Excerpt of Speak of the Devil by Richard Hawke
(Page 2 of 5)
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The gun was a Beretta 92F. That's nine-millimeter. Eight and a half
inches long, a fraction over two pounds. Magazine capacity of fifteen
bullets. The Beretta is one of the most popular pistols these days with
both police and military shooters. The guy holding this one was neither.
And though it's a good-looking gun, I didn't suspect he was pulling it
out simply so he could admire it in the morning sun.
I instinctively slapped at my left shoulder. My gun is a simple .38.
Short-barreled snubbie. A simple workhorse. No fancy history. I use it
in my line of work, which is private investigation. Margo calls it my
associate, a little joke she picked up from her father, from when he was
a private investigator and he used to call his gun his associate. This
was before he took on a real associate. A junior partner. Which was me.
Green, eager, fearless and, at the time, extremely pissed off.
Nothing came between my slap and my shoulder. My associate was back at
Margo's, in its holster, up on the dresser. Safety on. Facing the wall.
The guy with the Beretta was up on the low stone wall that borders the
park. It was a fluke that I had a clear view of him. There was a gap
between the Mother Goose float and the marching band in front of it, a
high-stepping troupe of teenagers from Berlin, Maryland, and I happened
to be standing where I could see right through the gap. The man was
about five-eight or so. He was wearing a green windbreaker, khaki pants,
sunglasses and a baseball cap. I saw him unzip his windbreaker and pull
the Beretta from his belt, then take a step backward and drop off the
wall, out of sight.
The white balloon drifted into my face again. The mother slapped the boy
on his small arm. Very hard.
"Ezra, for the last time."
I heard the boy begin to cry as I took off running.
As I hit the street, the shooter's head reappeared above the stone wall.
He planted his elbows on the wall and took aim. His target was clear.
The easiest of all. Mother Goose.
I threw my bag of bagels at the float. It hit the float just below the
platform where Mother Goose was standing. I yelled again.
"Get down! Gun!"
I got her attention. The pointed hat dipped my way, a look of irritation
replacing her waving-at-the-crowd smile. I saw the spark from the
Beretta across the street and heard the shot a half-instant behind.
Mother Goose dropped to her knees . . . and all hell broke loose.
I was still running. A chunky policeman who had been stationed on the
corner not twenty feet from the shooter reacted simultaneously to the
gunshot and to the sight of a loonymeracing from the curb into the
parade route, yelling and shouting. He started for me. I cried out,
"Gun! Gun! Gun!" and pointed toward the wall, but the cop wasn't
hearing. He was going for his own gun. Behind him, the shooter rose
calmly to his full height, swung the Beretta to the street level and
I swerved, crashing into a copper-skinned teenager holding a bass drum.
More shots rang out as the drummer and I tumbled to the street. The
shots continued. The drum head ripped as another of the marching band
troupea tiny girl with a shiny alto saxplanted her foot on it. Blood
was pumping onto the white bib of her uniform. Nothing had even
registered yet on her face.
from Speak of the Devil by Richard Hawke Copyright © 2006 by
Richard Hawke. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of
Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be
reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the