Escape Clause by John Sandford Read Online (FREE)
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Peck popped a Xanax, screwed the cap back on the pill tube, peered over the top of the bush and through the chain-link fence, and in a hoarse whisper, asked, “You see the other one?”
The big man with the rifle whispered, “Right by that tree, above the first one. She’s looking down at him.”
The big man rested the muzzle of the rifle in the V of one of the chain links, pulled the trigger: the rifle made a pop sound, not much louder than a hand clap. They waited, staring into the darkness, then Peck said, “Ah, you dumb shit, you missed her. You missed her. She should be down, but she’s not. She’s moving.”
“Might have hit that brush, deflected the shot . . .”
“She’s moving out in the open. Reload,” Peck said.
“I’m doing it. Get off my back, will ya?”
“Can you see her now?” Peck asked. “She’s getting curious about why the guy’s just lying there.”
“Got her. Saw it hit,” the big man said.
“Sure she’s down? We don’t want to make a mistake.”
“She’s going down now . . .” the big man whispered. “I’m pretty sure.”
Peck could smell the nicotine and tar on the other man’s breath. The big guy was addicted to Akhtamar Black Flames and almost always had one stuck to his lower lip, but not now. Peck reached out and slapped him on the back of the head and said, “I don’t want to hear that ‘pretty sure.’ You know what happens if you’re wrong? We’re dead men.”
“You fuckin’ slap me again and I’ll stick the gun butt up your ass and twist it sideways.”
A small man, crouched on the other side of the rifleman, said, “I saw them get hit. I saw it, man. Both of them. But who knows if it was enough?”
They all went silent for a moment, squinting into the dark. Two bodies lay in the short grass, unmoving. The fence was twenty feet high and stouter than a normal chain link—a prison fence. With no sign of movement on the other side, Peck said, “Hamlet: cut the fence.”
“What if they’re faking?” The small guy had half circles under his eyes, so dark they looked like broken blue poker chips.
“You’re the one who said they got hit,” Peck said. The soapy touch of Xanax was slipping into his brain.
The small guy said, “Maybe we oughta split. I’m not feeling so sure about this.”
“We’re here. It’s done. Cut the fuckin’ fence,” Peck said.
Hamlet’s side-cutters made a grunt sound as he snipped each piece of wire. Grunt-grunt-grunt. They’d come well equipped: they wore rubber kitchen gloves and black clothing and trucker hats and, in addition to the gun, had brought a roll of black duct tape they’d use to put the fence back together when they left.
Hamlet was cutting a wide oval in the fence, leaving it hinged on one side. He’d gotten halfway around the oval when the big man, Hayk, hissed and touched his brother’s arm and whispered, “Someone’s coming.”