Magozzi grinned. "That's funny."
Beethoven spoke again.
"Fourteen-year-olds are only funny when they belong to somebody else ... shit. I'm gonna invent one of these things with big fat buttons and make a jillion dollars ... Hello, this is Rolseth."
Magozzi stood and brushed the rust off his hands, listened to Gino grunt into the phone for a few seconds, then went inside to lock up. By the time he got back out to the porch, Gino had retrieved his gun from the car and was hooking it to the belt that almost held up his Bermuda shorts. He looked like an armed and dangerous tourist.
"I don't suppose you've got a pair of pants that would fit me."
Magozzi just smiled at him.
"Aw, shut up. That was Langer on the phone. He and McLaren just got called in for a suspected homicide-'suspected' meaning someone did a little interior design with a few gallons of blood, but there's no body. And guess what?"
"He wants us to take it?"
"Nah, Dispatch told him we were on the nursery thing, that's why he called. The bloody house is just a few blocks over."
Magozzi frowned. "That's a pretty decent neighborhood."
"Right. Not exactly a killing field, and all of a sudden we've got two possibles in one day. And there's another thing. The guy who lives in that house is-or was-also in his eighties, just like our guy."
Magozzi thought about that for a minute. "He's thinking cluster? What, that some psycho's running around killing old people?"
Gino shrugged. "He was just giving us a heads-up. Thought we should keep in touch in case something clicks."
Magozzi sighed, looked longingly at the Weber. "So we're back in business."
"Big-time." Gino paused for a moment. "You ever think there's something wrong with a job where you only have something to do if someone gets murdered?"
"Every day, buddy."
Marty Pullman was sitting on the closed toilet lid in his downstairs bathroom, staring down the muzzle of a .357 Magnum. The round black hole looked very large, which worried him. Worse yet, the toilet faced the big mirror on the sliding doors that enclosed the bathtub, and he wasn't too keen on watching his own snuff film. He thought about it for a minute, then got into the bathtub and slid the doors closed behind him.
He smiled a little as he aimed the shower nozzle toward the back of the tub and turned the spray on full blast. He may have made a mess of his life, but he sure as hell wasn't going to make a mess of his death.
Finally satisfied, he sat down in the tub and put the muzzle in his mouth. Water poured over his head, his clothes, his shoes.
He hesitated for just a few seconds, wondering again what, if anything, he'd done last night. Not that it would matter now, he thought, slipping his thumb through the trigger guard.
Marty froze, his thumb quivering on the trigger. Goddamn it, he was hallucinating. He had to be. No one ever came to this house, and certainly no one would just let himself in--except maybe a Jehovah's Witness, which made him glad he had the gun.
"Mr. Pullman?" The male voice was louder now, closer, and he sounded young. "Are you in there, sir?" A forceful knock rattled the bathroom door in its frame.
The gun tasted terrible as he pulled it from his mouth, and he spat into the water swirling toward the drain. "Who is it?" he shouted, trying his best to sound scary and aggressive.
"Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Pullman, but Mrs. Gilbert told me to break the door down if I had to ..."
Excerpted from Live Bait by P.J. Tracy Copyright © 2004 by Patricia Lambrecht and Traci Lambrecht. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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