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Authors: Frank Hughes

Devil's Run

BOOK: Devil's Run
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Devil’s Run


Frank Hughes

Copyright © 2012
Frank Hughes

All rights
reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part
of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval
system or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of
both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book

This is a work
of fiction. Names, places, characters, brands, media, and incidents are either
the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author
acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of various
products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without
permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized,
associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.





To Rick Sill, for a
whack up the side of my head.




Cover model: Valua Vitaly/

Cover skier: Ilja


Sunday was the hardest
day, the day the dead came to visit.

For years, I’d kept busy
working long hours in the hot sun, usually seven days a week. As a result, the
past remained the past and I had no trouble sleeping. Now, with normal working
hours and weekends free, the roll call of my victims began early Saturday
morning and by Sunday their cries could no longer be ignored. To deal with it,
I spent Sundays working myself to exhaustion in the Chelsea Piers gym and then
walking the streets of Manhattan until I was able to sleep.

This particular Sunday I
was vamping on the walking part. An icy December rain was pelting New York and
I wasn’t quite ready to face the slick sidewalks and half-frozen dog shit.
Instead, when I finished in the gym, I got my clubs out of storage and went to
the driving range, a four-story structure that faces the Hudson River, offering
the unique opportunity to aim golf shots at passing vessels and even the
occasional ditching airliner. Not that I could hit anything. The only real
danger zone was to my immediate right.

I was halfway through a
thirty dollar ball card and seeing if I could do any better with the woods.
When the next ball popped through the Astroturf – we don’t need no stinking
buckets at Chelsea Piers - I aimed for Hoboken, but the ball went towards

“You have a terrible
slice,” said Raviv Peled. Despite three decades in Brooklyn he still had a
thick Israeli accent.

“Hello, Raviv,” I said
without looking back. “Good-bye, Raviv.”

Even though I would have
welcomed the distraction of work, the fact that my employer knew where to find
me on my day off annoyed me, so I ignored him.

“I don’t believe I have
ever seen you play,” he said, clearly not taking the hint. “I wonder now why I
have taken your advice.”

“Because I improved your

“Yes, you did. To which
I say, physician heal thyself.”

who can do, those who can’t teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym. Now,
if you don’t mind, as Garbo said, ‘I
to be alone’. See you Monday.”

My next drive was
longer, but just as errant.

Raviv whistled. “You
really are terrible. It is fortunate that there are nets, else the river would
be strewn with injured boaters and dead fish. What is your handicap?”

“Right now it’s you,”

“I begin to see what my
clients complain about.”

“Yes, I am a miserable
prick,” I said. “I am also off the clock.”

“You are on salary,
there is no clock.”

“Thank you, Yoda.”

He had the good grace
not to speak until I hit the next ball.

“That one was

“I was distracted. Go

“If you want to
be alone, why not just stay in that miserable apartment of yours. Even there it
must be warmer than here.”

“That's my home you're
denigrating.” I set my feet and addressed the next ball.

“It is a hovel.”

“That building has a
great view of the High Line and is home to a dozen teenage fashion models.”

“Male models, if I

“I'm a complicated man.”
The next ball was a pop fly. “Besides, I obviously need my practice time.”

“I have a job for you.”

“It's Sunday. I may as
well go back to taking loops.”

“I thought you had moved
on from that phase of your life.”

“It's looking better and
better. Nice and warm in Florida right now. And nobody bothers me there.”

“You may have no choice,
if you keep treating clients the way you did Meyer.”

I stepped back from the
new ball and turned. “Meyer is an idiot.”

“A rich idiot. For such
idiots, we make allowances.”

Raviv was one of the
most respected security consultants in the country, but he looked like an
Olympic weightlifter gone to seed. Well into his sixties and running to fat, he
still had the chest of a bull and a respectable pair of guns, but his belly was
an almost perfect sphere. Vanity and women were his only weaknesses. Divorced
for the third time, he battled to look young, wearing clothing inappropriate to
his age and physique, while adhering to a regimen of facials and steam baths.
His weekly massage was more rigorously observed than temple, as was the
bi-weekly styling of his remaining hair into something resembling a rusted
Brillo pad. He thought he looked smashing, and no one, including me, had the onions
to tell him otherwise.

 “He took a swing
at me,” I said. “What was I supposed to do?”

“Not wrestling him to
the carpet in front of his entire board would have been an acceptable

“Easy for you to say,
you weren’t there. Blame it on the training. It was 'a programmed reaction to a
stressful stimulus' as the saying goes.”

“Bullshit,” he said, but
without much heat. “You deliberately embarrassed him.”

“He had it coming.” I
turned and stepped up to the ball. “Good night.”

He said nothing until I
was in the middle of my swing.

“Consider this a favor.”

I lost my concentration
and sent the ball soaring straight towards New Jersey, a perfect drive of over
two hundred yards.

favor. The son of a bitch.

Ten minutes
later we were in the rear seat of his Cadillac Escalade, navigating the crowded
streets of Manhattan. The SUV was one of the few places outside his office
where Raviv felt comfortable discussing business. It was swept twice a day for
listening and tracking devices and kept under constant guard at his corporate
headquarters in Brooklyn. I felt that anyone who needed that much car should
drive a tank, but Raviv liked expensive things, especially when they were
armored and bristling with weapons. This love of size and firepower applied to
his hulking bodyguards as well, one of whom was doubling as our driver. A set
of Bose headphones was clamped to his massive skull so he would not be privy to
our conversation. It wasn’t that Raviv didn’t trust him, but, as the old saying
goes, what you don’t know can’t be tortured out of you.

“Why me?” I said. “I’m
not a private investigator.”

“I beg to differ,” said
Raviv. “Your license, which I must reluctantly remind you I paid for, says you
are precisely that.”

 “You made me get
that license,” I said. “I’m not trained to look for missing people. I find
security holes.”

you are a natural. All the skills you bring to the Red Team: inquisitiveness,
instinct, intuition, and-”

“Sparkling personality.”

“-independence will
serve you well.”

“I’m flattered.”

“Besides, the case is
routine and I need to be seen as disciplining you.”

I gave him a look. “Are

“No,” he said, “but your
reassignment serves that purpose for Meyer, not to mention my staff. I do not
want your attitude to become contagious.”

“Am I really that bad?”

“Yes. Now, to this
assignment.” He produced a buff-colored folder. “Your client is Jeffrey Boyd,

“Lawyer,” I said,
pouring myself a glass of single malt from the vehicle’s bar. “I don't like him

“You are like a child,”
he said, handing me the folder.

“Part of my charm.” A
name was printed on the tab. “Kenneth Boyd. I take it that's the missing

“His son.”

“You're right, this is

The file contained some
photographs, a credit report, college records, bank statements; the sort of
spoor with which modern man marks his trail.

“Tell me about papa,” I

“Jeffrey Boyd is a
partner at Tarantino, Rosen, and Parisi.”

“Gee, I guess they're
not mobbed up.”

“Yes, please mention
that early in your conversation, just to make your usual good impression.”

“What is Mr. Boyd's

“Corporate law.”

“Rather broad.”

“It is irrelevant to the
subject at hand.”

“What else do we know
about him?”

Boyd is very active in charitable circles. He has for many years personally
headed an anti-malaria group providing mosquito nets to impoverished countries
in Africa. He is also a board member of an international organization called
La Faim
. That is French, by the way, for fight hunger.”

for him.”

“Yes, quite the
philanthropist.” He didn't sound that impressed.

“Why is he coming to
you? They must have their own people on retainer.”

“His reasons are not my

“Yeah, money talks. How
does he know you?”

“I met him on the golf
course. We played in the same foursome at a charity tournament.”

“You meet the most
interesting people on the golf course.”

“That is where I found

“I rest my case. Is
there a Mrs. Boyd?”

“Not at the moment. She
died several years ago.”

“Let me guess. Malaria.”

He shook his head. “She
was attending a seminar at Windows on the World.”

I tossed the file back
in his lap. “You're kind of a bastard, aren't you?”

“That had nothing to do
with it, Nicolas.”

“I'll bet.” I drained my

“Would you care for another?”
said Raviv.

“No. One's my limit on
this stuff.”

“I must tell you, it
continues to surprise me that you did not choose to lose yourself in drink as

I put the dirty glass
back in the rack. “I considered it, but it seemed so cliché.”

“And she would not have
approved, eh?”

“Leave her out of it.” I
snatched the file off his lap and studied it for a few minutes. “Any other
children?” I said.

“No, just Kenneth.”

“How is their

He shrugged. “You will
have to ask him.”

I thumbed through some
of the stuff in the file. “He goes to school in Seattle?”

“That is what it says.”

“I'm not sure you pick a
college a continent away if you like hanging with dad.”

“All I know is the boy
is missing.”

“But, we don't know if
it's voluntary or involuntary.”

“Correct, again. There
has been no ransom demand or any other indication he’s been kidnapped.”

“How long has he been

Raviv shook his head.
“Not clear. Possibly two months.”

I sifted through the
bank and credit card statements. There were no purchases, deposits, or
withdrawals since early October. His checking account statement showed Ken, or
someone, made the maximum withdrawal of five hundred dollars from the same ATM
in Seattle for five straight days in early October.

“Did you see these
withdrawals?” I said.


“Twenty-five hundred
dollars total over five straight days.”

“What does that tell

“Nothing,” I said.
“There's still three thousand in the account. If someone was forcing him to
take the money out, why not take it all? And why not ask Poppa Boyd for more
money? On the other hand, if he was financing his own little getaway...”

“Why not take it all?”

“Exactly.” I looked at
the bank statements again. “There's another possibility.”

“I knew you would be
good at this.”

“Drugs. Pacific Northwest
is a good place to grow pot. Perhaps he decided to go into business.”

“Possible, except?” He
paused, Socratic-ally, allowing me time to puncture my own argument.

“Except he took the money
out in October, at the end of the growing season. Why start a pot farm then?” I
closed the file. “Maybe he was buying finished product and was careless about
security. Those Mexican cartels are pretty entrenched up there. He could be
rotting in a ditch.”

“Lots of possibilities.”

I turned to look at him.
“You seem awfully sanguine about the whole thing.”

He shrugged. “I have
complete faith in you.”

“You know,” I said, “the
cops say that after twenty-four hours the trail is cold. This kid has been gone
nearly two months.”

“I have complete faith
in you.”

“You keep saying that.
It doesn't make me believe it more.”

“That is your problem.
You lack the faith we have in you.”

I closed the file. “I've
told you more than once, Raviv, I don't need rescuing.”

“Then why did you agree
to work for me?”

“Maybe I was bored. It's
beginning to look like a poor decision.” I caught up with the conversation.
“What do you mean, 'we'?”

“Just a figure of
speech. Although, I am sure there are others who wish you would employ your
talents in a more constructive way.”

“Like I did a few years
ago? Like you did, before that?”

“Someone needs to slay
the dragons.”

“Yeah, and if there's a
little collateral damage, what the hell.” I opened the file again. “We're all
dragons, Raviv, that's the problem. When do I meet Mr. Boyd?”

“Ten tomorrow morning at
his office on Maiden Lane. The address is in the file. Wear a suit. You are on
the early plane to Seattle, out of Newark, the next day.”

“I hear it’s lovely
there this time of year.”

“It is miserable. You
and Seattle were made for each other.”

The driver stopped in
front of my building at the corner of 28th and 10th.

“Keep me informed,” said

“Yes, mother.” I stepped
out into the cold.

“My sister was
researching first names,” he said.

“Why,” I said, pointing
at his stomach, “you having a baby?”

“Your humor escapes me.
She is having the baby. As I was saying, your name, Nicolas, do you know what
it means?”

“My name is Nick.”

“Victory to the people
is what it means.”

“I didn't pick it,” I said,
and slammed the door shut.

BOOK: Devil's Run
11.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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