"With Cat-like Tread" - Part Seven

Mr. Malibu lay face up and sprawled out on Farrell's office floor, groaning. He'd gotten on the bad side of my fist.

Mouse stood by his head, the point of her wakizashi hovering over his Adam's apple.

Farrell sat stiff-backed in his chair behind the desk, hands raised to his shoulders, eyes wide as hubcaps. His terminal monitor was missing a corner where one of the Twins, Bonnie, had put a slug through it.

Bonnie now stared Farrell in the face. And she was hungry.

"One more time," I said. "Why did you lie to us? And why did you send your goons?"

"What goons? What're you--"

Bonnie roared twice more and half the monitor blew apart in a spray of plastic parts and electronic components.

Farrell screamed.

"Wrong answer."

"Okay okay!" Farrell sucked in a long wheezing breath. "He didn't pay. I told him he didn't have to."

"You're not that forgiving. Not with ten grand on the line."

"I got it from some people," said Farrell.

"What people?"

"These guys. From the Fed States. Ran into them at Muldoon's about two weeks ago. Said they were talent scouts. Looking for girls. Sims work. I told them I worked near the college. I might know a few. They offered a finder's fee. All I had to do was point them out or set up a meeting."

"Easy money, right?" said Mouse.

"You wild and crazy showbiz types," I said.

Farrell gave a weak smile.

"How much?"

"Fifteen grand," he said.

"How many girls?"


"Including a tall blond?"


I fired two rounds past his left ear, taking out chunks of plaster from the wall behind him.

He scream again. "Okay okay! Mike was here last Saturday. The blond was with him."

"That's why you let him walk," I said. "You told your people about her."

"So what," said Farrell. "You must've been desperate for cash at one point or another."

"Not enough to sell out another human being," I said.

"You're one sick puppy," said Mouse.

"Bullshit. You're both edgerunners. Don't pretend you're fucking holier than thou."

"Let's gut him," Mouse said, raised her wakizashi, twirled it once, and leveled it at Farrell.

He stiffened, sucked in a loud breath, saucer-eyed, and flattened himself against the wall.

"Got a better idea," I said. To Farrell: "Get on the phone. Call those guys. Tell them you found two more girls. Set up a meeting in two hours." I told him where.

"Why the hell should I?"

"Desperate for cash," I said. "Righetti, right? Owe some money?"

He flinched.

"You're alive right now because I asked Righetti for your cooperation. Takes one call for that to change. Wanna give me another answer?"

"You could be lying."

I pulled out my phone. "You willing to chance it?"

He glared at me.

I glared back.

And won.

Farrell grumbled to himself and reached for his cellphone, made the call. After a heated discussion, he finished and dropped his phone onto the desk. "Two hours. They'll be in a silver BMW."

"What was the argument about?"

"You got lucky. They were getting ready to pull up stakes."

"That's us," said Mouse. "Lucky."

Farrell looked at me. "You satisfied?"

"One more question. Why did you send your goons after us?"

"The hell you talking about?" he said. "I don't have any goons. Unless you count him." He gestured to Mr Malibu on the floor.

"Fair enough," I said.

"You done now?"

"I am"


Mouse gave a snort.

* * *

Outside Farrell's office, Mouse said, "So if he didn't send those mooks after us, who did?"

"He could be lying," I said.


"Moot point now."

As we walked away, I pulled out my phone and dialed Righetti. When Franco answered, I said, "He's all yours."

"Grazie," said Franco and hung up.

Twenty seconds later, we were getting inside the Shelby a block away when a fireball blew out the windows of Farrell's office.

(to be continued...)

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