Jennifer has never phoned me until now. She said come at once and be careful about being followed. I broke the speed limit through the city’s usual traffic problem. The sound of her voice over my Ameche said she was in trouble. God, what was going to happen to her next? Her parents were murdered, and she was brutally raped. How could I protect her from further harm? How?
At Jennifer’s I found out things about her I didn’t know how to correct. She wished for revenge against men who raped and murdered women and I feared she meant to carry out that revenge in a deadly way. As for me, I’m plastered all over the Internet. Ten-thousand dollar reward for Thanet Blake, dead!
I ordered six bottles of Guinness Extra Stout and walked to Rumpott’s table. On my last beer, a man sat down across from me. His grin was an obnoxious triumphant smile as he put a Colt .32 automatic on the table. I stared at it. It was pointing in my direction.
“Beautiful weapon, isn’t it, a real collector’s item,” the guy whispered. “I took it from a lady who doesn’t have a need for it anymore. Thanet Blake, I’ve been looking for you. Finish your beer and then we’ll take a little walk in the alley behind this joint.”
His voice became Hollywood gangster deadly. It matched the deadliness of the weapon that was now in his right hand. I finished my beer.
In the alley, I sweated weight from my body while trying to keep from pissing my pants. I was scared, like I’d been scared only one other time in my life. I came out of that one with a whole skin. I doubted that I could this time.
In the shadows, his voice came to me. It was still deadly. “Before I make you into a morgue study, I want you to know that I’m the web guy responsible for your internet publicity. Did you like it?”
How do you talk when fear has made your mouth into a desert? You manage to croak. “Am I really worth ten thousand dollars, dead?”
“No! Your value is the cost of a bullet in your head. I cancelled The Thanet Arthur Blake contest. However, as I will not delete it, it will always be on the web. Think of all the dumb asses that will still come looking for you. How many do you think will visit your gravestone? I’ll do that you know, one time only. I’ll pour rye on your grave after I’ve strained it through my kidneys.”
I couldn’t control my bladder. It cut loose, forever wrecking my slacks. I thanked the wetness flowing down my legs for the anger that made me ask, “Why are you doing this?”
“For the memory of my brother, that’s why. You helped end his life.”
Who was his brother? Before I could ask, he began mumbling.
“Yes, my brother. Never mind that we always hated each other. He was my brother. He was family, and when family is murdered, you do something about it. This is my second time at gunning you. My old Forty-Five just sort of fell apart. Very sorry about botching the job, but this time you’re dead meat for certain. I’m using my new gun on you.”
In the dim light coming from the alley doorway of the watering hole, I caught the glint of the automatic as he moved it to where it was now pointing at my head. This was it. I said goodbye to the world.