Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Part Three: Pursuit. Chapter Thirty-One

Anderson had somehow known that Antonov would follow her, without even asking her if he could and that was what he did. No doubt to critique her suit and assist her with her makeup, she thought bitterly.

She waved at Larry and Moe as she jangled her keys. The middle-aged rambler was in good shape and she was proud to see it again, as she always was. She had been left in something of the lurch, being required to maintain and keep up the place and it always stirred her to see what a good job she was doing. She thought often of what a poorer job another, lesser daughter might have done.

She placed one key, and then another in the lock and the two deadbolts, then threw the door open and ushered Antonov in, mocking his careless assumption.

“Do you trust me to put the damn thing on by myself?” she asked.

“Look, I know you're not running on a lot of sleep and you're fueled by nothing by stress and coffee, but cut me a break, okay? I know what I'm about.”

She shrugged.

“Seriously. Half the time I wind up working with idiot cops who get small awards and I have to tell them not to pick their goddamn noses. Maybe you think I'm a dick, but I'm really enjoying the opportunity to work with someone who A: Has a career ahead of them and B: Doesn't think I'm gay.”

She chuffed a small, short laugh. “You and me both, you pretty bastard.” She turned and went to find her room.

“Good genes should not be punished!” he called after her.

Her room was cluttered, the only room that ever was. The public rooms, including the bathroom, she kept immaculate, even though she rarely had visitors. Her father's den and her mother's sewing room were almost never opened, so keeping things clean was never much of a chore. Except for this hole, she thought, kicking a drift of clothes to one side. She hadn't lied, she had a clean suit, but she had several more that were shamefully wrinkled and she just hadn't gotten around to taking them to the dry cleaner.

She took of her work outfit, dumping it in the pile, and set her gun and other personal items on the bed. She changed out of her backup, comfortable travel undies and found something a bit more befitting a suit. Black. She always wore the same shirt with the suit, and it all hung safely together in her closet, safely covered in plastic wrap, still hanging on a 'We Love Our Customers' hanger. She tore the plastic off, balled it up and tossed it into a corner.

Then, she heard a shot. Anyone else on the block might have mistaken it for a backfire or some other pedestrian, ambiguous noise, but not her, and she hoped not Antonov.

She looked down and grabbed the first pants she could see, blue and gray striped pajama bottoms.
From outside, there was a string of further reports, right on top of each other. Someone emptying a gun.
She tugged a t-shirt over her head and ducked out into the hall, gun at the ready. Antonov was already there, safely around the corner from the entry corridor, across the hall from her, his own gun out.

“I called it in,” he hissed. “Do you think it's him?”

Anderson was taken aback. Her training had kicked in, she was just ready to start some shit, it had not crossed her mind that the gun fire might be HIM. But as soon as the thought cross her mind, she knew it was right. Poor Larry and Moe were either under fire or laying down fire themselves, and either way it had to be the son of a bitch they were after.

She edged to the corner and threw open the coat closet there. Inside, resting in the corner, not quite hidden beneath the sleeve of a trench coat, was a shotgun. She placed her gun on the upper shelf in the closet, next to a locked case that she knew also contained a Smith and Wesson .44 revolver. She jacked the first shotgun round from the magazine into the chamber, feeling a cold satisfaction roll over her. It a Remington 10-gauge pump, loaded with double-ought buckshot and armed with a choke to lessen spray. It was not a gun for hunting wildlife, it was a gun for hunting men.

“Thanks, Daddy,” she said to herself.

“Papa Anderson was not fucking around,” Antonov said.

“No, he was not.”

“Now what?” Antonov asked.

The doorbell rang and both of them leapt. After a moment, both of them made to aim at the door and she hissed. “Put a round through it,” she whispered to him.

He nodded, leaned around the corner, and fired not one, but two quick rounds through the heavy front door, which, now that she thought about it, was probably not locked. The two reports were loud in the hall and punched small holes in the door. She noted with some satisfaction that even though the deadbolts were still open, the doorknob was still in the locked position. It was the only door they'd come in, so the rear door, in the kitchen, should be open as well.

The sound of smashing glass came from down the hall, away from them.

“What room?” Antonov asked her. After a moment he dashed across the hall to join her. She nodded down the corridor to her father's den. “You don't have another one of those, do you?” he asked, looking at the Remington.

“Sorry. One of us should be able to pivot, anyway.”

“Lucky me.”

She led them down the hall to the door of the den, just past the door of her bedroom, but on the other side of the hall. The took places on both sides of the door and she reached for the knob with her left hand, the shotgun held in her right. She began to turn it slowly, ready to push in as soon as the catch was clear.

Several more reports rang out and she jerked her hand back purely on instinct. Antonov cringed back from the shots, crying out. Her hand stung, and she was certain she must have been shot. She looked down and saw that the last three knuckles on her left hand were bleeding, skin torn off them as if she'd been in a slugging match. She couldn't tell if the bullet had grazed her or if the splinters from the door had ripped her up, but either was much better than the alternative. She looked over at the blond PR agent next to her.

“This is bad.”

Antonov nodded, his cheeks hollow and his eyes wide.

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