Red Hook

Red Hook by Gabriel Cohen Read Free Book Online

Book: Red Hook by Gabriel Cohen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gabriel Cohen
Bentley.”
    “What did he do?”
    “He was a porter. Like a doorman, only he was in the back. He wasn’t allowed to be with the people so much, because he speak like a Dominican.”
    Jack jotted notes. He looked up. “Did you get along with him?”
    Mrs. Espinal considered this shrewdly. “I am his mother-in-law. We live in the same house. Sometimes, we have a little argument. One or two times, he call me some names…But we never fight about how he treat my daughter or the kids. He was a good father, a good husband.”
    Mrs. Espinal’s confession made Jack feel better about the interview. Even innocent people lied routinely to the police—at the least, they spun, tweaked, rearranged, and shaded the facts to come up with a safer truth, a more flattering or forgiving one. If she claimed that everything was perfect in the Berrios household, he would have taken her whole statement with a grain of salt.
    She seemed to honestly believe that her son-in-law had no enemies, but one thing was sure: Tomas Berrios had managed to piss somebody off. This was no random killing, no drunken bar fight flaring into unpremeditated homicide. Whoever killed Berrios had taken the trouble to rough him up, stab him in the most efficient manner possible, attempt to methodically dispose of the body.
    A group of four young men, early or mid-twenties, approached the house. Subdued, serious. One of them, a pale-faced kid, had a disproportionately large head topped with a yellow Afro. He held a bouquet of flowers.
    As Jack and his partner stepped off the stoop, the group held their ground with a studied indifference to show that they were not intimidated by the presence of two obvious cops.
    “How ya doin’?” Jack said as he pushed out through the gate.
    The kids looked off into the distance. They seemed pretty harmless for homeboys.
    “You guys friends of Tomas, huh?”
    Three of the kids examined their complicated basketball shoes, but the one with yellow hair answered. “Did you find out who did it?”
    His comrades groaned in disgust, “You,” said a handsome, sharp-faced kid with jet-black hair. “Shut the fuck up. You don’t gotta talk to no cops.”
    “We’re just here to help,” Jack said. “Cool your jets.”
    Despite the seriousness of the situation, the youths made a big show of holding their sides and guffawing. “‘Cool your jets,’” repeated the sharp-faced kid. “Man, you must’ve been watching The Mod Squad .”
    Daskivitch stepped forward. “He means ‘chill out,’ you little punk.”
    The kid backed against the fence.
    Jack moved his head subtly to the side, signaling Daskivitch to back off. The kids were lippy, but not hinky—they didn’t act as if they had anything particular to hide.
    “What’s your name?” he said calmly to the kid with the yellow Afro.
    “His name’s BigHead,” said the wiseass kid. “You’re the detective, maybe you can figure out why.”
    “Cut it out, Ramon!” the kid with the yellow Afro said. “My name’s Hector.”
    “Dask, why don’t you talk to these gentlemen here?” Jack said. “Hector and I are gonna take a stroll.”
    “Leave him alone, mister,” said one of the other kids. “He’s a retard.”
    “ You the retard!” said Hector, glaring back.
    “C’mon,” Jack said, tugging the kid away from the others. They walked off down the street, Hector looking back over his shoulder as they went.
    “When’s the last time you saw Tomas?”
    Hector squinted. “Last night. I mean two nights ago. We was riding.”
    “Who was?”
    “Me, Tommy, Nicio. Felix. Ramon. Them over there.” The kid nodded back toward his friends.
    “Riding what?”
    “Our bikes. Tommy’s the boss.”
    “Motorcycles?”
    “Naw, man. Bicycles.”
    Jack pondered this information. He’d heard of bicycle crews acting as couriers for drug dealers. This kid didn’t seem to have the smarts for that action, but the others?
    “Where did you go?”
    “Around. Out Fourth Avenue. We

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