Fade Away Page 40

The van’s interior had been custom designed, but not in a good way. All the seats had been ripped out except for the driver’s. There was a leather couch in the back along one wall where Pinstripe sat alone. A lime-green shag carpet even Elvis would have found too garish ran along the van’s floor and up the sides like a poor man’s ivy.

The man in the pinstripe suit smiled; his hands were folded in his lap, very much at ease. The van started moving.

The gunman quickly searched Myron. “Sit, asshole,” he said.

Myron sat on the carpeted floor. He ran his hand over the shag. “Lime green,” he said to Pinstripe. “Nice.”

“It’s inexpensive,” Pinstripe said. “That way we don’t worry about bloodstains.”

“Thinking of overhead.” Myron nodded coolly, though his mouth felt very dry. “That’s smart business.”

Pinstripe did not bother with a response. He gave the man with the gun and dickey/turtleneck a look that made the man jolt upward. The man cleared his throat.

“This here is Mr. Baron,” the gunman told Myron, indicating Pinstripe. “Everyone calls him the B Man.” He cleared his throat again. He spoke like he’d been rehearsing this little speech, which, Myron surmised, was probably likely. “He’s called the B Man because he enjoys breaking bones.”

“Say, that must woo the women,” Myron said.

The B Man smiled with capped teeth as white as anything in those old Pepsodent commercials. “Hold his leg out,” he said.

The man with the turtleneck/dickey pressed the gun against Myron’s temple hard enough to leave a permanent imprint. He wrapped his other arm around Myron’s neck, the inside of his elbow jammed into Myron’s windpipe. He lowered his head and whispered, “Don’t even flinch, asshole.”

He forced Myron into a lying position. The other man straddled Myron’s chest and pinned the leg to the floor. Myron had trouble breathing. Panic seized him, but he remained still. Any move at this stage would almost inevitably be the wrong one. He’d have to play it out and see where it went.

The B Man moved off the leather couch slowly. His eyes never left Myron’s bad knee; his smile was a happy one. “I’m going to place one hand on the distal femur and the other on your proximal tibia,” he explained in the same tone a surgeon might use with a student. “My thumbs will then rest on the medial aspect of the patella. When my thumbs snap forward, I will basically rip off your kneecap laterally.” He met Myron’s gaze. “This will tear your medial retinaculum and several other ligaments. Tendons will snap. I fear it will be most painful.”

Myron didn’t even try a wisecrack. “Hey, wait a second,” he said quickly. “There’s no reason for violence.”

The B Man smiled, shrugged. “Why does there have to be a reason?”

Myron’s eyes widened. Fear hardened in his belly. “Hold on,” he said quickly. “I’ll talk.”

“I know you will,” the B Man replied. “But first you’ll jerk us around a bit—”

“No, I won’t.”

“Please don’t interrupt me. It’s very rude to interrupt.” The smile was gone. “Where was I?”

“First he’ll jerk us around,” the driver prompted.

“That’s right, thank you.” He turned the white smile back to Myron. “First, you’ll stall. You’ll do a song-and-dance. You’ll hope we’ll take you someplace where your partner can save you.”


“You’re still friends with Win, aren’t you?”

The man knew Win. This was not a good thing. “Win who?”

“Precisely,” B Man said. “This is what I mean by being jerked around. Enough.”

He moved closer. Myron started to struggle, but the man jammed the gun in Myron’s mouth. It struck teeth and made him gag. The taste was cold and metallic.

“I’ll destroy the knee first. Then we’ll talk.”

The other man pulled Myron’s leg straight while the gunman took the revolver out of Myron’s mouth and pressed it back against his temple. Their grips grew a bit tighter. The B Man lowered his hands to Myron’s knee, his fingers spread like eagles’ talons.

“Wait!” Myron shouted.

“No,” B Man replied calmly.

Myron started to squirm. He grabbed a loading handle on the floor of the van, the kind of thing used to tie down cargo. He held on and braced himself. He didn’t have to wait very long.

The crash jarred them. Myron had been ready for it. No one else had. They all went flying, their grips slackening. Glass shattered. The scream of metal hitting metal filled the air. Brakes screeched. Myron held on until the van slowed. Then he curled into a ball and rolled out of harm’s way. There were shouts and a door opened. Myron heard a shot being fired. Voices sounded in a cacophony of confusion. The driver ducked out through his door. The B Man followed, leaping like a grasshopper. The side door opened. Myron looked up as Win stepped in with his gun drawn. The man with the turtleneck/dickey had recovered. He picked up his gun.

“Drop it,” Win said.

The man with the turtleneck/dickey didn’t. Win shot him in the face. He turned his aim toward the man who had straddled Myron’s chest.

“Drop it,” Win said.

The man did. Win smiled at him. “Fast learner.”

Win’s eyes slid smoothly from side to side, never darting. Win barely moved, seeming to glide rather than walk. His movements were short and economical. He returned his eyes to his captive. The one still breathing.

“Talk,” Win said.

“I don’t know nothing.”

“Bad answer,” Win said. He spoke with calm authority, his matter-of-fact tone more intimidating than any scream. “If you know nothing, you are useless to me; if you are useless to me, you end up like him.” He vaguely motioned toward the still form at his feet.

The man held up his hands. His eyes were round and white. “Hey, wait a sec, okay? It’s no secret. Your buddy heard the guy’s name. Baron. The guy’s name is Baron. But everyone calls him the B Man.”

“The B Man works out of the Midwest,” Win said. “Who brought him in?”

“I don’t know; I swear.”

Win moved the gun closer. “You’re being useless to me again.”

“It’s the truth, I’d tell you if I knew. All I know is the B Man flew in late last night.”

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