A richard l wren mystery.., p.16
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       A Richard L. Wren Mystery-Adventure Sampler, p.16

           Richard Wren
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  Casey didn’t move. He had a rope tied around his ankles, his knees doubled up and the other end of the rope was a noose around his neck. If he tried to straighten out he would choke himself. Blood was dripping from a cut on his face. So far, he seemed to be out cold completely.

  Squinty addressed Smitty. “You didn’t like it when I clobbered old Shirl did you? Maybe that’s the key.” He deliberated for a moment while rubbing the barrel of his gun along his jaw line. “Would you tell me who you work for if I threatened to chop of her fingers one by one ‘til you came clean? I wonder?”

  Smitty had no doubts now that the guy was a psychopath of some sort. His casual cruelty to Shirl and Casey made that plain. He just stared back at the gunman without blinking, not knowing the best attitude to take.

  “Another beer.” The gunman ordered. Peterson jumped to get the order. Smitty narrowed his eyes. He suddenly realized that Peterson was afraid of the gunman but putting up a front of bravado. “Could he use that?” He wondered.

  Suddenly Peterson stopped in midstride and said, “What was that?”

  “What?” the gunman said, suddenly tense.

  “Thought I heard a car door slam.”

  The gunman relaxed. “Probably just a disgruntled customer. He’ll leave when he sees the closed sign. Take a look.”

  Peterson walked over to a window and carefully peeked out between the blinds.

  “Shit. It’s a cop car.”

  “What’re they doing?”

  “Nothing, just sitting there, two of ‘em.”

  “Two cars?”

  “No, two cops. One of ‘em’s getting out. He’s coming over here. Oh shit, the other’s out too and he’s got his gun out standing on the other side of the car.”

  “What the fuck?” Squinty quietly exclaimed as he rose to his feet.

  Peterson stumbled as he tried to retreat from the front window. The gunman showed his nerves when he almost snapped off a shot at the noise. “He’s looking at the closed sign.”

  “Stay calm,” the gunman ordered. “I’m gonna’ check the rear to see if there’s another cop out back.” He ran quietly behind the bar and through the swinging doors to the kitchen knocking Shirl off her feet as he went.

  A loud pounding on the front door riveted everyone’s attention.

  “Shirl! Answer up!”

  Peterson turned towards the rear of the bar and in a loud stage whisper tried to reach the gunman. “Earl, Earl.” No answer. He tried again, “Hey Earl, what’ll we do?”

  Shirl spoke up from where she was laying on the floor with a view of the kitchen area from under the swinging doors. “He’s gone.”

  “Gone?” Peterson said. “What d’ya mean gone?”

  “He opened the door a little and peeked outside then he quietly slipped through it and disappeared. The door’s still open,” she said suggestively.

  At the same time the cop outside shouted to his partner. “Something’s fishy here. Take a look out back but be careful”

  Gene spoke up. “That prick split on us, screw him,” and tossed his gun onto the table. At the same time he opened up a long pocket knife and headed towards Casey.

  Smitty sprang to his feet, but before he could get there the guy started cutting the bonds off of Casey and issuing orders to Peterson.

  “We didn’t do nothin’, Earl did it all, got it? Answer him,” he ordered Shirl.

  “That you George?” Shirl shrilly yelled.

  “Shirl? Let us in.”

  Peterson said, “What’s goin’ on?”

  Gene said, “Peterson, shut the fuck up and sit down, you moron.” They both sat down at an empty table, carefully avoiding the table where Gene had tossed his gun.

  Shirl said, “Smitty, answer the door.”

  Smitty yelled, “We’re coming,” and walked to the door. “I’m unlocking it,” he continued, and turned the key. Before he could turn the knob he felt it twisted in his hand and was thrust backward by the force of the policeman ramming the door and entering with gun drawn and shouting, “everyone on the floor, hands where I can see them.” He swept the room with his gun as Gene and Peterson fell to the floor as directed. “You too buster” he shouted as his gun ended up pointing at Smitty standing beside the door.

  “Shirl. Where are you” he called. Shirl crawled out from behind the bar. “Jesus H. Christ” the cop mouthed and immediately called for backup.

  “Any more around?” he questioned Shirl. The second cop answered as he came in from the back door. “Empty back here, looks like one of ‘em got away.”

  “Upstairs?” he asked Shirl.

  “All clear,” she answered. “There were only three of them.” She pointed at Smitty on his knees, hands in the air. “George, that’s Smitty. He’s a friend but I think we need an EMT team for Casey there.” She pointed to Casey who was just beginning to writhe around, “another friend of mine,” she vouched.

  George took a closer look at Shirl’s face. “I think you better go with him to the hospital. What the hell happened here?”

  She countered with a question. “How come you guys came by?”

  “We didn’t just come by. We were told you were in trouble.”

  Shirl was mystified. “Who?

  “You’re old Mr. Regular, that’s who. He says they kicked him out.”

  “Yeah they did. After they realized he was damn near totally deaf. They thought he was harmless and hadn’t seen anything anyway.”

  “Well, you owe him a big thank you. They were right he hadn’t noticed anything but the guy that kicked him out made a big mistake. It took him a half hour or so to pick up on it but when he did he called us right away and we hustled on down.”

  Slowly, Shirl ran the scene at the front door through her mind once more. “I sure didn’t see any mistake the guy made.”

  “Something he said. Turns out Mr. Davis’s got some smarts and he sure as hell used them. The guy said you were in a hurry to close up and go home. Davis just kinda’ accepted that statement for a while until he remembered that you lived upstairs. You wouldn’t go home, you’re already home! So he called us, pretty smart huh?”

  Smitty had hustled over to Casey and was trying to staunch the bleeding and gently bring him back around to consciousness. He called over to the officer, “Yeah he needs an ambulance and so does she.”

  The second cop said, “It’s on the way.”

  Shirl’s cop friend George asked her, “You up to telling me what went on here?” She proceeded to describe the morning’s happenings lucidly and clearly until they heard sirens in the distance and she began to wilt.

  “I’m beginning to feel sickish.” She told George.

  “‘Could be a slight concussion.” Smitty volunteered. “The guy that got away really smacked her.”

  Shirl was feeling well enough to explain Smitty and Casey’s presence there and add, “He can fill you in on the rest of the story. I’ve known him for years.”

  The cop looked at Smitty and grinned, “Yeah I know who you are and I remember what happened last year. No worries.”

  Smitty told him what the missing gunman had done to Casey and how he had fallen on his unprotected head as he’d clutched at his throat with both hands. “Wish to hell they’d get here with the ambulance.”

  The second cop broke in. “They’re just now turning into the driveway.”

  “Was there any sign out back of the guy that got away?” George asked him.

  “I didn’t see nobody. The door was standing open and I was looking more inside than outside.”

  George turned to Smitty. “I need a description I can call in for an APB.”

  Smitty pointed to a coat hanger fastened to a post behind the tables. “See the bottom of that hanger? That’s exactly how tall he was when he stood next to it.” George stood next to it. “That’d make him about five three or so. What else?”

  “Real lean, I’d say about one thi
rty or so. Dark black slicked back hair, sharp dresser, shiny new looking cowboy boots and a kind of screwy look to his eyes, sorta’ squinty like. I thought maybe the light was bothering him but it’s pretty dark in here. Oh yeah, his name’s Earl and I would guess him to be about sixty.”

  He said all this as he was watching the parameds examine Casey carefully and then load him on to a stretcher. The paramed saw his concern. “He’s gonna’ be okay, no broken bones, lots of bruises.” He hesitated. “Are you his dad?”

  “Father in law.” Smitty responded. “Why?”

  He moved away from Casey’s hearing range. “His throats something else. I’ve seen that kind of injury before on Martial Arts students. Nothing’s broke but a lotta’ damage’s been done. Sometimes it takes weeks before you can talk again. What somebody did to him was just short of a killing blow.”

  “Shit.” Was all Smitty could muster in response.

  After looking around carefully, the paramed added, “Up to me with my experience I’d call a Karate school and get them to recommend an oriental doc’ that’s familiar with Karate injuries. Gotta’ go.” He moved back to Casey’s side and finished strapping him in and then wheeled him out on the gurney. Casey grabbed Smitty’s hand in passing and squeezed it hard. He tried to speak but could only muster a croak.

  Smitty said, “You’re gonna’ be okay, nothing broken and the throat’ll heal itself in a day or two. I’ll call Josie and see you at the hospital.”

  -end of excerpt-

  An excerpt from

  Published 2012

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