Ed Lacy - Shoot It Again

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Ed Lacy - Shoot It Again
Название: Shoot It Again
Автор: Ed Lacy
ISBN: нет данных
Год: неизвестен
Дата добавления: 19 июнь 2019
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     When Lucille walked past 'our' dune, a sort of wild joy filled my throat—she wasn't crossing me!

     Knowing she was being followed, Lucille was deliberately walking on, taking the killers with her— and away from me. Mixed with my joy was cold anger plus a kind of twisted logic: here was the answer to my tangle—I'd knock off Ping and Shorty, then—assuming the police still hadn't found the camphor bag full of Gassy Gus, Lucille would have a few hours, even a day or two, to chance returning to her old hangouts, make the connection for the sale of my bag.

     Holding the gun in my left, I carefully dried my right hand on my chest hair, then gripped the gun firmly again. The top of the dunes were too far for an accurate pistol shot—at least two hundred feet from the water's edge where they were walking. Leaving the blue duffel bag, I came around the side of the dune as Lucille and the two goons passed. Walking silently on the sand, I followed them, holding my breath as best I could. When about seventy-five feet behind, I called out, “Keep your hands in sight!”

     My voice was crisp, even tough. They both stopped abruptly, didn't turn. Lucille began circling back—keeping out of the way. Ping had a corny loud sport shirt over the top of grey slacks—obviously covering a hip holster. Never taking my eyes off Ping's hands, I came up behind Shorty, kicked the back of his left knee.

     As the runt went sprawling on his face, Ping spun around, right hand going for his shirt tails. I fired once at his gut, raced toward him as he went over backwards—shot him again in the side of his peanut head at almost point blank range: his ear seemed to jump, then gush blood. Spinning around like a Western TV hero, I shot Shorty still on his knees, knife hand raised to throw. The slug tore into his wide chest. Dropping the knife, he knelt with his right hand still in the air—as if praying—fell over on his face.

     Lucille came running. “Tony! Tony! I knew they'd spotted me, but there wasn't anything I could do but keep walking in this direction...!”

     “Keep still!” Glancing around carefully, I studied the beach. There wasn't a soul in sight, the sounds of the waves had smothered the barking of the gun. Ping's head was a stepped-on tomato, Shorty's puss was buried in the hot sand.

     Picking up his knife, I hurled it into the ocean. Turning to Lucille, who was clutching her belly and throwing up, I said softly, “Babes, back of that dune is the bag—get it. Fast!”

     Nodding, she staggered over to the sand dune. I kept looking up and down the beach: the bathers far down on Jones Beach were spots on the sand: if only nobody came by within the next few minutes we'd be okay.

     Face pale with hysteria and fright, Lucille walked toward me, dragging the blue bag behind her in the sand. Shoving the gun in the crotch of my swim shorts, I grabbed the bag with my left hand, told her, “Come on, get a hold of your nerves —well make it okay! Help me pull these stiffs behind the dune.”

     I took Shorty's foot with my right hand, Lucille picked up his other leg. We started dragging him across the beach, toward the dune.

     “I... I... can't...” she gasped, dropping Shorty's leg and throwing up again. Leaving the duffel bag, I took both of the runt's thick legs, pulled him up and over the dune. Then I ran down and stepped between Ping's long legs, grabbed his ankles, pulled him up the hill of sand. Reaching the top of the dune, I heard Lucille running behind me, mumbling, “So much blood...”

     I turned to grin coldly at her. “Don't worry, hon, the tide's coming in, wash it all away... soon.”

     The last word died in my open mouth. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Shorty up on one elbow, blood gushing out of his shirt, a large ugly .45 held by both hands. I flung Ping toward him, tried to push Lucille back as I made a tackle-dive for him... seemed to hit a wall of orange flame making me do a back flip in mid-air. I found myself sitting on the sand above him, sure he'd missed me... until a fiery wind swept through my guts, a dry scream actually whistled up my throat. In a daze I heard another roar of thunder, a hot flash zinged by my face... Lucille came tumbling down near me, one breast hanging out of her burnt bathing suit: horrible piece of bloody raw meat.

     Digging my left hand through the fire in my belly, I found the .32—turned to face Shorty. He was glaring at me with cold, childish-large eyes, trying to raise the heavy .45 with trembling hands. I couldn't move my legs... falling on my face, left hand extended until it was inches from the bastard's head, I pulled the trigger until there wasn't any more thunder... nor much left of his stupid face.

     Staring at the mess of hair, blood, crushed skull and pink brains, I whispered, “Little... smart sonofabitch... you had a gun... too,” as if Shorty could hear me. A clawing, searing pain reached for my wild heart. I had this feeling of flying straight up... like a rocket... crashing through misty rainbows of sad soft colors...

     I passed out in a burning red wave.

     It was the most exciting canvas—mild blue shot through with streaks of gold wash. “How... can you... have a gold... wash?” I asked. It took a vague moment to finally realize I was on my back, seeing the sky. It took a far longer moment to believe I was still alive. I felt weightless—as if from the chest up I was a balloon drifting in air. Every few seconds the wind scooped me up so high and far, I seemed lost in this delicate baby blue fog.

     Then I'd surface down to reality, regain consciousness. I moved my head, a mighty effort but little pain. From the top of my chest down I felt drugged... drugged; hell of a thing to say. Examining the sky again I knew several hours had passed.

     Pushing my elbows into the sand, I propped myself up—with only one dizzy stab of pain. For a second I thought Lucille had vomited on my lap. Then I realized—minus any horror and with only a detached curiosity—I was looking at my own entrails hanging out. Lord, what ugly stuffing! Turning my head away, I saw Ping and Shorty already had the indifferent placidity of death, the stiff lines of...

     There was a small, dry sound behind me. Putting my head far back against the sand as possible, I could see Lucille. She was lying stomach down on the crest of the dune, making animal coughs. Her legs were painted with dried and bright fresh blood. I stared at her for a long time; blood on her hands and swim suit, bloody bosom, on her dark hair. Her face—what I could see of it—looked ancient and wrinkled. But the eyes were glassy-bright, very alive—eyebrows still pretty. She was gazing straight ahead with great effort, making her pathetic barks, as if her mouth was full of sand.

     Digging in with my elbows I started to move up toward her...on my back, head first. Oh, this was a gigantic task... and a dozen times I drifted up into the sky to rest, float around. But, after a long, long time, I made the top of the dune, was gasping beside her. “Lucille... honey... hon...”

     I could hear myself talking—from a great distance—but she never even glanced at me. For a long moment I had to rest, studying the deeper gold in the sky... now. Really, a marvelous shade. Working with my right elbow only, I managed to turn on my side—at least my shoulders and head turned... the rest of my numb body was left someplace behind.

     Lucille's face was so close to mine I could hear her rasping breath, but she never once moved her eyes from what she was staring down at.

     On the beach in front of us, a plump and over-blonde housewife type in a red bathing suit, was sitting on a green beach chair, facing the ocean as she read a newspaper.

     Much nearer to the advancing foamy water struggling up and down the beach, a little boy of about four was building a fine sand castle. He was a skinny kid wearing cute blue trunks, had the woman's yellow hair. Both he and mama sported a good tan. The castle was certainly a remarkable affair, complete in detail to towers, turrets, and even wall openings for the archers.

     A foot or so to one side of the kid was my blue duffel hag and towel, the powdered-white heroin spilling all around it. I wondered, vaguely, if the plastic inner bag had torn while Lucille had been dragging it through the sand, or had the little boy opened the bag?

     With great care the boy was placing a handful of junk on top of a tower, keeping an eye on the advancing tide. He was a smart kid, topping the rest of the castle with the stuff, the white making a neat contrast to the grey-brown sand.

     When the boy used up as much of the seven kilos of horse as he could scoop up from the damp sand, he brushed his hands, called out, “Mommy, come see my white castle.”

     “Yes, dear,” the bitch called out, too bored to look up from her paper. “It's very nice. The tide is almost full, means it's nearly six; we'll have to leave soon. Daddy will be home before us.”

     Lucille made this tearing-barking sound again. Was she crying at the loss of the dope, or trying to call for help? Who wanted help with two corpses behind us to explain?

     She cried out again. Raising my left hand high in the air, I let it drop on Lucille's sticky head. Gently as possible, until the rasping barks stopped.

     The last press on her head sent me sailing into the air. Closing my tired eyes, I waited for the slow descent to consciousness. It took a very long time and when I opened my eyes, the sun, the beach, and the white castle seemed behind a faint gauze screen. It was a wonderful effect—I could see each delicate detail of the tiny square lines of the gauze.

     The woman had her beach chair and the paper under one arm, was holding the boy with the other. She was actually an awful pot, the bathing suit a number of sloppy, fat curves. Yanking at the boy's hand, she said, “Oh, come on.”

     “Wait, Mommy.” He was looking at the pretty castle.

     “Come on. Watch now, this wave will do it.”

     In the haze I saw the white castle, the junkie castle, standing bravely against the onrushing foamy thin water. The ocean, with military strategy, surrounded the castle, rushed down on it from the vulnerable rear.

     Somehow, it was the most beautiful sight Td ever seen. The castle crumbled as the waves raced back to the ocean. A thunder of foam sent another front line of water charging up the beach, this one practically leveled the castle, leaving only one turret standing—a turret sparkling pure white in the dying sun.

     The woman said, “Let's go.”

     The kid began crying. “My castle! My castle is gone!”

     She yanked at his arm. “Daddy has a fit if he's home before us, waits two lousy minutes for his supper. Now come on, you'll build a better castle tomorrow.”

     They walked along the beach, the weeping boy twisting to look at the remains of his castle. Watching them, I wanted to shout, “You're so wrong... mama. He'll never build a better castle, that was a three million buck toy... he had. An historic castle tracing... tracing... its... evil past back all of six or eight days... to a casino in... Nice. Place a twenty franc chip... on...3... end up dead on Jones... Beach...

     I suddenly orbited, the sky a blaze of livid gold. The air became too thin for my lungs, began slicing at my throat like a slim knife. Gasping, I kept looking down, staring at the little white turret—now so tiny—but bravely fighting the greedy waves. It... seemed so terribly... important... to keep it in... sight...for as... long... as...I... could.


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