknamed the Destroyer. Remo Williams is on a mission to mainline death and destruction into the Cosa Nostra before Main Street gets stuck. But how will Master Chiun's masterpiece of a human killing machine score? Will history's biggest drug score go bust? With Remo on the mission you know he'll sniff out the swine and cover his tracks but when he gets to the top will he find he's gone too high and realize that the Mafia fix is in?

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You say okay and they all pile into yours, four guys crammed into the cab. One of them starts praying. About 6 a.m. by the watch, the truck is running out of diesel fuel so one of the guys says he will go to get more from the other trucks. He doesn't come back. It gets colder in the cab even with the bodies and it's hard to breathe. You draw matches for who is to go to one of the other trucks for fuel. You curse yourself for not taking the fuel at the beginning, but then no one expected to be in there that long. The guy who had parked next to you draws short. You all chip in your shirts, so that he is wearing three summer shirts.

When you open the cab door, you know he is not going to make it, because you can practically cut the carbon monoxide fumes. You turn off the lights because with the engine down, you need the battery as much as possible.

You're alone with one other driver and about noon, shivering shirtless in the cab, he asks you to shoot him. You say no because you have enough sins on your soul already. He begs. He says he'll do it himself if you don't.

You don't and he starts to cry and the tears freeze on his face. You're not feeling anything. If you don't kill yourself and offer this up to God, maybe he'll take you into heaven, or, at least, purgatory. You had always planned to make amends and you vow that if you get out, you're going straight.

And then you are numb all over. You're very sleepy and you wonder why you had always feared death.

Thus ended the ballad of Vinnie the Rock Palumbo.

Oh, Frozen to Death. Oh, Frozen to Death. On a hot August Day in New Jersey.

CHAPTER FOUR

The frail wisp of an aged oriental was named Chiun and Remo Williams watched him with respect.

Chiun stood on top of a chest of drawers near a porthole in the stateroom, a spiral bound notebook in his hand.

He tore out one sheet of paper, then held it at arm's length like a dirty diaper, out over the floor.

He opened his fingers and released the paper and softly said, "go."

The paper fluttered down, sloshing from side to side. When it was four feet from the floor, it stopped, speared on Remo's fingertips.

Remo pulled the torn paper off his fingertips and won a smile from Chiun. "Good," the old Oriental said, the smiling creasing the parchment texture of his face. "Now again."

This time Chiun crumpled the paper slightly and reached up on tiptoes before letting it drop and calling "go." The paper dropped faster, with less side-to-side movement. It dropped straight to the floor and lay there on the nylon carpet like an unanswered accusation.

Chiun stared angrily at Remo. "Why?" he said.

Remo was laughing. "I can't help it, Chiun. You look so damn silly standing up there. I was thinking you'd look terrific if I had you sprayed gold and put you on my mantel. Then I had to laugh. People do, you know."

"I am well aware," Chiun said in his clipped, precise Oriental tones, "that mankind is the only species that laughs. Mankind is also the only species that dies from lack of conditioning. It may happen to you, Remo, if you do not practice. This floater stroke is very important and very useful, but it must be done correctly."

And for the twentieth time on the cruise aboard the S. S. Atlantica, Remo heard the explanation of the floater stroke. How it depended for its effectiveness on the mass of the victim or the object to be struck. That there was no energy loss between the time the stroke was un-cocked and impact. But that if the object were missed, the force could easily dislocate the striker's shoulder.

"Chiun," Remo had said, "I know seventy-eight different strokes. I know strokes with the finger and the toes, with the hands, knuckles, feet, elbows, and knees and even with my hipbones. What the hell do I need another one for?"

"Because you must be perfect. After all, are you not Shiva, the Destroyer?" and Chiun had cackled, as he had so often since they had returned from China on a mission for the President during which Remo was thought to be the reincarnation of one of the Hindu gods, Chiun chuckled about it only when he talked to Remo. He laughed to no one else, for a very simple reason. He believed the story. Remo Williams was Shiva the Destroyer.

But he was also Chiun's pupil and now Chiun tore another piece of paper from the notebook, held it above his head, released it, and softly called, "go."

The paper fluttered down gently, and then it was not one sheet of paper anymore, it was two, sliced in half lengthwise by a chop from the hand of Remo Williams.

It would have been a very impressive display if anyone had seen it. But their suite of cabins was on the very top deck of the Atlantica. Outside their glass door and porthole windows, the deck had been sealed off as a private verandah, and there was only the sea.

Below the deck their cabins were on was another deck and below that another deck, and then another and another, until you were down in the bowels of the ship, and there were no more portholes because you were right at the waterline. There were cabins down there too except the furniture was not walnut, it was chipped paint steel and the floors had no carpet, they had only linoleum tile. And in the stern of the ship, in the cheapest, rockiest cabin the Atlantica had to offer, was Dr. Harold W. Smith, head of CURE, one of the several most powerful men in the world.

He lay in his hard bed trying desperately to focus his eyes on a spot in the ceiling until his stomach returned to normal. He had a theory that if he could somehow lock his eyes onto the spot, and then move when the spot moved, it would reduce the feeling of motion and he might survive.

But down that deep in a ship, the motion is not only one of rocking. The ship slides from side to side as well. It slid then and the spot went port. Dr. Smith went starboard and he kept going starboard until he rolled over onto his stomach and was reaching desperately for the waste paper basket.

Damn that Remo Williams. Sometimes Dr. Smith wondered if winning the war against crime was really worth having to put up with him.

Dr. Smith had contacted Remo in Nassau, where his cruise ship had tied up, and told Remo he should fly back to the states immediately for reassignment. Remo had refused. He told Dr. Smith he had made the finals of the dancing contest on board the ship and so he would have to cruise back or miss his chance at the gold cup. Why didn't Dr. Smith fly down and sail back with him, Remo suggested.

"Well have plenty of time then to talk about the new assignment," Remo said.

"I don't have the time to go sailing around the world with you," Smith had said.

"Then I won't tell you what happened to your old buddy Hopkins and his plan to blackmail CURE. You'll find out about it someday when you get a secret letter in the mail asking you for forty-three billion dollars in ones."

"Very funny," Smith said. "I know what happened to Hopkins. I got a report."

"Oh, balls. Well, come on down anyway and I'll tell you what I did to Howard Hughes," Remo said. He had insisted and importuned and become stubborn, and finally, after he guaranteed that he would get Smith a good cabin, Smith had agreed.

And now here he was, vomiting up his youth and his future, and hating Remo Williams more each minute.

But Harold W. Smith had not gotten where he was by shirking duty. He had not been tapped to head CURE, the government's secret crime-fighting agency, because he lacked character. So he slowly got to his feet and, staggering slightly, moved across the room to take a black suitcase out of his closet. It was made of cardboard and it had no travel stickers on it. Then, carefully locking his door behind him, he began the walk up five decks to Remo Williams' suite of cabins.

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