The bricklayer slowly lowered his head.
Next time, meat, definitely the drive-through.
Shielded by the woman hostage, Ronson opened the front door enough to expose her and yelled a demand for the cops to leave and, even though he couldnt see any, to clear out the snipers. Almost before he finished speaking, a loudspeaker ordered him to surrender. Ronson cocked his gun and pressed it against the side of the womans head. Youve got five minutes, and then Im going to begin shooting people, starting with this old goat. Understand?
Stillson couldnt hear exactly what was being said and took a couple of steps back, trying to get a more advantageous angle to see and hear. Then he heard something he couldnt immediately identifya couple of deep liquid glugs.
He swung his gun back toward the bricklayer, who was up off the floor and coming at him, just a couple of steps away. In front of him, he held the almost-full five-gallon water bottle sideways, pressed tightly between his hands to keep the water from escaping.
The bottle exploded, absorbing the impact of the bullet. It was all the time the man needed to close the distance between himself and the robber. In a blur, he stepped sideways, minimizing himself as a target, and grabbed the barrel of the gun, twisting it outward in a move that seemed practiced. With Stillsons wrist bent back to its limit and his finger being dislocated inside the trigger guard, the gun was easily ripped out of his hand. As the robber started flailing, the man used the weapon to strike him once in the temple cleanly, dazing him.
Then the bricklayer grabbed him and with relative ease hurled him through one of the banks full-length windows. Amid a shower of glass, Stillson skidded across the concrete and lay unconscious. Fluttering in the air and then landing on top of him was the rubber ear.
The bricklayer ran to the wall that separated the front door from the rest of the banks interior and flattened himself against it. The woman hostage was pushed around the corner of the alcove, followed by Ronson, who was screaming at Stillson, demanding to know what he was shooting at. The masons hand flashed forward, and the muzzle of the gun he had taken from Stillson was pressed against Ronsons throat.
Ronson hesitated, and the man said, Do me a favortry it. . . . Do everyone a favor. Ronson recognized the seething tone; he had heard it many times in prison; this man was willing to kill him. Ronson dropped his gun. As the man bent down to pick it up, the bank robber started to run toward the opening left by the shattered window, but the bricklayer caught him. Ronson swung and caught him full on the jaw, but it didnt seem to have any effect. The mason countered with a straight right to the middle of the robbers face, snapping his head back violently and buckling his knees. The bricklayer grabbed him, turned, and launched him through the adjoining window, shattering it as well.
Outside, one of the reporters yelled to his cameraman, Did you get it? Both of them?
Oh, yeah. Every beautiful bounce.
Suddenly the front door flew open and the hostages came streaming out, running past the police line and into the safety of the crowd. While one group of officers ran up to search and handcuff the two gunmen, a SWAT team rushed into the bank, leapfrogging tactically to secure the building and ensure there were no more robbers. It was empty.
With the aid of a couple of bullhorns, the police rounded up the hostages and herded them back inside. Each told the same story: that the man in the gold-colored Carhartts and black shirt was the one who had disarmed both robbers. When the detectives asked the witnesses to point him out, they were astonished to find that the bricklayer had vanished.
Excerpted from The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd. Copyright © 2010 by Noah Boyd. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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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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