between her legs? One time, she was gone for almost three weeks. My son figured it was the same merda all over again. But this time it was different. This time she didn’t come back.” He shifted in his chair, considered for a moment, apparently decided to be candid. “Personally, I don’t care whether she comes back or not, but my son’s wife was nagging him, then she started nagging me, so I’ve got to do what I can. It’s family.”

“The police in Recife found no trace of her at all?”

“Obviously not. Otherwise, why would I bother to talk to you?”

Silva took a deep, calming breath.

Malan seemed to enjoy trying Silva’s patience. A smile creased a corner of his mouth.

“What’s the name of the police chief in Recife?”

“Norberto Venantius.”

“Same last name as the mayor. Pure coincidence, I suppose.” The deputado pulled his eyeglasses down to the tip of his nose and glared at Silva over the top of the frame.

“You trying to be a wise-ass?”

“No, Deputado, certainly not. I’ll need a photo of your granddaughter.”

The deputado grunted. “I’ll get you one,” he said, but he didn’t rise.

“Now?” Silva prompted.

“Not now. I’ll have to get one from my son. My secretary will call you when it arrives. You can come over and pick it up.”

“You don’t have a photo of your granddaughter?”

Malan started to redden. At first, Silva thought it was embarrassment, but it wasn’t. It was anger.

“Not a recent photo, no. I don’t want to have anything to do with her any more. She’s turned into a disrespectful little bitch. I don’t know how her mother puts up with her. Her father and I sure as hell don’t. What else do you need to know?”

“Do you have any idea why she left?”


He looked straight into Silva’s eyes when he said it.

And Silva was sure he was lying.

Chapter Four


Marta Malan leaned closer to the mirror above the sink and studied her lip. The magazines she was fond of reading called that kind of lip “beestung.” Sometimes the effect was natural, sometimes achieved by injection. In Marta’s case it had been created by a blow from a fist, a huge, hairy, disgusting male fist. And that fist belonged to a bastard they called The Goat.

When Marta pulled the lip away from her gums and curved it over she could see a cut on the inside. The cut corresponded with the edge of one of her lower front teeth. She’d been cursing at him when he hit her. He must have caught her with her mouth open.

It wasn’t only her lip he’d damaged. There was a bruise on her cheek, and her nose was swollen. Gingerly, she touched it with a fingertip and moved it from side to side. It hurt, but it didn’t seem to be broken. That one, thank God, had only been a glancing blow.

She was tilting her head back, trying to look at the crusted blood inside her nostrils, when she heard a key in the lock. She spun around and faced the door. The deadbolt was sliding back.

Marta was adept at capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, but she couldn’t use it here. There was no room for a decent kick. She raised her fists. The animal had done something to her arm as well. No, not her arm, exactly, more like her shoulder. She wondered if she’d be able to throw a punch. Maybe not, but she was sure as hell going to try.

He didn’t come in right away, seemed to be having trouble with the bottom lock, the one on the doorknob.

The door was covered with steel sheeting, unpainted, and with traces of rust where it met the lower jamb. There were scratch marks on the metal, marks that might have been made by someone’s nails. The light in the little room was dim. There was no window and only one lamp, the one above the mirror. The bulb was tiny, barely enough to read by- if they’d given her something to read.

At last the door swung open. The fluorescent lights in the corridor cast the person standing in the doorway into silhouette.

Marta breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t The Goat. It was Roselia, his bitch of a girlfriend, the one who’d lied to her and Andrea, the one who’d gotten them into this mess in the first place.

Roselia came in cautiously. When Marta didn’t make any aggressive moves, she smiled, locked the door behind her, and put the keys in her pocket. She had something in her right hand, and she held it up for Marta to see: a wooden club.

Marta flinched.

“Don’t make me use it,” the bitch said. “I really don’t like hitting people.”

“Your boyfriend does.”

“Not really. And I certainly don’t.”

“So why did you bring it?” Marta asked.

“Because I’m not dumb enough to walk in here without it,” Roselia said. “You’re quite the little wildcat, aren’t you?”

Marta didn’t reply.

“You shouldn’t have talked to him like that,” Roselia said. “You made him angry.”

“Where’s Andrea?”

Roselia’s smile was more like a smirk.

“She’s getting fucked. Third man today.”

“I don’t believe you. She wouldn’t.”

“She didn’t have any choice. Neither do you. You just don’t realize it yet. Andrea’s okay, because she isn’t stubborn like you are. She never threatened to bite and scratch the customers.”

“I meant what I said.”

Roselia let out an exasperated sigh.

“Look, querida,” she said, “why don’t you just be reasonable? It’s not that bad. Every girl has to go through it, sooner or later.”

Marta didn’t like the bitch calling her “querida.” That’s what Andrea always called her.

“Not every girl,” she said. “I told you. Until I came here, there was no way I was going to let a man put his thing in me, not ever. You can force me, I know that, but I’m going to fight you every centimeter of the way.”

“Sooner or later,” Roselia said, “you’re going to get sick of bread and water. Sooner or later, you’re going to get sick of sitting here on your own with nobody to talk to, nothing to read, no TV to watch. You’ll change your mind. It’s just a matter of time.”

“I’ll never change my mind.”

“I’ll talk to you again in a week.”

She put her hand into the pocket where the keys were and turned toward the door, but Marta suddenly didn’t want her to go.

Roselia was right, maybe not about her giving in, but certainly about how bad it was to be alone with no one to talk to. Somebody, anybody, was better than just staring at the wall, or into the mirror.

“Why didn’t he rape me?” she said in a low voice, less aggressive this time.

Roselia turned around, a triumphant gleam in her eyes. She must have thought Marta’s resistance was crumbling.

“How do you know he didn’t?” she said. “You were unconscious, weren’t you?”

“No. I wasn’t. I just pretended I was.”

“Aren’t you the clever one?” Roselia walked over and sat on the bed, making herself comfortable, as if she

Вы читаете Dying Gasp
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату