Shella

Shella by Andrew Vachss

Book: Shella by Andrew Vachss Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Vachss
look while I’m working,” I told him.
    “The Chief here will tell you what I need done, okay?”
    “Yes.”
    “When it’s done, you get your girl.”
    I nodded.
    “I can find her,” the man said. “I can find anyone.” I just looked at him—this part was over.
    “I found you,” the man said.

    As we stepped outside, a cab pulled up. A different one. We got in the back. The Indian didn’t say anything to the driver.
    When we turned into the block near where I was staying, the Indian turned to me.
    “Get your stuff, check out, okay?”
    I did what he told me. The cab was still waiting out front. I put my duffel bag in the trunk.
    “You got a car around here?” he asked me.
    “Yes.”
    “Give me the keys.” I did it. “Show me where it is.”
    The cab pulled up next to my car.
    “I’ll follow in your car, okay?” the Indian said.

    The cab went along Broadway, turned into a block lined with apartment buildings on both sides. The sign said Carmen Avenue. The cab came to a stop. The driver didn’t say anything.
    I smoked a cigarette. After a while, the Indian opened the back door. I got out. We took my duffel bag from thetrunk. I followed the Indian inside the building. It was a big apartment, long. It went all the way through: windows on the street, windows out back, into an alley. My car was parked back there.
    The Indian opened the refrigerator, showed me there was food inside. Furniture in the apartment, like somebody lived there. He gave me two keys. “One’s the front door downstairs, one’s for this place. The rent’s paid, nobody’ll bother you. There’s a phone in the living room. When you hear it ring, pick it up, don’t say anything. If it’s me, I’ll talk. If you don’t hear my voice, just hang up.” He gave me back my car keys too.
    “I’ll be back tomorrow morning,” the Indian said. “I’ll call first. Anybody rings the bell downstairs, don’t pay attention.”
    “I got it.”
    He turned like he was going to go. Then he spun around and faced me. Stuck out his hand, open. I didn’t know.… I put out my own hand. He grabbed it, squeezed, hard. I squeezed back, careful not to hurt him.
    Then he went out the door.

    I opened my duffel bag, laid out my stuff Took a shower. Turned on the TV set. I left the sound off, watching the pictures in the front room. The curtains were closed—it was like night.
    A nature show came on. A snake caught a big fat furry animal. It swallowed the furry animal, a big bulge all through its body.
    The snake was a monster. Dangerous to anybody. Butwhen it was all stuffed with food, it could hardly move. And it couldn’t bite.

    I made a sandwich, took some cold water from the refrigerator. When I finished, I smoked a cigarette. The telephone was one of those old black ones, with a dial instead of push buttons. I looked at it for a while.
    I don’t know one single phone number. Not one.
    I tried to think about what happened. It’s hard for me. I asked Shella if I was stupid, once. A long time ago. Her face got sad.
    “You’re not stupid, baby. Not like dumb-stupid. You don’t get things because you don’t feel them, that’s all. Like your brain is all scar tissue.”
    “I never got hit in the head. Not real hard, anyway.”
    “You just do it different than most people. There’s things we don’t want to remember. I worked with a girl once. She was a real racehorse, a sleek girl with legs that went on forever. Everybody called her Rose … ’cause she had such long stems, get it?”
    “I guess.…”
    “Oh, shut up. Just listen for a minute. Rose was hooking big-time. Worked out-call, never less than five yards a night. She didn’t draw lines, a three-way girl, she’d take it anyplace you wanted to put it. You get
that,
right?”
    “Yes.”
    “She killed a trick. Stabbed him to death with a letter opener. The papers said he didn’t have a drop of blood left in him when she was done. She didn’t even try and run for it—the cops

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