Too early in the day to do the pizza delivery routine, I said.
Cant do the flower delivery either. Nobody believe someone sending flowers to this dope.
If you hadnt changed clothes you could do the hooker delivery routine, I said to Lula. He would have opened the door to you in that gold thing.
Maybe we pretend were selling cookies. Like Girl Scouts. All we gotta do is go back to the 7-Eleven and get some cookies.
I looked Johnsons phone number up on the bond sheet and called him from my cell.
Yeah? a man said.
What the fuck you want? Fuckin bitch calling me at this hour. You think I got nothin better to do than answer this phone? And he hung up.
Well? Lula asked.
He didnt feel like talking. And hes angry.
A shiny black Hummer with tinted windows and bling wheel covers rolled down the street and stopped in front of Johnsons house.
Uh-oh, Lula said. Company.
The Hummer sat there for a moment and then opened fire on Johnsons house. Multiple weapons. At least one was automatic, firing continuous rounds. Windows blew out and the house was drilled with shots. Gunfire was returned from the house, and I saw the nose of a rocket launcher poke out a front window. Obviously the Hummer saw it too because it laid rubber taking off.
Maybe this isnt a good time, I said to Lula.
I told you to go for the pervert.
Melvin Pickle worked in a shoe store. The store was part of the mall that attached to the multiplex where hed been caught shaking hands with the devil. I didnt have a lot of enthusiasm for this capture, since I had some sympathetic feelings for Pickle. If I had to work in a shoe store all day I might go to the multiplex to whack off once in a while too.
Not only is this going to be an easy catch, Lula said, parking at the food court entrance, but we can get pizza and go shopping.
A half hour later, we were full of pizza and had taken a couple new perfumes out for a test drive. Wed moseyed down the mall and were standing in front of Pickles shoe store, scoping out the employees. I had a photo of Pickle that had come with his bond agreement.
Thats him, Lula said, looking into the store. Thats him on his knees, trying to sell that dumb woman those ugly-ass shoes.
According to Pickles paperwork hed just turned forty. He had sandy-colored hair that looked like it had been cut in boot camp. His skin was pale, his eyes hidden behind round-rimmed glasses, his mouth accented by a big herpes sore. He was five-foot-seven and had an average build gone soft. His slacks and dress shirt were just short of shabby. He didnt look like he cared a whole lot if the woman bought the shoes.
I moved my cuffs from my shoulder bag to my jeans pocket. I can manage this, I said to Lula. You stay here in case he bolts.
I dont think he looks like a bolter, Lula said. I think he looks more like the walking dead.
I agreed with Lula. Pickle looked like he was two steps away from putting a bullet in his brain. I moved behind him and waited for him to stand.
I love this shoe, the woman said. But I need a size nine.
I dont have a size nine, Pickle said.
Are you sure?
Maybe you should go back and look again.
Pickle sucked air for a couple beats and nodded. Sure, he said.
Excerpted from Twelve Sharp, copyright (c) 2006, Janet Ivanovich. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
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