There was a clear “click” from my gun. I think poor Lena almost fainted. Lara just sat there staring at me, like she was frozen in place. “You’re lucky that time Lara, but there are bullets in this gun,” I said, “so how many times can you give me a wrong answer before we come to one of them?” She just sat there and never said a word. Mr. Cat was sitting with me. I whispered to him and he left. Lena watched as he positioned himself to see the front door and the hall. She looked over at me nervously. “Now Lara, once more,” I said, “who is behind all of this?” “I, I honestly don’t know,” she blurted out, “a man and woman came to me, they knew something about me that I want to keep private. I was told my secret would be safe if I helped them get you here, because they have a job for you to do.
The jade cat I have is only a copy of the real one, but the jewels inside are mine and are real, part of my inheritance. The Jade Cat, the real one, is presently in a museum not far from here and will be on display for a couple more days.” “I want to help you Lara,” I told her, “but you have to be truthful with me all the way, no hiding anything. As I said, I have no patience right now. Help me and I will protect you, but if you hold anything back, you will be on your own.” I turned to Lena and asked, “Can you see the back door from there?” “Yes,” she said hesitatingly, “why, what’s wrong?” “There are men outside right now,” I said, “possibly after Lara.” I turn to her, she looked rather afraid now. “Do you want my help?”, I asked. “Y…Yes, I do,” she managed to say. I pointed my gun at her again.
“Okay, where is Muffin?”, I asked. She hesitated, then said, “I don’t know.” “Wrong answer again,” I said and pulled the trigger. But I had quickly turned and shot out the window at a man standing a few feet away with his gun aimed, likely at Lara. Shooting through a window is imprecise sometimes, but I hit him, only wounding him. At the same time the front door burst open and another gunman entered and…Thwock! He was down. But a third man had come down the other hallway and had his gun pointing at me. “Okay,” he said loudly to Lena and I, “drop your guns!” Lena dropped hers right away, but I didn’t. “I would say the same to you,” I said calmly, “you’re a dead man right now, but I want to talk. Just take a look at my cat on the floor.”
He did. “He can use that slingshot very accurately,” I said, “you’re friend coming in the door found out the hard way. Now, drop your gun or you will have the same fate.” He hesitated for a moment then dropped it while I kept my gun pointed at him. “Okay, now we can talk,” I said, “what is going on? Why do you want me?” “My boss wants you to do a job for him,” he said. “Then why not just ask me,” I responded, “I don’t like the way he’s doing things already so why should I work for him?” “He has your cat,” he reminded me, “and he knows you’ll do anything to get her back.” “That’s quite true,” I said assuredly, “starting with killing you perhaps, then hunting down your boss, which I can do, and will do if I have to. If he wants me to do a job for him then he needs to return Muffin right away, or the answer is no.”
I go over to the man and check him for other weapons, but he had none. I kick his gun away, turn him and point to a spot on his chest and said, “here Mr. Cat.” Thwock! The man groaned and fell. “That likely broke a rib,” I said to him, “the next one will be worse. Now, get your boss on the phone and tell him to call me, now!” He did so and my phone was soon ringing. He told me that the job was stealing the real Jade Cat from the museum. I thought for a moment. “Okay,” I said, “I will do the job, but only if you return Muffin first, she will be essential for a job like this. It’s my way or no way, you hurt Muffin and I will hunt you down.” “Fine,” he said, “she will be back soon, but I will keep an eye on you all the way.”
To Be Continued.
©2021 Steve McLeod.