Cuba Libre (2008)

Cuba Libre (2008) by Elmore Leonard Read Free Book Online

Book: Cuba Libre (2008) by Elmore Leonard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elmore Leonard
smelling ether. One of them said something in Spanish and a third one stepped in and pressed a cloth to Virgil's face. This was all he'd remember of his last night in San Ambrosio.

    Chapter Four.
    AND RES PALENZUELA, CHIEF OF municipal police for the city of Havana, received a telephone call informing him of an American named Tyler who arrived today at Regla with horses and cattle. Palenzuela assigned an investigator by the name of Rudi Calvo to follow the American, see if he was here for a reason other than the livestock. This Ben Tyler appeared to be a drover, he told Rudi Calvo, but who knows? He could be an agent of the United States government. Rudi Calvo asked who it was wanted to know about the American. His chief said, "Guardia Civil, Lionel Tavalera."
    "Him?" Rudi Calvo said. "Why doesn't he use his own people?"
    "Who knows? Maybe they're busy somewhere torturing children."
    "But why is it his business?"
    "The American brought thirty horses to sell," Palenzuela said, "but according to the custom declaration paid duty on only ten, eight hundred fifty pesos instead of twenty-five hundred."
    "So?" Rudi Calvo said. "Why is that his business?" "Whatever his reason," Palenzuela said, "he's Guardia Civil. You must know it's their business to know everyone's business."
    At 9:00 P.M. Rudi Calvo came to the home in the Vedado suburb of Havana where Palenzuela kept his American mistressmher name was Lorraine--and entertained close friends. Rudi sat with his chief in the front courtyard of the house to give his report.
    "From the ferry dock the subject went directly to the Hotel Inglaterra, where he registered and left his belongings, a bedroll and a saddle. He spent almost two hours in the bar among the newspaper correspondents before going out again. His associate, the one named Burke, remained."
    He had caught Palenzuela getting dressed for the evening, suspenders hanging, buttoning his shirt, a collar not yet attached, the chief's mind apparently on something else, the reason he said, "Who?"
    "Charlie Burke," Rudi said, always patient with his chief, and explained that they already had a file on Burke, a dealer.in cattle who had been here several times before. "The subject went out again accompanied by Victor Fuentes and proceeded to la Habana Vieja, where they dined in a cafe and then visited stores, selecting new clothes for the subject. Shirts, trousers, a suit coat, good boots and a very fine panama." "He bought a suit?" Palenzuela said. "Only the coat, a black one." "Expensive?"
    "I believe alpaca."
    "Where did he go for the boots?"
    "Naranjo y Vazquez."
    "They're all right, but not the best."
    "He removed his spurs from the old boots and put them on the new ones."
    "Why? If he wasn't riding?"
    "No, I think because he's used to wearing them. Or he likes to hear himself walk."
    "A cowboy," Palenzuela said. "And where did he buy his hat?"
    "Viadero's."
    "Of course."
    "He put on the clothes, the black suit coat and pants the color of sand, or perhaps more of a cinnamon shade." "How did it look?"
    "Elegant, with a white shirt and a kerchief of a light blue shade, the kerchief his own."
    Palenzuela said, "Hmmmm," nodding. "I like a kerchief sometimes."
    "He had something he brought with him wrapped in newspaper," Rudi Calvo said. "I had been wondering, what is that he's carrying? Well, he unwrapped it now in the store. It was a revolver, I believe a Smith & Wesson.44, the one with the spur beneath the trigger guard for the second finger."
    "The.44 Russian," Palenzuela said, "originally designed for a grand duke. I have a pair."
    "He carried it," Rudi said, "in a shoulder holster."
    "If he isn't a spy," Palenzuela said, "he could be an assassin."
    "He put on the holstered pistol beneath the suit coat and stood in front of a mirror to look at himself this way and that, pausing to adjust the hat, getting a slight but very smart curve to the brim. He stood there it seemed for several minutes." "Admiring himself."
    "Perhaps,

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