Picking up again . . .
Stopping about thirty feet from the front door and turning off the ignition, Brick sat behind the wheel, and waited patiently for his five passengers to appear.
As he waited, Brick reverted to an old habit, often used to relieve stress. He whistled softly, almost under his breath.
The tune was Careless Love.
When the two robbers exited the bank building about two minutes later, the first thing that Brick noticed was that they seemed to be a lot smaller than he would have expected—shielding themselves behind their female hostages as they were.
So much death—from such small men.
Watching them make their way across the lot, a slow and faint smile crossed Brick’s face.
With a sigh, Brick pulled the secured pistol from under the dash and carefully removed the tape from the grip, tossing it to the floor in a ball. Then he swung the cruiser door slowly open, and unwinding his large frame from the driver’s seat, carefully exited the vehicle, the sixteen-shot Beretta 9mm casually dangling by his right side as he stood and faced the slowly advancing men.
The robber on Brick’s left, seemingly the older of the two, pulled-up short—his heartrate quickening as he saw the large pistol in the hand of the police officer. His eyes widened in surprise at the sudden turn of events.
His partner took several more steps before he too stopped—pulling his hostage up tight against his body—and pushing the barrel of his pistol hard into the side of the woman’s head. The muscles of his forearm bulged as he death-gripped his handgun. His hostage stiffened her body in fear—her eyes wild in fright.
Brick was the first to speak—his tone even and controlled—no hint of a smile crossed his face.
“Put your guns carefully on the ground boys. We don’t want them going off accidentally by dropping them. Then let the ladies go, and step back three paces. You do that, and I give you my word that you’ll live to see the inside of a prison cell. Disobey me, and you die right here in the parking lot.”
“Are you out of your mind, you son-of-a-bitch?” the older of the two asked.
“Most of the time—yes. But not today. Do as I say.”
“Why should we do as you say, asshole?”
Brick’s own forearm grew slightly larger as his grip tightened on the Beretta.
“Because I don’t like to hurt people.”
Brick would always recall the next few moments as happening in the slow-motion cadence of a nightmare. Every sound was blocked from his ears, as his vision funneled down to a narrow tunnel—focused solely and directly on the robber just to his right. That man had seemed the more nervous—and the more desperate. He had to be taken out first, as his hostage was the woman holding the baby.
Brick’s arm came up quickly—although it seems to take forever. He could see the robber’s mouth form a word as the man shouted to his partner—but he could not hear any sound. It was like watching a movie with the audio turned off, he mused, as his arm continued its upward arc. The robber clutched his victim even harder and closer to his body—only one eye peeked out from behind the woman’s head.
Brick focused on that one eye. His sight bore into it. Not for a split second did his vision waver from his target as his pistol attained the apex of its arc. His finger tightened, increasing the pressure on the trigger.
Brick was surprised when the gun went off.
He was less surprised when the robber fell dead on the concrete, his left eye-ball neatly blown out the back of his head, along with several ounces of brain-matter and small bone fragments. The woman hostage screamed once and then fell to the ground next to the dead man—merely fainting—her and her child physically unhurt in any way.
Brick had never looked at the pistol’s sight, or indeed his own arm as he fired.
He felt a slight tug on his tee-shirt as a bullet passed through the loose material on the left side, just above his waist-line. Robber number two, witnessing the sudden death of his partner, was now in full panic mode, and fired at Brick blindly from behind his hostage. He shot his pistol three more times—striking the pavement twice, and Brick only once—the bullet creasing Brick’s left thigh about three inches above the knee—barely deeply enough to draw blood.
Brick again calmly raised his pistol and sighted down his arm, aiming his gun exactly between the second hostage’s eyes. Then he looked the woman directly in the eyes as he jerked his own head one time toward the right. Nearly instantly the hostage did the same, opening up for a split second a clear shot at the robber. Brick’s pistol barked again, and a nano-second later the second robber was also cascading to the pavement as a bullet entered the front of his forehead just below the hairline, and exited the back of his head, making a pinging sound as it continued on its way and struck the side of the brick bank building. Like his partner, he spewed brain matter and blood in a large fan-shape. Also like his partner, he was dead as he hit the ground.
The second hostage remained on her feet as the killer’s legs twitched out his final attempt at movement—and then he lay still.
Cops seemed to appear from everywhere—rushing to the aid of the woman and her baby. One hurried to Brick’s side and asked him if he were alright.
“I’m fine,” Brick answered. “Take care of the woman and her child.”
His eyes locked with the remaining hostage as she slowly made her way toward him. She was a young Native-American woman. Slim and beautiful, she wore faded jeans and a white blouse. A nod to her heritage, she sported a turquoise and silver neckless around her neck. Well-worn boot-heels clicked on the concrete as she walked toward Brick. Her dark eyes bore into his.
“Nice shooting, cowboy.”
“I thought you were never going to get out of the way,” Brick replied with a grin.
“Sorry. This was my first hostage situation this week. I kind of had to stop and think about it for a while.”
“What were you doing at the bank anyhow? Everybody else in town is home watching the news today.”
“Well, silly me. I wanted to buy my best guy a birthday present, so I stopped off to get some money.”
“My birthday isn’t until next week.”
“So I wanted to shop around a little.”
“When are you going to move in with me anyhow? Then I’ll have a better idea where the heck you are.”
“Well Brick—that’s just exactly the reason I haven’t. I’m not sure I want anyone keeping tabs on me.”
“Rosey, that’s not what I meant—and you know it. Sometimes I get the feeling you don’t completely trust me.”
“I don’t completely trust any man—they’re not honest.”
“Honestly woman—you going to kiss me, or what?”
Wiggins made his way through the crowd.
“Doesn’t anyone ever listen to me? What the hell happened to the plan?”
“The best-laid plans, of mice and men,” Brick misquoted—“are meant to be changed every now and again.”
Wiggins glowered at Brick. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“When I saw Rosie was one of the hostages, I knew she’d give me a clear shot.”
“You know this person?
“Yeah? What about the other guy?”
“Lucky shot,” Brick replied. “It would have had to been lucky inside the car too.”
“You lucked out—right? Am I to understand that’s your explanation for what I saw here today?”
Brick shook his head affirmatively. “Two head-shots with two rounds, and I threaded the needle with both. It just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Wiggins took a step back. “I’ve known you a while Brick. Long enough to speak my mind to you. You’re a cocky bastard. I don’t much like cocky bastards. People die around cocky bastards. I like my officers to follow my orders. You could have gotten three people killed here today. It’s only by the grace of God that there isn’t an innocent on the ground dead right now. You got away with it today. Maybe you won’t tomorrow—or next week.”
“You saying you want my resignation, Chief?”
“No. You’re too damned good. I want you to start following my orders.”
“Got it Chief. Anything else?”
“Yeah. Put your pants back on, and get over to the clinic. I want you to have that leg of yours looked at.”
“It’s just a scratch.”
“I’ll decide what’s a major or minor injury—if you don’t mind very much. Now get your ass going.” Brick did as he was told and began moving toward the squad-car.
“Oh—and Brick . . . “
As Wiggins turned to head back to the bakery, the wailing sound of a siren came to their ears. Wiggins stopped to listen. Brick joined him. “Guess someone didn’t get the message. No one here requiring an ambulance.”
“Something’s wrong,” Wiggins replied. “No one called for an ambulance.”
The pitch of the sound changed abruptly as the approaching emergency vehicle made a sharp turn several block from the bank, and skidded to a stop just off a side-street.
The siren stopped.
“What’s up there?” Brick asked.
“I don’t know,” Wiggins answered. “But I don’t like the looks of this. I don’t like the looks of this at all.”
To be continued . . .
Next up: Chapter Three