The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast #3)

Written By: Douglas Preston & Li

The Cabinet of Curiosities (Pendergast #3) by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child




Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child dedicate this book to the teachers, professors, and librarians of America, most especially those who have made a difference in our own lives.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Lincoln Child would like to thank Lee Suckno, M.D.; Bry Benjamin, M.D.; Anthony Cifelli, M.D.; and Traian Parvulescu, M.D., for their assistance. Thanks also to my family, nuclear and extended, for their love and support. Special thanks to Nancy Child, my mother, for operatic advice.

Douglas Preston expresses his great appreciation to Christine and Selene for their invaluable advice on the manuscript, and, as always, would like to give his thanks to Aletheia and Isaac. He would also like to thank James Mortimer Gibbons, Jr., M.D., for his very helpful medical expertise.

We’d like to thank Jon Couch for his tireless and painstaking work on the firearms details of the book. Thanks also to Jill Nowak for her careful reading of the manuscript. And we owe a particularly great debt to Norman San Agustin, M.D., surgeon extraordinaire, for his extensive assistance on surgical technique and his review of the manuscript. And, as always, our deep appreciation to those who make the Preston-Child novels possible, in particular Betsy Mitchell, Jaime Levine, Eric Simonoff, and Matthew Snyder.

Although we have employed actual Manhattan street names, past and present, in this novel, the public institutions, police stations, residences and other structures mentioned herein are all fictitious, or are used fictitiously. We have also, in places, altered the topography of New York City to suit the demands of the story.





Boneyard





ONE




PEE-WEE BOXER SURVEYED THE JOBSITE WITH DISGUST. THE FOREMAN was a scumbag. The crew were a bunch of losers. Worst of all, the guy handling the Cat didn’t know jack about hydraulic excavators. Maybe it was a union thing; maybe he was friends with somebody; either way, he was jerking the machine around like it was his first day at Queens Vo-Tech. Boxer stood there, beefy arms folded, watching as the big bucket bit into the brick rubble of the old tenement block. The bucket flexed, stopped suddenly with a squeal of hydraulics, then started again, swinging this way and that. Christ, where did they get these jokers?

He heard a crunch of footsteps behind him and turned to see the foreman approaching, face caked in dust and sweat. “Boxer! You buy tickets to this show, or what?”

Boxer flexed the muscles of his massive arms, pretending not to hear. He was the only one on the site who knew construction, and the crews resented him for it. Boxer didn’t care; he liked keeping to himself.

He heard the excavator rattle as it carved into the solid wall of old fill. The lower strata of older buildings lay open to the sun, exposed like a fresh wound: above, asphalt and cement; below, brick, rubble, then more brick. And below that, dirt. To sink the footings for the glass apartment tower well into bedrock, they had to go deep.

He glanced out beyond the worksite. Beyond, a row of Lower East Side brownstones stood starkly in the brilliant afternoon light. Some had just been renovated. The rest would soon follow. Gentrification.

“Yo! Boxer! You deaf?”

Boxer flexed again, fantasizing briefly about sinking his fist into the guy’s red face.

“Come on, get your ass in gear. This isn’t a peepshow.”

The foreman jerked his head toward Boxer’s work detail. Not coming any closer, though. So much the better for him. Boxer looked around for his shift crew. They were busy piling bricks into a Dumpster, no doubt for sale to some pioneering yuppie around the corner who liked crappy-looking old bricks at five dollars each. He began walking, just slowly enough to let the foreman know he wasn’t in any hurry.

There was a shout. The grinding of the excavator ceased suddenly. The Cat had bit into a brick foundation wall, exposing a dark, ragged hole behind it. The operator swung down from the idling rig. Frowning, the foreman walked over, and the two men started talking animatedly.

“Boxer!” came the foreman’s voice. “Since you ain’t doing squat, I got another job for you.”

Boxer altered his course subtly, as if that was the way he’d already been going, not looking up to acknowledge he had heard, letting his attitude convey the contempt he felt for the scrawny foreman. He stopped in front of the guy, staring at the man’s dusty little workboots. Small feet, small dick.

Slowly, he glanced up.

“Welcome to the world, Pee-Wee. Take a look at this.”

Boxer gave the hole the merest glance.

“Let’s see your light.”

Boxer slipped the ribbed yellow flashlight out of a loop in his pants and handed it to the foreman.

The foreman switched it on. “Hey, it works,” he said, shaking his head at the miracle. He leaned into the hole. The guy looked like an idiot, standing daintily on tiptoe atop a fallen pile of brick, his head and torso invisible within the ragged hole. He said something but it was too muffled to make out. He withdrew.

“Looks like a tunnel.” He wiped his face, smearing the dust into a long black line. “Whew, stinks in there.”

“See King Tut?” someone asked.

Everyone but Boxer laughed. Who the hell was King Tut?

“I sure as shit hope this isn’t some kind of archaeological deal.” He turned to Boxer. “Pee-Wee, you’re a big, strong fella. I want you to check it out.”