Snake Eyes (9781101552469)

BOOK: Snake Eyes (9781101552469)
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Table of Contents
A Deadly Gaze
“If you capture Schneck or kill him, I will pay you a bonus of five hundred dollars,” Mike said. “Just to you, Brad. Not to Mr. Pendergast.”
“I hope I don't have to kill him, Mike.”
Garaboxosa reached over and picked up the shotgun.
“Did you tell him the name of the gun, Harry?” he asked.
“No, thought you might do that, Mike.”
“The shotgun has a name?” Brad asked.
“Harry and I named it this morning, when he showed it to me,” Garaboxosa said, a smile on his face.
“Tell him its name, Mike,” Harry said.
“Snake Eyes,” Garaboxosa said. “Look at the barrels.”
He set the shotgun on the floor butt-first, and Brad stared at the twin muzzles. They were dark and ominous, like eyes that could kill.
Berkley titles by Jory Sherman
The Vigilante Novels
John Savage Novels
The Sidewinder Novels
Other Novels
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley edition / December 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Jory Sherman.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
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375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ISBN : 978-1-101-55246-9
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
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For Michael Miller
Harry Pendergast, head of the Denver Detective Agency, located in a suite of the Brown Palace Hotel, looked up from the copy of the
Rocky Mountain News
when his secretary, Byron Lomax, entered his office without knocking. Byron was a small, thin man with skeletal features, and the skin on his face was stretched taut over a bony armature that gave him the gaunt look of a man who had missed too many meals.
Pendergast looked up from his paper, a shadow of annoyance on his face. His coffee cup sat in front of him, within easy reach, small streamers of steam edging over its rim.
“What is it, Lomax?” Pendergast said, his eyes floating above his tortoiseshell spectacles where they had slid to a point just behind the tip of his nose.
“Sir, there is a man waiting to see you. He says it is very urgent. He is quite insistent.”
“Everything is urgent, Byron. What's his case?”
“I don't know, sir. He says he will only talk to you. The way he put it was he would only speak to my chief. He has an accent. He might be a Mexican.”
“Well, does he look as if he has money?”
“No, sir. He is wearing a suit, but it appears to be somewhat threadbare.”
“Oh, all right, Byron, let him cool his heels for five minutes, then show him in. Did he tell you his name?”
“He did, sir, but . . .”
“Never mind. I'll find out about him pretty quick.”
“Yes, sir, you are the detective, after all.”
“Don't smart-mouth me, Lomax.”
“Yes, sir,” Lomax said, and he scurried from Pendergast's office like some furtive animal.
Pendergast lifted off his eyeglasses and set them atop the newspaper. He got out of his chair and stood up, walking to the round window behind his desk. He looked at the distant range of the Rocky Mountains, their peaks mantled in fresh snow, the foothills shining an emerald green in the sun. It was April and the mountain passes would still be blocked with snow, the spring runoff not yet swelling the South Platte, the Cache la Poudre, and the thousands of other streams that fed into the Arkansas and El Rio Grande del Norte.
He looked at Longs Peak. Its massive face was a brilliant white, clear to its base, glistening like some majestic edifice built by some ancient god. Denver basked in the glory of the Rockies, its streets and avenues muddy from rain and filled with morning traffic, buggies, wagons, horses, people dressed warmly against the gusts that bore the frosty chill of spring zephyrs.
Pendergast pulled on his watch fob, dipped it from his vest pocket. He cracked open the gold case and marked the time of day. He saw that four minutes had passed. He watched the second hand creep around the face and with five seconds left of the five minutes, he closed the lid and dropped the watch back into its pocket. He turned toward the door as it opened.
Byron Lomax ushered in the client and announced in a businesslike tone: “Mr. Pendergast, this is Mr. Garaboxosa to see you.”
“Very well, Lomax,” Pendergast said. “Please close the door.”
Pendergast reached across his desk and held out his hand. Garaboxosa squeezed it so hard the blood vessels contracted and Pendergast winced. The swarthy man's hand was rough with calluses and scars.
“Have a chair, Mr. . . .”
“I am called Garaboxosa. Mikel Garaboxosa. You can call me Mike.”
Pendergast sat down and Mike scooted a chair up to the opposite side of the desk, facing the detective, and plopped into it.
“What can I do for you, Mike?” Pendergast said, assuming an air of informality as he leaned back in his chair. He rubbed a hand over one cheek. His barber had scraped away his muttonchops the day before, and Pendergast was still unused to having a naked face.
“I want to hire you to find an assassin,” Garaboxosa said. “There is a man who murdered my cousin, Eladio Zuniga.”
“Isn't this a matter for the police, Mike?”
Garaboxosa shook his head, flaring his long dark locks that framed a moon face with a chin stippled with a two-day stubble of black-and-white beard. He wore a checkered woolen shirt under an unbuttoned sheepskin-lined leather jacket as well as a faded red cap with loose earflaps. His trousers were wrinkled and stained with dark unknown substances.
“I have been to the police. They will not help me.”
“Ah, you ask the good question, Mr. Pendergast. When I tell them I am a rancher of sheep, they jump away from me as if I had leprosy.”
“You're a sheep rancher, then?”
“Yes, from Wyoming. But we bring our flocks into the high country of Jefferson Territory where they can fatten on the good grass.”
“So, who is the assassin of your cousin? Do you know who killed him? Do you have any proof?”
“I know without knowing, Mr. Pendergast.”
“I'm afraid I don't understand, Mr. Garaboxosa.”
“I did not see the one who murdered poor Eladio, but there was brutality after he was shot in the back.”
“Brutality? On a corpse?” Pendergast picked up his eyeglasses, folded them up, and slipped them into the inside pocket of his coat. He drank more coffee as if to clear his mind.
“When we found Eladio, his head was gone, cut off at the neck. In its place was the head of a sheep. We found the sheep and my cousin's head was stuffed into its neck. It was plain to me who had assassinated my poor cousin.”
BOOK: Snake Eyes (9781101552469)
4.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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