Lieutenant Harris pinched the bridge of her nose so hard, I thought I heard bone crackle. She said, “Explain to me why, when McNulty told me that one of my deputies had done something monumentally stupid and near-suicidal, my first words were, ‘Where is Anderson right now?’ Explain that to me.”
“No. No speaking.” She about-faced and stalked back inside the McDonald’s, leaving me alone in the rear of the parking lot, near my cruiser.
I sighed. My peripheral vision caught my boyfriend and fellow deputy David Mercer coming up on my left. I sighed again.
He held his hands in front of his chest, mimed rubbing a crystal ball. “I see . . . in your future . . . I see school crossing guard.”
“In your future, I see . . . I see you dating your right hand.” I rubbed the back of my neck.
He leaned against the fender of my car and folded his arms. “This is the part where I’m supposed to yell at you about going in alone, against orders . . . and, I see, without your vest.”
“I didn’t want him killing anyone else.” Today’s tally: four dead, one wounded and probably not going to make it. Not counting the gunman.
“You should have waited.”
I nodded. SWAT had made the scene fifteen minutes after the gunman put a hollow point into his brain. Sawyer County didn’t have a dedicated SWAT team, so the guys had been called in from patrol or from home. They were milling around their black van near the front of the restaurant, looking pretty goddamn pissed about having nothing to do.
David cleared his throat. “There’s something else I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“Do you have a death wish?”
I looked at him. “What? No.”
“It’s just . . . you’ve been taking a lot of crazy chances since, you know.”
“Since I started shedding and howling at the moon?”
“No.” Yes, actually. “And no, I don’t have a death wish.”
Second time today I’d been accused of being suicidal. Was I, and I just wasn’t conscious of it?
“Then would you please–”
An EMT came running out of the McDonald’s, yelling something indistinct. I started toward him, and David grabbed my arm. “Just wait a second,” he said.
Harris and Sergeant McNulty met the guy at the sidewalk. The EMT gestured into the restaurant. I slipped from David’s grasp and trotted toward them.
The EMT was saying, “–checked him, and he was dead, yeah, his chest was Swiss cheese, he was definitely–”
Harris shook her head, interrupted him with “Then another ambulance took him. Obviously.”
The EMT said, “Ma’am, the only other ambulance here besides me took that old lady about ten minutes ago.”
Harris folded her arms. “You must be mistaken.”
McNulty said, “He’s not. I’ve been watching this door the whole time. He’s right. The old lady was taken away and that’s been it.”
Harris rolled her eyes. “Well, he didn’t just get up and walk away, did he?”
* * *
“There’s the guy getting up and walking away,” I said.
A muscle in Harris’s jaw jumped. “He obviously wasn’t dead then, was he. What was the name of that paramedic? I want to talk to his supervisor.”
The McDonald’s manager paused the security video. “Jesus. That was a lot of blood from that guy. He can’t have gotten far.”
I propped myself against the tiny office’s tall filing cabinet. The cabinet’s cold metal felt good against my skin. I hated the smells of this place. The fries, the chemicals in the almost-meat patties, the sweat from thirty different armpits. The blood and people bits from the dining room.
The guy who had walked away from three slugs to the chest had left behind a large pool of blood. No, he wouldn’t have gotten far. He shouldn’t have been able to get anywhere without some help from a gurney. Three hits to the chest. A lot of blood.
But he had sat up a few minutes later, looked around at what was going on around him, with the EMTs tending to the one survivor, an elderly woman who died en route to the hospital, and then got to his feet. He quickly walked to the closest door, one on his left that led to the side parking lot, and exited the McDonald’s.
“Why’d he leave?” asked the manager. He was pale, and doughy, and threw up after walking inside the restaurant, even though the bodies were gone.
“Outside cameras,” said Harris, pointing to the tiny television we were watching. “Pull them up.”
“We don’t have any,” said the manager.
“Fuck!” Harris slammed a fist on the manager’s desk for emphasis. The picture on the TV flickered. “How did he get past us?”
McNulty took a half-step back from the desk. He stepped on my left foot. I hissed and backed out of the room. I managed to then step on David’s foot, who’d been watching from the corridor.
“Sorry,” I muttered.
McNulty said, “We need to find out who he was. The sheriff’s having a coronary. We’re supposed to be notifying the next-of-kin.”
I made my way to the dining room. On the video, Mr. Three-to-the-chest entered from the same door he’d later exit from. He turned to the right, to the ATM stationed against the wall next to the soda fountain. He pulled out his wallet, then an ATM card. He was about to insert his card in the slot when our gunman came in and shot the two clerks. He turned around. Stood still while the gunman blasted the old couple in the booth by the window. Dropped his wallet when he was shot.
I sidestepped his blood puddle–nicely congealed–and knelt in front of the ATM. Narrow space between the bottom of the ATM and the linoleum. I hooked a hand under the machine and touched his wallet. Cheap black almost-leather. I pulled it out and held it up while Harris shoved David aside and stalked toward me.