Danny. Evans voice jerked his head up. Is he alive?
Ask him where the weed is. You, gesturing with the pistol, Little Darlin. Over here. White-faced and shaking, the woman moved next to a shelf of beat-up VCRs.
Danny stared at Evan, the gun still in his hand, fingers loose on the grip. He couldnt decipher the energy playing across his old friends face. Nerves? Excitement? He seemed calm. Potent. It was like pulling the trigger had freed something inside him. He almost swaggered as he walked over.
It scared hell out of Danny. Lets go.
Evan kicked the owners gun across the floor, then stared down at his prone form. Look at that shit. He popped his head to either side. You ever see anything like that?
We have to go.
In a minute. Evan nudged the guy with his boot. Wheres your stash, old man?
The owner groaned, a strange, raspy sound. Dannys heart roared so loud it seemed to muffle the world, and his gut turned in knots. Theyd shot someone. Jesus. Theyd shot someone, and they had to go.
Where is it? This time Evan kicked the owner, steel-toed boot driving into the mans stomach near where his hands clenched the wound. The guy gasped for air, an agonized keening.
What? Evan spun, eyes narrowed and arm half raised. The air-conditioning chilled the place cold as January. For a long moment, they stared at each other, Danny wondering how hed ended up here, calculating ways to get out. Then he saw motion, turned to look.
Fuck! Evan yelled after the girl as she sprinted to the back room. Stop! For a moment she seemed to hesitate, then leapt a pile of junk from one of the cabinets and sailed into the dark office, slamming the heavy door behind her. Danny heard the click of a lock.
Evan roared with frustration, his face burning bright red, that angry color he got in a fight. Turning, he kicked the owner again, the guy trying to cover his head with one hand and his bleeding stomach with the other, a whimpering sound coming now, fast and hard, a sound Danny had never heard a human make and never wanted to again.
He stepped in front of Evan, hands to shoulders, and shoved him back. His partner stumbled, almost went down, came up mad. Eyes narrowed, he looked like he was about to bull rush Danny. The gun shook in his hand.
Stop. Danny kept his voice cool and his hands out, no threat. Stay cool. Brothers.
For a moment, he wasnt sure it was going to work. But then Evan straightened, slowly. He exhaled loudly, then nodded. All right, forget the weed. Weve got the money.
Dannys guts tumbled to his knees. His mouth opened, but he didnt know what to say.
Evan looked at him, then at the office door, closed and locked. Where is it?
Danny spoke softly. Its in the drawer.
Well, I wasnt planning on shooting anybody. If wed left earlier wed be halfway home.
Dont start. Evans eyes blazed. I dont want to hear that shit.
Fine. Danny kept his hands out. But look, now theres no choice. Lets go.
Evan stared at him, shook his head. No.
The cops will be here any second, Danny said.
Im not leaving empty-handed. He started for the office door.
Danny knew this mood. It was Evan at his most volatile, ten drinks in and more than willing to go three rounds with God Almighty.
Copyright © 2007 by Marcus Sakey. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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