I was having an agreeable dream, one that was even, up to a certain point, musical, when I sensed that a sarcastic person, someone who knew me well enough, had sat down in the seat behind me. The visitor waited until I'd grown accustomed to his presence; then he sat up, leaned forward and said, breathing down my neck:. The idea frightened me so much that I woke up, and since there was no one in any of the seats around me, I spent the rest of the night drinking water, watching the moon and trying to calculate if I'd already complied with my quota of black minutes.
There are two kinds of police in the world: those who like to work and those who don't. He tried getting rid of it like a hot potato, but there are leads that seem to inflame your skin and don't leave you in peace until you investigate them.
Much more than documents.
They say that a kind of obsession takes us over, like that of a dog dreaming about the scent of his prey, even when they tell him the hunt is over. Well, I have to start somewhere. Rangel had spent six years on the force and the last four resigning. He was always saying he was going to resign, but every time he was on the verge of doing so he got involved in some difficult case and ended up putting off his exit again. The day it all began el Chicote--the receptionist, watchman, car-washer and errand-boy for the entire department--passed him the call:. That bit about the uncle was something of a joke between them, if you could say that Vicente Rangel liked jokes.
In truth, he didn't. He picked up the heavy black telephone in the middle of the office. On the other end of the line someone was desperately shouting:. We found another girl, like the one in El Palmar. Rangel exhaled deeply, and then filled his lungs with the hot, heavy, un- breathable air; then he uncovered the mouthpiece and said with as much authority as possible:. Everyone knew where the Bar Leon was: in front of the central plaza. It was one of the oldest bars in the port, as old as the second founding of the city, at the end of the nineteenth century.
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Although its golden age was past - sometime in the thirties, just before the second World War - its air of a grand bar fallen on hard times still attracted tourists and, above all, a sparse but loyal clientele of neighbors and government office employees who worked nearby. Rangel noted the time. It's a quarter past two, and good, he told himself, let it be on the record that I didn't want to go. As he hung up the phone, Rangel had to admit that felt nervous.
Could it be the same guy?
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He felt as if the palms of his hands were on fire again and he told himself: Motherfucker, I bet it is. He thought of applying the medicinal ointment prescribed by Dr. He didn't want anyone to see him using it, to him ointments and make-up seemed like fag stuff, nothing to do with a tough cop, about to turn thirty, but it was true that Dr. Okay, he told himself, what harm is there in using just a little bit?
He was opening the box, he'd already pulled out the ointment, was about to rub some onto his left hand, when he realized that he was being watched, by a guy in a checked-shirt, wearing thick coke-bottle glasses; a lowly type but very clean, who was waiting in a chair by the entrance to the corridor, maybe just another aspiring Gofer, like so many others who turned up there.
Annoyed, the detective put the ointment away in his pocket. He preferred the twenty-two to the heavy regulation forty-five that the department offered. As it was a small city, there weren't enough firearms for everybody, and the few they had were kept in Chief Garcia's office, under double lock in a case, but the Chief wasn't there and he had the key. Rangel didn't like to carry a weapon and was sure he wouldn't need it, but he brought it anyway: Don't want that guy to find me first.
When he'd closed the holster he conveniently and discretely scratched himself, and when the itch had diminished he turned to el Chicote and ordered:. Tell them do a complete search of the plaza and the docks. Rangel would have liked to give an explanation, but he couldn't discard the possibility that the man in the checked-shirt was a newspaper spy, and so he made a gesture that said, "Don't ask," and went out of the room. El Chicote silently obeyed.
Experience had taught him not to argue with nervous policemen, and so he picked up the yellow pages, looked up the Loncheria Las Lupitas and set to work trying to track down Crazyshot. Rangel crossed the gravel parking lot, trailing a dusty wake that accompanied him to the car. As he'd feared, the metal was broiling: waves of heat rose from the hood.
Fuck, he said, if only he had air-conditioning. He stuck the key into the red-hot lock, rolled the window down, turned the driver's seat cushion around, and got in. Before he could reach across to lower the right-side window, he was already sweating, rivers flowing down his face.
I surrender, he thought. Turning on the car he burned his fingers again, so he pulled out a handkerchief and a red bandanna from the glove compartment, draped one over the steering wheel, with the other covered the stick shift, and drove in the direction of the bar. Back then the department only had three vehicles: la Julia - a covered pick-up, adapted for transporting "suspects" - and two patrol cars painted in the official colors; one was used by Chief Garcia, and other was driven by el Travolta.
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All the other agents had to use their own cars - if they had them, as was the case with Vicente Rangel. He looked at the thermometer. One hundred and three degrees, and it wasn't going to get cooler. Since buying the Chevy Nova he'd tried to avoid driving at the hottest hours, during the port's interminable midday, when the buildings seemed to be boiling and hazy mirages rose from the pavement.
He had the impression that he was entering another reality, the epicenter of fear. To distract himself from such macabre thoughts, he turned on the radio, where the announcer was suggesting that it was the Martians who were overheating the earth: "First they're going to finish off the ozone layer, and then deforest the planet, and then they're going to melt the north pole icecaps and flood the cities.
Amidst cruel sufferings, they plan to extinguish the human race. As he passed Tiberius' Bar he slowed down to see if Travolta was there, but no luck. Fucking fatso, he thought, and on top of everything else, he's going be angry. He took the Port Boulevard to Palmar Avenue and covered the route in ten minutes. He only had to stop for the light at the Texas Curve, and as there was trailer truck in front and he had no siren, he had no way of making himself heard. Okay, he told himself, I can wait a moment. In truth he didn't want this job and he still held out the hope that el Chicote would find el Travolta, and he'd be relieved of the investigation.
Thirty seconds later he felt sure that it wouldn't be that way, at least not right away, and that there was no way out of these circumstances: Who cares, he thought, let the fatso be mad, so what.https://tyvoxabovo.ga
One more stripe on the tiger. He looked at the enormous billboard for Refrescos de Cola , where a woman lifted a glass of petroleum colored liquid, overflowing with ice.
While he waited for the light to change, like the good anti-imperialist he was, he dedicated evil thoughts to the company and even to the model in the ad, Fucking asshole gringos, and Fucking bitch in hot pants, she must be a big whore. Every time he saw a cola drink he associated it with the war in Vietnam, the tension in the Middle East, the Cold War, the fall of Salvador Allende in Chile.
Since he'd joined the police force, these explosions of overt rancor had become less frequent, but they persisted. His internationalist conscience wouldn't die. But there had to be some explanation for that stuff about the girl. Riadura's car, which meant that Rivera would be there too. In the mornings they gave classes in chemistry and biology at the Jesuits' school; in the afternoons, or in case of an emergency, they were the only forensics specialists in the city.
Ramirez was waiting for him in the street. He looked seasick, his eyes were red, and Rangel thought, this guy can't take anything, looks like whatever he saw made an impression on him:. Rangel nodded. The manager? I'm going to see that asshole right now, fuck him for obstruction of justice. He knew Ramirez well enough to notice that he was hiding something. Son of a whore! An influential person. He didn't like dealing with influential people, and the person who had left without waiting for them was the son of the richest man in the port: the legendary Jack Williams, owners of the local Refrescos de Cola bottling plant.
Ramirez was sweating, and it wasn't on account of the degree in-the-shade heat. When he stepped through the doorway he had to wait a moment to get used to the dark. Three dark bulks approached him, growing less diffuse. No need to pull out his badge - there never was - and much less now: nobody wanted to be in that place.
The manager's name was Lucilo Rivas. Rangel recognized him immediately, he'd seen him many times at a distance, whenever he went to the bar as customer. He always wore tight-fitting, light-colored suits, at least one size too small.
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