Read The Albuquerque Turkey: A Novel Online

Authors: John Vorhaus

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Crime, #Fiction, #Mystery fiction, #Santa Fe (N.M.), #Swindlers and swindling, #Men's Adventure, #General

The Albuquerque Turkey: A Novel

BOOK: The Albuquerque Turkey: A Novel
5.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
 

Also by John Vorhaus

 

Nonfiction

 

The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not

 

Creativity Rules! A Writer’s Workbook

The Pro Poker Playbook: 223 Ways to Win More Money Playing Poker

Killer Poker: Strategy and Tactics for Winning Poker Play

Killer Poker Online: Crushing the Internet Game

The Killer Poker Hold’em Handbook Poker Night: Winning at Home, at the Casino, and Beyond The Strip Poker Kit

Killer Poker Online 2: Advanced Strategies for Crushing the Internet Game

Killer Poker No Limit Killer Poker Shorthanded
(with Tony Guerrera)

 

Fiction

 

Under the Gun
The California Roll
(a Radar Hoverlander novel)

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2011 by John Vorhaus

 

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
www.crownpublishing.com

 

CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Vorhaus, John.
The Albuquerque turkey : a novel / John Vorhaus.—1st ed.
p. cm.
Sequel to: California roll
1. Swindlers and swindling—Fiction. 2. Santa Fe (N.M.)—Fiction. I. Title.

 

PS3622.O745A79 2011
813′.6—dc22

 

2010035464

 

eISBN: 978-0-307-71782-5

 

Jacket design by Kyle Kolker
Jacket photograph ©
istockphoto.com

 

v3.1

 

To Jim and Nancy, still patiently waiting for their kid brother to grow up

 
 
 

Every silver lining has a cloud
.

 
Contents
 
 
 
1
Boy
 

I
t started with a dog, a biggish one loping down the sidewalk with that weird canter some dogs have, the front legs syncopating and the rear legs slewing sidewise in tandem. He must’ve been running from something specific, because even while scampering forward he looked back, which resulted in his not seeing, and therefore barreling into, me. He hit me square in the knees and knocked me to the ground. This startled us equally, and for a second we both sat still, locked eye to eye down there at dog level.

I vibe dogs. I do. Or let’s say that I prize them: Their unconditional love is a love you can trust. I’d rolled with one or two in my time, but the highly migratory life of a con artist didn’t really lend itself to long-term canine commitments, so I mostly just admired dogs from afar. Up close, this one was tough to admire, a mixed bag of black Lab and unknown provenance. One ear stood up like a German shepherd’s. The other … wasn’t there. Looking at the bitten-off stub, I couldn’t help wondering how a dog’s ear tastes to another dog. He bore other wounds as well, evidence of many fights—maybe not fair fights, for I thought I detected a human hand in some of his scars and mars. I saw it also in his eyes. He feared me. That made me sad. I reached out a hand to comfort him, and he flipped over in submission position, manifesting what every dog dreads and hopes when it submits: dread that it will be kicked; hope it’ll be scratched. I opted to scratch, and immediately made a (man’s best) friend.

“Get up, boy,” I said as I stood. “I’m not the boss of you.” The dog—in my mind I was already calling him Boy—obediently rose to his feet. I didn’t know if he was that well trained or just felt like following my lead. He wore no collar, only a weathered, knotted rope that trailed away to a frayed end. Something told me this was a dog in transition, and that whoever had been the boss of him was boss no more. Probably if I wanted to, I could keep him, the thought of which tickled me. I pictured me presenting him to my girlfriend, Allie, who had lately shown such determination that we be normal. “Look what followed me home,” I’d tell her. “Can we keep it?” If that didn’t say
normal
, I don’t know what would.

First, though, there was the matter of making sure I was right. I mean, I couldn’t just kidnap him—dognap him—so I started back in the direction he’d come, determined to take a stab, at least, at finding his owner. The dog cowered, reluctant to follow. “It’s okay,” I said, “I got your back.” He still wouldn’t budge, so I knelt, rubbed his grizzled muzzle for a moment, then took the scraggly end of the rope and walked him down the street. I could tell he still wasn’t too keen on the idea, but now he was a dog on a leash, and they have no free will.

I had just turned the corner when I heard the first shouts.

I thought they came from the courtyard of some garden apartments just down the street, but with the way the sound bounced around off those Santa Fe adobe walls, I couldn’t be sure. There was a pickup truck parked in front of the courtyard, and its whole grungy aspect seemed linked to the courtyard noises. Bald tires, primer spots and dents, cracked windshield—a trailertrash ride, or I’m no judge of trucks. The tailgate was missing, and I could see in the cargo bed a litter of empty cans, both beer and oil, plus fast-food wrappers and crumpled cigarette packs.

And, tethered to a tie-down, a severed rope, mate to the noose around Boy’s neck.

Boy recognized the truck. He whimpered fearfully as we approached, causing a picture to form in my mind: Enraged driver
pulls up to the curb, anger burning so hot that he upsets his dog, who strains against his restraint and snaps the tired line. Dog is off and running, but driver doesn’t care. All his anger’s focused on whoever’s in that courtyard.

More shouts now, and I could hear two voices, no, three: a man and a woman exchanging heated words, and a little girl playing hapless and ineffectual peacemaker. To me it added up to domestic dispute.

Boy wanted to leave and, boy, so did I. After all, there’s two kinds of problems in this world, right? My problem and not my problem. But there was a lot going on in my head. There was Allie’s need for the two of us to be citizens (and did not, in some sense, citizen equal Samaritan?) and also Boy, for if I left things as they were, he’d likely end up tied back up in that truck, the thought of which grieved me deeply. The kicker was the little girl’s voice. I could see the black hole of human trauma forming in the center of her universe. I knew that Allie came from such a troubled vortex, where Mom and Dad never got along and routinely inflicted horrible damage on anyone within range. I couldn’t go back in time and salve Allie’s pain. It was likewise probably too late to save the little girl from hers—these things start young—but maybe I could douse the present blaze.

And just perhaps talk my way into a dog.

I moved toward the courtyard. Boy resisted, but I patted his head in reassurance, trying to communicate that whatever I planned to sell, it wasn’t him out. I guess I got my point across, for he fell more comfortably in step beside me. I paused to gather myself before entering the courtyard. I didn’t know what, specifically, I was about to walk into, but it didn’t much matter. A top grifter gets good at improvising successfully across a wide variety of situations.

Even ones with guns.

I didn’t see the gun at first, just a man at the base of a short set of steps, looking dirty as his pickup truck in tired jeans and sneakers, a stained tank top, and a polyester cap with some kind of racing logo. The woman stood on the top step with the girl tucked in behind
her. They wore matching mother-daughter flower-print shifts. In other circumstances you’d have said they looked cute. Now they just looked scared, but the mother was playing the defiance card hard—a card I could tell she didn’t really hold, but that’s what they call bluffing.

“Andy, now, clear out,” she said. “You know you’re not allowed here. The judge—”

“Screw the judge,” said Andy. “I want Sophie. I want my little girl.”

“No, Andy. Not when you’ve been drinking and God knows what else.”

“Oh, and you’re such a saint?” Andy practically vibrated with rage.

“That’s not the point. I have
custody.
” The way she said
custody
damn near broke my heart. Like it had magic power, but I knew it would cast the opposite spell.

It did. It brought the gun up, a Browning Mark II Hi-Power. Some of them have hair triggers. Andy leveled it at—as I gathered from context—his ex-wife and child. “Sophie,” Andy told the girl, his voice gone cold, “go get in the truck. I swear if you don’t, I’ll shoot you both right now.”

BOOK: The Albuquerque Turkey: A Novel
5.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Tall, Dark, and Determined by Kelly Eileen Hake
Bearly A Squeak by Ariana McGregor
French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Baby of Shame by James, Julia
Regina Scott by The Heiresss Homecoming
Touching Evil by Rob Knight
First to Kill by Andrew Peterson