A richard l wren mystery.., p.15
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       A Richard L. Wren Mystery-Adventure Sampler, p.15

           Richard Wren
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Smitty lunged forward. The gunman behind him yelled “that’s enough,” and jabbed his gun into Smitty’s back. At the same time “Squinty” leaned into Shirl’s frame to hold her up while flipping his gun in his hand and menacingly pointed it at Casey. He froze Casey with his eyes and gun barrel.

  Nobody moved until Shirl moaned and stirred. “You gonna’ let her bleed to death?” Casey took a chance speaking while looking down the barrel of a gun.

  The guy didn’t even glance at her. “She’ll be fine,” as she slowly straightened back up. “Cover them both for me,” he directed the second gunman. “It’s time to see who’s behind that newspaper.” He walked across the bar room and jerked the paper out of the old guys hands.

  The guy looked fearfully up at him with rheumy eyes while reaching for a hearing aid sitting beside beer. “What’s wrong?”

  Speaking unnaturally loud he asked him a question. “Didn’t you hear Shirl say she was closing the bar ‘cause she’s sick?”

  Gesturing at the hearing aid, he said, “Didn’t hear nothin’”

  “Can I help you get out? She’s anxious to lock up and go home.”

  In a few minutes the guy gulped down the remainder of his beer, folded up his newspaper and was gone.

  While the gunman was taking care of the old man and the other gunman’s attention was partially diverted, Casey caught Smitty’s eye and squinting his own eyes, formed the word squinty.

  Smitty nodded his head in understanding. If an opportunity presented itself they could at least differentiate between the two gunmen.

  Helplessly, Smitty watched “Squinty” lock the door behind the old man and hang a closed sign in the window then head back toward the bar and Shirl. As he walked past Casey he suddenly whirled and before Casey could react backhanded him across his unprotected throat. Smitty recognized the blow as a particularly vicious and effective Karate type blow. ‘One that could paralyze or even kill a person. Casey fell to the floor gasping and clawing at his throat. His head hit the floor with a loud thud.

  Smitty spun off the bar stool toward Casey only to be met with the gun muzzle zero’d in on him and a threat. “Don’t” was all the gunman said, but the gun muzzle spoke volumes.

  “Tie him up. Hog tie’m,” he casually instructed the other gunman without wavering the gun the least bit.

  All Smitty could do was hope that the blow hadn’t crushed Casey’s windpipe and he’d survive the blow.

  “Squinty” continued on behind the bar and grabbed Shirl by her head of dyed blond hair. “Convinced?” he asked. She nodded her head up and down. “Your memory’s improving?” She nodded again.

  “Good, that’s real good.” He looked around the room, talking as if to himself. “Let’s see, one out of it and all tied up, the other covered by two guns, doors are closed and locked and a closed sign in the window, and” turning to Shirl, “you ready to be real cooperative, right?”

  She nodded miserably.

  He glanced at the wall clock. “I’ll be damned. Eleven fifteen already. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun.” He looked around and spread his arms expansively. “I always wanted to own a bar and now I got one all my own. I think it’s time for lunch, don’t you?” He smirked at Shirl then turned his attention to Peterson.

  “You alive?”

  Peterson groaned. “I think I lost at least two teeth from that sonuvabitchin’ cue ball, yeah, I’m alive, so what?”

  “Get off your ass and get us some beers. Then clean yourself up and Shirl here too. When you two are presentable get her to fix us some lunch.” He turned to his buddy, “hey Gene, sandwiches okay?”

  He sat facing both Smitty and Casey. Now Smitty had two names. Peterson and Gene. He wondered what Squinty’s name was as he retreated to his bar stool and the gunman seemed to relax a little.

  Letting the gun dangle from his finger on the trigger guard, he nonchalantly put his shiny cowboy boots up on the table and directed his attention to Smitty. “You don’t mind if we get comfortable do you? The way I figger’ it, we got all afternoon to get everything Shirl knows outa’ her. Nobody knows we’re here and Shirl’s gone home sick.” He laughed at his own joke. “Then I’ll have to decide what the hell to do with the three of you.”

  Smitty took a shot in the dark. “You’ll probably do what your boss’s told you to do, that’s my guess.”

  The gunman instantly replied. “Well of course I’ll do what I’m paid to do but it’s the parameters that’re interesting. They don’t give a shit how I get the info they want just get it.” He nudged Gene on his butt and gave a short laugh, “that’s right ain’t it, Gene.”

  “That include running down and killing old ladies?” asked Smitty.

  “Now what the hell’re you talking about?” Squinty appeared totally mystified by the question.

  Smitty instantly thought his statement vindicated his theory. There had to be an organization of some sort behind this. The killing in Denver was obviously related to what was going on here but Squinty didn’t seem to know anything about it. “Someone higher up’s pulling the strings,” he thought to himself as he looked with concern at Casey.

  Peterson came out from behind the bar carrying three drawn beers. “Might as well have the best,” he said as he set them down. Then in what looked like sheer vindictiveness he walked over to Casey tested his bonds and kicked him twice in the ribs.


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