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"Easy Money" - Part Three

Murphy set the mahogany box on the bartop and raised the lid.

A pair of handguns sat inside the red velvet interior.

I gaped at him. "Your .45s--"

"They're yours now," he said. "Good job."

"But--"

He shook his head. "It's okay. I have to go. There's something I need to do."

Bright white light exploded behind him. A concussion wave slammed me backward.

And Murphy shattered into a million pieces--


* * *

I woke, gasping for air. Heart triphammering in my chest. Cold concrete against
my back. The smell of the city in my nostrils. Sharp, cold, and metallic.

On the roof of the Red Dog.


In the distance, the lights of downtown pulsed and flickered against the flat black sky.


I popped on my optic clock.

I'd been up here for fifteen minutes.

Then something crunched nearby.


I lurched into a crouch, the Twins already in my hands, tracking the sound.


"Katya," said a rumbling Russian-tinged basso.


"Revell." I lowered the guns. "Did Mouse send you up here?"


The bearded, bear-like owner of the Red Dog Bar shook his head and walked toward me. Despite his size, he moved easily. Like a dancer. "I am getting some air."


"You could've gone out the back door."


"Much better view up here."


I holstered the Twins. "I don't want to talk about it."


"All right." Revell reached a spot next to me and leaned back against the roof parapet, arms folded across his chest. He chuckled.


I looked up at him. "What's so funny?"


"I was just thinking. The first time I saw those two guns was in CentAm. Murphy got on the chopper with his rifle and had those pistols in thigh holsters. I told him he looked like a cowboy. From the vids. He laughed. Told me I should call him 'Cowboy' from then on."


"CentAm. Long time ago."


"Thirty years. Ever since that day, he used nothing but those two pistols. I told him he was crazy. Even a submachinegun holds at least thirty rounds. But no. Only those." He shook his head. "Never without them. Except when..."


"When what?"


Revell gave a small smile. "No. Another time." He took a deep breath, exhaled loudly, and pounded both fists on his barrel chest. "Nothing like fresh night air, eh?"


I snorted and gestured around me. "You call this fresh?"


He shrugged and pushed off from the parapet. "We will be downstairs if you need us. Don't stay too long. Gets very cold up here."


I nodded.


He took a step, stopped, and looked back at me. "Murphy had a favorite saying. 'We will either find a way or--"


"--or we will make one'," I finished and felt my throat tighten. "I know. Said that a lot."


Revell nodded, then turned and headed back down the roof access
stairs.

I stared after him.


We will either find a way or we will make one. A quote from an ancient general, according to Murphy.


Hadn't heard those words in two months. Not since Murphy had gone to that meet in the Zone.


Not since the explosion.


My old mentor. My friend.


A father to me.


I closed my eyes and inhaled through my nose. Deep. Fought back the surging noise in my head. Noise like a million voices screaming. Louder and louder and louder. Until I could feel it reverberating through my body.


Then silence.


Except for the distant hum of the city.


I opened my eyes. Noticed the weight of the pistols in my shoulder rig.

Comforting.

Then I heard Murphy's voice in my head: "Find a way. Or make one."


* * *

I walked into the Red Dog's back office just as Specs said: "And what if you can't pay him back by then?"


"We will," I said.


Specs looked up from where he slouched in the worn leather chair behind the desk. "Well, fuckin'-A. She finally decided to grace us with her presence."


Mouse, sitting on the battered mustard yellow couch, fixed me with narrowed eyes. "We will?"


I nodded.


"How do you figure?"


"We've got at least, what, two hundred thousand?"


"Two-fifty," said Mouse.


"And we owe five hundred. Halfway there."


"Your point?"


"Give him half now. Maybe it'll buy us a little time."


Mouse frowned. "I don't know..."


"We'll tell him it's 'good faith' money."


"He look like a 'good faith' kinda guy?" said Specs.


"Money talks," I said. "This is the part where you come in."


"Gotcha. Lemme see what I can dig up for you two." He got up from the chair and left the office.


Mouse said, "That mean you're back in the game, Kat?"


The noise began to surge in my head again. I gritted my teeth and fought it down. Gave Mouse a small smile.


"I'm back in the game," I lied.


(to be continued...)

"Easy Money"
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

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