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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Vachss Andrew
 

«Flood», Andrew Vachss

Иллюстрация к книге

The first book in the Burke series

For

Victor Chapin

Yale Lee Mandel

Iberus Hacker (a.ka. Dan Marcum)

Wesley Everest

very different actors

who all left this junkyard of a planet

to work a better room

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The ultimate poverty is to fail to acknowledge your debts. For the material in this book and in others to come, I am indebted to many people, some as close as my blood, some forever to be my enemies. I will never forget any of them.

INTRODUCTION TO THE VINTAGE EDITION

Flood was not my first published book. The first effort was nonfiction: a textbook on juvenile violence and proposed solutions which arose from my stint running a maximum-security prison for youthful offenders. That first book was a “critical” success, but it never reached outside the “profession.” An itinerant preacher with a then-unacceptable brand of gospel that we make our own monsters and build our own beasts, that pervasive abuse and neglect of children is a greater danger to our species than cocaine and Communism combined, I longed for a bigger congregation. So I turned to “fiction,” essentially adding plot, characters (keeping the characteristics) and (I hoped) sufficient narrative force to get the reader engrossed sufficiently to present my case.

But I couldn’t get anyone to publish Flood, despite the best efforts of a wonderful, dedicated agent (Victor Chapin, to whom this book is dedicated) who maintained his belief in me despite reams of rejection letters which looked like photocopies: all saying what a wonderful writer I was, what a great “ear” for dialogue I had, what a “powerful narrative voice,” but… the material was “just impossible.” At that time (the early 1980s), the material that drives all my work was dismissed as “horror stories” or “grotesque exaggeration.”

We know better now. If I had one wish, it would be that the material from which I draw my novels was “fictional.” Once journalism “discovered” child abuse, it quickly became apparent that I was not “inventing” or “imagining” anything… I was simply reporting from Ground Zero. Where I have worked for three ugly decades.

Critical reaction to my books has varied (widely) ever since. But criticism on “authenticity” grounds has vanished with the tidal wave of headlines. The truth is inescapable. All that remains are the solutions, and the will to implement them.

Victor didn’t live to see Flood published. I wish he had. And I wish that this reprint was now “dated.” It is not. The beast still walks among us. I see myself not as a “writer,” but as a soldier in the only “Holy War” worthy of the name. This was the first shot I fired.

1

I GOT TO the office early that morning-I think it was about ten o’clock. As soon as the dog saw it was me, she walked over to the back door and I let her out. I went outside with her as far as the fire escape and watched her climb the metal stairs to the roof where she would deposit her daily load. Someday I’m going to go up there and clean it all up, but in the meantime it keeps the winos from using my roof as a sleeping porch-too many of them smoke in bed.

The dog is a hell of a lot better than a burglar alarm. The cops wouldn’t rush into this neighborhood in the middle of the night anyway, and with Pansy on the job the burglar would still be there when anyone showed up. She’s a Neapolitan mastiff-about 140 pounds of concentrated hatred for all humanity except me. My last dog was a Doberman named Devil. She bit some clown and I got hit with a $100,000 lawsuit, so she had to run away from home. She never had a license and I’m about as judgment-proof as a man can get, but this lawyer I refer cases to sometimes told me that I should give my next dog a name that wouldn’t sound so negative. I thought of naming her the Neapolitan Homicide and calling her Homo for short, but the lawyer told me you never know who is going to be on a jury, especially in New York-so I compromised and called her Pansy. A lot of my clients don’t like the dog, but that doesn’t amount to a whole hell of a lot of people.

When Pansy came back downstairs, I shut the back door and got out her food. I only feed her the dry stuff, but she still slobbers like a politician near money. That’s why I have the floor covered in Astroturf-it handles anything, you just wash it off. A lot of my clients think that’s low-class too, but, like I said, there aren’t enough of them to make a difference.

I told the dog to stay where she was and went to check the other office. Actually, it’s just the next room, but there’s no connecting door and the outer door was sealed shut years ago. I just use it when people I don’t want to see knock on my door-once I stayed there for three days. It has a private john, a fridge, a hotplate, and even a TV with earphones. Not bad-but the only ventilation is the little window that opens off the fire escape where I climb in so I don’t use it too much.

I don’t make a lot of money at what I do, but the overhead is no problem-I have my own form of rent control. By accident, I once found out that the landlord’s son did something to some people and they’ve been looking for him ever since. I found the kid too, but his own mother wouldn’t recognize him. The landlord bought him a new face, got him started in business, and the kid was golden-except that I knew about him and I told the landlord I did. I haven’t paid rent in about four years. There’s no ethics problem-nobody ever hired me to find the little weasel.

I checked the mail first-a letter from American Express addressed to one of my other names demanding immediate payment of $3,504.25 or else they would wreck my credit rating for openers, a package on the latest FM transceiver bands from the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration addressed to the Crime Prevention Foundation, and a check for $771.25 from the Social Security Administration addressed to Mrs. Sophie Petrowski (the unfortunate Mr. Petrowski’s only survivor), proving to me that despite a lengthy sojourn in the federal joint the Mouse was continuing his one successful scam. There were also four handwritten letters containing the requisite ten-dollar money order in response to my ad promising information about “mercenary opportunities in foreign lands for qualified adventurers.”

I threw the American Express garbage where it belonged, put the Petrowski check inside a handsome envelope engraved with Law Offices of Alexander James Sloan, and typed the Mouse’s righteous name and institutional number on the outside. Stamped with my bold red Confidential Legal Mail, the envelope next went into my postage meter, a machine which could never be returned to Pitney Bowes for service. I understand the Mouse has a friendly guard who will cash these for him, obviously a future roommate. I added the four would-be mercenaries’ names to my Rolodex, took a manila envelope for each and enclosed a Rhodesian Army recruiting poster (Be a Man Among Men!), an Exxon map of Afghanistan, two phone numbers for bars in Earl’s Court, London, and the name of a hotel on the island of Sao Tome off the coast of Nigeria. As usual, none of them had enclosed the self-addressed, stamped envelope. The world is full of crooks.


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