I had seen that look before. Not often, thank God, but you don’t forget what someone looks like the moment he is about to kill you.
When I saw his eyes, my hands were already at his chest. I slid them in, drove my fingers into his armpits and my thumbs into his chest, where the pecs run under the deltoids, pinching like I wanted to tear his armpits out. His face went gray with pain and I slammed my forehead into his nose. Then I threw him off and scrambled back. He was holding a knife, but his fingers had gone lax. I jerked it free and threw it down the alley.
A couple of tourists went scurrying by, looking carefully away. No one else was in sight.
I caught him in the armpits again and jerked him to his feet. I threw him toward the back of the alley and followed him in.
He threw a looping right. I took it, knocked him down, then grabbed him again. There was a cross alley, just a ten foot square brick alcove, out of sight of the street. I threw him back into it.
He staggered up, and I slammed him back against the bricks. I put my forearm across his throat and said, “Where is she?”
“Who?” he sputtered.
“Susyn Davis. The one who hired you.”
“I don’t know, man!”
“I don’t know, man! With that God damned California accent. She brought you with her. Listen, you little bastard, you’d better talk quick or you’ll wish you were back in California.”
“I don’t know nothin’.”
“Not good enough!” I hit him in the ribs. Some broke. “You’d better talk quick or you’ll never live to get back to California.”
He spat in my face. I broke some more ribs. His eyes rolled back into his head and for a moment I thought I’d lost him. Then he swam back up to consciousness and I was still there, staring into his face like a vision of his own death. I said, “Where is she?”
“Murtle. Maidol. Something like that. I didn’t catch the name real good.”
“What were you supposed to do?”
He looked at me with his last ounce of defiance and said, “Kill you! She wants you dead.” Then his body turned to rubber.
I eased him down. He was badly hurt. Broken nose, broken ribs, internal damage. I had been well and truly pissed. I shook my head, and said, “It runs in the family.”
Well and truly. Hemingway said those words first and often, and now every male author has to use them, in homage or in defiance. Well, here’s my version.
A train for Bergen left the station at 1343. I made it by minutes. A train had left at 0813, and another at 1131. Raven would have taken the first one. Susyn or Alan – or both – had probably been on the other.
I waited until the train was well on its way, then made my way to the toilet. Susyn’s henchman had had a gun stuffed inside his shirt, but he had never had time to get it out. I needed privacy to examine it. more tomorrow