Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nadia Dalbuono, an excerpt from "The American"

An excerpt from Nadia Dalbuono's The American.

When Scamarcio left the boss’s office, he found the desk sergeant waiting for him in the entrance to the squad room. ‘You’ve got visitors,’ he said.

He was holding open the swing doors for two tall strangers in dark suits. They both wore silver Aviator sunglasses, and their hair was cropped militarily short. Scamarcio’s instinctive assessment was that they were secret service, and probably the Anglo-Saxon variety — English or American.

He walked over to shake their hands, and motioned them to his desk. There was only one spare chair, so he pulled out another from a neighbouring table. The strangers’ arrival was stirring interest among his colleagues, who also knew a spook when they saw one.

He had expected the two men to remove their sunglasses when they sat down, but for some reason they chose to keep them on.

‘English OK?’ said the one on the left, who had blond hair and deeply pitted skin. The accent was American, but Scamarcio couldn’t pin it to a region.

‘Sure,’ he said, wondering if they already knew that he had spent time in the States.

The one on his right crossed his legs, and Scamarcio spotted a gun strapped to an ankle holster. It looked like a Beretta 92 — maybe their standard issue, if they had one.

‘The body you found under the bridge this morning ...’ continued the man on the left.

‘What about it?’

‘He’s one of ours.’

‘A colleague?’

‘No — a suspect.’

‘You’re fast workers. I only sent the photo to our liaison a few minutes ago.’

The stranger didn’t offer an explanation, so Scamarcio asked, ‘What agency are you from? Do you have cards?’

‘We’re US authorities.’

‘That doesn’t tell me much.’

‘That’s all you need to know.’

That settled it. He would give them the bare minimum, nothing more. They were about to piss all over the place — to mark out their territory, as usual.

Pitted skin continued. ‘The guy you pulled out from under that bridge was a fraudster, responsible for manufacturing millions in counterfeit dollars. It was a major op. We’d been on his tail for some time, but it was only recently that he came to realise it. When he sensed that his time was up, he decided to end his life.’

‘Why come all the way to Rome?’

‘He had family here. We think he wanted to say his goodbyes.’

‘This fraudster have a name?’

‘It’s need-to-know.’

‘I need to know.’

‘We don’t share that assessment.’

Scamarcio took a breath, and bit down on a pencil. He tasted lead in his mouth, and wished he could wash it away, but he didn’t want to get up.

‘Listen, Detective, we’re just trying to do you a favour. We know you flying squad guys have your hands full, so we wanted to spare you the legwork and take this one off your slate. We’ll supply you with all the relevant paperwork so you can dot your I’s, cross your Italian T’s. No point breaking a sweat when someone is happy to clean up for you.’

Scamarcio said nothing for a few moments. ‘You know it’s not that simple. This happened on Italian soil, so I’m obliged to investigate.’

‘You’re not listening, Detective,’ said the guy on the right, whose southern lilt was deep and smooth like a Louisiana whisky. Although his eyes weren’t visible, his terracotta tan and perfect white smile seemed to suggest that he was much better looking than his colleague. ‘All we’re saying is that we can help you sew up your case nice and tight in time for you to head out to the coast for the weekend. You guys still go to the beach in October? — seems warm enough to me.’

Scamarcio said nothing. He wasn’t going to be their foreign stooge they could squeeze any which way they wanted. ‘What paperwork do you have?’ he asked eventually.

‘It will be on your desk by close of play tomorrow, and then you can head down to Amalfi for a nice bit of R and R. That’s what I’d do in your position. Really I would.’

The southerner’s words sounded less like a suggestion and more like a threat this time.

Disclosure: review copies of The Few and The American were provided by Scribe Books. See my thoughts on The American here.

No comments:

Post a Comment