Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of private investigators who made their stunning debut in Right as Rain, are hired to find a 14-year-old white girl from the suburbs who’s run away from home and is now working as a prostitute in some dangerous neighborhoods. The two ex-cops think they know the dangers, but nothing in their experience has prepared them for Worldwide Wilson, the pimp whose territory they are intruding upon. The situation is compounded when one of the young stars of a community pee-wee football team — which Strange and Quinn spend their evenings coaching — is killed by a drug dealer while riding in a car with his uncle. Tracking down his killers becomes a point of honor for Strange and Quinn, and their off-the-Books investigation leads them back to Wilson. Soon, the two detectives are forced to sort through the pieces of evidence to put together the puzzle and solve the crime. Combining inimitable neighborhood flavor, action scenes that rank among the best in fiction, and a clear-eyed view of morality in a world with few rules, Hell to Pay is another Pelecanos masterpiece to be savored.


George Pelecanos

The second book in the Derek Strange and Terry Quinn series

Copyright © 2002 by George P. Pelecanos

To Dennis K. Ashton Jr., seven years old, shot to death on June 27, 1997, by a criminal with a handgun in Washington, D.C.

“Don’t Look down

On a man . . .

Unless you gonna

Pick him up.”

Written on a mural outside Taylor’s Funeral Home, on the corner of Randolph Place and North Capitol Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

chapter 1

GARFIELD Potter sat low behind the wheel of an idling Caprice, his thumb stroking the rubber grip of the Colt revolver loosely fitted between his legs. On the bench beside him, leaning against the passenger window, sat Carlton Little. Little filled an empty White Owl wrapper with marijuana and tamped the herb with his thumb. Potter and Little were waiting on Charles White, who was in the backyard of his grandmother’s place, getting his dog out of a cage.

“It don’t look like much, does it?” said Potter, looking down at his own lap.

Little grinned lazily. “That’s what the girls must say when you pull that thing out.”

“Like Brianna, you mean? Your girl? She ain’t had no chance to look at it, ’cause I was waxin’ her from behind. She felt it, though. Made her forget all about you, too. I mean, when I was done hittin’ it she couldn’t even remember your name.”

“She couldn’t remember hers either, drunk as she had to be to fuck a sad motherfucker like you.” Little laughed some as he struck a match and held it to the end of the cigar.

“I’m talkin’ about this gun, fool.” Potter held up the Colt so Little, firing up the blunt, could see it.

“Yeah, okay. Where’d you get it at, man?”

“Traded it to this boy for half an OZ. Was one of those project guns, hadn’t even been fired but once or twice. Short barrel, only two inches long, you’d think it couldn’t do shit. But this here is a three fifty-seven. They call it a carry revolver, ’cause you can carry this shit without no one knowin’ you strapped. I don’t need no long barrel, anyway. I like to work close in.”

“I’ll stick with my nine. You don’t even know if that shits works.”

“It works. Yours jams, don’t be askin’ me for mines.”

Potter was tall, light skinned, flat of stomach and chest, with thin, ropy forearms and biceps. He kept his hair shaved close to the scalp, with a small slash mark by way of a part. His irises were dark brown and filled his eyes; his nose was a white boy’s nose, thin and aquiline. He was quick to smile. It was a smile that could be engaging when he wanted it to be, but more often than not it inspired fear.

Little was not so tall. He was bulked in the shoulders and arms, but twiggish in the legs. A set of weights had given him the show muscles upstairs, but his legs, which he never worked on, betrayed the skinny, malnourished boy he used to be. He wore his hair braided in cornrows and kept a careless, weedy thatch of hair on his chin.

Both wore carpenter jeans and button-down, short-sleeve plaid Nautica shirts over wife-beater Ts. Potter’s shoes were whatever was newest in the window of the Foot Locker up at City Place; he had a pair of blue-and-black Air Maxes on now. On Little’s feet were wheat-colored Timberland work boots, loosely laced and untied.

Little held a long draw in his lungs and looked ahead, exhaling a cloud of smoke that crashed at the windshield. “Here comes Coon. Lookit how he’s all chest out and shit. Proud about that dog.”

Charles White was walking his pit bull, Trooper, past a dying oak tree, its leaves nearly stripped bare. A tire hung on a chain from one of the branches. When he was a puppy, Trooper had swung on the tire for hours, holding it fast, strengthening his jaws.

“That ain’t no game dog,” said Potter. “Coon ain’t no dog man, neither.”

White had Trooper, brown with a white mask and golden-pink eyes, on a short leash attached to a heavy- ringed, wide leather collar. Trooper’s ears were game-cropped at the skull. White, of average size and dressed similarly to his friends, moved toward the car, opened the back door, and let the dog in before getting inside himself.

“S’up, fellas,” said White.

“Coon,” said Little, looking over the bench at his friend. Others thought White’s street name had something to do with his color, dark as he was. But Little knew where the name had come from. He’d been knowing Coon since they were both kids in the Section Eights, back in the early nineties, when White used to wear a coonskin hat, trying to look like that fool rapper from Digital Underground, that group that was popular then. There was the other thing, too: White had a nose on him, big and long like some cartoon animal. And he walked kind of pitched forward, with his bony fingers spread kind of like claws, the way a critter in the woods would do.

“Gimme some of that hydro, Dirty.”

Dirty was Little’s street name, so given because of his fondness for discussing women’s privates. Men’s, too. Also, he loved to eat all that greasy fast food. Little passed the blunt back to White. White hit it deep.

“Your champion ready?” said Potter.

“What?” said White.

It was hard to hear in the car. Potter had the music, the new DMX joint on PGC, turned up loud.

Вы читаете Hell To Pay
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату