I still hurt. Breathing was an effort. I was aware of my heart beating; it wasn’t pounding hard or racing, but its thumping was noticeable in a way it had never been before.
I felt slow and clumsy, which ended up working in my favor. It made my next series of movements more . . . human.
The two men were standing about an arm’s width apart, the gunman on my left.
I kicked him in the lower back, sending him crashing to earth. I stepped on his neck, held him down while I ripped the gun from his hand.
I turned, fired at the unarmed guy, catching him in the chest–an excellent shot, considering I was shooting with my off-hand. He sat down. I switched hands, nailed him between the eyes.
I took my foot off the gunman’s neck and took two steps back. I shot him in the back of the head.
My ears rang from the gunfire. I winced, shook my head.
I looked at Tracy. Still with that bag of money clutched to her chest. Her mouth was open. There was a second when I considered putting one between her eyes, too.
Ah, but the reporter. Her girlfriend up in Wyoming.
Could be lies.
I sighed, stuffed the gun into my back pocket. I busied myself with picking up the shell casings while she made noises. She was trying to speak. “You–how did you–shot, you–”
I found the last casing and put it in my pocket with the others. I was irritated. I had wanted to kill these two with my teeth and claws. Bullets were a cheat. The air stank of blood, which was fine, but also of gun smoke, which was not. I sneezed.
“We need to go,” I said. “Come on.”
“No,” she whispered.
“Fuck.” I stomped to her, grabbed her by the arm, yanked her with me to the truck. The keys were in it, which helped my mood a bit. I pulled open the driver’s door, shoved her inside, slid in once she scooted across the bench seat. I started the truck, did a U-turn in the field and headed back to the airport.
“Where are we going?” Tracy asked.
“You’re getting on your plane and out of my life,” I said.
“You killed them.”
“He shot you.”
“I’m wearing a vest.”
She laughed. “What, is it loaded with blood packs? It’s all over your shirt. You stink of it.”
“Just get out of here, Dent. Do that one thing for me. You owe me. I saved your life back there.”
We pulled into the parking lot. I didn’t see the security guard. Was he inside, or on his way to the field? We hadn’t passed any vehicles . . .
I parked in the last row, the farthest from the airport.
“Well,” Tracy said, “you seem really different now.”
I rubbed my forehead. “People change.”
“Mutate’s more like it.”
“Just get out of the damn truck.”
I left the keys in the ignition, left it unlocked. I wiped down the steering wheel, gear shift, keys, and door handles with a rag I found behind the seat.
Tracy finally set down her bag. She knelt and unzipped it, pulled out a wad of bills. She held them out to me. I shook my head.
“Keep them. We’re even now. Just go.”
She shrugged, closed up the bag.
“Yeah.” She stood up, hefted the bag on her shoulder.
“Keep quiet about this. I even think you’ve told anyone–that reporter, your girlfriend–I will hunt you down.”
Tracy cocked her head to the side. “You know what, I really believe you.”
“Not feeling any remorse about killing those guys?”
“You felt very guilty about Leroy Evans. I remember that.”
“I haven’t thought of him in a long time.”
“Have a good flight.”
I watched her go. Once she entered the airport, I trotted to my car. My blood was tacky on my shirt. My favorite black Nike shirt, with the short-short sleeves that showed off my arms, was ruined. The blood might wash out, or at least not be very noticeable, but the bullet holes were a different story.
I dropped behind the wheel of the Mustang. I fired it up, thinking it was odd that I was more torn up about a T-shirt than about the cold-blooded murders of two human beings.
Then again, it had been a very nice shirt.