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Cross Country

Cross Country

Titel: Cross Country
Autoren: James Patterson
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more. He scored on a rebound, and then Buckwheat’s team raced the ball up the court on a fast break.
    Buckwheat caught a pass in full stride and brought it hard to the hoop. He had a step on the Tiger and called out, “Game!” even before he went up for the winning dunk.
    He was airborne, graceful and athletic, when the Tiger hit him with all his force and weight. He took the six-foot-three man down, drove him into the metal pole supporting the basket. The man lay sprawled on the asphalt with blood streaming from his face.
” shouted the Tiger and raised both arms high over his head. He loved to play basketball — what great fun it was to beat these loudmouthed
African Americans
who didn’t know anything about the real world.
    On the sidelines, his boys cheered as if he were Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant rolled into one. He wasn’t any of that, he knew. He didn’t want to be like Mike or Kobe. He was much better.
    He decided life and death on a daily basis
    He walked off the court, and a man came up to him. This particular man couldn’t have been more out of place, since he wore a gray suit and he was white.
    “Ghedi Ahmed,” said the white devil. “You know who he is?”
    The Tiger nodded. “I know who he
to be.”
    “Make an example of him.”
    “And his family.”
    “Of course,” said the white devil. “His family too.”

Chapter 8
    I PUT IN a call for help to my friend Avie Glazer, who headed up the Gang Intervention Project in the Third District. I told Avie why it was important to me.
    “ ’Course I’ll help. You know me, Alex. I’m more tapped into
La Mara R, Vatos Locos,
Northwest gangs. But you can come over here and ask around Seventeenth and R if you want. See if anybody’s tuned in.”
    “Any way you could meet us?” I asked him. “I’ll owe you one. Buy you a beer.”
    “Which makes it how many total? Favors
    That was his way of saying yes, though. Bree and I met Avie at a shitty little pool hall called Forty-Four. The owner told us that was how old he was when he opened the place. Avie already knew the story but listened politely anyway.
    “Seemed like as good a name as any,” the owner said. His
attitude struck me as that of a long-term stoner. For sure, he wasn’t making his nut on billiards and sodas. His name was Jaime Ramirez, and Avie Glazer had advised me to give him room and a little respect.
    “You know anything about the murders in Georgetown last night?” I asked Ramirez after we’d chitchatted some. “Multiple perps?”
    “That was some awful shit,” he said, leaning on the bottom half of a Dutch door, a brown cigarette held between stubby fingers and tilted at the same angle as his body.
    He chinned up at the television in the corner. “Channel Four’s all I get in here, Detective.”
    “How about any new games opening up?” Bree asked. “Players we might not have heard about? Somebody who would wipe a family out?”
    “Hard to keep up,” Ramirez said and shrugged. That’s when Glazer gave him a look. “But yeah, matter of fact, there has been some talk.”
    His dark eyes flicked almost involuntarily past me and Bree. “Africans,” he said to Avie.
    “African American?” I asked. “Or —”
    “African African.” He turned back to Avie. “Yo, Toto, I’m gonna get something for this? Or this a freebie?”
    Avie Glazer looked at me first and then at Ramirez. “Let’s say I owe you one.”
    “What kind of African?” I asked.
    He shrugged and blew out air. “How’m I supposed to know that? Black-guys-from-Africa kind of African.”
    “English speaking?”
    “Yeah,” he said, nodding. “But I never spoke to them. Sounds like they’re into a little bit of everything. You know, four-H club? Hits, ho’s, heroin, and heists. This ain’t your graffiti-and-skip-party kind of gang.”
    He opened a glass-fronted cooler and took out a can of Coke. “Anyone thirsty? Two dollars.”
    “I’ll take one,” Glazer said. He cupped a couple of bills into Ramirez’s hand, and they didn’t look like singles.
    Then Glazer turned to me. “And I
collect from you too. Count on it.”
    “Africans,” Ramirez repeated as we headed toward the door, “
from Africa

Chapter 9
    THIS WAS THE last place I wanted to be in DC, or probably anyplace else.
    So unbelievably sad, and eerie, and tragic. So many memories rising to the surface for me.
    Ellie’s office was up on the second floor of the house
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