The Dark Place

The Dark Place by Sam Millar

Book: The Dark Place by Sam Millar Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sam Millar
of the community.”
    “The weather can change, Willie; not you,” said Karl, grinning.
    “For someone who was going to be a cop and whose brother-in-law is a top detective, you fly awfully close to the sun. One day, your arse is going to be melted, like Icarus. You know that, don’t you?”
    “Thank you, Socrates, for those enlightening words.”
    “Now, what’s this I hear about you in hospital, a few months back? An operation of some sort?”
    “What?” said Karl, feeling his face reddening. “It … was nothing. Simply a check-up.”
    “I heard it was to have your haemorrhoids removed,” stated Willie, staring directly into Karl’s eyes.
    “For fuck sake. Is nothing in this town sacred?”
    “Well what?”
    “How are they? Your piles?”
    “If you really must know, they’re a bit like Terry Wogan: extremely unfunny and full of shit,” replied Karl. “Now, how about a cup of that infamous coffee of yours, the one they use for tar-and-feathering?”
    “Flip the sign and bolt the door. I’ve done enough trade for today.”
    “Oh, almost slipped my mind,” said Karl, flipping the sign on the door. “Any disposables?”
    Willie’s eyebrows moved slightly. “Only if need be.”
    “It’s need-be time.”
    “I can tell there’s something hairy coming up,” sighed Willie, “and I bet it isn’t my arse.”
    Karl watched Willie heading into a backroom, emerging less than a minute later with a wooden box.
    “Something a bit more impressive than a box, please,” said Karl, finding a tall stool at the counter before parking his bulk.
    “Take a look at this baby,” enthused Willie, opening the box, exposing a gun. “It’s a beauty. A .357 Colt Python – the Rolls Royce of handguns because of its superior finish, high-quality parts, excellent accuracy and smooth trigger pull. This is the three-inch barrel version, favoured by undercover cops and
PI’s in the good old US of A – making
feel right at home in its company.”
    “No trace?”
    “Not a hope. Serial number’s been filed away. Stolen about three years ago from a cop’s house. He was too embarrassed to report it missing, apparently,” replied Willie, smiling secretively.
    Karl held the weapon in his right hand, his thumb depressing the sharply knurled button to release the cylinder. Gentle pressure from the fingers of his left hand slipped the cylinder out of the metal stomach, exposing its contents. Clean light gleamed off the brass rims of the bullets bedded in their metal housing.
    “You keep it fucking
” asked Karl, taken aback.
    “Would you keep a car with no petrol in it?”
    “Point taken. What else do you have for me in your bag of tricks?”
    “Here. Take a peep into the schoolhouse. Check the sleeping teachers.”
    “They help to teach people a lesson,” replied Willie, grinning.
    Peering into the box, Karl could see three bleak-looking items nestling snugly together like mummified corpses.
    “Blackjacks? I suppose you could say that this brings new meaning to the term jack in the box,” quipped Karl.
    Removing one of the blackjacks, Willie slapped it hard against the palm of his beefy hand. “These are the best teachers in town. Besides, they’re not just any old jacks. These are bludgeoning impact weapons used by the military, security and cops around the world. Professional grade construction, made of smooth black cowhide, loaded with spring steel. The manufacturers advise extreme caution when using. You have to laugh at that. When you hit a man with one of these babies, you don’t wrap it in cotton wool or use extreme caution. They’re covering their arse, of course. The responsibility is on you.”
    “You must have a stake in the company, the way you describe those so gleefully.”
    “I’m letting you know that just because they don’t fire bullets, they’re not any less lethal than a gun.”
    “Why three? Aren’t they all the same, doing what they

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