Live Wire Page 29

Now Myron knocked, but this time there was no reply. He knocked again. Still nothing. Myron turned the knob and opened the door. Fishman sat at his desk, eating a sandwich. There was a can of Coke and package of Fritos on the desk. Ponytail looked so different without the, well, ponytail. His faded yellow dress shirt was short sleeved with material thin enough to see the wife-beater tee below. He wore one of those UNICEF kid ties that were all the rage in 1991. His hair was short, close-cropped, parted on the side. He looked exactly like a middle school French teacher and nothing like a nightclub drug dealer.

“May I help you?” Fishman said, clearly annoyed. “Parent meetings start up again at one.”

Another one fooled by the clever disguise. Myron pointed at the Fritos. “Got the munchies?”

“Excuse me?”

“Like when you’re high. You got the munchies?”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s a clever reference to . . . never mind. My name is Myron Bolitar. I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Who?”

“Myron Bolitar.”

Silence. Myron again almost added, “Ta-da,” but refrained. Maturity.

“Do I know you?” Fishman asked.

“You don’t.”

“I don’t have your child in any of my classes. Mrs. Parsons also teaches French. Perhaps you’re supposed to be there. Room two-eleven.”

Myron closed the door behind him. “I’m not looking for Mrs. Parsons. I’m looking for Crush.”

Fishman froze mid-chew. Myron moved across the room, grabbed the parent chair, twirled it around, straddled it macholike. Mr. Intimidation. “On most men, a ponytail reeks of midlife crisis. But I kind of liked it on you, Joel.”

Fishman swallowed whatever was in his mouth. Tuna fish from the smell. On whole wheat, Myron saw. Lettuce, tomato. Myron wondered who’d made it for him or whether he’d made it himself and then he wondered why he wondered stuff like that.

Fishman slowly reached for the Coke, looking to stall, and took a sip. Then he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Can you do me a favor?” Myron asked. “It’s a small one, really. Can we skip the silly denials? It will really save time and I don’t want to hold up the parents coming in at one.”

Myron tossed him one of the stills from the nightclub.

Fishman glanced at the photograph. “That’s not me.”

“Yes, Crush, it is.”

“That man has a ponytail.”

Myron sighed. “I just asked for one small favor.”

“Are you a police officer?”

“No.”

“When I ask like that, you have to tell the truth,” he said. Not true, but Myron didn’t bother to correct him. “And I’m sorry, but you have me mistaken for someone else.”

Myron wanted to reach across the desk and bop the guy on the forehead. “Last night at Three Downing, did you notice a large woman in a Batgirl costume?”

Fishman said nothing, but the guy would not have made a great poker player.

“She followed you home. We know all about your club visits, your drug dealings, your—”

That was when Fishman pulled a gun out of his desk drawer.

The suddenness caught Myron off guard. A cemetery goes with a school about as much as a teacher pulling a gun on you inside of his classroom. Myron had made a mistake, gotten overconfident in this setting, let down his guard. A big mistake.

Fishman quickly leaned across the desk, the gun inches from Myron’s face. “Don’t move or I’ll blow your goddamn head off.”

When someone points a gun at you, the whole world has a tendency to shrink down to the approximate size of the opening at the end of the barrel. For a moment, especially if it is your first time having a firearm thrust in your face at eye level, that opening is all you see. It is your world. It paralyzes you. Space, time, dimensions, senses are no longer factors in your life. Only that dark opening matters.

Still, Myron thought, slow time down.

The rest happened in less than a second.

First: The mental-state “would he pull the trigger” calculation. Myron looked past the gun and into Fishman’s eyes. They were wide and wet, his face shiny. Plus Fishman had pulled a gun on him in a classroom while people were still in the school. His hand shook. The finger was on the trigger. You put those pieces together and you realize a simple truth: The man was crazy and thus may indeed shoot you.

Second: Size up your opponent. Fishman was a married schoolteacher with two kids. Playing drug dealer at night in a tony nightclub did not really change that. The chances that he had real combat training seemed remote. He had also made a truly amateur move, putting the gun this close to Myron’s face, leaning over the desk like that, slightly off balance.

Third: Decide your move. Picture it. If your assailant is not at close range, if he is across the room or even more than a few feet away, well, there would be no choice. You can’t disarm him, no matter what kind of martial art kicks you’ve seen in the movies. You have to wait it out. That was still option A. Myron could indeed stay still. That would be expected. He could talk him down. They were in a school, after all, and you’d have to be not just “crazy” but “Crazy with a capital C” to fire a gun in here.

But if you were a man like Myron, a man who had the reflexes of a professional athlete along with years of training, you might take a serious look at option B: Disarming your opponent. If you choose B, you cannot hesitate. If you choose B, you’re best off getting him right away, before he realized that it was a possibility and backed away or grew more cautious. Right now, in the split second he had pulled the gun and shouted for Myron not to move, Joel Fishman was still high off that adrenaline, which leads to . . .

Fourth: Execute.

Surprisingly—or maybe not—it is easier to disarm a man with a gun than one with a knife. If you dart out your hand toward a blade, you could slice open your palm. Knives are hard to grab. You need to go for the wrist or forearm rather than the weapon itself. There is very little room for error.

For Myron, the best way to disarm a person with a firearm involved two steps. One, before Fishman could react in any way, Myron quickly jerked himself out of the discharge line. You don’t have to move far, which isn’t really an option anyway. It just involves a lightning-quick tilt to the right—the side of Myron’s dominant hand. There are many complicated techniques you could use here, depending upon what kind of handgun your assailant was carrying. Some say, for example, to grasp the hammer with your thumb so you can prevent certain weapons from firing. Myron never bought that. There was too little time and too much precision involved, not to mention in the rush to calculate your reaction, trying to figure out whether you’re dealing with a semiautomatic or revolver or whatever.

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