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.Turley opened the dossier and glanced at it with the air of a man who already knows what’s inside, the grim satisfaction of somebody whose negative prediction has come true.“Ronald Kasper,” he said, and frowned at Parker.“That isn’t your name, is it?”Parker watched him.Turley looked down at the dossier again, rapped the middle knuckle of the middle finger of his right hand against the information in there.“That’s the name on some fingerprints, belong to a fella escaped from a prison camp in California some years ago.Killed a guard on the way out.” He raised an eyebrow at Parker.“You’ve got his fingerprints.”“The system makes mistakes,” Parker said.Turley’s grin turned down, not finding anything funny here.“So do individuals, my friend,” he said.Looking into his dossier again, he said, “There is no Ronald Kasper, not before, not since.In the prison camp, out, left behind these prints, one guard dead.Do you want to know his name?”Parker shook his head.“Wouldn’t mean anything to me.”“No, I suppose it wouldn’t.We have some other names for you.”Parker waited.Turley raised an eyebrow at him, also waiting, but then saw that Parker had nothing to say and went back to the dossier.“Let me know which of these names you’d rather be.Edward Johnson.Charles Willis.Edward Lynch.No? Nothing? I have here a Parker, no first name.Still not?”“Stick with Kasper,” Parker said.“Because we’ve got that one tied to your fingers anyway,” Turley said, and leaned back.“We’ve got you all, you know.I imagine you’ll be tried together.” Turley didn’t need his dossier now.“Armiston and Walheim are also in cells here,” he said.“You probably won’t see them until trial, but they’re here.This is a big place.”It was.It was called Stoneveldt Detention Center, and it was where everybody charged with a state felony in this state spent their time before and during trial, unless they made bail, which Parker and Armiston and Walheim would not.No judge would look at their three histories and expect them to come back for their bail money.Like the industrial park where things had gone wrong last night, Stoneveldt was on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state.Parker’s few looks out windows since being brought here last night had shown him nothing out there but flat prairie, straight roads, a few more buildings of an industrial or governmental style, and a city rising far to the east.If he were still here for the trial, it would be a forty-minute bus ride in to court every morning and back out every night, looking at that prairie through iron mesh.“Steven Bruhl,” Turley went on, following his own train of thought, “is a little different.A local boy, to begin with.”Armiston had brought Bruhl in, needing somebody good with machinery like forklifts, not knowing he was an idiot.Well, they all knew it now.And Turley had said they three were all here in Stoneveldt, so where did that put Bruhl? Dead? Hospital?“If Bruhl lives,” Turley said, answering the question, “he’ll be tried later on, after you three.So, unlike you, he’ll already know what the future’s gonna bring.And also unlike you, he won’t have a chance to flip.Nobody left to rat on.”They sat there and watched that thought move around the room.The two uniforms shifted their feet, rubbed their backs against the wall, and watched Parker without expectation; he would not make them earn their pay or prove their training.“Now, you,” Turley said, “are in a better position.Out in front.You know game theory, Ronald?”“Mr.Kasper,” Parker said.Turley snorted.“What difference does it make? That isn’t your name anyway.”“You’re right,” Parker said, and spread his hands: Call me whatever you want.“Game theory,” Turley said, “suggests that whoever flips first wins, because there’s nothing left for anybody else to sell.”“I’ve heard that,” Parker agreed.“Now, we’ve got you, and we’ve got the others,” Turley said, “and you know as well as I do, we’ve got you cold.So what more do we want? What more could we possibly need, that we might want to bargain with you?”“Not to walk,” Parker said.Turley seemed surprised.“Walk? Away from this? No, you know what we’re talking about.Reduction in sentence, better choice of prison.Some of our prisons are better than others, you know.”“If you say so.”“Which means,” Turley said, “though nobody will admit this, that some of our prisons must be worse.Maybe a lot worse.” Turley leaned forward over the desk and the dossier, to impart a confidence.“We’ve got one hellhole,” he said, his voice dropping, “and I wish we didn’t, but there it is, where in that prison population you’ve only got three choices.” He checked them off on his fingers.“White power, or black power, or dead.”“State should do something about that,” Parker said.“It’s budget cuts,” Turley told him.“The politicians, you know, they want everybody locked up, but they don’t want to pay for it.So the prison administrators, they do what’s called assignment of resources, meaning at least some of the facilities retain some hope of civilization.” Turley leaned back.“One of you boys,” he said, “is gonna wind up in a country club.The other two, it’s a crapshoot.”Parker waited.Turley looked at him, getting irritated at this lack of feedback.He said, “You probably wonder, if the state’s already got me, what more can they want? What’s my bargaining chip?”Parker already knew.He already knew this entire conversation, but it was one of the steps he had to go through before he would be left alone to work things out for himself.He watched Turley, and waited.Turley nodded, swiveling slightly in his chair.“Those drugs you boys were after,” he said, “or medicines, I guess I should say, not to confuse the issue, where they’d really be worth your time and effort is overseas.But one of the reasons that distribution center was built in this area is because here we’re in the middle of America, you can get anywhere in the country in no time at all from here.But not overseas.We’re six hundred miles from an ocean or a border.Any ocean, any border.You boys were not gonna drive that truck six hundred miles.You had some other idea, and that other idea means there were more people involved.That’s what you can trade us.Where were you taking the truck, who was going to be there, and what was the route after that?”Turley waited, and so did Parker.Turley leaned forward again, forearm on the open dossier on the desk.“No?”“I’ll think about it,” Parker said.“Meaning you won’t, not so far,” Turley told him.“But what about Armiston? What about Walheim? What about Bruhl, when he comes to?”“If,” Parker said, because he wanted to know how bad Bruhl was.Bad, because Turley nodded and shrugged and said, “All right, if.But he still could come through, he’s a young strong guy.The point is, you.You know these friends of yours, Armiston and Walheim.Is one of them gonna make the jump before you?”“We’ll see,” Parker said.Turley stood, ending the session.The uniforms stood straighter, away from the walls.Parker looked around, then also stood.“Think about it,” Turley said.“If you want to talk to me, any time at all, tell the guard.”“Right,” Parker said.3It isn’t just this cell,” Williams said.“The whole place is overcrowded.”Parker could believe it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]