I’m sorry to have left this for so long. Bad week, computer issues, birthday, missed deadlines. You know how it is. The problem is, we have rather left Jack hanging in space with a gun having just fired at him. So let’s get on shall we?
Jack Collier: Private Eye
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Thirty-Three: Bullets Miss Me
When I bought the Drexel, which I did very carefully in Pittsburg, I did something to it. I carefully put a drill down the barrel and dug away part of it. The result of my drill job was that the gun couldn’t fire straight. If you were standing more than, say, five paces away, the bullet would hit the divot I’d created down the barrel and start to turn so that it would exit the barrel at an angle. A predictable angle no less, one you could depend on. Not one you could aim with, but if you stayed in the right zone the bullet could never hit you.
I felt the air split as the shot fired, but I didn’t react. I stood pat, unflinching, so fucking cool. I was pretty sure that my coolness was such that even some of the guys were getting wet. Father William pulled the trigger nine more times, but I was a man of my word and only one thirty-two round was in the gun. He looked at the gun and then at me and then threw the gun at his desk, causing another scar and sending it across the office.
“You might be able to balance an eel on the end of your nose.” I told him, doing my best Robert Mitchum impression. “But you can’t get away with committing attempted murder with this many witnesses. Particularly not if you just used the gun that killed Cole King.”
“That gun killed Cole King?” He asked looking over his desk at it.
“Funny how you were able to pull it out of your desk like that. Don’t you find that odd?”
“You threw it at me.” Father William demanded.
“You ordered an eighteen year old girl raped to death, and then you wanted a private eye and a federal agent killed.” I told him. “Never mind who will the courts believe, who will the people believe? Will they sympathize? Or will they rip you a new one for this weekends work?”
“What do you want?” Father William growled.
“Why kidnap Jill Piper so much?” I asked him, folding my arms. “I don’t get that at all. Why is she so important to you?”
That was when, for the second time in twelve hours, the government came to my rescue again. The doors burst open and five men came rushing into the room with guns drawn. I spun around, yanking the second hand gun from my pocket and aiming. I would have fired a warning shot except I noticed the blue nylon jackets with the three letters in yellow as they started shouting the name of their agency and telling everyone to get on the floor.
“On the floor now!” One of them shouted, and seemed a little put out that none of us dropped. Not a one of us even so much as moved, even I was still pointing my gun at them. I think I was in shock, finding that it was our side who had decided to raid the place instead of theirs. The young agent looked sort of confused and gave me an imploring look. “You’ve got to drop the weapon and get on the floor.”
“Why?” I asked him, which he probably wasn’t ready for. “I’m the one that has the drop on you.”
“There’s five of us.” He almost whined.
“That’s right.” I told him. “And I’ve got the drop on all five of you.”
If I decided to shoot them all, it wouldn’t have been a problem, because they just sort of looked at me with mystified expressions. So confident was I in my belief that I had them covered they actually looked at their guns as if they were the ones who were supposed to drop them. I think they might have dropped them if I’d had another three seconds to just look at them with an expectant expression.
“Smith,” Alice said after letting me play tough guy for what she considered to be a polite amount of time, “What the hell are you doing?”
“Arresting them for kidnapping you and Mister Collier and Miss Piper.” Smith said.
“That is Mister Collier.” She said pointing at me.
“I’m Miss Piper.” Jill spoke up, waving at him with a cute little wave.
“You may feel free to arrest Father William.” She said pointing at Big Bill behind his desk. “He’s behind the desk.”
“You’re under arrest.” Smith said pointing his gun at Father William and company.
“I knew an agent Smith once.” I said lowering the gun. “He got killed in Michigan.”
“He was a relative sir.” Smith said as eight more agents came into the office, which was getting really small really fast.
“Ah.” I said and then added. “This room is getting too small.”
It was a controlled chaos, but I was allowed to leave the room for an emergency stairway that gave me some breathing room. I stood out there for a few minutes, breathing and listening to the alarm bells that were ringing a cacophony in my head. There were a lot of questions that I needed the answer to, and I wasn’t thinking I was going to get good answers anytime soon, if ever. I rarely get the answers that would actually explain things. Good lord my head hurt, I didn’t realize that I’d grabbed it and was rocking back and forth until the door opened and half stepped into the stairway. I had to let go of me head to turn and look at her, looking at me leaning against the wall, holding my head. She looked concerned and worried and angry all at once as she looked down on me. I could sort of tell I was in some kind of trouble with her, even though the anger faded the longer she saw me cradling my head.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“How did they know where she was being held?” I asked. “How did they know where to find you? How’d they know where to find me? How did Smith and company know to show up just when they did?”
“I told them where you were.” She said holding up her left hand, the fingers were red and swollen, but they looked in the right shape. “I don’t think they actually broke anything but I’ll need to see a doctor.”
“How did they find you?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” She said. “I don’t know how they found Jill either.”
“How did they know where we were? How did you’re people know we were here?” I still hadn’t moved from the place where I was, crouched down and leaning against the institutionally painted white cinderblock wall.
“Smith!” She snapped while opening the door.
“Yes ma’am?” He asked coming to the stairway with us.
“How did you know where we were?” She asked.
“Miss Cove called me.”
“Pardon?” I asked.
“Shiri Cove, she works for you.” Smith said. “She followed you here and then reported it to us.”
“How did she know to do that?” Alice asked,
“What the hell is she doing?” I asked, standing up. “We do not cooperate with the authorities. I’m gonna have a talk with that girl, she’s letting down the firm.”
“Saved us though.” She said.
“I had them on the ropes.” I told her. “They were about to fold.”
“Sure they were.” She said. “Well now they really will fold.”
“I guess.” I shrugged.
“Did you do that for me?”
“Got him to shoot at you.” She said. “Did you do that for me?”
“Sort of.” I said. “Sort of a plan I’ve had.”
“How did he miss you from that distance?”
“When you examine the gun you’ll see that a hole was drilled down the barrel, basically it’s offset a few degrees. He couldn’t have hit me from that distance, which is why I also stood ten feet away from Cole when he shot himself.”
“So he did shoot himself?” She asked.
“Yes.” I said.
“And then you took the gun away with you.”
“You were ten feet away?”
“I wanted to make sure he couldn’t shoot me.” I probably sounded like a monster, the way I could rattle off the details in such a cold emotionless way. “But that he could shoot himself. He wanted to shoot himself in the temple, but that had too much room to go wrong so I told him to put it in his mouth.”
“But it was his choice?” She continued to harp on the one point. “You were far away from him and just told him how to do it?”
“Yeah.” I said and looked at her. She didn’t look angry at me now, she looked like she sort of understood.
“Okay.” She nodded at me and pulled her foot out of the door, letting it close and lock behind her. “You made me feel a little used back there in the van.”
“Sorry.” I tried to smile, but it hurt like hell from the beating I’d taken. “It was all I could think of to distract them.”
“I don’t like being used.” She said.
“I’ll remember that.”
“Okay.” She nodded, looking sort of embarrassed. “I’m a grown woman, I can make up my own mind.”
“Okay.” I agreed, because that’s what you do at this stage.
“Okay.” She said again. “I just want it understood. I’m not that sort of girl.”
“Understood.” I nodded. “I’ll consult you first if we’re ever in a similar situation, or I’ll make other plans.”
“Okay.” She repeated, and her whole face was one big blush. “I’d rather repair the fence than kick you off the reservation. That’s all. I don’t want us to break up, just don’t treat me that way.”
“Never happen again babe.” I said.
“Are you thinking about me naked?” She tilted her head to one side and gave me that look.
“Always.” I told her. “Actually I’m trying to figure out what color panties you’ve got on. I know they’re a fancy pair, I felt the lace.”
“White.” She smiled. “They’re white.”
“Okay.” I smiled through the pain, because being charming is important.
“What are you going to do now?” she asked.
“Not sure.” I said. “I’m going to have to have a word with my employee though. We don’t cooperate with federal authorities here at Collier Investigations.”
“You cooperate with me.” She tilted her head again, but that was a completely different look. That was a mended bridge look.
“Only because I want to sleep with you.” I grinned, and did not wince despite the pain.
“Aren’t you supposed to not tell me that part?”
“So confident am I in my wonderfulness that I can be totally honest and not worry about the repercussions.” I said and then looked down at my shoes. “I’m going to have to take Jill back home, go by routes that aren’t expected. I think it’ll be best if we don’t make any records of where I went or how I intended to get where I was going.”
“Just vanish into the heartland?”
“Yeah.” I agreed. “Go someplace where no one would ever look.”
“Where wouldn’t anyone look?” She asked.
“I’m thinking about that.” I said. “When I do, I probably won’t let you know though.”
“You suspect me?” She asked.
“No.” I said. “I suspect that someone around you might listen in on a phone call or something.”
“You know, Debbie said you have some trust issues.” She threw that one out at me, just sort of tossed it lightly.
“Did she?” I asked.
“We talk.” She said. “She and I talk.”
“Ah.” I nodded. “This isn’t me having a trust issue, I’m just paranoid about the people around you.”
“I’m sure.” I stood up and put an arm around her waist. “If I didn’t trust you, I’d have stayed far away.”
I kissed her then, because I couldn’t think of anything that would be that good.