A Nail Through the Heart

A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan Read Free Book Online

Book: A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Timothy Hallinan
Arthit calls over Rafferty’s shoulder. “If you sit all bent over like that too long, you’ll fold your lungs.” Miaow does not answer, but she straightens a tiny amount and stirs the fire. Arthit brings his eyes to Poke’s and says, “I’d love to come in, thanks. And did you say something about a beer?”
    “Sorry, Arthit.” Rafferty steps aside and lets Arthit in. The trousers make him look like a giant Scotch tape dispenser. “Take whatever’s in the fridge.”
    “We all aspire to the manners of the West,” Arthit says, stepping past him. “‘Take whatever’s in the fridge.’ In those few words, you can hear generations of breeding. Do you want one?”
    “More than I should. So, no.”
    Arthit disappears into the kitchen, trailing a blur of plaid, and Miaow follows him with her eyes, seeing a possible ally.
    “You’re obviously off duty,” Rafferty calls. “At least from the waist down.”
    “Noi says I’m dreary.” Rafferty hears the pop and hiss of a can being opened. “Do you think I’m dreary?” Noi is Arthit’s wife,grappling with the early stages of multiple sclerosis. Rafferty suddenly sees the pants differently: Arthit would report for work wearing an ostrich-feather peignoir if he thought it would make Noi happy.
    “No drearier than any of my other friends.”
    Arthit emerges from the kitchen, a can of Singha beer in hand. “Not the ringing endorsement I had hoped for. I personally think I’m intriguing.” He is speaking British-accented English, a legacy of long, cold, miserable years spent as an exotic brown boy in one of the United Kingdom’s better schools. “There’s more to me than meets the eye. The younger Claude Rains comes to mind.”
    “I always thought Claude Rains looked like someone who secretly kept small animals in a dark room.”
    “Aren’t you cheery. I see Miaow, pooled in misery out there, but where’s Rose?”
    “Doing some washing.” Poke and Arthit are friends, but he does not want to talk about the boy until he’s figured out how to present the topic.
    “She’s washing my friend,” Miaow volunteers from the balcony. “He’s dirty.”
    Arthit’s eyebrows go up, and Poke says, “Later, okay? It’s a little complicated.”
    “Not complicated,” Miaow says stubbornly. “He’s my friend . Poke let me bring him home.”
    “Poke’s heart is bigger than his head,” Arthit says. “But if the kid is a friend of yours, he has to be okay.”
    This is met with silence, even from Miaow.
    Arthit says, “This is what’s known in the interrogation room as a pregnant pause.”
    “Like I said, later ,” Rafferty says. “And maybe you do resemble Claude Rains.”
    “So.” Arthit upends the beer and lowers it again. “Dreary as the movie might be, let’s cast your life story. If Claude Rains plays me, who do we give to Sydney Greenstreet?”
    “Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Rafferty says as Hofstedler, in his flowered fumigation shirt, lumbers into his mind’s eye. “That was your handwriting. Leon calling her a woman of mystery—was that your idea, too?”
    “Not at all. He probably just forgot her name, what with her being in her thirties and all. On the other hand, Leon could spot a conspiracy in a water-gun fight.”
    “You sent her to the bar. Whoever she is.”
    “She’s a perfectly nice Australian woman named Clarissa Ulrich whose uncle has gone missing. And I’m sorry about the indirect approach. I’ve been busy, and I ran into Leon, so I offered him something to do besides throwing money at bar girls. I didn’t want to give Clarissa your address.”
    “Was he down there?”
    “The uncle? That’s my first guess,” Arthit says. The can goes up again, and he swallows longer than Rafferty could hold his breath.
    Rafferty waits until the can has been lowered. “And this has what to do with me?”
    “Well, on one level you wrote that piece about finding foreign men in Thailand who didn’t want to be found. I gave a copy to

Similar Books

No Light

Devi Mara

Tender Graces

Kathryn Magendie

2 Unhitched

E.L. Sarnoff

The Bride's Kimono

Sujata Massey

River Magic

Martha Hix

Song of Her Heart

Irene Brand

No Stone Unturned

Helen Watts