PAW AND ORDER: Chapter 1, Excerpt 5 (Revised)
Bernie held up the gun in a delicate kind of way between his finger and thumb. “Any objection to me confiscating this? Wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Judging from the looks on their faces, that didn’t go over too well with the bikers. They seemed to be closing in, a dude with one of those teardrop tattoos, like he was always feeling sad, drawing a throwing knife from behind his back.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Bernie said, his eyes on no one in particular. “I’m making a big fuss about nothing. No way such a pipsqueaky thing could be accurate. You’re probably right, but . . .” Bernie’s grip on the gun changed a bit: still kind of loose but now his finger was on the trigger. Crack went the gun, but in a very small way. Then came a clang, and the throwing knife got knocked right out of the teardrop dude’s hand and fell to the floor. “Gracious me,” Bernie said. He stared at the pink-handled gun like he was amazed, then dropped it into his pocket.
Things settled down after that. In fact, it turned out the bikers all had somewhere else to be. By the time the waiter appeared with our order, we had the deck to ourselves.
“Where the hell did everybody go?” the waiter said.
“No one takes time to smell the roses anymore,” Bernie told him.
Roses? None around that I knew of, and you can trust me on that kind of thing. But the smell of Ti-Pierre’s Cajun BBQ was overpowering. The waiter laid a paper plate of brisket at my feet and I have no memories from that moment until Bernie and I were back in the car.
He opened the glove box, popped the little pink-handled gun inside, which was where we normally kept the .38 Special, now on the bottom of the sea for reasons I won’t go into. Bernie cranked us up, drove out of the lot and into the crossroads, started to turn, and then stopped. He took his hands off the wheel. There was no traffic, but stopping in the middle of the road? Not our usual M.O.
Bernie looked my way. “Left is west, Chet. West and home. We’re westerners, you and me.” I was just finding that out now? It sounded important. “But there’s a tide in the affairs of men.” This was getting complicated. I started to pant a bit. Bernie’s hands settled on the wheel. “And east is Suzie.”
– And that takes us to the end of Chapter One! Pub date is tomorrow. Chapter Two awaits. Spence will be at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale tomorrow night.
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