Danny saw me and fired. Again I sank behind the grass and shrubs. I kept circling to my right until I heard the Chevy’s engine catch.

Danny was now standing directly in front of the Blazer, studying the terrain. Frank put the Blazer in gear. Danny gave up his search and moved toward the passenger door. Only Frank wasn’t waiting. He leaned on the accelerator. The Blazer’s wheels spun, gained purchase, and propelled the vehicle forward. Danny leapt out of the way. Frank steered a tight circle across the grass, picked up the road again, and drove off. Danny chased after him, roaring epithets you won’t find in Shakespeare.


“Don’t leave me!” he shouted as the Chevy Blazer reached the far side of the bluff and dipped out of sight. Danny watched for a moment, then spun around, gripping his gun with both hands. I ducked out of sight. I wasn’t worried about Danny. But where was Brucie? I couldn’t find him anywhere, and not knowing his location frightened me. Twice he had managed to get behind me, and I doubted my chances of surviving a third encounter.

Danny left the road and took refuge in the tall grass and shrubs near a weed tree.

“McKenzie! Hey, McKenzie,” he called.

I didn’t answer. Where was Brucie? I gave it a few moments and decided he wasn’t on the bluff.

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“McKenzie,” Danny called again. His back was to the tree, and he was glancing frantically from side to side. I moved toward him. By now I had discarded the binoculars and had activated my Beretta.

“We can work this out, McKenzie. Whaddaya say?”

Danny drifted a few steps away from the tree and crouched out of sight. I cautiously worked my way to his location, only when I reached it, he was gone. I lifted my eyes above the grass, did a quick 360. I couldn’t see him. But I could hear him.

“We can talk. Can’t we talk?”

I crept toward his voice, only he had moved again.

I was sweating, and the duckwalk through the grass was causing my back to cramp. I fought the impulse to stand and stretch it out.

“I can ‘preciate you bein’ pissed about the woman, okay? But that wasn’t me, man. That’s all Frank. Frank’s the boss. You gotta know what I’m saying.”

I found a large stone and decided to try the old movie trick, see if I could get Danny to reveal his position. I heaved the stone far to my right, listened for the thud. It came and went without Danny reacting to it. I knew it wouldn’t work. Stupid movies.

I moved forward again, cautiously parting the grass with the barrel of the Beretta, listening. I heard wind. And the pounding of my heart.

“McKenzie! I didn’t do nothin’ to you.”

I veered slightly to my right. After a few yards the grass thinned just enough for me to see Danny squatting about twenty paces ahead. I brought up the Beretta.

“McKenzie, where are you?”

“Here,” I said.

Danny spun on his heels and fired two quick shots at me from the hip.

I returned fire at the same instant.

Danny dove backward into the grass.

I waited for him to attempt another shot. When he didn’t I rushed forward.

Only there was no need to hurry.

Danny had crawled about fifteen feet across the hard ground before curling into a fetal position, both hands clutching his stomach. His gun was lying in the dirt just out of his reach. I left it there. Maybe he’d go for it, I told myself, and I could shoot him again and pretend it was self-defense. A quick glance at his wound told me that wasn’t going to happen. Danny was already dead, or would be within moments. Even if I wanted to save him, there was no way I could get him off the bluff and find medical attention before he bled out.

“I don’t want to die,” he told me.

I was pretty sure Mr. Mosley didn’t want to die, either, but I didn’t say so. What was the point?

Danny raised a bloody hand toward me.

“This ain’t right.”

He dropped his hand over his stomach. And he died.

As his last breath escaped his lungs, a thought flared deep inside my head.

This ain’t right.

I thought I would feel satisfaction, if not outright pleasure, from killing one of the men who had killed Mr. Mosley and raped Susan Tillman. Yet I didn’t. I felt instead like I sometimes did when I left the house, as though there was something important I had forgotten but couldn’t quite place it.

I crouched next to the body and rested two fingers against the carotid artery. There was no pulse.

Why was he different?

I had killed men before. Sometimes I felt sick and ashamed. Sometimes I felt exhilarated. Sometimes I felt overwhelming relief. But with Danny there was—what? Indifference? Apathy? I didn’t have a word to cover it. That, more than Danny’s death, made me think there was something terribly wrong.

What’s happened to me?

Me? No, no, no—not me. Think about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t me. It was Jake. Jake Greene killed Danny. McKenzie wasn’t responsible. McKenzie wasn’t even here. He’s in a shoe box in Merriam Park. It was the other guy. It was Jake—that crazy bastard.

Yes, I know it was a lie. Yet I believed it for as long as I could.

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