God’s Dog

He had looked for an internet point where he would not attract attention, and noted the cine cameras as he went in. There was an email message from Guntur, with an address near San Basilio. Now Salazar got out of the train and started walking along the dismal streets. He found the block of flats, which was on a corner, separated from the street by a double row of rubbish bins. Torn, faded hangings fluttered from the balconies, and the few plant pots contained nothing but weeds; old tyres, rusty fridges, bicycles and other household goods were propped up against the railings, several of which had been torn out; the stakes of the nearby fencing were all twisted. The concrete of the pavement had been smashed into so much gravel; in front of the garages, the comings and goings of the cars had worn it away entirely, leaving a sea of mud. Salazar went up the poorly-lit stairway, found the landing of flat 117 and knocked, as he had been instructed, though not before unbuttoning his jacket and ensuring his pistol was at the ready. He heard steps, sensed that he was being spied on through the peep hole. Then the key turned in the lock, and a squat, bearded man who could have been South American appeared on the threshold. He looked around him and gestured to Salazar to go in, then quickly kicked the door shut behind him. Salazar took a few steps across the grubby floor, smelled the bitter scent of cooked resin and knew that he had come to the right place. At the end of the corridor he glimpsed a room, lit by electric light, where several men were busying themselves around some gas rings. The man was barring his way. He took a foil-wrapped packet out of his pocket and held it out to Salazar, then put his hands on his hips, giving them a shake every now and again, as though they were wet. He lifted them to touch his nose, then put them down again, like a boxer before delivering a blow. Salazar lifted up a bit of foil, fingered the resin and sniffed his finger; from the scent, it seemed to be good quality Dutch. He wondered how on earth it had made its way to this God-forsaken spot. He nodded, and handed the South American a roll of banknotes he had counted out in advance. The man leafed through them with expert fingers and tucked them away inside his shirt. His hands still going like a pair of dumb-bells, he whacked the lock, opened the door and thrust the inspector unceremoniously out of it.


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