Everybody Dies Page 38

"Crazy day," Andy said. "I couldn't reach anybody. I tried what numbers I had for you, Mick, and I called a couple of bars looking for you. I didn't really think you'd be there but I didn't know how to get in touch with you."

"I tried you and could never find you in."

"I know, my old lady said you called. I was out all day, I took my cousin's car and drove around. I was going stir crazy, you know? I even went into Manhattan and drove past the bar. You probably already seen what it looks like, all plywood and yellow tape."

"I drove past it myself the other evening."

"And I called you, Matt, but I hung up when the machine answered. And then I called a couple of times and the line was busy. I figured the two of you were talking to each other and that was why I couldn't get through to either of you."

He put the car in gear, and when the traffic thinned he pulled away from the curb. He asked if he should head anywhere in particular. Mick told him to drive where he liked, as one place was no worse than another.

He drove around, coming to full stops at stop signs, keeping well under the speed limit. After a few blocks he asked if either of us had spoken to Tom. "Because I was trying to reach him, too, and nobody answered, and you know the woman he lives with never leaves the house. All I could think of was he took pity on her and took her to a movie, or she had a stroke or something and he took her to the hospital. Or there was something wrong with the phone, so I went over there and leaned on the doorbell."

"When was that?" Mick wondered.

"I don't know, I didn't notice the time. Maybe an hour ago? I rang the bell and knocked on the door, and then I went around and rang the back doorbell and knocked on that door, and when I saw nothing was happening I got back in my car. You want to give him a call? Or even go over there, because I'll admit it, I'm spooked."

"We've just come from there," Mick said, and told him what we'd found.

"Jesus," Andy said. He hit the brake, but not as abruptly as Mick had done when he learned TJ had been shot. He checked the mirror first and braked to a smooth stop, pulled over and parked. "I got to take this in," he said evenly. "Give me a minute, huh?"

"All the time you want, lad."

"Both dead? Tom and the old woman?"

"They shot him dead and cut her throat."

"Jesus Christ. All I can think, that could have just as easy been our house, and me and my mother. Just as easy."

"I was glad just now when she said you were home," Mick said, "but before that I was glad just to hear her voice. For I had the same thought myself."

Andy sat there, nodding to himself. Then he said, "Well, this just adds to it, doesn't it? Reinforces it."

"How's that?"

"Why I was trying to get in touch," he said. "Something I was thinking."

"About what?"

"About them coming after us the way they're doing. Picking us off one by one. I had an idea."

"Let's hear it."

"There's just the three of us left. I think we got to stick together. And I think we got to pick someplace that's safe. I'm out here in the Bronx, and anyone comes for me, all they got to do is kick the door in. Matt, you're in a doorman building, maybe it's a different story, but you can't stay inside with the door locked all the time. And even if you do, what's to stop them from shooting the doorman like they been shooting everybody else, and then going up and kicking your door in?"

"Nothing," I said.

"And Mick, you're holed up and not telling anybody where, and that's smart, but all you got to do is move around like you're moving around right now, riding around in a car, and you're a pretty identifiable guy. All you need is one person to see you and the wrong person to get wind of it, you know what I mean?"

"And what's your answer, then?"

"The farm."

"The farm," Mick said, and thought about it. At length he said, "I told Matt he ought to go to Ireland. He said I should come along and show him the country. Isn't this the same thing?"

"Not exactly."

"Either way I'm running from them."

"You wouldn't be running away, Mick. That's the whole point. You'd be taking a position and, waiting for them to come to you."

"Now you've got my interest," Mick said.

"We go there tonight and settle in. Right away, without giving the bastards another shot at us. We set up our defenses. There's just the one entrance, isn't there? The long drive we took the last time we were there?"

"With the horse chestnut trees."

"If you say so. All I know is Christmas trees and the other kind. They come up that drive when we know they're coming, be like fish in a barrel, wouldn't it?"

"Keep talking."

"I don't even know who knows the farm exists outside of the three of us. But there's probably some that do. But what I was thinking, and you got to remember I had all day long with nothing to do but think about this…"

"You're doing fine, man."

"Well, see, we settle in. And then we get the word to someone with a big mouth. One thing we know about these guys is they've got good sources of information. If the word's on the street they're gonna hear it. And the word'll be that the three of us are holed up where we're sure nobody could ever know about it, and we're drinking like fish and running broads in and out of the place, just partying it up day and night. Do I have to spell it out? You can take it from there, Mick."

"They'd expect to have it easy. But we'd be waiting for them."

"And trap the lot of them, Mick."

"All on the farm," he said. "It'd mean digging, wouldn't it? And we'd need a bigger hole than last time." The corners of his mouth lifted. "But I'll not mind the work. I'd say we can use the exercise."

We'd go right away, we decided. We didn't need anything. There was food enough on the farm to last the winter, between what was growing in the garden and what Mrs. O'Gara had put up in jars. There was a store in Ellenville, and if we were there long enough to need a change of clothing we could buy what we needed there.

And Mick's leather satchel was in the back seat, with guns and ammunition and cash. He even had his father's apron in there, and the old man's cleaver. And there were extra firearms out at the farm, O'Gara's twelve-gauge shotgun and a deer rifle with a scope sight.

"Just one thing," Andy said. "I want to go by my house, tell my mother she won't see me for a few days."

"Call her," Mick said. "Use my cell phone or wait and call her from the farm."

"I'd rather tell her in person," he said. "I've got another box of shells in my room for the gun I'm carrying. I'd just as soon bring them along. And it'll give me a chance to smoke a cigarette. It's a long way out to the farm without a cigarette."

"It's your car you'll be driving," Mick said. "I guess you can smoke in your own car if you have a mind to."

"Makes it hard on a couple of nonsmokers," Andy said. "It's close quarters in a closed car, or even with a window open. I'll just smoke a cigarette at the house before we go. And there's another thing. I'm going to tell her to go visit my uncle Connie north of Boston. She's been saying she hasn't seen her brother in a long time, and what better time for her to go? Because they could come looking for me, Mick, and it might not matter if I was there or not, and I wouldn't want anything to happen to her."

"God, no."

"Who knows if she'll even go, but it won't hurt to suggest it to her. And when I think about Tom and the old lady…"

"Enough said."

It didn't take long before we were back on Bainbridge Avenue and parked in front of Andy's house. He got out of the car and trotted up the walk, used his key, and disappeared inside the house. After a moment Mick got out his cell phone and dialed a number, then almost immediately snapped the thing shut. "I thought I'd call O'Gara," he said, "but I don't want to call on this thing. My luck the wrong person would pick it up."

"On the fillings in his teeth. We can find a pay phone."

"We can just go out there," he said. "It's not that late, and he needn't have advance warning." He was silent for a moment, then sighed heavily. "Change seats with me," he said. "I'll get in back where I can put my feet up. I might even close my eyes and get a little sleep on the drive out."

I got out of the car and we changed seats. He walked around the car and got into the back seat behind the driver, turning so that he could put his legs up on the seat.

A few minutes later Andy emerged. He had a cigarette going, and stopped on the sidewalk to take a long drag on it. He took a final drag as he stood beside the open car door, then flicked the butt out into the street. Sparks danced when it hit the pavement.

He got in the car, turned the key, gunned the motor. He grinned, tapped the steering wheel twice. "We're off," he said. "Everybody watch out."

Andy took the Grand Concourse to the Cross-Bronx, then drove straight west. We crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey and picked up the Palisades Parkway. Mick had been silent until then, and I thought he might have nodded off back there, but now he said, "I've been thinking. This is a grand idea of yours, Andy."

"Well, I had time on my hands, and no dartboard handy to take my mind off of things."

"You're a strategist," Mick said. "You're another Michael Collins."

"Oh, come on now."

"You are indeed."

"I'm his Russian cousin," Andy said. "Vodka Collins."

"We'll lure 'em into a trap," Mick said, "and draw the ends tight, and there they'll be. Ah, I'll want to see the look on his face when he knows I've done for him. He's a Bronx boy, Andy. Did you know that?"


"He's the long-lost bastard son of Paddy Farrelly, and I'm going to send him to the same place I sent his dirty bastard father. Yes, he's a Bronx boy, though he moved away years ago. Where was it he moved to, Matt? Upstate, was it?"

"He was ten or eleven when he moved from Valentine Avenue," I said, "but I don't know exactly when that was."

"He lived on Valentine Avenue? That's like two blocks over from Bainbridge."

"He was in the eleven hundred block," I said, "so it's not like he was living next door to you. They moved when he was eleven, and he was living in Rochester when he committed the crime he went to prison for, but I don't know what interim moves his mother might have made."

"'Twas in the Bronx he spent his formative years," Mick said, rolling the phrase on his tongue. "His formative years. So we may safely call him a Bronx boy. Well, set a Bronx boy to catch a Bronx boy, eh? While we drove around I found myself thinking what a splendid borough the Bronx is. It became a joke for a while there, didn't it? But there's beautiful parts to it."

"I was thinking that myself."

"Matt lived in the Bronx himself. Or am I misremembering?"

"There's nothing wrong with your memory. But we only lived there for a short time."

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