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«Half the Blood of Brooklyn», Charlie Huston

Иллюстрация к книге

Joe Pitt 3

To Mr. Stoker and Mr. Chandler.

With my greatest thanks.

And apologies for the liberties taken.

 

I DON’T LIKE HIM.

I don’t like the way he smells. I don’t like the way he looks. I don’t like his shoes. If I stuck a blade in him and drank the blood that shot out of the open wound, I wouldn’t like the way he tastes.

But Terry told me to be cool.

So I don’t kill the guy.

– You can’t get somethin’ for nothin’, is all I’m sayin’.

Terry nods, waves some of the thick cigar smoke away from his face.

– No doubt, no doubt.

The guy I don’t like blows another cloud off his stogie.

– If I bring the Docks into your thing, I got to know what’s in it for my members. Not like I’m here for my own self. I’m an elected representative, it’s the members decide these things, and they decide nothin’ they don’t know what they got comin’ on their end of the deal.

Terry coughs into his hand.

– Well, like I say, the way we work here, the way we, you know, like to go about this kind of thing, is with the understanding that we’re all working toward a greater good. The Society, it’s not just, you know, a Clan in the traditional sense. We’re not just trying to get along and go along. We’ve got goals. We’re all about, and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but we’re all about empowerment for anyone and everyone infected with the Vyrus. And does that mean folks that aren’t even in the Society? You bet it does. But does that also mean achieving our goal will be easier with as united a front as possible? Absolutely. What I’m, you know, getting at is, whether you bring the Docks into the Society or not, you’ll still reap the rewards when we break through one day, but, man, we could sure use as much help as possible right now.

The Docks Boss nods, ponders, chews the frayed end of his hand-rolled Dominican, and glances at the goon he brought with him.

– I think he’s tellin’ me there ain’t shit in it for us.

The goon shifts the baseball bat perched on his shoulder.

– Sounds like it.

– Sounds like he’s tellin’ me he wants somethin’ for nothin’.

The goon nods.

– Sounds like it.

The Docks Boss takes the cigar from his mouth, points it at Terry.

– That what you’re tellin’ me, Bird?

Terry presses the palms of his hands together and puts the tips of his fingers at his chin, a prayerful moment.

– What I’m trying to get across is that there’s something in it for all of us. Me, you, your man there, Joe here, your members, the Society, all the Clans and Rogues and even the folks out there that never heard of the Vyrus. I’m talking about how we’re gonna make the world a bigger and more wondrous place when the day comes we go public and let them know we’re here. I’m saying that there’s something in it for everyone. Every person on Mother Earth, man.

The goon raises a finger, a point’s been proved.

– Yeah, he’s saying there ain’t nothin’ in it for us.

The Docks Boss pushes his chair back, stands, drops the smoldering stub on the floor and stomps on it.

– C’mon, Gooch, let’s get the boys and get the fuck out of here.

Terry shrugs, rises.

– Well, I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but it’s not the first time we’ve been turned down.

He puts out his hand.

– And I just want you to know, we’re still fighting for you, man. Anytime you want to join the struggle, we’ll be happy to have you by our side.

The Docks Boss looks Terry up and down, from his Birkenstocks, past his hemp jeans and his FUR IS MURDER t-shirt, up to his graying ponytail.

– You’re a freak, Bird. We ain’t never gonna have nothin’ to do with you and your hippies and your college kids and your queers and the rest.

He pulls out one of the cigars that stick up from the breast pocket of his cheap suit, bites the end off and spits it at Terry’s feet.

– And I’m gonna tell Predo as much when I go see him.

He scrapes a match alight on the surface of the kitchen table and puffs the cigar to life.

– The Docks are a serious Clan. We make the move over the bridge here and swing our weight behind someone, they’re gonna know their backs are covered. You don’t want to give somethin’ back for that security, to hell with you. Predo knows value. And he’ll pay for it.

He drops the match.

– Hell, I only came to see you out of curiosity. Had to see for myself it was true what they say. How one of the top Clans over here is run by a pansy.

Terry tugs at the soul patch below his lower lip.

– Well, if that’s how you see things, that’s how you see things. Probably all for the best that you set up housekeeping with the Coalition. And still, still, I wish you nothing but health and happiness, man.

The Docks Boss rolls his eyes and heads for the door.

– Fuck you, Bird.

Terry looks at me.

– You mind showing them out, Joe?

I open the door.


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