Authors: Leighton Gage
Tags: #Brazil, #Police Procedural, #Police, #Mystery & Detective, #Silva, #Crimes against, #General, #Politicians, #Hard-Boiled, #Fiction, #Mario (Fictitious Character)
Blood of the Wicked Buried Strangers Dying Gasp Every Bitter Thing A Vine in the Blood
Soho Press, Inc. 853 Broadway New York, NY 10003
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gage, Leighton.
Perfect hatred / Leighton Gage.
1. Silva, Mario (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—Brazil—Fiction. 3. Politicians—Crimes against—Fiction. 4. Terrorism—Fiction. 5. Revenge—Fiction. 6. Brazil—Fiction. I. Title. PS3607.A3575P47 2012
For Heni Puósso de Britto, And her husband, Joel de Britto, The kindest people I have ever known. I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
The action began auspiciously.
Salem Nabulsi had prayed for good weather—and God
had rewarded him with a day of brilliant sunshine. He’d hoped the woman’s husband would leave at his
accustomed hour—and the husband had departed fifteen
He’d feared the woman would not admit him to her apartment—but she had.
And he’d feared she wouldn’t die quietly—but she did. By 8:15 a.m., he’d already washed her blood from his
hands, injected her baby with the contents of the syringe and
chosen, from among her clothing, the
were to become his shroud.
God further smiled on their enterprise when He sent a taxi
driver, punctual to the minute, but also so unobservant that
he failed to notice how heavy the baby’s carriage was when
he folded it and stowed it in the cab.
The crowd, too, exceeded all expectations. It wasn’t yet a
quarter to nine when they reached the consulate, and yet the
line already stretched to half the length of the security fence. But then it all began to go wrong.
How could they have known, how could they
known that babies attract Brazilians like flowers attract bees? Salem hadn’t been in place for more than two minutes
before a grey-haired lady stuck her nose under the sunshade
to have a look at the sleeping child.
She cooed at the infant and started telling him about her grandchildren. Salem gave her no encouragement, but it still seemed an eternity before she abandoned her attempt to elicit a response and returned to her place in
Next to interfere was a fat sergeant from the Civil Police.
Salem, fearing the cop’s suspicions would be aroused by the
difference in skin tones between himself and the baby, edged
his hand closer to the detonation switch.
But the sergeant was wearing dark sunglasses and the baby
was in deep shadow, so perhaps he didn’t notice. After a few
complimentary remarks, which Salem didn’t respond to, the
cop gave up and moved on.
He’d no sooner disappeared into an alcove fronting a
leather goods shop when a third busybody appeared. Salem was never to know it, but her name was Dorotea
Candida. She was a sharp-eyed lawyer, the mother of three
and the grandmother of two.
She was smiling when she bent over, but the smile quickly
“Yours?” she asked, standing upright.
The mullah hadn’t prepared him for such a question. “Yes,” Salem blurted.
Her eyes narrowed.
“Uh-huh,” she said.
Salem didn’t like the way she said it.
Then, without another word, she turned and headed
toward a cop, not the same one as before, another one. And
this one looked a lot smarter. She spoke and pointed. The
cop nodded and walked toward Salem.
Wait until nine
, the mullah had said.
The crowd will be biggest then
And it would have been. At least ten people had queued
up behind him. More were arriving every minute. But Salem could wait no longer. Discovery was imminent. He put his
hand on the button.
And pushed it, just as the cop reached him.
In Dudu Fonseca’s law offices, a little more than three kilometers away, the shockwave from the explosion rattled the glass in the windows.
Fonseca held up a hand to silence his client.
“What was that?” he said.
“I don’t give a damn what it was,” Orlando Muniz said.
The question had been
what’s our next move?
And Muniz was sitting on the other side of Fonseca’s desk, with his arms crossed, awaiting Fonseca’s response.
Fonseca was the best defense lawyer in São Paulo. Not
of the best,
best, but on Muniz’s murder charge, he’d been unable to deliver an acquittal, and Muniz was mightily displeased.
Fonseca picked up the mock-Georgian coffee pot and poured the last of its contents into his cup.
An honest answer would have been that further moves were a waste of effort. The hard truth was that Muniz would be spending the rest of his days in a prison cell.
But, at the moment, Muniz was still laying golden eggs, so an honest answer wasn’t in the cards.
“I’ll have to give the situation some deep thought,” Fonseca said, taking a sip of the (cold) coffee. “Frankly, we’re in a bit of a quandary.”
“Quandary, my ass,” Muniz said. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Indeed, he couldn’t. In his world, the rich didn’t go to jail. Not in Brazil. Not even if they killed an unarmed, penniless priest, in the presence of a federal cop, as he had done.
The initial judgment, one that resulted in a conviction, carried with it an automatic appeal. Fonseca had arranged to plead the first instance before one of the best judges money could buy. He was about to do the same with the second.
But a public prosecutor named Zanon Parma, in a spectacular show of legal tour de force, had checked the man on the bench at every turn.
Parma was to prosecutors what Fonseca was to defense attorneys. The best. Muniz’s remaining days of freedom were surely numbered. But this, Fonseca thought, was no time to be candid.
“How important is this guy Parma to the prosecution’s case?” Muniz asked.
Fonseca didn’t like where his client was going with this. He smelled trouble. But he was being paid for his advice, so he gave it.
“Very. Parma is brilliant, he’s dedicated, and he can’t be bought.”
“And that federal cop? That Chief Inspector Silva? How important is he?”
“Perhaps even more important than Parma. In addition to being the principal witness against you, he’s spearheading—”
“The witch hunt. It’s a fucking witch hunt. But any witch hunt needs guys up in front with scythes and pitchforks, right? You take those guys out of the picture and—”
Fonseca, once again, held up a hand. “Stop right there, Orlando. I don’t want to hear it.”
Muniz stood up. “Then we’re done. I won’t thank you for your time. I’m sure you’re gonna bill me for every fucking second of it.”
Fonseca, as was his custom with departing clients, struggled to his feet. He was grossly overweight, and it was never easy for him to get out of a chair.
Muniz ignored the lawyer’s outstretched hand. “One thing more,” he said. “Keep your fucking mouth shut about this conversation.”
He departed so quickly that Fonseca’s hand was still hanging in the air when the office door slammed shut.
The blast had been the loudest thing Sergeant Flavio Correia had ever heard, louder than a crack of thunder, louder, even, than the stun grenades from his training days.
He rubbed his ears with his palms. One came away wet. He held the hand out in front of him and stared at it. It was red with blood.
His ears still ringing, Flavio stepped into the street. A crater smoked where once a length of sidewalk had been. The windows in the buildings facing the American Consulate were blown out. The trees on both sides of the security fence were denuded. Small fires were everywhere.
A gas tank exploded, ruffling his hair with a pressure wave of hot air, as another vehicle joined the others already in flames. The woman slumped over the wheel didn’t react. She was either dead or unconscious. Either way, she was a goner. There was no way he’d be able to get her out of there.
Flavio shuffled forward and stumbled over a severed foot still wearing a man’s brown oxford.
A woman ran past him, her hair on fire, her mouth open in a silent scream.
A few meters away, a bloody arm rose from a legless trunk, waved once in wordless appeal, and fell back onto what looked like a pile of offal.
Flavio, his hands trembling, detached the transceiver from his belt, turned the volume to maximum, and put it to his ear.
But he couldn’t hear a damned thing.
Curitiba, the capital of the Brazilian State of Paraná, is a city without streetcars or a Metro system. Public transportation depends entirely upon buses, but they don’t run between the hours of midnight and five in the morning.
Nora Tasca didn’t want to spend a sleepless night in the open air, so she did the next best thing: she got up at 4:30 a.m. to make sure she’d be able to catch the first bus of the day.
It arrived in Tiradentes Square, as scheduled, at three minutes to seven, but by then it was already too late. All of the best places had been taken, but by dint of considerable pushing and shoving she was finally able to wedge herself into a spot in the fifth row from the podium on the right. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but it was up against a security tape that had been stretched on stanchions to keep a path clear for the approach of the politicians. She’d never seen her hero, Plínio Saldana,
close up. This, she realized, with a flush of realization, was going to be her chance.
The woman to her left was also a great fan of the Man of the Hour, and she, too, had brought a collapsible chair. Nora sensed kinship and, before long, they were seated side-byside, heads together, heaping praise on Plínio and pouring vitriol on his opponent.
At a few minutes past nine, shortly after Salem Nabulsi had detonated his bomb some 350 kilometers to the northeast, the sun appeared over the surrounding buildings and banished the last of the shadows. The day was cloudless— and likely to be a scorcher. The two women shared their sandwiches, and Nora fought against her inclination to empty her entire bottle of water.
A small group of workmen appeared and draped the platform with bunting, emblazoned with the State flag, and interspersed with Plínio’s campaign slogan,
SWEEP PARANÁ CLEAN.
A little later, a squad from the Civil Police arrived and inspected the platform for explosives; then a crew of technicians started tinkering with the microphones and speakers, creating a number of pops and a few ear-shattering squeals.
All the while, people continued to flock into the square. They were, as a TV reporter with a mane of blonde hair and an overbite gushed into her microphone,
turning out in record numbers for this, Plínio Saldana’s last major speech of the campaign
The camera panned in Nora’s direction. She and her companion picked up their brooms and gave them an enthusiastic wave. Nora’s broom had a stick two meters long and bristles half the height of a man. She’d crafted it herself, and she’d had a devil of a time getting it onto the bus, but the effort had been worth it. The broom had proven to be an object of admiration. And it was a powerful statement of political allegiance. By 11:30, the entire square, all the way back to the twin spires of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Light, was a sea of brooms, but few were as attractive as hers. Her companion told her so.
The turnout that day was unprecedented. People had flocked into the city from all over the state. The Civil Police later estimated the size of the crowd to have been somewhere between 250 and 300 thousand—the largest ever to witness the assassination of a Brazilian politician.
By the time Hector Costa and Danusa Marcus arrived at the scene of Salem Nabulsi’s martyrdom, the Civil Police had blocked off the street.
Janus Prado, his face intermittently illuminated by the flashing red and blue lights of a nearby ambulance, was on the lookout. He waved when he spotted them.
Shattered glass crunching under their feet, they walked to meet him.
“Women,” Janus said. “Kids. What kind of a sick fuck blows up women and kids?” He was badly shaken.
“Christ,” Hector said. “What a God-awful mess. Any sign of Lefkowitz?”
Janus, who headed up the homicide division of São Paulo’s Civil Police, pointed at the crater. “Poking around in there,” he said. “You ever see anything like this?”
Hector shook his head.
“Once,” Danusa said. “In Tel-Aviv.”
“Well, I thank Christ I never have, and I hope I never do again. There should be a special place in hell reserved for people who do things like this.”
“I agree,” Hector said. “Who called it in?”
“One of our uniformed guys.”
“He was on duty here?”
“Three of them were.”
“Crowd control. The Americans only admit a few at a time. The rest of them have to queue up here on the street.”
“Queue up for what?”
“Visas, mostly. There’s always a crowd.”
“Have you spoken to your men about what they saw?”
“There are no
, Hector. Not anymore. Two of them were blown into little, tiny bits.” Janus pointed in the direction of a leather goods shop. “The senior guy, a sergeant, was standing in that alcove over there. He survived.”
“Badly hurt?” Danusa asked.
Janus shook his head.
“He’s one lucky guy. Eardrums punctured, but that appears to be about it.”
“Where is he?” Hector asked.
Janus pointed him out.
“But it’s better if we go just the two of us,” he said to Danusa. “No offense, but I already know his story, and he’s going to be more forthcoming without a woman present.”
“No problem,” she said. “I’ll go see how Lefkowitz is getting on.”
“That woman,” Janus said, admiring the view as she walked away, “is a knockout.”
“She is,” Hector agreed.
“You work with her much?”
“All the time.”
“Doesn’t Gilda get jealous?”
“She does,” Hector said.
The surviving cop looked to be in his mid-thirties, and was fatter than any cop should be. A small trickle of blood, now dried, traced an irregular path from his right ear to his chin. He was pale, his hands still shaking. Janus introduced him as Flavio Correia.
“Flavio,” he said, “this is Delegado Hector Costa. He heads up the Federal Police’s São Paulo field office.”
“You gotta talk louder,” Correia said. “The explosion fucked up my ears. I can’t hear for shit.”
Janus raised his voice and repeated what he’d just said.
Correia stiffened his spine and snapped Hector a salute.
Hector acknowledged it with a nod. “Delegado Prado tells me you’re a lucky guy.”
“It’s a miracle,” Correia said. “And all because I fucked my wife’s sister. Ironic, huh?”
Hector wasn’t sure he’d heard him correctly.
“What? What are you talking about, Sergeant?” Correia looked at Janus. “You didn’t tell him?”
Janus shook his head. “I thought it would be better coming from you.”
Thus prompted, Correia told Hector the story:
He would almost certainly have been killed, he said, if his wife, Marilla, hadn’t taken the kids and flown to Rio to visit her mother. Flavio and his sister-in-law had been left alone in the house. They’d emptied a bottle of
. One thing led to another, and they’d woken-up, nude, in the marital bed. Mutual recrimination and mutual repentance followed. And a pact of silence.
Marilla was unlikely ever to know what happened, but Flavio’s guilt lay heavy upon him, and like many a wayward husband before him, he thought a present for his wife might help to alleviate it. Marilla, it seemed, was a handbag fiend. She could never have enough of them. Thus it was that, scant seconds before the blast, Flavio had stepped into the alcove leading to the front door of the boutique. He was, as he told it, admiring a cute little number in burgundy leather, with a brass clasp and zipper, when the bomb went off. The shock wave had toppled him, but the alcove had sheltered him from much of the blast and all of the shrapnel.
“I can’t believe it,” he concluded. “I thought God was supposed to hate adulterers.”
“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Janus intoned.
Hector recognized the remark as sarcasm, but the sergeant took it at face value.
“He sure as hell does,” he said. “Here I am alive, and that poor baby—”
“Baby?” Hector said.
Correia looked at Janus. “You didn’t tell him about the baby either?”
“No,” Janus said. “Tell him.”
“It didn’t fit,” the sergeant said.
“What didn’t fit?” Hector said.
“There was this woman, and she was pushing a carriage with a baby inside.”
“And the mother, she was dark. Almost like a
. But the kid wasn’t. The kid had really pale skin. Thinking back, I shoulda noticed there was something strange about it. But I didn’t. It only hit me afterwards.”
A baby carriage made sense. A bomb large enough to do the damage this one had done might have been too big to conceal on a person. Putting it within a carriage could have been the bomber’s solution. And, if she was heartless enough, she might have used a child to complete her deception.
Hector was revolted by the thought, but he had to ask. “A doll, maybe,” he said.
“No. I’m telling you, it was a baby.”
The sergeant threw up his arms in exasperation. “Of course, I’m sure. I leaned over and had a good look. My kids are in Rio, and I miss them. And I like kids anyway. This particular kid not only looked like a baby, it smelled like a baby. It was sound asleep, but it was no doll.”
Hector ran a hand through his hair. “So what did you do?” he said.
Correia frowned and blinked, as if he hadn’t understood the question. “Do?”
“Yes. What did you do next?”
The sergeant scratched his head, vigorously, as if he was trying to kick-start his memory. “I looked at the baby, and I smiled at the mother. I tried to start a conversation, but she wasn’t having it, so I walked away. That was all.”
“Tell me more about her.”
“What?” Correia pointed at one of his ears. “You gotta speak up. I can’t—”
Hector raised his voice. “I said, tell me more about her.”
“She was a Muslim.”
“What made you think so?”
“She was dressed like one, that’s what.”
“Describe her. What did she have on?”
“One of those headscarf things. And a . . . dress, I guess you’d call it. It went all the way down to the ground. There was no shape to it at all.”
“What do you mean by ‘no shape’?”
“It was loose. You couldn’t see what kind of a body she had. Why would a woman choose a dress like that? I mean, they usually want to show what they’ve got, right? Especially the young ones.”
“And this was a young one?”
“Where was she standing?”
“Behind the carriage.”
“And where was the carriage?”
Correia pointed at the crater.
“Right there,” he said, “where that big hole is.”