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The Limit: Chapter 35

...Maudie picked up the bat and used it as a walking stick. He paused by the body and the staring eyes confirmed that Melvyn was dead. He felt no remorse. He felt nothing. The past had taught him to subdue emotions because they got in the way. Besides, he ached too much to give a toss...

Peter Lacey’s crime novel continues to deliver the goods.

To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_limit/

There was a problem at the warehouse. The door was closed, which meant one of them had to get out to open it.

"Park the van so I can watch you through the side door," Maudie instructed.

Melvyn did as he was told and then slid open the driver's door to get out.

"Don't be stupid," Maudie said. "Climb over. You're going out, and getting back in, this way."

Maudie kept the gun trained on him throughout the operation. Finally, they were inside, the door closed again.

"Well done. I think we've found something you're good at. You should be a doorman."

Maudie eased himself out of the van. His legs were unsteady and he leaned against the side of the vehicle for support. The baseball bat that they had used earlier was propped against the folding chair. “Get me the bat. Carefully."

The youth looked at the bat and glanced back at Maudie before he went for it. Maudie saw the look in his eyes. The stupid bastard thought he had a chance. Well. It was marginally
better than no chance at all.

Melvyn picked up the bat in his right hand by the handle. Maudid didn't correct him. He was tired and wanted events to speed up. Let him have his seconds of hope.

He approached, the bat held out to one side, innocuous but ready to swing. Maudie allowed him to get as close as six feet before he shot him. Twice. Two chest shots. They echoed in the empty warehouse.

Melvyn stopped as if someone had slammed a door in his face. He took a step backwards and looked down at his chest. The baseball bat fell to the floor. It clattered and rolled across the uneven concrete. He tried to raise his head to look at Maudie but it kept on going back and he fell the same way, arms and legs spread like a pinned specimen.

Maudie picked up the bat and used it as a walking stick. He paused by the body and the staring eyes confirmed that Melvyn was dead. He felt no remorse. He felt nothing. The past had taught him to subdue emotions because they got in the way. Besides, he ached too much to give a toss.

He walked, painfully, to the inner door. It led into an office with a desk, two chairs and a telephone. Another door led outside.
He eased himself into the seat at the desk. It had a patchwork cushion on it. He pulled the telephone towards him and found a directory in a desk drawer. He tried the house but the line was out of order.

He rang the club and someone he didn't know told him that neither Jimmy Doc nor Toni Rossetti was there. Jimmy Doc was not expected until nine thirty.

Ruth Shapiro. She might be at Ruth's. There were three Shapiros in the directory but only one Stuart. Ruth answered.

"It's Morgan. Is Toni there?"

"Maudie! Are you all right?"

"I'm okay. Is Toni there?"

"No. She's gone to meet Steven Dyson. She thought . . . we thought ..."

"I know. Well, they don't have me any more. Did she say where she was going?"

"No. Stuart's out looking for her."

"Or what time she was meeting him?"

"Only that it was some time tonight. She tricked me. She wanted to go alone. I tried . . ."

"Never mind, Ruth. Listen. You have to come and get me. Now." He gave her the name of the road where the warehouse was located. "I'll be outside. And be quick. She's in danger."

After he replaced the receiver in its cradle, he allowed himself a moment's rest. He gazed round the office and realised he had some tidying up to do.

His wallet, minus money, and watch were in a desk drawer. He pocketed them. There was no sign of the razor. In all probability, it was lying somewhere in the garden at the house near where he had been coshed.

Then, with a cloth, he cleaned up any surface he might have touched. He had been careful, with this in mind, and had left few traces. But he took no chances with the whisky bottles, which he had handled extensively. He found the empty one in a waste bin in the warehouse and put it, together with the one from the van, into one of the clear plastic bags they had used over his head.

When he was satisfied, he let himself out and leaned against the yard gate, still using the baseball bat as a walking stick, and waited for Ruth.

The warehouse was located a couple of miles inland and the road was quiet. Opposite was a row of shops that were all closed. Further along were a school and terraced houses with neatly walled front gardens. He was out of place. It was the wrong area for drunks and derelicts.

Ruth arrived with a screech of brakes. A bleeding sports car. A bleeding red sports car.

She pushed open the nearside door for him and then, when she saw his state, got out and ran round to help him.

“Jesus Christ. What happened?"

"The Dysons happened." He winced as he fed a leg into the car.

"Did Toni give you any clue where she might be?"

"No. But she told me to stay by the phone. She said she’d call me after it was all over. Stuart's looking for her. Going to places she might be, driving round looking for her car."

Ruth slid behind the wheel and wrinkled her nose at his smell.

"The safe house," he said. "Take me to the safe house. And be quick."

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