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Ebook "The Whole Truth"
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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
Upload bìa: Dieu Chau
Language: English
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Chapter 4
HE CAB SHAW TOOK from the train station dropped him off at the grand Amstel Intercontinental Hotel. It housed seventy-nine rooms of great beauty, many with enviable views of the river Amstel, although Shaw was not here for the views.
Adhering to his role-playing over the next three days, Shaw was a tourist in town. There were few places more suited to that enterprise than Amsterdam, a city of 750,000 people, only half of them Dutch-born. He took a boat ride, enthusiastically snapping pictures of a city with more canals than Venice and nearly thirteen thousand bridges in a space of barely two hundred square kilometers, of which one-fourth was water.
Shaw was especially drawn to the houseboats, nearly three thousand of them, docked along the canals. They appealed to him because they represented roots. Even though they were floating on water, these boats never moved. They were handed down from one generation to the next or sold outright. What might that feel like, he wondered, to have such ties to one place?
He later donned shorts and running shoes and jogged across the wide-open spaces of Oosterpark near his hotel. In a very real sense Shaw had been running his whole life. Well, if things went according to plan that was going to end. Either that or he’d end up dead. He would gladly take the risk. In a way, he was dead already.
Sipping a coffee at the Bulldog, Amsterdam’s most famous café chain, Shaw watched people go about their business. And he also eyed the men who were so very clearly watching him. It was pathetic, really, observing folks undertaking surveillance who didn’t have the least clue as to how to do it properly.
The next day he lunched at one of his favorite restaurants in the city, run by an elderly Italian. The man’s wife sat at one table reading the newspaper all day while her husband acted as maître d’, waiter, chef, busboy, dishwasher, and cashier. The place only had four barstools and five tables, not counting the wife’s domain, and prospective customers had to stand in the doorway and be scrutinized by the husband. If he nodded, you were allowed to eat. If he turned away, you found another place to dine.
Shaw had never been turned away. Perhaps it was his imposing physical stature, or his magnetic blue eyes that seemed to snatch one up in their powerful embrace. But most likely it was because the owner and he had once worked together, and it wasn’t in the field of food and beverage.
That night Shaw put on a suit and attended the opera at the Muziektheater. After the performance was over he could’ve walked back to his hotel, but he chose instead to head in the opposite direction. Tonight was why he’d really come to Holland. He was a tourist no longer.
As he approached the red-light district he observed some activity down a dark and particularly narrow alleyway. A little boy stood there in the shadows. Next to him was a rough-looking man with his zipper down and one large hand stuffed in the boy’s pants.
In an instant Shaw had changed direction. He slipped into the alley and placed a blow to the back of the man’s head. It was a measured strike, designed to stun, not kill, though Shaw was sorely tempted to finish off the predator. As the man fell unconscious to the pavement Shaw crammed a hundred euros in the boy’s hand and sent him off with a hard push and a dire warning in Dutch. As the child’s frantic footfalls echoed away, Shaw knew the boy would at least not starve or die tonight.
As he resumed his original route he noted for the first time that the old stock exchange was directly across from the hookers in the red-light. This struck him as odd until he thought about it. Cash and prostitution had always been bedfellows. He wondered if some of the ladies accepted company shares in lieu of euros as payment.
Even more ironic than the exchange’s close proximity to the whores was that the red-light district completely surrounded Oude Kerk, or Old Church, the city’s most ancient and largest house of worship. Built in 1306 as a simple wooden chapel, it had been constantly tinkered with and enlarged for the next two centuries. One jokester had even inlaid a brass pair of breasts into the pavement by the front entrance. Shaw had been inside a few times. What had struck him was the series of carvings on the choir benches depicting men having massive bowel movements. He could only assume that masses must have been really long in those days.
Saints and sinners, God and hookers, mused Shaw as he reached the middle of this strip of iniquity. The Dutch called the area the Walletjes, or “Little Walls.” Presumably what happened behind the Walletjes stayed there. Tonight he was counting on that.
The red-light district was not that large, perhaps two canals long, but there was a lot packed into that pair of blocks. At night the prostitutes on duty here were the most beautiful. Many were stunning eastern Europeans who’d been brought to the country under false pretenses and then become “trapped in the trade,” as it was delicately termed. Ironically, the night hookers were mostly for show. After all, who wanted to step through the libidinous portals with thousands watching? In the mornings and afternoons the district was quieter and that’s when the serious customers paid their visits to the far less comely but efficient ladies of the second and third eight-hour shifts.
blazed like a summer sun. Shaw passed window after window where women stood, sometimes dancing, sometimes posing erotically. In truth most people who came here came to gawk, not fornicate, although the beds still racked up roughly half a billion euros in sales yearly.
Shaw kept his head down, his feet carrying him to one particular destination. He was almost there.
The Whole Truth The Whole Truth - David Baldacci The Whole Truth