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Authors: Ed Dee

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BOOK: The Con Man's Daughter
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"You know the Medal of Honor we won for that case was actually twenty-two-karat gold," Eddie said. "The Priest had his melted down, then had a cheap fake made to replace it."

"What happened to yours?"

"The real one? Last I remember, some barmaid had it around her neck."

"That's what I mean," she said. "Maybe you blanked on a few wacky moments from your Wild Irish Rover days."

The chatter of the Sunday crowd was now a softer buzz. BJ. kept the jukebox lower on Sunday. It was a day for families to talk, he said. Kevin brought the pot roast to the tables. All you could eat for $7.95. Martha tended to the kitchen. They'd originally tried it the other way around, but Kevin's personality worked better in the dining room.

"Look," Babsie said, leaning close to him. "Tomorrow is a week, and not a word. We keep calling it a kidnapping, but it's really not. This is something else, some old vendetta, and you and I both know it."

"You think I'm lying?"

"Absolutely not."

"What else is wrong?" he said.

Babsie shook the ice cubes in her empty 7 &7, looking into the glass as if for answers. Eddie could have told her that never worked.

"Okay," Babsie said. "You don't allow yourself to think the worst, but what happens if we find the worst?"

"She's going to be fine."

"I know, I know. But the thing I fear now, no matter what happens, is that every time you look at me for the rest of your life, all you're going to see is Kate calling you from the back of that car."

"I liked it better when you were calling me a liar."

"We have to talk about it sometime."

"Not tonight," he said.

He didn't want to think about this right now. Whatever was happening between them, it was all he had to hold on to. It seemed as if his whole life depended on her, a child, and a few red hairs clinging to a piece of green cloth.

"Okay," she said. "Tell me about those two hoods again, the two guys who killed the Rosenfelds."

"Santo Vestri and Ray Nunez," Eddie said. "Idiots who spent most of their lives in the system."

"But yet they stumble across a four-million-dollar score."

"Four point two."

"It seems weird for two reasons. One, that they knew Rosenfeld would have that much money; and two, that Rosenfeld didn't have a bodyguard with that kind of cash sitting around."

"I seriously doubt these guys had any clue that there was that much money on hand. And I don't have an idea why Rosenfeld wouldn't have had some kind of security. But then again, I remember he worked for Evesi Volshin, one of the most arrogant people on the face of the earth. This guy thought he was the king of the world. No one would dare rip him off."

"And you think there's no way the murder of Angelo Caruso and his wife is connected to that incident?"

"I gave my best guess to Boland. The past is the past. I think it's a brand-new world and all the new roads lead to Yuri Borodenko. Maybe he's getting rid of all the tough old birds. Then there'll be no doubt who's in charge. I remember reading in
The Gulag Archipelago
that the KGB would watch the crowd cheering during a rally for Stalin. The people would stand there applauding and yelling for hours and hours. But then someone would realize the stupidity of this and sit down. Then a few others. Then they'd all sit down. The KGB would make a note of who sat down first. They'd have those people eliminated. They knew that any independent thinking was dangerous. Borodenko is doing away with the independent thinkers."

"Are you an independent thinker?" she said.

Eddie reached across the table and held her hand. Her hands were cold.

"I want you to know that no matter how this turns out,

I know that I brought this on myself. You are the good that's come out of it."

Eddie's phone rang. Kevin looked over, recognizing his signature Irish tune. It was Matty Boland. They'd found Freddie Dolgev.

Chapter 29

Sunday

10:00 P.M.

 

Fredek Dolgev's mental retardation was more severe than they'd imagined. By the time Eddie got to the Coney Island precinct, the interview was over. Boland doubted that anything the maintenance man said could be held reliable. Eddie said he didn't care about reliability, that he'd take whatever truth Dolgev's fevered brain could conjure up.

"He's got the mind of a ten-year-old," Boland said. "It wasn't much of an interview."

Freddie's lawyer had called and insisted the questioning of his client cease. The lawyer arrived about ten minutes later. He'd been on the phone ever since. Boland said that after the lawyer called, they didn't push any further. It wasn't worth jeopardizing the search of his apartment for such a small prospect of a return. Plus, as Boland said, it didn't hurt to get a little goodwill on the legal ledger. Who gives a shit about goodwill? Eddie thought. Give me five good minutes. I'd have him pissing blood in half that time.

"Where did you find him?" Eddie asked.

"Uniform picked him up. Somebody told them about a guy hiding under the boardwalk, talking to himself in Russian. He wasn't far from his house. Apparently, he came home, saw the cops, and freaked out."

Eddie had dropped Kate's hairbrush off at the NYPD lab on Jamaica Avenue before going to his old precinct. It felt strange walking up those steps. The squad room was essentially how Eddie remembered it, disheveled and disorganized. The paint job, a shade of brown, rather than the two-tone green in his day. Computer screens blinked where old Remingtons had once rested. A plastic tower with CD-ROMs had replaced the stack of phone books.

"Can you hold him until we get the lab analysis on the hair?"

"Not on the word of a Gypsy we can't find," Boland said. "The boss is kicking him. I asked him to stall until you got here. At least you could eyeball him."

"He say anything at all?" Eddie said.

"
'Nyet, nyet'
is about the extent of it. We used that Russian interpreter from the DA's office-the heavy set woman. Sometimes I wonder whose side she's on. Whenever we showed him the picture of Kate and asked questions about her, the interpreter told us he answered 'No,' although it sounded different every time to me. But it was clear he knows something. The guy is scared. He's in there stinking up the room."

From behind the two-way glass of the observation room, they watched Fredek Dolgev pace the floor, muttering. He was alone in the interview room. The right side of his face, where it could be seen above the bandages, looked like a deep red birthmark. His thin gray hair was singed; both eyebrows had been burned off. His right shirtsleeve was tight from the bandages. But the burns didn't seem to bother him. The guy was clearly agitated about something. His face contorted in some internal argument. The back of his shirt was stained with sweat. A huge set of keys hung from his belt.

"Somewhere in that hellhole of a mind, he knows he's part of something wrong," Eddie said.

"He'll never say it, though. The only thing he knows is to shut up. We could beat this guy until morning and he wouldn't give up the people he depends on."

Boland said he'd started with simple questions, trying to get Freddie to relax, but that didn't happen. At first, he was careful to avoid any direct questions about the kidnapping of Kate. He tried to talk about Freddie's background, figuring everybody is comfortable telling their own story. Then he'd swing back around to questions about Kate, and Freddie would go into his shell.

"You get a background check?" Eddie asked.

"Yeah, Immigration finally started keeping somebody there on weekends."

Fredek Dolgev came to the United States from Russia three years ago. He was sponsored by his cousin Yuri Borodenko. Dolgev had worked for Borodenko in Moscow for many years, shoveling snow and keeping wood in the fire. Borodenko brought him over to the States as a hardship case after his father died. He was currently employed as part of Borodenko's personal staff, doing repair and maintenance work.

"Did he say how he got burned?"

"Yeah, he admitted being in the Rolls-Royce," Boland said. "He said he ran because he thought he'd set the car on fire, cleaning under the dash. He didn't know which hospital they took him to, or why they went so far out of their way."

"Zina took him," Eddie said. "Her name is on the form."

"I asked him about Zina. I asked him several different ways. He kept repeating that Zina is his friend."

"We know any more about her?"

Boland said several of the squad detectives knew her. According to them, Zina Rabinovich was a tough, streetwise Russian Bukharan Jew, the first in her family not born in Russia, but in the borough of Brooklyn. She'd worked in numerous junkyards, managing the used-parts business. She was in her twenties, slender but well muscled, with shoulder-length brown hair. And the word
tomboy
didn't do her justice. She walked with an exaggerated street punk's bounce, all head bop and shoulder flex. No one had ever seen her wear anything but work boots, jeans, a T-shirt, and a leather motorcycle jacket. Zina was a girl who could take a car apart blindfolded. She could spit, curse, scratch, smoke, and throw better than most guys. About a year ago, she began working for Borodenko as a chauffeur and bodyguard for his wife.

"She hangs out in a dyke joint off Stillwell called Alice B's," Boland said. "Don't go there; you ain't tough enough to drink in that place."

Zina's arrest record included a few assaults, all upon males. The rest were car thefts, starting as a teenager and including her high school principal's Honda. She lasted only two months into her senior year, then went to work in the junkyards.

"I bet she still steals cars," Eddie said.

"You're thinking she stole the black BMW?"

"Parrot said it's her face on both sketches. I also think she broke into my house, and killed Lukin."

"Let's find a reason to bring her in. Maybe she's more than just a chauffeur."

Eddie kept quiet on the fact he'd tailed Mrs. Borodenko and a slender dark-haired female to lunch on Staten Island. Although he never got a good look, he was sure now that the other female was Zina. For the few minutes he was able to see both of them clearly, he'd focused on Mrs. Borodenko.

"Do you have a booking photo of Zina?" Eddie asked.

"Yeah, but don't look at it yet. You're an eyewitness. We'll need you to be a virgin, so give me a chance to put together a decent photo lineup."

Eddie kept hearing a jangle as Freddie wore out the floor in the interview room. The noise came from a huge ring of keys clipped to Freddie's belt loop. At least fifty keys. Eddie got closer to the window. It looked like each key had a piece of tape with a notation, probably an address.

"Look at all those
keys
," Eddie said slowly, emphasizing the last word. "I bet he has a
key
into everything that Borodenko owns."

Boland took a step closer, his nose almost against the glass. "Holy shit," he said. "I gotta get my hands on those keys."

"Hold him overnight."

"I smell an immigration violation coming on," Boland said. "He'll be out in the morning, but it'll give me enough time to find out if we need a warrant to copy keys."

"Screw the warrant; just copy them."

While Boland was on the phone, the squad lieutenant entered the observation room and told them he'd cut Freddie loose. Boland immediately hung up the phone and chased the boss back to his office. The lawyer picked up his briefcase and thanked them for their considerate treatment of his client. Eddie watched from the doorway as Freddie Dolgev stared down at the tiles. Then Boland dropped the news that unless they came up with Freddie's green card, he was going to be held on his questionable immigration status.

"That's pathetic," the lawyer said. "That's low even for you people."

"Show us he's legal," Boland said, "and then he's a free man."

"It's harassment, pure and simple," the lawyer said. "You guys are dying to spend a week in civil court."

While Boland and the lawyer chest-bumped, Eddie stood in front of Fredek Dolgev, trying to force him to look up. The Russian appeared intent on memorizing the floor tiles. Eddie grabbed his scorched chin and raised his head. Dolgev jumped back, his eyes wide and locked on Eddie Dunne. He began pointing and yelling, "
Razborka, razborka
." Then he leaped at Eddie, reaching for his throat. Eddie stood his ground, but a young squad detective swiveled in his chair and wrapped his arms around the charging Russian. The other cops jumped in. They staggered back between desks. Eddie kept whispering, "Let him go, let him go." Files and desk lamps hit the floor. Eddie edged closer, inviting the man to choke him. They all went down in a pile. Somebody yelled, "Watch your weapons." When it ended, Eddie made it plain that he wanted Mr. Dolgev arrested for assault.

"He never touched you," the lawyer said.

"He attacked me," Eddie said. "Everyone here is a witness. I never saw him before in my life, and he threatened me."

"You inflamed him," the lawyer said.

"I never said a word."

"He knows you," said the female interpreter from the DA's office. "
Razborka
means an account that needs to be settled. A judgment on you. He knows you."

"This is patently wrong," the lawyer said. "This is an unfair stunt pulled on a man with diminished mental capacities. I won't stand for it; the courts won't stand for it."

The lawyer stormed out, but not before taking everything Fredek Dolgev had on him-his money, his wallet, and his keys. With the keys gone, it didn't really matter what happened to Freddie.

"Those keys would have made all the difference in the world," Boland said. "The keys to Yuri's kingdom. We could have gotten every single bug installed in one night."

In the letdown that followed, Eddie talked to a young detective about the old-timers: who'd retired and who'd died in Florida. He pulled names out of his memory. The cop didn't have much history in the precinct. Squads turned over more quickly these days. He kept typing an arrest report as the radio on his desk blared rap music. The cleaning crew dumped trash cans and swung a damp string mop over floors of a forgotten color. Eddie sat sipping the strongest black coffee he'd had in years and realizing how much he missed it all. With Boland gone, he asked the young detective if he could look around.

BOOK: The Con Man's Daughter
5.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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