Shella by Andrew Vachss Page B

Book: Shella by Andrew Vachss Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Vachss
He knows about our tribe. He knows me. But he doesn’t know all of us. He goes back on it, any of it, we’ll take him out. Whatever it costs. He knows that much about us, about our honor.”
    He saw me looking at him. Shook his head, lit a cigarette.
    “That’s our legend, that’s who we are. When we say we’ll do something, that’s what you get. Or we die. Any one of us gives his word, he has to do it or die. And if he dies, the word goes to the next one. If we all die, the legendstill lives. We’re not cheats, or liars. We’re not thieves. We’re assassins.”
    “I …”
    “Assassins, my friend. Hunters, feeding our families. Only we hunt humans, not animals. We were driven off our land. Some of us imitated the conquerors. Some of us turned to liquor. But the warriors among us, they have always stood in the mountains, watching the white man’s fires. We are their children. You can hire us, but you can’t own us.”
    “How many men …?”
    He waved his hand, like a mosquito was near his face. “Men? It’s all of us. Our women are more dangerous than we are. They do our work too. And we raise our children to follow.”
    “The white man raises his children to rule. We raise ours to hunt.”
    “Why don’t you just do it yourselves? What the man wants?”
    “We can’t get close enough to the target. And we never could.”
    I lit a smoke of my own. He wasn’t saying anything now, waiting on me.
    “Your brother, the one who’s in prison?”
    “You send him letters and stuff? Go to see him on visiting day?”
    He nodded his head. Slow, the way you talk to a dope. So he’ll understand. “Sure,” he said.

    He took a picture out of his bag. A black-and-white photograph. A man, maybe fifty years old. He had a round, fat face, short blond hair. More pictures. A mug shot, front and side. The man was smiling in the mug shot—I never saw that before. Close-up pictures of his arms. Tattoo of an eagle. The eagle was holding a black man in his claws. On the other arm was a hangman’s noose. The words Aryan Justice were underneath it. Another picture: the man was standing in front of a crowd, waving his arms. Some of the crowd had shaved heads, some had real long hair, mustaches. They all had weapons: rifles, pistols. The Indian turned the picture over. On the back: 7/5/39, 6′1″, 235, blond/blue.
    “That’s him,” the Indian said.

    “It don’t seem so hard to me,” I told the Indian. “This guy, he speaks in front of crowds and all.”
    “He doesn’t go on the street. Doesn’t go out at all. He lives inside a compound … like a fort, understand? The only way to get inside, you have to be one of them.”
    “So why can’t you …?”
    “You have to be white to be one of them.”
    “Don’t they have …? I mean, the crazy man, he has guys work for him.”
    “Undercovers? Forget it. They could never get inside. This guy, he’s the boss of a crew. And they’ve got an acid test. You know what that is?”
    “Like an initiation. Something you got to do before you even get to meet the man.”
    “What’s the test?”
    “You got to kill a black man. See? That’s why they can’t go inside. He’s got too many buffers, too many layers. By the time you get inside, you’re already outside, see? Outside the world.”
    “How do you know all this?”
    “The crazy man explained it to me. See, sometimes, one of the followers, he turns. Rolls over. He gets dropped for something, he makes a deal. So we know how they work. Anyway, the crazy man tried it. Tried to put someone inside. Set up a phony hit on paper, made this black guy disappear, like the undercover killed him. Turned out that wasn’t the test … you got to do a kill right in front of them. So they can see it. This guy, he thought he was inside, but he was in the ground.”
    “They killed him?”
    “That’s what the crazy man says. Says he can’t prove it either. They never even found the body. Now

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