I was searching for any angle, and conversation was all I had to work with. “That sounds like Alan,” I said. “A real sense of humor. The kind of guy who would rape a girl before throwing her over the rail.”
“If there had been time, sure. Why waste it?” A few steps later, he added, “I would have done the same myself, if there had been time.”
A cold, calculating man. The kind who could calmly talk about the opportunity to rape, and as calmly pass up a chance if it wasn’t convenient. Like I had been convenient. And wasn’t convenient now. The kind of guy who would shoot you in the back without preamble and toss you into a canal. He would not feel the need to gloat and crow, or to make you feel small before he destroyed you. No real cruelty; just a straightforward, businesslike approach to his life and your death.
A far more dangerous man than skinny Alan, despite that one’s touch of mania.
I had gained something. I knew when and how he would try to kill me. It would come swiftly, without warning, in the first place that provided convenient escape and convenient disposal of the body.
We were now among dark piazzios. There was an empty feeling to this quarter. Only a few of the upper windows showed light, and in the valley between the high buildings there was only moonless darkness. My eyes had become so accustomed that I could see the debris stacked against the walls and the garbage in the gutters. Davis was behind me now. Here would be a good place for murder. I tensed with waiting, but no indication came. There was a lightening of the gloom ahead. A small side canal was crossing our path, with a typical high-arched bridge. Someone had left a two wheeled cart standing in the road at our right side. It gave me an excuse to slide sideways and cross the bridge against the left. I could hear Davis’ shoes scuffing the pavement behind me. I thought of throwing myself from the bridge into the canal, but it was lighter here and I would be outlined against the moon-bright water when I came to the surface again.
I felt Davis close the distance between us. It was coming. My only hope was to give him an opportunity he could not resist, so that I would know the moment I had to act.
As I came to the top of the arch, I put my hand on the railing and looked left, with a slight turn of the shoulders, and an almost imperceptible pause in my forward motion. I had calculated the movement to look natural, just as anyone coming to the top of the arch would turn his attention momentarily to the view below. And I held the pose for half a second while I planted my right foot, then lunged sideways, slashing blindly with my left arm and driving back toward Davis.
A heartbeat later would have been too late. My arm was jerked sideways momentarily. I heard the tearing of cloth. The knife he had been driving toward my back caught in my left sleeve and scored the back of my upper arm as it tore free. more tomorrow