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Not a shadow, I saw, but a man, and a big one. He ran across the main street toward the motel, carrying something that picked up a few moonlit sparkles. At the same time, the big man’s scent drifted to me, a nasty, stale smell I remembered. Those bad guys I get close enough to sink my teeth into tend to have smells that stay with me. I charged across the street just as the big guy threw the shiny thing through a window in the motel: our window.
From inside came a flash, bright as day, and then a huge boom that blew out all the window glass and a chunk of the wall. The big guy turned and I got a real good look at him – bandanna, sideburns, twisted nose: Jocko. He saw me and took off toward a pickup parked down the street. I wanted to go after him, wanted that real bad. Instead I leaped through the hole in the wall.
The room was on fire – the bed, the walls, everything – with sheets of flame bursting up to the ceiling and tearing right through. And so much smoke, hurting my eyes, filling my nose in a horrible way. Where was Bernie? I couldn’t see him, couldn’t smell him, could only smell smoke. I barked and barked again.
And there he was, almost lost in the smoke, crawling on the floor, but in the wrong direction, toward one of the burning walls. I ran over – the air so hot now, crackling all around – and pushed at Bernie, turning him around. He got a hand on me, staggered to his feet. Then came another boom and the whole outside wall vanished and burning stuff started pelting down on us like a fiery rain. We dove through the space where the wall had stood, rolled into the street, got up and ran, me and Bernie together.
We turned to watch. The motel went up in flames. They rose to the sky and from their very tips hurled red fragments of curtains and bedding and furniture even higher. Maybe it was kind of beautiful in a way.
Tags: To Fetch A Thief
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