Passenger 13

Passenger 13 by Scott Mariani

Book: Passenger 13 by Scott Mariani Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scott Mariani
was no tomorrow. Raoul took him to the plane. You know, the plane that crashed?’
    Now Ben was giving it his attention. ‘Yeah, I get the part about the plane. But I don’t get who Raoul is.’
    ‘Cab driver. My brother in law. Anyway, this prick hires him to drive him to the airfield. On the way, tells him to stop here so he can tank himself up even more than he is already. Raoul says, he’s not a fucking chauffeur. Guy throws a wad of dough at him. So Raoul waits for him in the car. Guy starts knocking back that same whisky you’re drinking. Pretty soon he’s out of control with it. Carrying on about how he’s flying to London or someplace and how he’s gonna kick ass.’ Claude made a dismissive gesture. ‘Like I was interested. I just wanted this loudmouth sonofabitch out of my place, and I told him so. Now he’s really pissed off. Me and Dave had to sling his ass out of the door, but not before he’d managed to throw his glass through my damn mirror.’
    Claude turned and motioned towards its replacement above the bar. ‘I liked that old mirror. Hung there more than fifteen years, and some asshole who can’t hold his liquor goes and smashes it.’ He pointed at Ben’s glass. ‘So all I’m saying is, mister, go easy on that stuff. You’re still thirsty after this one, I’ll pour you a beer. How’s that?’
    ‘I’ll pass on the beer,’ Ben said. ‘Where can I find Raoul?’
    Claude looked at him. ‘What for?’
    ‘I need a taxi ride,’ Ben said.

    ‘Where to, mon?’ Raoul drawled over his shoulder with a Jamaican lilt as Ben climbed in the back of the taxicab outside Claude’s thirty minutes later. The Peugeot 504 made Ben’s rental Toyota look showroom-new. Reggae thumped over the speakers and the tang of cannabis smoke was imbued into the worn-out fabric of the seats.
    ‘How about a little scenic tour?’ Ben said.
    ‘Sure,’ Raoul said, lurching away from Claude’s. ‘You wanna go right round the island? It ain’t a big place.’
    ‘Just as far as it takes for you to answer a few questions,’ Ben said, tossing a thin wad of cash over the backrest of the front passenger seat. Raoul thumbed the money expertly with one hand as he drove, and flashed Ben a dazzling smile in the rear-view mirror. ‘What you wanna know?’
    ‘Tell me about the guy who smashed up Claude’s place.’
    ‘You a cop?’ Raoul looked worried for a second, probably thinking about the pot he’d got stashed away in the glove compartment or somewhere. Ben knew that the Cayman laws on ganja-smoking were pretty Draconian.
    ‘A cop’s the last thing I am,’ Ben told him. ‘Relax. Talk to me about this guy you drove to the airport the day the plane went down.’
    ‘A real rat’s ass,’ Raoul declared , launching enthusiastically into his story. ‘He was already totally canned when I went to pick him up. By the time we got to Claude’s, the guy’da picked a fight with Mike Tyson.’
    ‘Why’s that?’
    ‘Because of what was on the radio,’ Raoul said simply.
    ‘He didn’t like your music?’ Ben said.
    ‘No, mon. He didn’t like the news. ’
    ‘The news?’
    Raoul nodded. ‘The news about London. You know, the terrorist thing? Bombs and shit? They were talking about the sisterfucker that did it. This guy, he suddenly goes crazy. Starts yelling at me: “Turn that crap off! Turn it off right now or you can kiss my ass for your money!” So I turned it off. Like I’m gonna lose my fare over what goes on in fuckin’ London, right?’
    ‘Claude says he got you to drop him off at the bar and wait for him. What happened next?’
    ‘Drunk fuck. After they threw him out, he gets back in the taxi. I take him to meet the plane, like he wanted.’
    ‘You saw him get on the plane?’
    Raoul shrugged. ‘Sure. He got on the motherfucking plane and it flew away. Then it crashed.’ He shrugged again. ‘Feel sorry for the rest of those folks. Not for Mister A-hole.’
    ‘You wouldn’t

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