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.Faces popped into my head.Mom, begging me not to.Sorry, not good enough.Dad, tacking an article about my suicide onto the wall in his spare bedroom, to add to the dozens of other articles and pictures of me.Take it all down, Wilbur.I’m not worthy of a shrine.Harry, telling me I hated myself.You nailed that one, bro.Phin, saying he loved me.Looks like you’ll outlive me after all.Alex, laughing at all the pain she’s caused.Not my problem anymore.Latham, his kind, sad, beautiful face, telling me I had to be strong.Why? Why do I have to be strong all the goddamn time? Where has it gotten me?Alan, his eyes rolled up in his head…Enough.I’m done.I want out.I opened my mouth, brought up the gun, my hand shaking so much I had problems getting the barrel between my lips.Lieutenant Jacqueline Daniels vs.the world.The world wins.It always does.I flicked off the safety, put my thumb on the trigger, and opened my eyes so I could watch myself do it in the bureau mirror.I wanted the last thing I ever saw to be how pathetic I looked.Movement, peripherally, to my right.My gun pointed reflexively, and I pulled the trigger on instinct.Rat.Big one in the corner.Deader than hell now, without a head.I laughed, once, but it sounded more like a strangled cough.In a way, that’s all I was good for.Killing rats.But I was good.I was very good.And there was still one rat left to kill.The biggest one of all.I put the gun back in the pack, got dressed, and called a cab to take me to a better motel, all thoughts of suicide momentarily replaced by thoughts of murder.CHAPTER 48THE MORNING AND EARLY AFTERNOON are going to be uneventful.Alex orders room ser vice and spends some time familiarizing herself with a M18A1 she’s taken from Lance’s boss, the bomb squad lieut.It’s a serious piece of hardware, appropriate for the job, and comes with det wire and a spring trigger.On the green plastic cover are three words.FRONT TOWARD ENEMY.Alex runs her fingers over the embossed letters and smiles her half smile.God love the military.Next she shapes a good-sized hunk of PENO into a cone and sets up the blasting cap, sun cord, and sparker.Then it’s a pay-per-view action film, charged to the room.A cop thriller, with a hard-nosed veteran chasing a wily serial killer.Alex liked it up until the end, when the cop predictably shot the villain down.Why can’t there be a movie where the killer beats the cop and gets away? Wouldn’t that be cool?Alex blames the writers.None of them have the balls to let the bad guy win.But the bad guys do win sometimes.People have to learn to accept that.Lunch is room ser vice, again, and the food is so bland and mediocre, and the room so run-down, that Alex wonders how this place can even stay open, especially since it isn’t really cheap.Maybe they have a lot of conventions here.The hotel has a tiny workout room with a dearth of decent equipment.Alex makes use of the StairMaster for an hour, a towel wrapped around her neck and hiding her face should anyone else come in.No one does.Then it’s back to her room for a shower and another movie—this one a romantic comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker, who is cute and dresses great but can’t make up for a lackluster script.Finally, the clock zeroes in on three p.m.She grabs her gear, fights awful traffic, and makes it to downtown Chicago and the corner she’d staked out yesterday.Alex parks in a pay lot, sets up her laptop, finds a free WiFi connection—Chicago abounds with hot spots—and accesses the phone taped to Herb’s tree.She watches the live feed.The house looks normal, no unusual activity, but Alex can guess that there are a bunch of cops inside, as well as throughout the neighborhood.All waiting for her.Won’t they be surprised when she doesn’t show up?Alex keeps her cell phone handy—when things happen, they’ll happen fast.Then she settles in to watch the show.CHAPTER 49IT WAS ALL I COULD DO not to tear out my hair in frustration.Two calls to Detective Tom Mankowski confirmed that Herb was being closely guarded.He was still home—something he insisted upon because he wanted to be bait—but he had three cops and two Feebies in there with him.In neighboring houses were ten more cops and just as many Feds.There were three SRT snipers on nearby rooftops.Air support was standing by.As Mankowski said, a squirrel couldn’t fart within a block of the area without having six guns drawn on it.But the waiting was still torture.Herb was my partner.I should be there.Instead, I was pacing in a Wisconsin hotel room, my fingernails chewed down to blood, waiting for something to happen.Hopefully, the something would be of the good variety, involving Alex getting gunned down.But I had a feeling that Herb wasn’t as safe as everyone wanted to believe.What were they missing? What was I missing? How do you get to a guy who is heavily protected?A long-range weapon? That had been anticipated.A mail bomb? The mail for Herb’s route had been checked out and cleared back at the post office, and FedEx, UPS, and DHL had nothing for Herb or for his address.Hidden explosives? Earlier in the day, two bomb-sniffing dogs had covered every inch of Herb’s property.He was safer than the Pope.But we had to be forgetting something.Unless Alex was lying.Unless Herb wasn’t the target at all.She couldn’t get to my parents.Phin was unreachable.Harry?I called him, using the hotel room phone.“Hi, sis.I forgive you for acting like a jerk yesterday.I found the Milwaukee cell phone.Motel lobby, at the Old Stone Inn, behind the ice machine.Weren’t you just there?”“Where are you now?”“On my way to Chicago.That’s where the next one is.You wouldn’t believe how much gas I’ve gone through the last few days.I think I’m getting about three hundred yards per gallon.”“Harry, Alex might have been lying about Herb.You might be the next target.”“Let her try for me.Slappy will take care of her.”“I’m being serious.”“I am too.After you left, I gave the monkey some pills, to calm him down.”I shook my head, amazed.“You gave the monkey Vicodin?”“I thought it was.But the wrong pills were in the bottle.I actually gave him Viagra.He’s been a little, uh, aggressive since then.”“I bet.”“I got him back in his cage by throwing in a cashmere sweater he’s taken a serious liking to.He and the sweater have been going at it non-stop for about eight hours.But if I open the cage, he’ll pounce on Alex like a starving man after a donut.”“Be careful, McGlade.”“I’ll be okay.If he jumps on me, I’ll be wearing earplugs and nose-plugs and keep my mouth closed tight.”“I meant with Alex.”“Slappy and I are ready.Does Mom like cashmere?”“That’s disgusting.”“Not this sweater.A new sweater.I was going to give this one to Herb.”“Stay in touch,” I told him.“Does this mean we’re partners again?”“Just stay in touch.”I hung up, did some more pacing, tried to eat a room ser vice turkey club, failed, did more pacing, tried to watch a movie, failed, called Tom again for an update when none was needed, did push-ups until my arms wouldn’t work anymore, paced, and finally around four p.m.Alex’s phone rang.I picked up, expecting to see a text message.But instead I saw a photo, of Herb’s house, a red car parked in the driveway.No, it wasn’t a photo.This picture moved, the car door opening.This was a live feed.I got on the phone, my phone, and hit the speed dial for Herb.One ring.A man was getting out of the car.Big, muscular, wearing a tight shirt.Two rings [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]