Release Date: 03/2009
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher Link: http://www.mlrpress.com/
Amazon: Smart Ass: Close Quarters
Blurb: Graduate student Kendall Turner, youngest son in a family of vipers, has always adored Turner Scott. Ken has no idea that Turn, a forensic accountant, has joined the FBI, much less that Turn returns his adulation. When Ken's ex-lover turns up dead, then missing, then most definitely dead, Ken feels a trap closing in on him--and, for good or ill, Turner Scott holds the gate.
The fence was six feet high with strips of metal woven through it. I dropped down the other side into full night, in a marvelously chaotic yard full of shipping containers, piled tires, and mounds of PVC pipe segments. Even a medium-sized cabin cruiser with vines growing over it.
I paused, letting my eyes adjust. As overcast as the sky was, no part of this city would be pure dark.
But I couldn´t hesitate too long. I darted along the clearest path, watching my feet, angling to the right. The side fence was closer there.
Sirens sounded behind me, more than two of them. But only behind me. Not all around me. No fence-climbing sounds, either.
I reached the side fence and stopped to listen. I heard the guttural lope of a pair of three-quarter racing cams, muscle cars idling on the unseen road. They tore off with a roar, male voices whooping, liquefied tires squealing and stinking.
Couldn´t hear anything behind me. Where had the sirens gone?
What are they doing back there?
What are they doing to Turn?
What am I doing with Turn´s gun? I buttoned the pistol into my right-leg cargo pocket.
Okay, now I´m in balance.
I swallowed a laugh that would probably sound hysterical.
Kchangle! Kshing! Kchangle!
Behind me - someone had gathered enough testicular function to climb the fence. Or had secured Turn and put him in a police car, and was now free to chase me.
I skinned over the side fence as quietly as I could. But quickly too - couldn´t let my pursuer top the fence and catch sight of me.
Nobody awaited me on the broken sidewalk.
Now, to cut back to the right again, get behind the search.
No, the first rule is get out of sight.
I ducked behind a Dumpster that smelled of putrescent milk and diapers.
The wind shifted, and whistled in the power lines overhead.
I made a half-sobbing noise I´d never want to admit making. Get a grip, Kendall. Get a grip.
I bit my lip.
Fuck, I´d run from the cops. With a gun in my hand. And a dead body behind me.
I´d left Turn, vomiting helplessly, to take the heat.
The cops hadn´t seen the gun. If they´d seen me run with a gun, they would have surrounded the yard first, not come into it chasing me. They´d already have a helicopter overhead.
I wasn´t winded. I could run again if I needed to, and could probably outrun any cop on the force.
Just couldn´t outrun a bullet, that´s all.
So don´t attract a bullet. Simple rule. How could I implement it?
A helicopter choppered by overhead, low and fast, arrowing toward Baptist Hospital. Nothing to do with me. A million things were going on in this town. I just had to impersonate one of the 999,900 things the cops don´t have time to pay attention to.
I unbuttoned my polo as far as it would go and knotted it high to showcase my abs. Putting some roll in my hips, I came out of my shadowed nook and strolled toward the lightworks forming between me and the highway.
If I could get to the other side of that, I´d be out of the search zone. Better yet, I´d be close to Phillips, where people cruise for pills, candy, weed, sex, or money. Some of my buds, some of my students. Probably an occasional full professor too, although I wouldn´t want to catch one there.
Tonight would be a busy night. Even if I didn´t see any familiar face there, I knew people who lived pretty close. Whole colonies of students and grad students clustered in those small apartment complexes. One commune, Ground Zero, had issued me an open invitation.
One foot right in front of the other. Sashay. Promenade?
A car, a gleaming Crown Vic, screeched to a halt beside me.
I tossed my hair. The passenger-side window scrolled down. I turned in stages, ankles to hips to waist, before I crouched to see through the opened window. Dark inside, but for the dash lights and a heavy, middle-aged man driving. I focused a tight little smile on him.
He scowled and tore off down the road.
Yeah, tell me you aren´t a plainclothes cop.
I blew him a kiss and strolled through the blue cloud in his wake. You need a tune-up there, officer. You´re burning oil.
What the fuck do I do now? Cold sweat trickled down my spine. The evening breeze caught it, and I suppressed a shiver. Put a roll in my hips, like I was a dancer. Smile, Kendall. Sashay.
Samba! I heard the music. I danced. Rolled my hips. Rolled my abs. Look at me!
I was doing good to keep my shivering to a minimum, but I covered ground. Two blue-and-whites cruised by, the schizophrenic Jacksonville cars that say police on the back and sheriff on the side. I blew a kiss at the one that slowed, and he sped up again.
Around me, the more desperate hustlers of both genders wore windbreakers over tube tops, miniskirts, or cheek-baring shorts. They stared at me, brows knotting.
Maybe none of them had a computer in one pocket and a gun in the other? I watched the more confident ones walk and undulated in echo. I was almost through the zone, almost to the point where I could cover my goose-bumped midsection and run for the student commune we called Ground Zero. Please, nobody stop to pick me up now. I´d have just too much explaining to do.
So, naturally, the next car that screeched to a halt sprouted five familiar heads. Students. "Ken? It is him! Hey, Ken!"