Authors: Jens Lapidus
Never Fuck Up
This 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
Translation copyright © 2014 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House LLC
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, Penguin Random House companies. Originally published in Sweden as
by Wahlstrom & Widstrand, Stockholm, in 2011. Copyright © 2011 by Jens Lapidus.
Pantheon Books and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lapidus, Jens, [date]
[Livet deluxe. English]
Life deluxe / Jens Lapidus; translated from the Swedish by
Astri von Arbin Ahlander.
ISBN 978-0-307-37750-0 (hardcover : alk. paper)—ISBN 978-0-307-90851-3 (eBook)
1. Organized crime—Fiction. 2. Criminals—Sweden—Fiction. 3. Undercover operations—Fiction. I. Ahlander, Astri Von Arbin, translator. II. Title.
PT9877.22.A65L5913 2014 839.73’8—dc23 2014002930
Jacket design by Peter Mendelsund
For Jack and Flora
“You West Side. You musta heard of Charlie Sollers, right?”
“Goes all the way back to Franklin and Fremont. I mean all the way back to the sixties and shit.”
“Sold heroin like it was water. I mean, the motherfucker made himself some money.”
“I don’t know who the fuck you are talking about.”
“I know you don’t. And the police don’t. And the stick-up boys wouldn’t have a fucking clue either. ’Cause Charlie Sollers just sold dope. No profile. No street rep. Just buy for a dollar, sell for two.”
—PROPOSITION JOE TALKING TO STRINGER BELL
It was the second time in my life that I visited Stockholm for a job
The first time I was here for a wedding, as a bodyguard for one of the guests. That was seventeen years ago, and I was young then. I remember how I looked forward to the day after, when I could party in Stockholm and bed some blondes. The wedding itself was a large affair compared to the ones in my home country. They said it was considered big even for Sweden—there were maybe three hundred guests. And sure, it was grand. The newlyweds emerged from the church dressed in winter furs. They had a small child too, a pretty girl, who was also wearing a fur. The bridal couple were driven from the church in a sled pulled by four white horses. Their little girl stood with her nanny on the church steps and waved. The air was clean, the snow glittered, and the sky was clear. I remember what I thought at the time: that Sweden must be the cleanest country in the world. Then I saw the guests’ faces. Some showed joy and others admiration. But they all expressed one thing: respect
The man who was married then was the person I was here to take care of now: Radovan Kranjic. Fateful irony, to have seen the beginning of the new life that I was now going to end
I usually don’t let myself feel. No, I kill myself before every mission. I am hired, paid, independent—there is nothing personal about what I do. But to come to Stockholm this time around gave me a sense of completion, somehow
The circle would be closed. A kind of balance would be restored
And then something happened
I’d been staking out in the Volvo all day. When I returned to my room, I decided to clean my handguns. I’d purchased them in Denmark, where I have connections—after the Americans’ so-called war on terrorism, I don’t pack heat when traveling into the EU anymore
I had an Accuracy International L96AI—a finer-grade sniper rifle—and a Makarov gun. I took them apart and laid them on a cover on the bed, clean and gleaming. I was holding the final weapon, a revolver, in my hand
That was when the door opened
I realized that I’d forgotten to lock it, like I normally always do
It was a housekeeper. I wondered what kind of crap hotel I was staying at, anyway, where the staff didn’t knock before entering
She stared at my weapons for a few seconds. Then she apologized and began to back out into the hallway
But it was too late—she’d already seen too much. I rose, raised the revolver, and asked her to step into the room
She looked terrified. Understandably—that was my intention, after all. I told her to pull the cleaning cart with her into the room as well, and then I closed the door behind her. I kept my weapon aimed at her the entire time. Then I had her clean my room
It took her max ten minutes—it was obvious that she was a pro. She vacuumed the small floor area, wiped off all surfaces, and washed the sink and toilet. It was important to me that it was done thoroughly
Meanwhile I packed my bag
When she was finished, I asked her to look out into the hallway and see if anyone was out there. It was empty. I pushed her in front of me out into the hallway and told her to unlock the door to another room. She chose one that was two doors down
We entered it. The room was messy. The person staying there apparently took pleasure in torturing hotel housekeepers
I closed the door
She looked at me
I held up a pillow
Then I raised the revolver and shot her through the pillow. In the eye
The strip club on Roslagsgatan’d been rented out. Jorge eyed the place: red spotlights in the ceiling, velvet armchairs on the floor, and neon Heineken ads on the walls. Round tables with candle wax stains, beer stains—he didn’t want to guess what other kinds of stains. A bar along one side of the room, a DJ in one corner, a small stage along the other side. The strip pole was still chick-free. But behind the bar: four babes flaunting more skin than clothes were pouring out bubbly. Soon they’d be boa-constricting themselves around the pole. Baring it all for the bros.
The feel of the place wasn’t exactly mad deluxe. But who gave a fuck—the crowd made the mood. Jorge recognized alotta faces. Had arrived at the joint with his cousin Sergio and his buddy Javier. He saw Mahmud farther in among the armchairs
was sipping a glass of Moët. Bonding with his own buddies: Tom Lehtimäki, Rob, Denko, Birra.
Jorge nodded at Mahmud, winked. Signaled:
I see you, bro
. They needed to talk about tomorrow. J-boy could hardly wait. Something big might be in the works. A step back into G-life. Away from M-life. M as in muffins.
Jorge’d slept like shit last night. The whole thing: like Agent Smith against Neo. Darkness squaring off against the light. The Sven life wore him down.
The dark side
. At the same time, the thing they were gonna go see about—superfly. The good side would be given the chance—if they just made it to that meeting tomorrow, everything would work out.