Gone for Good Page 57

I pushed against the wall with my legs. The adrenaline kicked in. The bed slid away from the wall. I pushed some more, got enough room. Okay, good. Now for the hard part. If the cuffs were too tight, if they did not allow my wrists to turn within them, I would either not be able to make it or dislocate both shoulders. No matter.

Silence, dead silence, from the other room.

I let my legs fall toward the floor. I was doing, in effect, a back somersault off the bed. The weight of my legs gave me the momentum and—in a stroke of luck—my wrists turned in the cuffs. My feet landed hard. I went with it, scraping the front of my thighs and abdomen on the low headboard.

When I finished, I was standing up behind the bed.

My hands were still cuffed. My mouth was still taped. But I was standing. I felt another surge of adrenaline.

Okay, now what?

No time. I bent my knees. I lowered my shoulder to the back of the headboard and I drove the bed toward the door as if I were an offensive lineman and the bed was a tackle sled. My legs moved like pistons. I did not hesitate. I did not let up.

The bed crashed into the door.

The collision was jarring. Pain knifed down my shoulder, my arms, my spine. Something popped and hot pain flooded my joints. Ignoring it, I pulled back and rammed the door again. Then again. The tape made my scream audible only in my own ears. The third time, I pulled extra hard on both cuffs at the precise moment the bed made contact with the wall.

The bed rails gave way.

I was free.

I pushed the bed away from the door. I tried unwrapping the tape from my mouth, but it was taking too long. I grabbed the knob and turned it. I flung open the door and leapt into the darkness.

Katy was on the floor.

Her eyes were closed. Her body was limp. The man was straddling her chest. He had his hands on her throat.

He was choking her.

Without hesitation, I launched myself at him, rocket-like. It seemed to take me a long time to reach him, as if I were leaping through syrup. He saw me coming—had plenty of time to prepare—but it still meant that he would have to release her throat. He turned and faced me. I still couldn’t see anything but a black outline. He grabbed hold of my shoulders, put his foot into my stomach, and using my own momentum, he simply rolled back.

I flew across the room. My arms windmilled in the air. But I lucked out again. Or so I thought. I landed on the soft reading chair. It wobbled for a second. Then it toppled over from my weight. My head bounced hard against the side table before banging to the floor.

I fought off the dizziness and tried to get to my knees. When I started rising for a second offensive, I saw something that terrified me like nothing before ever had.

The black-clad assailant was up too. He had a knife now. And he was heading toward Katy with it.

Everything slowed down. What happened next took no more than a second or two. But in my mind’s eye, it happened in some alternate time warp. Time does that. It is indeed relative. Moments fly by. And moments freeze-frame.

I was too far away to reach him. I knew that. Even through the dizziness, through the blow from hitting my head on the table . . .

The table.

Where I’d placed Squares’s gun.

Was there time to reach it and turn and fire? My eyes were still on Katy and her assailant. No. Not enough time. I knew that immediately.

The man bent over and grabbed Katy by the hair.

As I went for the gun, I pawed at the tape on my mouth. The tape shifted enough for me to shout, “Freeze or I’ll shoot!”

His head turned in the dark. I was already scrambling on the floor. I moved flat on my stomach, crawling commando style. He saw that I was unarmed and turned back to finish what he had started. My hand found the gun. No time to aim. I pulled the trigger.

The man startled back from the sound.

That bought me time. I swung around with the gun, already pulling the trigger again. The man rolled back like a gymnast. I could still barely make him out, just a shadow. I started moving the gun toward the black mass, still firing. How many bullets did this thing hold? How many had I fired?

He jerked back, but kept on moving. Had I hit him?

The man jumped toward the door. I yelled for him to stop. He didn’t. I considered firing into his back, but something, perhaps a fly-through of humanity, made me stop. He was already out the door. And I had bigger worries.

I looked down at Katy. She was not moving.


Another officer—the fifth, by my count—came to hear my story.

“I want to know how she is first,” I said.

The doctor had stopped working on me. In the movies, the doctor always defends his patients. He tells the cop that they cannot question him right now, that he needs his rest. My doctor, an emergency room intern from, I think, Pakistan, had no such hang-up. He popped back my shoulder while they began their grilling. He poured iodine on my wrist wounds. He toyed with my nose. He took out a hacksaw—what a hospital was doing with a hacksaw I don’t want to know—and cut off my handcuffs, all while I got grilled. I was still wearing my sleeping boxers and pajama top. The hospital had covered my bare feet with paper sandals.

“Just answer my question,” the cop said.

This had been going on for two hours now. The adrenaline had died down, and the ache was starting to gnaw on my bones. I’d had enough.

“Yeah, okay, you got me,” I said. “First, I put cuffs on both my hands. Then I broke up some furniture, fired several bullets into the walls, choked her nearly to death in my own apartment, and then called the police on myself. You got me.”

“Could have worked that way,” the officer said. He was a big man with a waxy mustache that made me think of a barbershop quartet. He had given me his name, but I stopped caring three cops ago.

“Excuse me?”

“A ruse maybe.”

“I dislocated my shoulder and cut up my hands and broke my bed to divert suspicion?”

He gave a classic cop-shrug. “Hey, I had a guy one time, he cut off his dick so we wouldn’t think he killed his girl. Said a bunch of black guys attacked them. Thing is, he only meant to cut it a little but he ended up slicing all the way through.”

“That’s a great story,” I said.

“Could be the same thing here.”

“My penis is fine, thanks for caring.”

“You tell us about some guy breaking in. Neighbors heard the shots.”


He gave me the skeptical eyes. “So how come none of your neighbors saw him running out?”

“Because—and this is just a wild stab in the dark—it was two in the morning?”

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