"Payback" - Part Ten

She kicked the door of our flat open shortly after 18:00 and stepped in, a pistol leveled at us.

Just as Duncan described. Petite. Close-cropped red hair. Dressed in dark jeans and a hip-length black leather coat. Almond-shaped eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring.

Mouse and I stood at angles to the door. I trained the Twins on her. Mouse, my Remington 870 pump-action 12-gauge.

"No clear shot," I said. "This could get messy."

"I like messy," she said with a grin.

"We don't."

And Revell stepped up from behind and cracked her in the back of the head with the stock of his SPAS-12 shotgun.

She dropped face down with a thud and the pistol clattered away toward the couch.

"Nice hit," said Mouse. "She out?"

I looked.

Redhead didn't move.

"Out," I said.

Revell had the shotgun pulled to his shoulder and was aiming at her back. "You need cover, da?"

"Da," I said. "Good idea."

While Revell and Mouse kept Redhead covered with their weapons, I holstered the Twins then went to the couch and picked up Redhead's pistol from the floor. A Glock 40. Popped the magazine and thumbed out rounds onto the low coffee table. Then racked the slide and ejected the round in the chamber.

Five minutes later, Redhead stirred, groaned, rolled over onto her back, blinked a few times, and stared up into the barrel of Revell's SPAS-12. "Hello," she said.

Revell said nothing.

She craned her head back to look at me and Mouse, wincing a little. "Sneaky," she said. "I like that."

"We thought you'd be showing up," I said. "Since the job's not done."

"Escaping the building," she said. "Good one. How'd you manage that?"

"Trade secret," I said. "How'd you get out from the Bison?"

She grinned. "Trade secret."

I returned the grin.

"Good one, by the way," she said. "Getting some gangers to cover you."

"We thought so," said Mouse.

Redhead looked at Revell and the shotgun barrel then back to us. "How do we want to do this?"

"You leave," I said. "Consider the job finished."

She shook her head. "No chance. I've got a rep. And I haven't gotten paid."

I took my phone out and dialed the number Vittorio had given me earlier.

"Hello," said a voice on the other end.

"One sec," I said then put on the phone on the floor where Redhead could reach it.

Redhead regarded me for a long moment then reached for the phone and put it to her ear. "Yes?" she said, then, "Yes, I am." She listened for a minute or two, then said, "Agreed. Nice doing business with you." She hung up the phone and looked back at me. "Done. Can I get up now?"

"Phone back on the floor," I said.

She set my phone back down on the floor.

"Okay," I said.

She sat up and got to her feet then looked around for her pistol.

I handed the pistol and empty magazine to Redhead.

"I'll walk you out," I said.

She took the pistol and magazine and said, "I'll let myself out."

"I'll follow along and watch," I said.

* * *

Outside the Red Dog, I waited until Redhead got into the battered eight-year old Nissan-Volvo pickup truck parked across the street. She gave me a small nod then drove north on Garner Avenue and disappeared into traffic after a few minutes.

Heard the Red Dog's front door open.

"She gone?"


"Yeah," I said.

"Think we'll see her again?"

"Not the type. Biz is Biz."

"You sure about that?"



I nodded. "Plus," I said, "she took whatever Vittorio offered her as compensation. No argument."

"True," said Mouse. "Wonder how much it was?"

"Don't know."

"Must've been good compensation."

"Must've been," I said.

Then I remembered something.

* * *

We sat in the Shelby behind the Red Dog.

The leather valise sat opened between us.

Empty. Except for three thick bundles of fabric tightly wrapped with duct tape. Enough to give the valise some weight.

"Set up from the start," I said. "That's twice. First, Sakura. Now this."

"That's Biz, Kat. You know it."

"Yeah, I know."

"We could just stick to muscle work."

"We could," I said. "But you'd get bored."

"Yeah," said Mouse. "I would. You, too."

"Yeah. So scratch that idea." I gestured to the 'chipreader on her lap. "What's the verdict?"

She tapped the display. "Still there. Five thousand."

"At least we got paid," I said.

"And made new friends."

I gave a snort. "For now." I stared at the fabric bundles for a moment, suddenly feeling very tired. Ilooked at Mouse. "I think we need a vacation."

She smirked. "Vacation? What's that?"

"A week off. Maybe two. What do you think?"

"I always wanted to go to San Angeles," said Mouse, her face brightening. "Visit the vid studios. Get a look at Old Town. See the original remaining handprints. I heard they saved 6 blocks worth from the quake."

"We'll have to go as civs."

"Where's the fun in that?"

I pulled out my phone and called Specs and put it on speaker.

"Run go smooth?" he said.

"Yeah," I said. "Now we need plane tickets to San Angeles."

"San Angeles? There a run you're doin' that I don't know about?"

"No run," I said. "We're going on vacation."


NEXT TIME: "Skeletons"

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