Home > Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(2)

Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(2)
Author: John Sandford

   He knew that. He was willing to use his difference.


* * *



   AS SONNEWELL WAS pushing down the peninsula, U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport was pulling into his driveway in St. Paul, Minnesota, half a continent away. Snow was falling: more than a flurry, less than a blizzard. There were two new inches of snow on the driveway, and he knew, as he drove across it, that he’d leave frozen tracks behind himself that wouldn’t come off with a snowblower. He’d either have to laboriously scrape off the tracks in the morning, or they’d be there until February or March.

   Though it was late, there were lights in the windows. He pulled into the garage, got out of the car, walked back outside and turned his face up to the snowflakes. They were like feathers, caressing his face; cold, tender, refreshing.

   From well down the street, he could hear the faint tingling of recorded Christmas music coming from a house that must have had six hundred red, blue, and green lights hanging from it, and a sleigh with eight plastic reindeer in the front yard, along with a crèche. It was far enough away that he didn’t mind, but he suspected the nonstop jingles were driving the adjacent neighbors nuts. Christmas was two weeks gone. In his opinion, it was time to can the Christmas tunes.

   As the snowflakes evolved from refreshing to cold and wet, he went back into the garage, dropped the overhead door, and walked through the access door into the house, where his wife, Weather, was burning toast.

   “You’re burning the toast,” he called.

   Weather ran back into the kitchen and popped up the toast. “Mmm,” she said, “Peanut butter–covered charcoal.”

   “Do anything good today?” Lucas asked.

   “Skin grafts on a guy who got fried trying to fix a high-tension wire,” she said. She was a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Her tone was routine because the work had been routine; it was what she did. “Blew most of the fat off his body. He’s got the face of a thirty-year-old angel, but everything below his neck is a mess of scar tissue.”

   “Nice image,” Lucas said, shucking his coat. He hung it on a hook in the hallway between the kitchen and garage.

   “How about you? You catch him?” she asked.

   “No, but I’ve got a better idea where he might be hiding. Not that I care much. He’s not exactly Al Capone.”

   “What are you going to do now?” Weather asked. She was a short slender woman, with blue eyes and an oversized, slightly bent nose, which Lucas had found instantly attractive when they first met: gave her a craggy aspect. Her hair, originally a dishwater blond, was showing the first hints of gray, and now was being managed by an enormously expensive hairdresser named Olaf, though only Lucas considered him enormously expensive.

   “Get a beer, and either watch some basketball from the West Coast or roll around in the bed with my old lady,” Lucas said.

   “I’ll meet you upstairs in fifteen minutes,” Weather said. “My breath will smell like peanut butter and burnt toast.”

   “Mmm. Peanut butter.” He patted her on the ass on his way to the refrigerator.


* * *



   LUCAS WOKE AT ten o’clock the next morning, pleasantly relaxed after the moderately athletic sex. He got up, yawned, scratched his stomach and wandered downstairs in his undershorts and tee-shirt, made himself a cup of cocoa with tiny marshmallows, turned on his laptop and brought up the Google news feed.

   The headlines weren’t all bullshit, but most of them were; his eyes hooked on a short story about a man strangled in San Francisco, the strangulation having been announced in a press release by the killer. The press release was attached to the story as a sidebar.

   A vertical wrinkle formed between Lucas’ eyes. A killer was sending out press releases?

   We are all, he thought, going to hell.




    If you have money, a lot of money, as all of us do, how do you get your thrills? Skydiving? Fight clubs? Orgies? Gambling? Fly your own jet, sail your own super-yacht? Well, of course you do. All of that. But it gets old, doesn’t it? It has for the Five.

    So now, to liven our lives, we’re going to murder people who need to be murdered. We’re doing a service to the American culture at large, and at the same time, enjoying the extreme thrill of being hunted by the police, by the FBI, by whomever takes the time to chase us. Yes: we are going to help rid America of its assholes. We invite others to join in. Really. Please do. We can’t get this done alone. So many assholes, so little time.

    As for us, we’ve already killed the first of our designated victims, Duck Wiggins. Wiggins lived on the streets of San Francisco. He was a disgusting piece of human trash. He stole, he raped, he precipitated fights, he attacked innocent elderly Asians, and the San Francisco police believe he stabbed at least three of his fellow denizens of the gutters. And, of course, he defecated on the sidewalks whenever he felt the urge.

    One of the Five strangled him this morning. We put a numeral “1” on his forehead and San Franciscans will no longer have to put up with Wiggins’ vicious insanity.

    To complicate the moral matters for all of you, each of the Five have put an anonymous, untraceable Bitcoin (worth $44,123.23 apiece at the instant of this writing) into a Bitcoin wallet whose address we’ve already sent to Street of Hope, a San Francisco organization dedicated to helping the homeless. Will Street of Hope accept the $220,616.15 (as of this instant) to do good? Or refuse to do $220,616.15 of good on grounds that it’s blood money? We shall see, shan’t we?

    The Five

    (Next up? A politician! Stay tuned to this station.)



* * *



   A WEEK AFTER the Wiggins murder, an almost cartoonishly handsome dude—and a dude he was, with big shoulders, square teeth, a chin he could have used to chop wood, a thousand-dollar sport coat, loafers worn without socks—snuck out the back door of the Asiatic Hotel in Houston, Texas. He planned to walk around the corner to where he’d parked his car.

   His simple plan was sidetracked by a bottle blonde, a beauty, maybe thirty, maybe a little older, medium tits, small waist, tight ass, the whole alluring package. She was leaning against the wall of the theater building across a narrow brick walkway from the good-looking guy, next to a door used by the stage talent. She was wearing a black silk blouse and dark skinny jeans. She was smoking a cigarette, like one of those ’40s stunners in the black-and-white noir films.

   The good-looking guy was not bashful. He pulled up, nearly stumbled, and said, “Whoa! Howya doing, girlie? All alone in the dark?”

   “Taking a break between sets,” she said. He could hear the faint sound of music behind her, coming from the partially open door. She frowned, stepped closer to him, said, “Say . . . are you Jack Daniels?”

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