Read Sacrifice Online

Authors: Andrew Vachss

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Fiction

Sacrifice

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Dedication

Quotes

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

Chapter 91

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

Chapter 96

Chapter 97

Chapter 98

Chapter 99

Chapter 100

Chapter 101

Chapter 102

Chapter 103

Chapter 104

Chapter 105

Chapter 106

Chapter 107

Chapter 108

Chapter 109

Chapter 110

Chapter 111

Chapter 112

Chapter 113

Chapter 114

Chapter 115

Chapter 116

Chapter 117

Chapter 118

Chapter 119

Chapter 120

Chapter 121

Chapter 122

Chapter 123

Chapter 124

Chapter 125

Chapter 126

Chapter 127

Chapter 128

Chapter 129

Chapter 130

Chapter 131

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 135

Chapter 136

Chapter 137

Chapter 138

Chapter 139

Chapter 140

Chapter 141

Chapter 142

Chapter 143

Chapter 144

Chapter 145

Chapter 146

Chapter 147

Chapter 148

Chapter 149

Chapter 150

Chapter 151

Chapter 152

Chapter 153

Chapter 154

Chapter 155

Chapter 156

Chapter 157

Chapter 158

Chapter 159

Chapter 160

Chapter 161

Chapter 162

Chapter 163

Chapter 164

Chapter 165

Chapter 166

Chapter 167

Chapter 168

Chapter 169

Chapter 170

Chapter 171

Chapter 172

Chapter 173

Chapter 174

Chapter 175

Chapter 176

Chapter 177

Chapter 178

Chapter 179

Chapter 180

Chapter 181

Chapter 182

Chapter 183

Chapter 184

Chapter 185

Chapter 186

Chapter 187

Chapter 188

Chapter 189

Chapter 190

Chapter 191

Chapter 192

Chapter 193

Chapter 194

Chapter 195

About The Author

Also By Andrew Vachss

Copyright Page

 

 

 

for

SHEBA

a warrior who fought blindness

until the last battle closed her eyes

if love would die along with death,

this life wouldn't be so hard

ACCLAIM FOR Andrew Vachss

"Burke is back, tougher than ever….Gritty….hard-edged."


San Francisco Chronicle

"Vachss's characters are carefully sketched, the dialogue is sharp, and the driven Burke is a creature you can't spend enough time with. Many writers try to cover the same ground as Vachss. A handful are good. None are better."


People

"As savage as Celine…As pure as Euclid."


Newsday

"Burke is an unlikely combination of Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and Rambo, operating outside the law as he rights wrongs…Vachss has obviously seen just how unable the law is to protect children. And so, while Burke may be a vigilante, Vachss's stories don't feature pointless bloodshed. Instead, they burn with righteous rage and transfer of degree of that rage to the reader."


Washington
Post Book World

"Andrew Vachss, a New York lawyer who specialized in the problems of child abuse, writes a hynotically violent prose made up of equal part of broken concrete blocks and razor wire."


Chicago
Sun-Times

"Strong, gritty, gut-bucket stuff, so unsparing and vivid that it makes you wince. Vachss knows the turf and writes with a sneering bravado….Burke prowls the city with a seething angry, almost psychotic voice appropriate to the devils he deals with ….Vachss is good, his Burke novels first-rate."


Chicago Tribune

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Bob Gottlieb

none better, ever

1

W
hen you hunt predators, the best camouflage is weakness.

The E train screeched into Forty–second Street. I got to my feet, pulling slightly on the leather handle of the dog's harness. She nosed her way forward, wary. Citizens parted to let me pass. A black teenager wearing an oversized blue jacket with gold raglan sleeves braced one side of the doors with his arm, making sure they wouldn't close as I passed between them. "You okay, man. Step through."

My dark glasses had polarized lenses. The kid's face was gentle. Sad. Someone in his family was blind. I mumbled thanks, stepped off the subway car onto the platform.

I pushed forward on the harness handle, like shifting into gear. The dog headed for the stairs, waited for a clear path, then took me up along the rail.

On the sidewalk, I turned my face toward the sun, feeling the warmth. "Good girl, Sheba," I told the dog. She didn't react, a professional doing her work. I shifted the handle and she went forward, keeping me in the middle of the sidewalk. Away from doors that might open suddenly, maintaining a safe distance from the curb. I closed my eyes, counting steps.

Sheba halted me at the corner of Forty–fourth and Eighth. She didn't watch the traffic signals any more than the other pedestrians did. It's the same rule for everyone here—cross at your own risk.

I made my way carefully along the sidewalk, counting steps, guided by the dog. Found my spot. Tugged slightly backward on the handle—Sheba sat down. I unwrapped the blanket from around my shoulders, knelt, and spread it on the ground. When I stood up, Sheba lay down on the blanket, made herself comfortable. I opened my coat. Inside was a cardboard sign, held around my neck with a loop of string. White cardboard, hand–lettered in black Magic Marker.

PLEASE HELP

I held a metal cup in my hands. Added a few random coins to sweeten the pot.

Waiting.

2

H
umans passed around me, a stream breaking over a rock. They didn't look at my face. If they had, they would have seen a couple of rough patches where the blind man had missed with the electric razor. I was wearing high–top running shoes, loosely laced, denim pants, a gray sweatshirt. All under a khaki raincoat that came past my knees. A well–used black fedora on my head.

The local skells were used to me by now. I made it to the same spot every day. Patiently collected coins from passing citizens, face held straight ahead.

I was a piece of scenery, as anonymous as a taxicab.

My eyes swept the street behind the dark lenses.

Sheba settled into her task. An old wolf–shepherd, mostly gray, soft eyes watchful under white eyebrows. She had a warrior's heart and an undertaker's patience.

Hooker's heels sounded on the sidewalk. A bottle blonde, wearing a cheap red dress, short–tight, black fishnet stockings, a hole the size of a half–dollar on the front of one thigh, pale skin poking through the mesh, low–rent makeup smeared her face. Getting ready to work the lunchtime crowd.

"Your dog's so pretty."

"Thank you."

"Can I pet her?"

"No, she's working."

"Me too… I guess you can't tell."

I drew a sharp breath through my nose, inhaling her cheap perfume as greedily as a cokehead. She laughed, bitter and brittle. "Yeah, I guess maybe you can. I seen you before. Standing here."

"I'm here every day."

"I know. I seen you smoke sometimes…when someone lights one for you. You want one now?"

"I don't have any.

"I have some…" Fumbling in her red vinyl shoulder bag. "You want one now?"

"Please."

She stuck two cigarettes in her mouth, fired them with a cheap butane lighter. Handed one to me.

"It tastes good," I told her, grateful tone in my voice.

"It's menthol."

"The lipstick…that's what tastes good."

"Oh. I guess you don't…I mean…"

"Only my eyes don't work."

She flushed under the heavy makeup. "I didn't mean…"

"It's okay. Everybody's missing something." Her eyes flashed sad. "I had a dog once. Back home."

"And you miss her?"

"Yeah. I miss a lot of things."

"Go home."

"I can't. Not now. You don't understand…Home's far away from here. A million miles away."

"What's your name?"

"Debbie."

"These are bad streets, Debbie. Even if you can't go home, you can go away."

"He'd come after me."

I dragged on my cigarette.

"You know what I'm talking about?" she asked, her voice bitter–quiet.

"Yeah. I know."

"No, you don't. He's watching me. Right now. Across the street. I spend much more time out here talking to you, not making any money, I'm gonna get it from him."

Even with my eyes closed, even with her facing me, I could see the coat–hanger marks across her back. Feel them. I shifted my face slightly, let her hear the core to my voice. "Tell him you made a date with me. For later."

"Sure." Melancholy sarcasm.

"Put your hand in my coat pocket. Your left hand."

"Wow! You got some roll in there."

"It's mostly singles, two twenties on the inside. Take one…Tell him you asked for half up front."

She glanced over her shoulder, hip–shot, leaned close to me. "I tell him that and he'll be waiting for you later…when you go home."

"I know. Tell him the roll was a couple a hundred, it's okay."

"But…"

"Just do it, Debbie. You live with him?"

"Yeah…"

"You can go home tonight. Away from here."

"How…?"

"Take the money, go do your work. Tell him what I told you."

"Mister…"

"Reach in, pull out the roll. Shield it with your body. Take the bill, put the rest back. Pat my dog. Then take off. Tonight, you go home, you understand? Stay out of the bus station—take a train. It'll be okay, Debbie."

She reached in my pocket, knelt down.

"Sheba, it's okay, girl," I said.

The dog made a sweet little noise as Debbie patted her. She straightened up, looked into the lenses of my glasses. "You're sure?"

"Dead sure."

I listened to her heels tap off on the sidewalk. A different rhythm now.

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