Monday, November 22, 2010

Free Excerpt from THE WEIGHT by Andrew Vachss

"[Andrew Vachss'] new book, The Weight, may be his finest hour to date. [It] works on the surface as a stunning mystery. Compulsively readable." —Ken Bruen

"Andrew Vachss at his best" —Los Angeles Times

Andrew Vachss returns with a mesmerizing novel about a hard-core thief who's about to embark on a job that will alter his life forever.

Excerpted from The Weight

I'm a professional, not a punk with a pistol. You'll never see my picture on a security camera sticking up a bodega. Or jacking some guy in a suit while he's standing at an ATM.

I'm a thief, and I do clean work. I don't hurt people for money, I don't set fires, I don't do any of those sicko sex things. Stuff like that, it gets spread all over: the papers, radio, TV. Gets everybody paying attention. Specially when there's big reward money out there.

A man who does my kind of work, the only way he ever gets caught is if he goes in without a plan. Or if someone rolls over on him.

You never talk about your work. Too many guys walking around with heavy charges hanging over them. Anyone gets caught holding K-weight powder in this state, it's the same as a murder beef. A street cop catches a guy holding that heavy, he can make the bust, but all that'd get him is another one of those "commendations" every cop has a couple dozen of. What he really wants is that gold shield, so he'd rather have that guy on the street, working for him. Any outlaw is going to be able to go places no undercover ever could. So all he has to do is listen long enough.

Guys like that, they're all nothing but rats on leashes. If it wasn't for informants, the cops'd probably hardly ever break a case.
They'll pretty much always get the amateurs—the clowns who leave a trail you could follow even with one of those white canes tapping the way.
The amateurs who stay out the longest are the ones who kill for fun. A random kill doesn't even look like what it really is until the bodies pile up.
There's also people who get off on being a rat. Nothing in it for them; they like doing that kind of stuff. So it's just as hard for people on my side of the law to sniff them out as it is for the law to sniff out a guy who does freakish stuff.
There's even people stupid enough to rat on themselves. A pro can be smart about work and dumb about other things. Say you talk about your work to your girlfriend: all it takes is for her to get mad at you one time to put a whole crew under the jail.

A few years ago, that happened to a guy I'd worked some jobs with. He was real good-looking. Smooth talker, too. Always found some girl to pick up his tabs—I don't think he ever paid rent in his life. This guy, he'd never talk about our kind of work, but any woman he ever stayed with, she'd have to know he wasn't any W-2 man. Probably helped them get over the nights he didn't come home ... and the flashy way he dressed, too. Whatever, they were always happy to help out with some cash while he was waiting on this big score he had coming.
Only this last one, she couldn't leave it that way. She just had to satisfy herself he wasn't spending her money on some other girl.

A lot of them do it now. They call it "playing detective." You know what I mean: they buy their boyfriend a cell phone and pay the bill themselves. The mark thinks he's playing her, but the person who pays the bill gets the bill. Which means she gets a lot of phone numbers.

So, anyway, the girlfriend, she finds a number she doesn't recognize, dials it while the guy's sleeping. Wakes him up and goes off on him. She's taking care of him, and he fucking cheats on her?

He should've just promised her he was done with that other girl. Better yet, just walked away and not come back.

But, no, he has to be a big man. Throws a fistful of hundreds on the floor, tells her, "Here, bitch. Go pay your little cell-phone bill."

All their time together, she thought he was her kept boy, so seeing all that money sent her over the edge. A few minutes earlier, she was screaming at him to get out. Now she's standing in front of the door. She's got more to say, and he's going to listen to it or...
He should have let her scream herself dry. But, the kind of fool he is, he's got to play his role, just like he did with flashing the money. Ends up banging her around pretty hard.

He's not even a few blocks away when she goes 911 on him. They pick him up right on the street. Once they tell him what he's being pinched for, he doesn't say a word.

This guy figures, they arraign him in the morning, he takes whatever they're offering. What's he looking at ... thirty days and some anger-management class?

But he's only in a few hours when the girlfriend waltzes in and tells the cops she's decided not to press charges. Stupid broad, she thought it was her case. When they tell her it's not up to her, she loses it again. By the time she's done running her mouth, they've got enough probable cause to take her home and have a look around.

I'll say this for that guy: maybe he played big-shot, but he paid for doing it, and he didn't ask anyone he ever worked with to split the tab.

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