Cold Service - Robert B. Parker

By Diane Henry,2015-02-05 04:51
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Cold Service - Robert B. Parker Cold Service - Robert B. Parker

Robert B Parker

    Cold Service

     FOR JOAN far together



    It started without me."Bookie named Luther Gillespie hired me," Hawk said. "Ukrainian mob was trying to take over his


"Ukrainian mob?" I said.

    "Things tough in the old country," Hawk said. "They come here yearning to breathe free."

    "Luther declined?"

    "He did. They gave him twenty-four hours to reconsider. So he hired me to keep him alive."

    A dignified gray-haired nurse in a sort of dressy flowered smock over her nurse suit came intothe hospital room and checked one of the monitors tethered to Hawk. Then she nodded, tapped anIV line, and nodded again and smiled at Hawk.

    "Is there anything you need?" she said.

    "Almost everything," Hawk said. "But not right now."

    The nurse nodded and went out. Through the window I could see the sun in the west reflectingoff the mirrored surface of the Hancock Tower.

    "I'm guessing that didn't go so well," I said.

    "We're on the way to his house, on Seaver Street, somebody from a window across the streetshoots me three times in the back with a big rifle. Good shooter, grouped all three shotsbetween my shoulder blades. Missed the spine, missed the heart, plowed up pretty much of therest."

    "The heart I'm not surprised," I said, "being as how it's so teeny."

    "Don't go all mushy on me," Hawk said. "I wake up, here I am in a big private room and you besitting in the chair reading a book by Thomas Friedman."

    "Longitudes and Attitudes,"I said.

    "Swell," Hawk said. "How come I got this room?"

    "I know a guy," I said.

    "When I go down, they go on after Luther and kill him and his wife and two of his three kids.The youngest one was in day care."

    "Object lesson," I said. "For the next guy, they push."

    Hawk nodded again.

    "Where's the youngest kid?"

    "With his grandmother," Hawk said. "They tell me I ain't going to die."

    "That's what I heard," I said.

    There were hard things being discussed, and not all of them aloud.

    "I want to know who they are and where they are," Hawk said.

    I nodded.

    "And I want to know they did it," Hawk said. "Not think it, know it."

    "When are you getting out?" I said.

    "Maybe next week."

    "Too soon," I said. "You won't be ready even if we know who and where."

    "Sooner or later," Hawk said, "I'll be ready."

    "Yeah," I said. "You will."

    "And I'll know it when I am."

    "And when you are," I said, "we'll go."

    We were on the twenty-second floor in Phillips House at Mass General. All you could see fromwhere we were was the Hancock Tower gleaming in the setting sun. Hawk looked at it for a while.There was no expression on his face. Nothing in his eyes.

    "Yeah," he said. His voice was uninflected. "We will."


    I STOPPED BY pretty much every day to visit Hawk. One day when I arrived, I saw Junior and TyBop lingering in the hallway outside his room. Both were black. Junior took up most of thecorridor. Fortunately, Ty Bop weighed maybe one hundred thirty pounds, so there was room to getby. I smiled at them cordially. Junior nodded. Ty Bop paid me no attention. He had eyes like acoral snake. Neither meanness nor interest nor affection nor recognition showed in them. Norhumanity. Even standing still, he seemed jittery and bouncy. Nobody on the floor or at thenursing station ventured near either of them.

    "Tony inside?" I said to Junior.

    He nodded and I went in. Tony Marcus was standing by the bed, talking to Hawk. Tony's suit musthave cost more than my car. And he was good-looking, in a soft sort of way. But that wasillusory. There was nothing soft about Tony. He pretty much ran all the black crime in easternMassachusetts, and soft people didn't do that. Tony looked up when I came in.

    "Well, hell, Hawk," Tony said. "No wonder people shooting your ass. You got him for a friend."

    I said, "Hello, Tony."

    He said, "Spenser."

    "Tony and me been talking 'bout the Ukrainian threat," Hawk said.

    "They come to this country," Tony said, "and they look to get a foothold and they see thatnobody in America much care what happen to black folks, so they move on us."

    "Got any names?" I said.

    "Not yet," Tony said. "But I'm planning to defend my people."

    "Tony bein' Al Sharpton today," Hawk said.

    "Don't you have no racial pride, Hawk?" Tony said.

    Hawk looked at Tony without speaking. He had three gunshot wounds and still could barely stand,but the force of his look made Tony Marcus flinch.

    "I'm sorry, man," Tony said. "I take that back."

    Hawk said, "Yeah."

    "I tellin' Hawk he ought to let me put a couple people in here, protect him. Until he's on hisfeet again."

    "Nobody got any reason to follow up," Hawk said. "They done what they set out to do."

    "I think that's right," I said.

    Tony shrugged.

    " 'Sides," Hawk said. "Vinnie's been in and out. Susan's been here. Lee Farrell. Quirk andBelson, for chrissake. There's been a steady parade of good-looking women worrying where I'dbeen hit. Plus, I got a phone call from that Chicano shooter in L.A."

    "Chollo?" I said.

    "Yeah. He say I need a hand he'll come east."

    "See that," I said. "I told you that warm and sunny charm would pay off in friendship andpopularity."

    "Must be," Hawk said.

    "Well," Tony Marcus said, "I got a vast criminal enterprise to oversee. I'll be off. You needsomething, Hawk, you give me a shout."

    Hawk nodded.

    "Say so long to Ty Bop for me," I said.

"He try to bite you when you came in?" Tony said.


    "See that," Tony said. "He like you."

    After Tony left, I sat with Hawk for about an hour. We talked a little. But a lot of the timewe were quiet. Neither of us had any problem with quiet. I looked at the Hancock Tower; Hawklay back with his eyes closed. I had known Hawk all my adult life, and this was the first time,even in repose, that he didn't look dangerous. As I looked at him now, he just looked still.When it was time to go, I stood.

    "Hawk," I said softly.

    He didn't open his eyes.

    "Yeah?" he said.

    "Got to go."

    "Do me a favor," he said with his eyes closed.


    "Have a drink for me," he said.

    "Maybe two," I said.

    Hawk nodded slightly without opening his eyes.

    I put my hand on his shoulder for a moment, took it away, and left.


    I WAS IN my office having a cup of coffee and looking up Ukraine on the Internet. Like most ofthe things I looked up on the Internet, there was less there than met the eye. But I did learnthat Ukraine was a former republic of the Soviet Union, now independent. And that kartoplia wasUkrainian for potato. I knew if I kept at it I could find a Ukrainian porn site. But I wasspared by the arrival of Martin Quirk in my office, carrying a paper bag.

    "Did you know that kartoplia means potato in Ukrainian?" I said.

    "I didn't," Quirk said. "And I don't want to."

    I pointed at my Mr. Coffee on top of the file cabinet.

    "Fresh made yesterday," I said. "Help yourself."

    Quirk poured some coffee.

    "You got donuts in the bag?" I said.

    "Oatmeal-maple scones," Quirk said.



    "No donuts?"

    "I'm a captain," Quirk said. "Now and then I like to upgrade."

    "How do you upgrade from donuts?" I said.

    Quirk put the bag on the desk between us. I shrugged and took a scone.

    "Got to keep my strength up," I said.

    Quirk put his feet up on the edge of my desk and munched on his scone and drank some coffee.

    "Two days ago," Quirk said, "couple of vice cops are working a tavern in Roxbury, having reasonto believe it was a distribution point for dope and/or whores."

    The maple-oatmeal scone wasn't bad, for a non-donut. Outside my window, what I could see of theBack Bay had an authentic gray November look with a strong suggestion of rain not yet fallen.

    "So the vice guys are sipping a beer," Quirk said. "And keeping an eye out, and two white guyscome in and head for the back room. There's something hinky about these guys, aside from beingthe only white men in the room, and one of the vice guys gets up and goes to the men's room,which is right next to the back room."

    Quirk was not here for a chat. He had something to tell me and he'd get to it. I ate some morescone. The oatmeal part was probably very healthy.

    "The guy in the men's room hears some sounds that don't sound good, and he comes out and yellsto his partner, and in they go to the back room with their badges showing and guns out," Quirksaid. "The tavern owner's had his throat cut. The two white guys are heading out. One of themmakes it, but the vice guys get hold of the other one and keep him."

    "Tavern owner?" I said.

    "Dead before they got there; his head was almost off."

    "And the guy you nabbed?"

    "Cold," Quirk said. "The dumb fuck is still carrying the knife, covered with the vic's blood,on his belt. Big, like a bowie knife, expensive, I guess he didn't want to leave it. And thevic's blood is all over his shirt. ME says they tend to gush when they get cut like that. So webring him in and we sweat him. He speaks English pretty good. His lawyer's there, and a coupleof Suffolk AD's are in with us, and after a while he sees the difficulty of his position. Hesays if we can make a deal he can give us his partner, and if the deal's good enough he cangive us the people shot that family over by Seaver Street."

    I was suddenly aware of my breath going in and out.

    "Do tell," I said.

    "I was in there at the time and I said 'family named Gillespie?' He said he didn't know theirnames but it was over by Seaver Street and it was the end of October. Which is right, ofcourse. And I said, 'How about the rifle man that shot the bodyguard.' And he said, 'No sweat.'"

    "He Ukrainian?" I said.

    "Says so."

    "What's his name?"

    "Bohdan something or other," Quirk said. "I got it written down, but I can't pronounce itanyway."

    "Did he give you the others?"

    "Yes. His lawyer fought him all the way. But Bohdan isn't going down for this alone, and hedoes it even though his lawyer's trying to stop him."

    "Think the lawyer was looking out for him?" I said.

    "Not him," Quirk said.

    "Bohdan's a mob guy," I said.

    "Seems like," Quirk said.

    "And his lawyer's probably a mob lawyer."

    "Seems like," Quirk said.

    "And you got the others?"

    Quirk smiled.

    "Five in all," he said.

    "Including Bohdan?"

    "Including him," Quirk said.

    "They all Ukrainian?" I said.

    "I guess so. Except for Bohdan, they all swear they don't understand English, and Ukrainiantranslators are hard to come by. We had to get some professor from Harvard to read them theirrights."

    "Maybe you should keep him on," I said.

    "Too busy," Quirk said. "He's finishing a book on…" Quirk took out a small notebook, openedit, and read from it. "… the evolution of Cyrillic language folk narratives."

    I nodded.

    "That's busy," I said. "Can I have another scone?"

    Quirk pushed the bag toward me.

    "You think it'll make Hawk happy?"

    "Not sure," I said.

    "You think he'd rather have done it himself?"

    "Not sure of that either," I said. "Hawk is sometimes difficult to predict."

    "No shit," Quirk said.


    IN THE AFTERNOONon Thursday, late enough to be dark, with the rain coming hard, I walked downBoylston Street to have a drink with Cecile in the bar at the Four Seasons. We sat by thewindow looking out at Boylston Street with the Public Gardens on the other side. Cecile waswearing a red wool suit with a short skirt and looked nearly as good as Susan would have in thesame outfit. A lot of people looked at us.

    "Hawk asked me to talk with you," I said.

    She nodded.

    "You know his situation?"

    She nodded again. The waiter came for our order. Cecile had a cosmopolitan. I asked for JohnnieWalker Blue and soda.

    "Tall glass," I said. "Lot of ice."

    The waiter was thrilled to get our order and delighted to comply. There was considerabletraffic on Boylston, backing up at the Charles Street light. There were fewer pedestrians. Butenough to be interesting, collars up, hats pulled down, shoulders hunched, umbrellas deployed.

    "I know his surgeon," Cecile said. "We were at Harvard Med together."

    "And he's filled you in?"

    "Well," Cecile said with a faint smile. "He respects patient confidentiality, of course… but Iam reasonably abreast of things."

    "Hawk wants me to explain to you," I said.

    "Explain what?" she said.

    "Him," I said.

    "Hawk wants you to explain him to me?"


    Cecile sat back with her hands resting on the table and stared at me. The waiter came with thedrinks and set them down happily, and went away. Cecile took a sip of her drink and put it backdown and smiled.

    "Well," she said, "I guess I'm flattered that he cares enough to ask you… I think."

    "That would be the right reaction," I said.

    "I could have considered it possible that I knew him well, and perhaps even in ways that youdon't," Cecile said. "For God's sake, you're white."

"That would be another possible reaction," I said.

    Cecile drank some more cosmopolitan. I had some scotch.

    "How long have you known Hawk?" she said.

    "All my adult life."

    "How old were you when you met him?"


    "Good God," Cecile said. "It's hard to imagine either of you being anything but what you are

    right now."

    "Hawk wants you to understand why he doesn't want you to visit."

    "He doesn't need to explain," Cecile said.

    "He doesn't want you to see him when he isn't… when he is, ah, anything but what he has always


    Cecile nodded. She was looking at her drink, turning the stem of the glass slowly in her


    "I am a thoracic surgeon," she said. "I am a black, female thoracic surgeon. Do you have any

    guess how many of us there are?"

    "You're the only black female surgeon I know," I said.

    "Surgery is still mostly for the boys. If you're a woman and want to be a surgeon, you need to

    be tough. If you are a black woman and want to do surgery…"

    She drank a little more.

    "I do not," she said, "need a man to protect me. I don't need one who can't be hurt."

    "No," I said. "I think Hawk knows that."

    She raised her eyebrows.

    "But he needs to be that," I said. "Not for you. For him."

    "That's childish," Cecile said.

    "He knows that," I said.

    "He could change," Cecile said.

    "He doesn't want to. That's the center of him. He is what he wants to be. It's how he's handled

    the world."

    "The world being a euphemism for racism?"

    "For racism, for cruelty, for loneliness, for despair… for the world."

    "Does that mean he can't love?"

    "I don't know. He doesn't seem to hate."

    "It's a high price," she said.

    "It is," I said.

    "I'm black."

    "That doesn't make you just like Hawk," I said.

    "I don't have to pay that kind of price."

    "You're not just like Hawk."

    "Neither are you," she said.

    "No," I said, "neither am I."

    "So what are you saying?"

    "I'm saying he can't see you until he's Hawk again. His Hawk. And he cares enough about you to

    want me to explain it."

    "I'm not sure you have," Cecile said. "No. I'm not sure I have, either," I said. "Have you ever been hurt like this?" Cecile said. "Yes." "Did you want to be alone?" "Susan and Hawk were with me. But the circumstance was different." The waiter drifted solicitously by. I nodded. He paused. I ordered two more drinks. Cecile

    looked out the window for a while. "You love her," Cecile said. "I do." "Is there a circumstance in which you would not want her with you?" "No." Cecile smiled again. "How about if you're cheating on her?" she said. "I wouldn't do that," I said. "Have you ever?" "Yes." "But you won't again." "No." "She ever cheat on you?" "She has." "But she won't again." "No." Cecile smiled without any real humor. "Isn't that what they all say?" "It is," I said. I sipped some scotch. Rain ran down the window, the streets gleamed. The scotch was excellent. "You're not going to argue with me?" "About what they all say?" "Yes." "No," I said. Cecile studied me for a time. "You're more like him than I thought," she said. "Hawk?" She nodded. "I have never heard him defend himself or explain himself," she said. "He's just fucking in

    there, inside himself, entirely fucking sufficient." There was nothing much to say to that. Cecile drank the rest of her cosmopolitan. "And except for being white, I think you are just goddamned fucking like him," she said. "No," I said. "I'm not." She was studying my face like it was the Rosetta stone. "Susan," she said. "You need Susan." "I do."

"Well, he doesn't need me."

    "I don't know if he does or not," I said. "But not wanting to see you now doesn't prove iteither way."

    "If he doesn't need me now, when will he?"

    "Maybe need is not requisite to love."

    "It seems to be for you," she said.

    "Maybe that would be my weakness," I said.

    "Maybe it's not a weakness," she said.

    "Maybe an infinite number of angels," I said, "can balance on the point of a needle."

    She nodded. The waiter brought her another drink.

    "We are getting a little abstract," she said.

    "I don't know if he loves you," I said. "And I don't know if you love him. And I don't know ifyou'll stroll into the sunset together, or should or want to. But as long as you know Hawk, hewill be what he is. He's what he is now, except hurt."

    "And being hurt is not part of what he is?" she said.

    I grinned.

    "It is, at least, an aberration," I said.

    "So if I'm to be with him, I have to take him for what he is?"


    "He won't change."


    "And just what is he?" Cecile said.

    I grinned again.

    "Hawk," I said.

    Cecile took a sip of her drink and closed her eyes and tilted her head back and swallowedslowly. She sat for a moment like that, with her eyes closed and her head back. Then she sat upand opened her eyes.

    "I give up," she said.

    She raised her glass toward me. I touched the rim of her glass with the rim of mine. It made asatisfying clink. We both smiled.

    "Thank you," she said.

    "I'm not sure I helped."

    "Maybe you did," she said.


    HAWK AND I went to a meeting with an assistant prosecutor in the Suffolk County DA's office inback of Bowdoin Square. It wasn't much of a walk from the hydrant I parked on One BullfinchPlace, but Hawk had to stop halfway and catch his breath.

    "Be glad when my blood count get back up there."

    "Me too," I said. "I'm sick of waiting for you all the time."

    He looked bad. He'd lost some weight, and since he didn't have any to lose, his muscle mass wasdepleted. He still seemed to walk slightly bent forward, as if to protect the places where thebullets had roamed. And he looked smaller.

    The meeting room was on the second floor-in front, with three windows, so you could look at theback of the old Bowdoin Square telephone building. Quirk was already there, at the table, with

a Suffolk County ADA, a fiftyish woman named Margie Collins, whom I had met once before.

    "Hawk," Quirk said. "You look worse than I do."

    "Yeah, but I is going to improve," Hawk said.

    Quirk smiled and introduced Margie, who didn't seem to remember that she'd met me once before.Since Margie was still quite good-looking, in a full-bodied, still-in-shape, blond-haired kindof way, her forgetfulness was mildly distressing.

    "Our eyewitness shit the bed," Margie said when we sat down.

    "Stood up in court and said he had been coerced by the police," Quirk said. "Didn't know thedefendants. Didn't know anything about any crimes they'd committed. He was our case. Judgedirected an acquittal."

    Hawk was quiet. For all you could tell, he hadn't heard what was said.

    "How'd they get to him?" I said.

    "We had him in the Queen's Inn," Quirk said. "In Brighton. Two detectives with him all thetime. Nobody in. Nobody out."

    "Except his lawyers," Margie said.

    "Bingo," I said.

    "Yeah. Can't prove it. But when we flipped him in the first place, his lawyer was fighting usall the way."

    "Did I hear you say lawyer s?" I said.

    "Yes," Margie said. "The second one was in fact an attorney. We checked. But I'm sure he wasthe one carried the message."

    "What does whatsisname get for bailing on his deal."

    "Bohdan," Quirk said.

    "He does life," Margie said.

    "Which is apparently a better prospect than the one they offered him," I said.

    "Apparently," Margie said.

    She looked at Hawk.

    "I'm sorry," she said. "We can't shake him."

    Hawk smiled gently.

    "Don't matter," he said.

    "At least the man who shot you will do his time."

    "Maybe," Hawk said.

    "I promise you," Margie said.

    "He ain't going to do much time," Hawk said.

    Quirk was looking out the window, studying the back of the building as if it was interesting.

    "They gonna kill him in prison," Hawk said. "If he gets there. He rolled on them once. Theywon't take the chance."

    Margie looked at Quirk. Quirk nodded.

    "Be my guess," Quirk said.

    Margie looked at me.

    "And what is your role in all of this?" she said.

    "Comic relief."

    "Besides that."

    "My friend dodders," I said. "I have to hold his arm."

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