Breaking the Line

I got out, slammed shut the door and watched the taxi pull away.  I also saw a beat up sedan, a rusting Detroit box from the eighties with no tail lights or plates, emerge from a side street.  There was something odd about the driver and passenger – their heads were completely black and featureless, as if they were wearing ski masks or balaclavas.  In this heat.  And then the beater pulled alongside the taxi in the oncoming lane.  The passenger leaned out the window, pointed a stubby sub-machine gun at the cab and opened up.  The chattering of subsonic pistol rounds was joined by the sounds of shattering glass, squealing tires, and screams, and then only crunching metal as the taxi – perforated  like a giant, mobile colander, slammed to a final stop against a pillar flanking the hotel driveway.

I stood, once again in stunned immobility as the Chrysler assault platform sped away with squeal of bald tires.

Scott.  -  Shit!  -  Did they see me?  -  No, I don't think they saw me.  -  They have a rear view mirror, dumb-ass.

I dove behind a decorative hedge, somewhat belatedly in retrospect, and continued my jumbled torrent of near panicked thought.  Damn it Scott, listen to me for once.  I told you not to come back here.  -  How did they get here so fast?  -  Cell phones, of course, don't be so stupid.  -  The shooter on the boat found our lodging info o the reservation slip the captain had on board.  The shooter called in a hit.  -  Who knows how many thugs this guy has working for him.  -  Could I risk the hotel now?  -  No.  They know there were two of you.  Could be someone staking out the room now.  -  I need to get the airport.

My thoughts tumbled one over the other like a load of socks in the dryer; it was a chaotic process, but it worked.  I realized I couldn't take a taxi.  They'd be watched, and word of this killing would soon spread over dispatch radios.  I couldn't go to the cops.  Scott had known that without a second of reflection.  Forget corruption: I couldn't be stuck down here as a witness for the indefinite future.  And what were my odds of survival in protective custody against an outfit this efficient and brutal?

I started walking north through the city.  Of course I couldn't hoof it to the airport: it was a half hour cab ride, it would be hours – a day maybe – on foot, the sun was really cranking up its oppressive furnace and I had no water.  I needed to catch a ride, that much was apparent.  But in the meantime I might as well narrow the distance and I didn't know what else to do.

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