- زمان مطالعه 15 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
Mrs. Romanov stood up and stared out the window for a moment before speaking again.
“Mr. Marley, Ms. Delgado,” she said. “I believe you are sincere. You may count on my cooperation and support.”
Stella looked at me and smiled.
Mrs. Romanov continued: “You appreciate this is a very difficult time for me. But I’ll do my best. There’s something quite weird about the events of last week. I’ve had this feeling that the police have not made every effort to investigate the case fully. Alexei was well respected for all his community work. He had a fine reputation. He made friends rather than enemies. I think of all the people he’s helped to settle here and become good American citizens, and I’m not aware of anyone who could have anything against him.”
“Did he ever mention any names? Any little remarks he made about people?” I asked. “Take your time.”
“There is something. Last night, I was going through Alexei’s wardrobe, seeing what I could give away to charity. In a jacket pocket, I found a piece of paper, rolled up into a ball. It was a short message in Russian with no date or address. It was a warning and just said: ‘I am telling you this in the strictest confidence. Mossolov could be dangerous. You don’t know what you’re getting involved with.’ It was signed ‘Victor’.”
“You still have the note?” I asked.
Mrs. Romanov opened a desk drawer and took out the note.
“Does the name ‘Victor’ mean anything to you?” I asked.
“No,” she answered.
“Well, it could be Victor Kamenev who runs a business by the name of Kamenev Finance,” I said. “We’ll have to check this out and get back to you. Have you informed the police about this?”
“No. There’s just been so much on my mind…” she began.
“I’d advise you to let them have the note immediately, but with your permission, I’d rather you didn’t tell the NYPD about Kamenev until I’ve checked him out first.”
We left the house and made our way to the Brighton Beach subway and took an express Q train back to Manhattan. At last some pieces of the puzzle seemed to be falling into place, but we were still a long way from the solution. We had another Russian connection. I wanted to pay a surprise visit to Mr. Kamenev, but I needed support. We could be moving in deep, dangerous waters. I made a call on my cell phone to Joe Blaney, an ex-NYPD colleague of mine. Joe’s also an ex-NYPD heavyweight boxing champion. He retired a few years ago but still looks impressively tough, tough enough to scare people into cooperating. That’s one good reason why he accompanies me on any job where there’s an element of risk.
“Joe, I have some work for you. Are you busy?” I asked.
“I got nothing on,” said Joe.
“Meet me at McSorley’s Ale House on East 7th Street at three o’clock, this afternoon. I’ll give you all the details then.”
Stella and I transferred to an uptown train at Broadway and Lafayette, and got off at Astor Place in the middle of the East Village. Joe joined us in the bar just before three. I gave him a brief outline of the story so far before we left for Kamenev’s office. On the stairs up to the office, old wallpaper was peeling off the walls. On the upstairs landing, flattened cigarette butts covered the floor. “Elegant, huh?” muttered Joe.
As we entered Kamenev’s office, the contrast couldn’t have been greater. Inside, all was clean, neat, and tastefully decorated. The floors were polished wood. Everywhere was the latest in office technology. In response to our request to speak to Kamenev, the receptionist said a little too automatically: “You don’t have an appointment. Sorry, but Mr. Kamenev is busy with a client.”
There was no sound of conversation coming from his office.
“Seems awfully quiet in there. Would you tell him Nat Marley wants to speak to him concerning Alexei Romanov.”
She gave me a sour look and picked up the phone. She spoke briefly to him and then turned to me and said, “Seems that Mr. Kamenev’s not so busy after all. You can go in.”
The guy behind the desk had to be Kamenev, a big man with rosy cheeks, bushy moustache, and a full head of curly hair. You could see his reflection in the polished wood of the large desk. Around the room were various framed photographs of life in the old Russia from the nineteenth century.
“Mr. Kamenev? The name’s Nat Marley, licensed private investigator. This is my assistant Stella Delgado and my colleague Joe Blaney. I’ll come straight to the point. I’m investigating the recent murder of Alexei Romanov. I believe you may have information concerning who was responsible for the killing.”
“I don’t know anything. Who sent you here?” demanded Kamenev nervously.
Kamenev suddenly opened a desk drawer and produced an automatic pistol. He pointed it at me with a trembling hand. Joe was equally quick. His old police special was pointing straight at Kamenev, but his hand was rock steady.
“Mr. Kamenev,” said Joe smoothly, “it’s obvious you’re no gunman. Let’s use some common sense. I suggest you put that gun down.”
Kamenev sighed and placed the gun on the desk. Joe moved to the desk, and emptied the bullets out of the weapon, then returned it to Kamenev.
“Is it true that you sent a warning note to Mr. Romanov?” I asked.
Kamenev eyed us suspiciously from behind his desk. “Before I say anything, I need to have a guarantee that you are genuine,” he said.
“By all means. I suggest you call Alexei Romanov’s widow,” I replied and gave him the number.
A conversation in rapid Russian followed. After a while, he put the phone down and looked at us. “My apologies. You understand I have to be cautious.”
I glanced around the room again. There were also photographs of the old Russian royal family. Nicholas, the last of the Czars with Czarina Alexandra.
“You obviously love your country. You must be a patriot. Also, you must have been a friend of Alexei Romanov. Who were you trying to protect him from?”
Silence. After a long pause Kamenev spoke: “This is very difficult for me, Mr. Marley. It’s really not wise to say anything more. If I were you I’d stay away from all this.”
Kamenev looked uncomfortable. I wondered if he was too scared to talk, like the bartenders at the Odessa Steps? I tried a different approach. Kamenev’s business could be benefiting from the money coming in from the illegal immigrant operation. I had no proof, but it was worth a try.
“I want to speak to you about some poor Russian boys found dead on Jones Beach. I’ve heard a rumor that someone was laundering the money these boys paid to get into the country, money that needed to be integrated into the legal economy. I understand that’s your line of business.”
Kamenev remained silent.
“Is money laundering part of your business?” I insisted. Again Kamenev didn’t say anything.
“Let’s get one thing straight,” I said. “I’m sure there’s a whole lot of questions the IRS would love to ask about your accounts, but I’m not investigating your business. Let’s get back to those poor young men who were washed up on Jones Beach. Whoever launders the money those boys paid to get into the country might as well have held a gun to their heads and pulled the trigger. Would it be you by any chance? You see, they died because they’d been put in a boat that was falling apart. The boat split in two in the storm and they drowned. In some way you might share some responsibility for the deaths of four good Russian boys.”
I could see Kamenev’s lips tightening. I knew what I said had found its target. I was appealing to his sense of honor. I hoped and prayed there was some honor left in him.
“Four good Russian boys,” I repeated. “All they wanted was to enter the land of opportunity and make a success of their lives. And now they’re dead. Their families back in Russia won’t know what’s happened to them. Maybe they saved up for years to give their sons this chance. But you won’t be out of pocket. The money will still be coming in.”
“Honest to God,” stammered Kamenev, “I don’t ask questions! Their deaths couldn’t be my fault.”
“So you were just the honest money launderer, huh?” I asked. “No questions asked and nothing on your conscience?”
Kamenev remained silent. Sweat started to form on his forehead.
“I have this feeling there’s a connection between Romanov’s death and those boys found drowned on Jones Beach. You follow what I’m saying?” I went on.
He nodded, but his expression was blank.
“I think you can help,” I continued. “Help us find the guys who sent those good Russians to their deaths. You’re a patriot, and despite your line of business, I believe you’re a man of honor. The most patriotic thing you could do is help us to find whoever is exploiting honest Russian people. We also want to find who really killed Alexei Romanov. That man did some fine work in the community, helping Russian folks to settle here.”
He remained silent. I nodded to Stella. “Tell him,” I said to her.
“Mr. Kamenev,” Stella began, “our interest in this case is also personal. My brother, Jose De La Cruz has been wrongly accused of Alexei Romanov’s murder. As far as the NYPD are concerned he’s guilty. We believe he was set up as the fall guy, to take the blame. We need someone who knows the Russian community, someone who has the contacts and inside knowledge, to help bring the real killers to justice.
Kamenev took a deep breath and pushed his hands into his fists. “OK,” said Kamenev, “I admit that in my work, I don’t ask too many questions. Cash arrives from anonymous clients. I only know them by a number. But if innocent Russian boys have been killed and I’ve profited from it…”
I interrupted him. “You still haven’t told me why you sent the warning note to Romanov. Who’s Mossolov?”
“Mossolov runs some sort of operation in Brighton Beach and contacts me from time to time to expect a delivery of cash. We’ve never met, only exchanged coded emails and faxes. Monday last week, Mossolov emailed me and asked what I knew about Romanov. I asked why and the reply was that Romanov had been asking inconvenient questions. I didn’t want to get involved, so I just played it safe and denied any knowledge of Romanov, except what’s known publicly. I suspected that Mossolov was dangerous and so Romanov could be in danger.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kamenev. Our problem is that we still have to prove who murdered Romanov,” I said.
“Mr. Marley, I am a patriot, and I feel I owe a debt of honor towards my countrymen. How can I help?”
“I’m going to set up a meeting with Alexei Romanov’s widow,” I said. “I’d like you to be there. Expect a call from me tomorrow morning.
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