The Devil’s Teardrop Excerpt
The Digger’s in town.
The Digger looks like you, the Digger looks like me. He walks down the wintry streets the way anybody would, shoulders drawn together against the damp December air.
He’s not tall and not short, he’s not heavy and not thin.
His fingers in dark gloves might be pudgy but they might not. His feet seem large but maybe that’s just the size of his shoes.
If you glanced at his eyes you wouldn’t notice the shape or the color but only that they don’t seem quite human, and if the Digger glanced at you while you were looking at him, his eyes might be the very last thing you ever saw.
He wears a long, black coat, or a dark blue one, and not a soul on the street notices him pass by though there are many witnesses here — the streets of Washington, D.C., are crowded because it’s morning rush hour.
The Digger’s in town and it’s New Year’s Eve.
Carrying a Fresh Fields shopping bag, the Digger dodges around couples and singles and families and keeps on walking. Ahead, he sees the Metro station. He was told to be there at exactly 9 A.M. and he will be. The Digger is never late.
The bag in his maybe-pudgy hand is heavy. It weighs eleven pounds though by the time the Digger returns to his motel room it will weigh considerably less.
A man bumps into him and smiles and says, “Sorry,” but the Digger doesn’t glance at him. The Digger never looks at anybody and doesn’t want anybody to look at him.
“Don’t let anybody…” Click. “let anybody see your face. Look away. Remember?”
Look at the lights, he thinks, look at the…click…at the New Year’s Eve decorations. Fat babies in banners, Old Man Time.
Funny decorations. Funny lights. Funny how nice they are.
This is Dupont Circle, home of money, home of art, home of the young and chic. The Digger knows this but he knows it only because the man who tells him things told him about DuPont Circle.
He arrives at the mouth of the subway tunnel. The morning is overcast and, being winter, there is a dimness over the city.
The Digger thinks of his wife on days like this. Pamela didn’t like the dark and the cold so she …click… she… What did she do? That’s right. She planted red flowers and yellow flowers.
He looks at the subway and he thinks of a picture he saw once. He and Pamela were at a museum. They saw an old drawing on the wall.
And Pamela said, “Scary. Let’s go.”
It was a picture of the entrance to hell.
The Metro tunnel disappears sixty feet underground, passengers rising, passengers descending. It looks just like that drawing.
The entrance to hell.
Here are young women with hair cut short and briefcases. Here are young men with their sports bags and cell phones.
And here is the Digger with his shopping bag.
Maybe he’s fat, maybe he’s thin. Looking like you, looking like me. Nobody ever notices the Digger and that’s one of the reasons he’s so very good at what he does.
“You’re the best,” said the man who tells him things last year. You’re the…click, click…the best.
At 8:59 the Digger walks to the top of the down escalator, which is filled with people disappearing into the pit.
He reaches into the bag and curls his finger around the comfy grip of the gun, which may be an Uzi or a Mac-10 or an Intertech but definitely weighs eleven pounds and is load with a hundred-round clip of .22 long-rifle bullets.
The Digger’s hungry for soup but he ignores the sensation.
Because he’s the…click…the best.
He looks toward but not at the crowd, waiting their turn to step onto the down escalator, which will take them to hell. He doesn’t look at the couples or the men with telephones or women with hair from Supercuts, which is where Pamela went. He doesn’t look at the families. He clutches the shopping bag to his chest, the way anybody would if it were full of holiday treats. One hand on the grip of whatever kind of gun it is, his other hand curled — outside the bag — around what somebody might think is a loaf of Fresh Fields bread that would go very nicely with soup but is in fact a heavy sound suppressor, packed with mineral cotton and rubber baffles.
His watch beeps.
He pulls the trigger.