This posting features Chapter 52 of my ongoing action novel, The Day of the Gun.
“It’s been a long time, Dave.”
The Davemeister literally gasped. The surprise was total. He could not recall ever having been so startled. He dropped the plastic water bottle and fought to gain control of his heartbeat.
“Very carefully, reach into your holster and remove your gun.”
Dave nodded. Slowly reaching into his jacket, he unsnapped the holster, lifted his .45 with two fingers, and held it up.
Steve snatched it from his grip and tucked it into his jeans. “Smart move. Now, reach down at your ankle and surrender your secondary.”
The big man was already recovering from the shock. “I’m not wearing an ankle holster.”
Steve leaned forward and felt the tops of the big man’s shoes. They were clean.
“I told you.”
“I know you have a secondary. Hand it over.”
“I’m telling you — ”
Steve jammed the barrel into his adversary’s ear. “Do you know what a bullet can do at this range? Very messy.”
With a sigh, Dave reached into the paper bag and removed a .38. He held the grip with two fingers.
Smiling, Steve took the weapon from him. “Very creative. I’m impressed.”
“How did you get behind me?”
Steve chuckled. “I was already lying under the tree when you appeared. You almost landed in my lap. When I saw you coming, I slid behind the willow and hid in the grass.”
Dave shook his head. “That explains the water bottle.”
“I take it you’re responsible for this.”
Dave frowned. “This what?”
A sigh. “This quiet. No police cars, no helicopters. My lawyer, Gregg Stacey, was going to meet me. I presume you took care of that. Agent McLean is MIA as well. Care to comment?”
Dave nodded. “We’re all alone.”
“How about the local police?”
He shrugged. “A phone call. A diversion. It was simple.”
“Why, Dave? That’s what I want to know. Why? You never struck me as the corruptible type.”
When the big man did not answer, Steve brought the pistol grip down, hard, on the side of Dave’s head. The former WITSEC man grunted but refused to cry out.
“Tough guy, huh, Dave? Tough guy.”
“It was the money. It was always about the money.”
Steve sighed again. “Shit. It always comes down to the money, doesn’t it? Guys like Marciano have it, and guys like you want it.”
“Guys like me?”
“Uh-huh. They’re always guys like you.”
“It didn’t start that way.”
“It never does. It’s an old story, Dave. Old as mankind. Good people die so the likes of you and Marciano can cut your deals.”
“So how does this end?”
“I’ve been thinking about that, Dave. I’ve been thinking long and hard.”
“I bet you have.”
The temptation to pull the trigger was strong. He could justify the killing, especially after Tremblor’s deception came to light — if it hadn’t already. Self-defense was not far-fetched. After all, this man had come after him, killed innocents in the process, and probably would not stop killing as long as he was alive and breathing.
“Take off your clothes.”
Dave stiffened. “What?”
“You heard me. Take off your clothes. Stand up and do it.”
Steve brought the Glock hard against the man’s right ear. Even the stoic former athlete grunted at the impact.
“I want you completely naked. Everything — socks, underwear, watch.”
Rubbing his ear, Dave shook his head. “I didn’t think you cared.”
“Do you want some more? Maybe a well-placed bullet in a kneecap will — ”
The big man lumbered to his feet. Steve stood behind him, stepping back two paces so Dave would not overpower him in a surprise move.
“You want to humiliate me. Is that it?”
“I want to control you, make sure you’re not hiding anything. Nothing makes a person more vulnerable than being buck naked.”
Steve shrugged. “Okay, so that’s a bonus. Now, get going. Slowly, though — no sudden movements.”
“You better hope — ”
“Save the threats. You better hope some things, too, Dave. We both had better hope.”