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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     I had no time or need for a narcotics lecture from this silly slob. Going to the water pipe as Parks kept on yakking, impressed by his own conversation, I tried bending the old pipe loose. It was only about a half inch in diameter, but nothing gave. Noel stood up and put her two hundred plus girlish pounds behind me—together we broke off a wicked hunk of lead pipe. A small gusher came from the broken end in the floor.

     Holding the pipe by the faucet end for a firm grip, I cut off Parks' monologue with: “Start yelling for help. When Georges comes in, I'll stiffen him with this pipe, take his gun. Aiming with Noel's mirror, I think I can fire from the window—attract the attention of fishermen on the other side of the road.”

     “You mean shoot them?”

     “Shoot around 'em. Beside, a slug from a small automatic won't have power to do more than nick 'em, from this distance. Also, I'm hardly that good a marksman. The idea is—once they know I'm using them for a target—they'll call the cops.”

     We'd been talking English, but Noel added in French, “No good, the others heard the sound of fighting, they rush in—finish us.”

     I nodded. “That's your job, big honey. The second I clout Georges, you're to slam the door and lock it. These old doors are rugged, so let's pray they haven't an extra key, can't break in until the police arrive—if they ever come.”

     Parks shook his little head. “A far-fetched plan which only...”

     “When it comes to stupid plans, your idea of having Noel switch passports wins the title! We haven't much time, they may not bother with your last few checks now, knock us off any minute. Start yelling... before I give you something to really scream about!”

     “I suppose it's better than having no plan,” Parks said, crossing the wet floor to the door. 'The water is delightfully cool. Lord, I haven't had a bath in ages.”

     “Cut the chatter and yell! Noel—flat against the wall, ready to pull out the key, lock the door,” I told them, getting a good grip on the pipe, sweating at the thought I might be about to kill somebody.

     Robert Parks put his thin lips on top of the key hole, called for help—the shrill voice carrying through the house. After awhile we heard steps rushing up the hallway outside. Motioning for Parks to move out of the way—back on his cot—I suddenly wondered what I'd do if two of the goons showed.

     A man's rough voice asked, in English, “What hell going in there?”

     “He's... choking me,” Park wailed.

     The door opened and Georges came dashing in, little automatic out. Things happened fast, as in an old time slapstick movie... only the custard pie was missing.

     Swinging the lead pipe like a baseball bat, I stepped toward Georges—skidded on the watery floor—missed. Gangster-type fired at me, the bark of the little gun thundering like a cannon as the bullet ricocheted from wall to wall. Still sliding, my feet went out from under me, my backside hit the floor with a thud which forced me to let go of the pipe. Dazed by the prat fall, I watched Georges stop to take careful aim at my head—Parks started toward him, but Noel suddenly hurled herself at the thug, flattening him. Skinny Parks yanked the key out of the door, strained to shut and lock it.

     Rolling over in the water with a splash, I grabbed Georges' wrist—trying not only for the gun, but also to keep it from getting wet. Still groggy from the blonde's body-block, Georges wrestled with me. As I realized he was a pro wrestler too, getting better as his head cleared—Noel found the pipe, gave Georges a sickening whack on the side of his pretty face. She started to tee off for another swing when Parks jumped her hand, hanging like a terrier.

     Taking the gun, I stood up, told Noel to stop it. Georges' face seemed out of shape and before I could wonder if he was dead—Noel let out a hell of a scream, sat in the water holding her bloody shoulder. The ricocheting slug had hit her.

     Parks and I helped Noel to the cot. It was nasty, but still only a flesh wound. Tearing off more of Noel's skirt, I asked Robert, “Can you make one of those Boy Scout things—a tourniquet?”

     “I can try—using the key. Man, you're in the red, too.”'

     Following his thin, pointing finger, I saw blood on one side of my wet blue slacks—a pinkish spot slowly spreading like a water color wash. Cursing my stupidity, I picked parts of the compact mirror from my hip pocket. Half of the mirror, a hunk a few ragged inches long, was still intact.

     Standing on the chair, I told Parks to let me know if Georges started moving, stuck my gun hand out the opening, held the mirror above my head with my left hand—a la the circus trick shot. Georges had fired once, should be five bullets left. Turning I studied the view below, in the mirror; a kid with a large plastic ball colored watermelon red was watching the fishermen—as his attractive mama motioned for him to walk on.

     Waiting for the boy to move, I heard sounds in the hallway, blows on the door. The brat still stood next to one of the fishermen. Mama came over and slapped the kid's fanny. Dropping the plastic ball, he jumped up and down, crying—I guess. The fisherman held an ear, said something to the woman.

     Mama and the kid disappeared from my ragged mirror view, leaving the brightly colored ball. Aiming at the blue water directly next to the nearest fisherman, I fired. The sound of the shot was ear-splitting, within the wall opening, the breeze blowing this strong stench of acrid gun powder back at me. Absolutely nothing happened below.

     Parks asked, “Any luck?”

     I didn't bother to answer, tried aiming a little higher, not certain what the hell I was doing: vague fire patterns from army days flashed through my buzzing head. I fired the next shot over the fisherman's head—to allow for the trajectory arc I thought the slug made as it fell.

     Still nothing, nor did the fisherman seem to notice a damn thing. With three shells left, I had the foolish feeling I was merely wasting precious bullets. Lowering my arm, I took a deep breath, fired directly at the fisherman's back. The plastic ball near him exploded. Jumping, he glanced around, even up toward our window. The yelling brat appeared in my busted mirror again, along with mama waving her fist at Izaac Walton.

     “Parks! Matches, a hunk of paper, or a rag—toute suite!”

     Noel said there was a lighter in her pocket—Parks handed it up to me, along with the rest of her skirt. Once a stripper, always a stripper—it seemed. Carefully laying the gun on the bottom of the opening, I lit the cloth, hung it out the window.

     For a long second the fisherman, now joined by his pal, kept staring down at the busted ball, arguing with mama—everybody waving their hands. As the flames started to lick my fingers, one of the men finally looked up. Then they all were pointing up at our opening. Dropping the flaming skirt, I stuck the gun out, waved it. They probably couldn't see it was a gun from down there—I fired a shot in the air. They were still looking our way, but no reaction. I fired the last bullet at the legs of one of the fishermen.

     It didn't hit him, but they all saw the orange flame of the shot. Mama hugged the bawling kid, the men shook fists up at me. I kept waving the tiny automatic, holding it by the trigger guard so more of the gun was visible. A small crowd gathered.

     Sticking my arm out far as possible, I heaved the gun at them, then kept waving my empty hand in a come-on gesture. A man left the crowd for the junkyard back of the house, but I couldn't see if he found the gun.

     I asked Noel for her lipstick, tried writing S.O.S. on the wall outside, under the opening... but my arm was so weary I dropped the damn lipstick. I climbed down off the chair.

     Half-naked Noel was on the cot, reminding me of a beaten pug gone to lard—holding the clumsy tourniquet around her thick left shoulder. Parks was standing in the floor water, ridiculously thin and pale in soiled shorts as he concentrated on wiggling his toes. Georges was on his back and alive, bright red foam breaking on the heavy lips. The hall racket was going full blast—at least three men trying to bust down the door, calling Georges' name in French, English, and Spanish.

     Over a sickly grin, Parks asked, “Could they be insurance salesmen breaking the door to sell us a life policy, Biner?”

     I watched the door shudder as they began charging it with some heavy object. A couple of shots were fired, but movies and TV to the contrary, it's difficult as hell to shoot a lock open. Standing on the chair again, I held up the ragged mirror for an outside view—the road and rocks were empty of people, only the colorful smudge remains of the plastic ball in sight.

     Robert Parks must have read my mind as I stepped down. Shrugging his scarecrow shoulders he said, “Oh well, I doubt if I would have made the grade as a major league poet anyhow.”

     My noggin was hurting again from the beatings. “Who cares what you...1” The balance of the angry words died in my dry mouth. There was a sudden, heavy silence outside our door... the feeling of men crouching there... followed by shots farther down the hallway. A high scream of pain in front of the door, footsteps in scrambled flight, more thick silence—then the sound of many and new steps.

     Touching Parks with her wide foot, Noel said, “The flics! Roberto, do not fail me, go back on your promise!”

     He nodded, touched her garish-yellow hair in a kind of caress, pale eyes on the door.

     In the hall, a man shouted in French, “We are the police—open at once!”

     I glanced at Noel and Parks: we all had the same thought—was this a trick? We sat without making a sound. Minutes later came this splintering crash as the old door burst open: six sweaty cops in their silly blue shirts and white helmets stood there—guns drawn. They were such a lovely sight I blew a fat kiss at them... without thinking, and was so relieved I couldn't bother worrying about it.

     Noel watched them with suspicious eyes, while Parks let out a shrill, childish giggle.


     The next couple of hours were one crazy blur of myriad and patient explanations on our part to the cops: to some pompous police sergeant; once more over lightly to higher police brass; then to a doctor. I doubted if anybody believed our story.

     Finally we were taken downstairs, through the morbid crowd any action attracts, to a police station. Noel and Parks went from there in an ambulance while I told our tale again. About this time a clean-cut type with the standard crewcut grey hair, appeared. He was from the U.S. Consulate— I think. I had to tell him our story and then for a short time I was alone. I dozed off on a bench only to be shaken awake by a huffy French police bigwig announcing I could get the clean clothes I'd requested.

     I couldn't recall requesting anything, but rode back to my hotel in what passed for a French squad car—a panel truck with sing-song horn working as a siren. The two burly cops at my side made madame upset, but on the way back to the station house I felt slightly better in my 'other' suit—another pair of worn slacks and a cleaner sport shirt. Passing the American Express on the Promenade, I asked my beefy guards if I could stop—still wanted to cash my damn checks.

     They said okay, to my surprise, and marching in we made a scene for the tourists to write about on their postal cards. Explaining why the checks were damp, at long last I cashed the check, in fact cashed all I had. I also picked up my mail—a New York gallery had sold one of my paintings, enclosed a check for $156. Although the most important gallery I'd ever sold, the good news didn't start any bells of joy ringing in my weary dome.

     At the police station a team of French reporters and photographers asked hundreds of questions, most of their French too fast for me. Noel was around and we posed for pictures. Robert Parks came in. Dressed and shaved he didn't look too bad, although his eyes had that way-out, watery, expression again. Getting me aside, he said, “Biner, I have to ask one last favor. I understand you've been padded down here in Nice for many months —do you know any of the American colony cats here?”

     “After a fashion. Why?”

     “I've managed to get two seats on the New York plane, departing Nice at ten p.m. From the Big Apple a chartered plane will fly me directly to Uncle Sam's drug hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Since the bastards forced such a heavy habit on me, around two a.m. I'll need a shot. I've been able to buy some ersatz junk—Pethidine—which may carry me through. However, I must have somebody with me in case I flip. Hiring a French male nurse means visa red-tape, perhaps another day, and I want to be in ole Kentuck by tomorrow, shedding my monkey. I...”

     “What happened to Noel?”

     “Shook her completely off the hook. Used my letter of credit to give her the loot I promised. The chick is flying home to Corsica right this second. Really, a remarkable babe, in her way—nice to hit on, too. Biner, the point is this: Do you know any American male who might want to return to the States a few weeks early—with me, tonight? I'll gladly pay his fare, make it worth his...”

     “I'll go.”

     Parks looked stunned. “Oh man, no! You've done too much. I've put you through the wringer, can't possibly repay for what you've done...”

     “Oh Parks, shut up—I'm not thinking of you. I want to go home.” The second I uttered those last five words, the mental fog I'd been drifting in for weeks, lifted. Feeling positively relaxed, I realized what had been wrong with me—when I could call a lovely country like France moth-eaten, I'd long had it. It simply was time I went home.

     “You make me sound like a drag. I've already caused you...”

     “I'm going. That's settled. Ill meet you at the airport—nine-thirty p.m.”

     “I'll pay for your time, Biner.”

     Shaking my head, I pulled out the gallery check. “You're talking to a selling artist, Parks. Just pay my fare—I'll cash in my open boat ticket in the States.”

     His blank eyes took on a slightly puzzled look. Biner... Mister Biner, are you sure you want to go?”

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