That he does not do so will be easily explained, to the satisfaction of the inquiry, by the fact that the fourth bullet jams in the clip, and Flint loses count of how many times he works the slide in an attempt to clear it. She is by now aware of too many other sounds and impressions. She is aware of DI Pendle's labored efforts to breathe. From too far away she hears the raised voices of increasingly desperate men and the pounding of solid objects against a steel door. She hears Frank Harling say, in his unmistakable south London cadence, "Finish it, Buller. For fuck's sake, get it done."
Above all, she is aware of the grunted exertions of a seriously overweight lawyer from Beverly Hills who is now standing over her beating on her skull with the butt of his otherwise impotent Browning.
She will concede she must have put her hands over her head, for both her thumbs and seven of her fingers are broken. What she will vividly recollect, however, is falling onto her back and feeling the weight of Buller as he comes down on top of her. She feels his elbow in her throat and his manicured fingernails gouging into her skin as he seeks to gain a firmer grip on the fabric of her blouse and bra and rip them away. Absurdly she thinks he is going to rape her but having exposed her breasts, and having found the microphone he is looking for, he gets to his feet. She hears him say, "Bitch, bitch, bitch," over and over, and then the real pain begins.
He leans against the wall to maintain his balance while he methodically stamps her chest with the heel of one of his handmade Italian boots. Perhaps out of some irrational impulse he is trying to destroy the microphone as if by doing so he can erase the evidence it has collected. He only succeeds in driving it deep into her abdominal wall.
Then he goes to work on her face, the heel of his boot raining downblows on her with the indifferent brutality of a jackhammer. She loses consciousness-though not for long if her recollections are accurate. She will recall for the inquiry lying in the stairwell like a broken doll, tasting her own blood and the gritty enamel of her shattered teeth, smelling her own urine, listening to the sound of footsteps running up the stairs, listening to Pete Pendle die.
Clayton Buller did not get far. Perhaps the realization that he had just killed one British police officer and stamped the face of another into pulp was too much for a heart already overtaxed by the strain of his excessive weight and a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit. In any event, it gave out. They found him in Elizabeth Street, dead behind the wheel of his Hertz car that came to rest in the interior of what had been, until his arrival, a fashionable boutique.
But they did not find Frank Harling, either on that day or in the course of one of the most intensive manhunts ever mounted by the Major Crimes Task Group. Detective Inspector Pete Pendle had been as popular with his men as any supervisor is likely to be, and they did not take kindly to his murder, or their own failure to prevent it. And any and all of those detectives who saw Grace Flint's shattered face, or heard descriptions of it, wanted to get their hands on Clayton Buller and, having been denied that gratification by his death, they transferred their anger to Frank Harling.
Righteous anger that churned their stomachs for, after all, it was Harling who had provoked and encouraged the mayhem.
They're the law, said with utter certainty. Finish it, Buller, an incitement to murder if ever there was one.
And it was Harling who had rendered the backup teams helpless by arranging for the door to the stairwell to remain locked, or so the police strongly suspected. How that was achieved, and how Harling knew he was walking into a police trap were gnawing questions that ate at their collective consciousness like a canker.
Reprinted from Flint by Paul Eddy by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Eddy. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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