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Ratcatcher: Chapter 50

...Clever boy. He'd worked his way down the field instead of using the road. What worried me was that there was only one man. Or seemed to be. I could only see one pair of green-striped trainer shoes from where I lay under my car.

They walked around the back of the car. Then they stopped. He'd be looking at the odd arrangement I'd made with my jacket over the steering wheel. It didn't look like a person. It didn't look like anything. It just looked odd, and I knew he'd have to investigate it...

Tension goes up another notch in Colin Dunne's brilliant thriller.

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

I had to do a few circuits round the town, including tours of housing estates and a couple of cul-de-sacs, before I picked it up.

It was a blue electricity van and when it popped up in the traffic behind me for the third time I decided that coincidence had been exhausted.

I wrapped it round the square a couple of times, getting nicely snarled up among the shoppers. When I'd got him stuck four or five cars back, I gunned it up the road to the quarry.

Instead of turning in to the quarry, I raced up the road alongside the top of the cliff, and parked near the spot where Striker had gone over. I turned it round and put the two nearside wheels up on a grass bank. By the time the van came past, I was in position.

I heard it come belting up the hill, slow down as it passed my car, then drive off round the corner. I thought I heard the engine cut in the distance.

Minutes passed. Then more minutes. I was beginning to wonder if I could hold on any more in that position when I heard a slight scuffle.

Clever boy. He'd worked his way down the field instead of using the road.
What worried me was that there was only one man. Or seemed to be. I could only see one pair of green-striped trainer shoes from where I lay under my car.

They walked around the back of the car. Then they stopped. He'd be looking at the odd arrangement I'd made with my jacket over the steering wheel. It didn't look like a person. It didn't look like anything. It just looked odd, and I knew he'd have to investigate it.

But he didn't like it. He took his time. He circled the back of the car again. Then he stood for a few seconds.

Once he'd made up his mind, he moved quickly. He was there in two strides, ripped the driver's door open and pulled the jacket out. I saw it land behind him. He cursed.

That was my chance.

He was standing about two feet away from the car. As he lifted one foot to move, I shot out my right hand and grabbed his ankle while he was off balance. As violently as I could, I tugged it towards me.

He yelled, a weird noise as his balance went, and I could see the shadow of his arms waving. His shin smashed against the bottom of the car and he crashed to the ground.

There he was, sprawling, lovely as you like, within my narrow letter-box view of the world.

'Stay there,' I said. 'Or I'll blow your balls off'

He looked down the full length of his body, amazement all over his face as he saw me lying there, behind a steady Browning. He put his legs together, but he froze.

When I'd elbowed my way out, I marched him round to the back of the car and opened the boot.

'You know who I am?' he said.

'My long-lost father back from the colonies?'

'No, seriously. I'm with your lot. I was watching your back.'

'You'd have done better to watch your own. You'll be telling me next you think The Falls is in Niagara.'

'Seriously...'

The smack of my pistol on the side of his head stopped him getting too serious. I couldn't afford to stand around admiring his posh English accent, good as it was.

I caught him with my left arm and balanced him over the boot of the car while I relieved him of a neat little Walther in a waist holster. Then I tipped him in and banged it shut.

It wasn't a three-star, but then what do you expect when you haven't booked?

I checked the time. Twenty-to-five. Tiger would be home from work soon. He was the one they'd go for first. He was a sitting duck.

And he was the one they'd want most. They'd be happy with me a half-Mick who betrayed the noble cause, bejasus - but Tiger was a black legend among the boys with the Armalites. All the ones who'd been scared to face him alive would be dancing in the streets over his death.

I slipped on my jacket. I put the Walther in my pocket.

I sucked in a lungful of air. Christ, it tasted so good you could have sliced it up for sandwiches. I was alive again.

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