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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
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Language: English
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Chapter 39
HAW WAS ON THE MOVE. The warehouse was in an area of Paris where people who liked to avoid violence never ventured. This small patch of French earth wasn’t controlled by the police; it belonged to others who called it home. And they did not encourage visitors.
Four skinheads came out of the darkness toward Shaw, who stood at one end of the warehouse, a few dim bulbs overhead the only illumination. The young men encircled him; they didn’t even bother to hide their weapons. They probably ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner holding them closer than any woman they’d ever bedded.
Three of them wore tank tops though it was chilly outside. They were all white, though it was actually hard to tell because their torsos were so blackened with tattoos. The skin engravings were all different, except for one that appeared on the right triceps of each man: a swastika. One of them, who looked about twenty, had an entire dragon wrapped around his upper body, in black, green, and salmon colors, the fangs spreading across the bottom part of his face. He was carrying a pump-action twelve-gauge in one hand with “I don’t give a shit about nuthin’” attitude awash in his brown eyes that stared at Shaw with a convincing mix of hatred and contempt. He loaded up and sent a wad of spit an inch from Shaw’s foot.
Your mother must be so proud.
Shaw turned to another man who was walking up to him. He wore a jacket, pressed jeans, and tasseled loafers instead of black cammie pants, muscle shirt, and head-busting combat boots. But his attitude mirrored his men’s. He moved with a conceited swagger that just made you want to reach for a gun or ball up your fist and squash him for the good of humanity.
He couldn’t have been more than thirty but his scarred face and expressive features intimated a far greater experience level than three decades normally provided.
He shook Shaw’s hand and motioned him over to a small table set up in one corner. Only when he took a seat did Shaw follow. The skins now encircled the table. They were pack animals, Shaw observed, always waiting for the order to kill.
“Je suis Adolph, monsieur. And you go by?”
“Nothing,” Shaw said. “I have all you need.”
“The price was never mentioned,” Adolph said. “Unusual, yes?”
Shaw leaned slightly forward. “There are some things more important than money.”
“Most things are more important than money, but you need money to accomplish all of them.” The man smiled and lit up a cigarette. “If only Sartre were still alive, he could give us the precise philosophical analysis, or perhaps he would simply answer, ‘C’est la vie.’”
“You want to kill President Benisti,” Shaw began. “That will throw France into near anarchy.”
Adolph shook his head. “You overestimate the French love of politics. You say I want to kill Benisti? That is your opinion only. But even if I did, it’s only one dead president. They will simply elect another idiot.”
“This is the land of political revolution,” Shaw retorted.
“Au contraire. This was the land of political revolution,” Adolph answered. “We have been truly Americanized. All my fellow citizens care about now is whether they have the latest iPhone. But we are the real revolutionaries, mon ami.”
“And what is your revolution about?”
“What do you think?” he suddenly snarled, grabbing one of his men’s arms and pushing the swastika right in Shaw’s face. “Unlike Hitler’s phonies who only wore this on their uniform, we have stained it into our skin. It’s our permanent identity. And I have taken the master’s name as my own.”
“So Jews are the root of all evil?
“Jews, Muslims, Christians, they share equal culpability. Benisti’s mother was a Jew, though he tries to hide that fact. You said you have the information and credentials to get us into the hotel where he will be?”
“I do. Not all here. But I brought a sampling to show you I’m serious.” He slowly reached in his pocket and pulled out an official-looking press badge and a ticket to the president’s upcoming speech at a Paris hotel.
Adolph looked at them, impressed. “C’est bon. Bien fait!”
“I have five more of these,” Shaw added. “Plus you will be included on the official VIP list.”
“Weapons?” Adolph asked.
“The French aren’t as paranoid as the Americans. VIPs don’t get run through the detectors.” He looked at the snarling skins. “But you have to look and act like VIPs.”
Adolph laughed. “These are my personal bodyguards. We grew up together on the streets of Paris. Each one of them would gladly give up his life so that I would live. I am the chosen one. They all understand that.”
Shaw looked at the dragon skinhead. Yep, he looks stupid enough to die for this megalomaniac asshole.
“So you’ve got others to do the deed. And look the part?”
Adolph nodded. “When can we have the rest of the documentation?”
“As soon as my price is met.”
“Ah, now we get to that.” Adolph sat back, crossed his legs, and blew a circle of smoke toward the warehouse ceiling thirty meters above them. “I will tell you up front, monsieur, we don’t have much money.”
“I thought I made it clear that I’m not interested in money.”
“Everyone says they’re not interested in money until they ask for it. We are not drug dealers or desert terrorists grown fat on oil. I do not have billions of euros in a Swiss account. I am a poor man with rich ideas.”
“My father died in a French prison last year.”
Adolph sat up straighter and looked at Shaw with some interest now. “Which prison?”
The man nodded and crushed his cigarette with the heel of his shoe against the cold concrete floor. “That is one of the worst. And French prisons are for shit anyway. Several of our men reside in Santé now, their crime only that of cleansing the streets of filth. And for that, they are locked up like animals? The world is insane.”
Behind Shaw the dragon skinhead let out a grunt.
Shaw turned to look at him and watched as another gob of spit hit near his shoe.
Adolph said, “Victor’s brother was also one of them. He committed suicide at Santé last year. You were very close to your brother, weren’t you, Victor?”
Victor let out another grunt and racked his shotgun.
“I’m sure they were very tight,” said Shaw dryly.
“So your father died in prison. For what crime?”
“My father was an American who immigrated here to start a business, a business that became competitive with several others run by friends of Benisti, too competitive, in fact. So when Benisti was a prosecutor for the government he framed my father for a number of crimes he never committed, just to ruin him. It was all lies and Benisti knew it. My father spent twenty years in that hellhole and on the eve of his release he died of a heart attack. A broken heart. Benisti as good as put the knife through his chest.”
“And if we check your story out, we will find it is true?”
“I speak the truth,” Shaw said emphatically, his gaze leveled on the other man. “Otherwise I would not have walked in here.”
“So you want revenge. That is all?”
“Isn’t it enough? I give you the information, you kill Benisti.” He paused. “And someone else,” he added slowly.
“Who?” Adolph said sharply.
“Benisti’s father. He cost me my father, I will now take his.”
Adolph sat back and considered this. “I understand that he is also guarded.”
“I have it all planned out. I have spent years planning it out.” He looked around at the skins. “These men can do it. It only requires a little courage and a steady hand.”
“And how did you come by this intelligence? That interests me greatly.”
“Because it has been rumored that Benisti is not above setting traps, that is why.”
Adolph motioned to his men. They seized Shaw, pulled off his jacket, and stood him up. Victor pulled out a knife and slit open Shaw’s shirt, checking for a wire. They pulled his pants off doing the same. After a search that would have made a proctologist blush with its intimacy, Shaw was allowed to put his clothes back on.
“I’m surprised you waited until now to search me,” Shaw said as he buttoned his shirt.
“What would it matter if you were a poseur and wearing a wire? You would be dead anyway. And I would be long gone before the idiots showed up here.”
“They could have surrounded this warehouse,” Shaw pointed out.
Adolph smiled patronizingly. “No, no, monsieur, they could not come within ten blocks of here without my knowing. The gendarmes, they control the parts of Paris where the tourists go, but not here I think, monsieur, not here.”
Shaw sat back down. “I am close to Benisti. He trusts me.”
“Why, after what he did to your papa?”
“He doesn’t know the man was my father,” Shaw said simply. “I left France, changed my name, assumed a new identity, and then returned. I do his dirty work behind the scenes. Oh, he trusts me, like a son. I think about the irony every day.”
“Your hatred is inspiring.”
“Do we have a deal?”
“Vive la revolution, monsieur.”
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