Ah, fuck the plan. Itll take two minutes. Help me out, check those
cabinets over there. Evan squatted, facing the counter, and started feeling
around beneath. From his belt the gun handle gleamed like a lethal comma.
Danny felt a trickle of sweat run down his side, the drop cold against
his muscles. Half the cons he knewthe smart ones, evenhad landed inside
because they got reckless, decided to push their luck. Anything could give
you up. A stray flashlight beam. A pedestrian who heard voices. A beat cop
on a random patrol.
Still, he knew Evan well enough to know hed have to drag the guy out of
here. Itd be faster to just try and find the dope. All right, damn you.
Two minutes. He moved to the far side of the pawnshop and opened the first
cabinet, his flashlight playing across stacks of neatly bundled cables, a
box of computer paper. He tapped the inside, wondering if hed be able to
hear a false bottom. Wondering how a false bottom sounded different from a
As Danny moved to the second cabinet, he heard Evan stand up. Nothing
here. Ill check the office. Danny nodded, sorting through a selection of
cheap porcelain figurines. A crystal unicorn winked in the flashlight. His
mind drifted as he worked, thinking of Karens apartment. Candles on the
nightstand, traffic noises through the open window. Waiting in the sleigh
bed for her to get home after her shift. Her soft smile to find him awake.
He saw it all, and wondered why he was here instead of there.
And then he heard the sound.
A metal rattle, like
a security gate. The front door swung open, the night street glowing
outside. A silhouette, big, stepped in, saying, Come on, little darlin, a
couple puffs before we do it wont make you lose control. I wont do nothing
you dont want me to. The lights flickered on as Danny scrambled to his
feet, recognizing the owner theyd watched earlier. A bearded guy in an
orange hunting vest, leading a skinny chick with bad skin. Everything went
slow motion as the guy spotted him, a hand already sliding inside his vest,
a practiced move that produced a shiny automatic. The man racking the gun as
he raised it, the snap echoing. Spreading his legs for better footing. Danny
thinking this was it, the owner was going to shoot his ass. Mind telling
body to leap aside, but his muscles not moving. The man with both eyes open
and the gun in both hands, a target shooters stance that put the barrel
square at Dannys chest.
An explosion. Somehow the owners stomach bloomed red. He collapsed like
hed been dropped from a great height. His gun clattered on the floor beside
him. In the doorway to the office, Evan stood with one arm extended, the
pistol in his hand.
The hum of fluorescent lights and the wet sounds of breathing. Dannys
head throbbed, but in his chest, deep, he felt a cold sensation. Cold and
deep and knotted. He knew that no matter how hard he squinted, he wouldnt
be able to see Karens bedroom now.
Then adrenaline hit, and he lunged. The girl was frozen, eyes and mouth
wide, and he shoved her aside to slam the door. He jumped back to avoid the
slow spread of something red, Jesus, blood, a crimson pool of it, creeping
from where the owner moved in a sort of crab-writhing, fingers clutched over
No. The word slipped feathery soft from his mouth.
He alive? Evan asked, voice distant after the roar of the gun.
The man rocked back and forth. His hands were scarlet. A stain crept up
his chest. There was a lot of blood. A kid from the South Side grew up
knowing what blood looked like, broken noses and teeth knocked out, but to
see it pouring from someones stomach . . .
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