A Winter Kill

A Winter Kill by Vicki Delany Read Free Book Online

Book: A Winter Kill by Vicki Delany Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vicki Delany
Tags: book, FIC050000
lighting was bad, and the furniture worn and scratched. It smelled of spilled liquor, stale cooking grease and anger. Country music, played too loud, came from speakers mounted on the walls. A couple of chairs were overturned. Broken glass sparkled on the floor.
    Most fist fights don’t last long. Not when it’s a couple of middle-aged men. Overweight and out of shape. They take one or two swings at each other and they’re too tired to do anything more. By the time I arrived it was mostly over.
    The bartender was holding a baseball bat in one hand and a phone in the other. A woman stood against the wall, screaming. Whether in support or in fear I couldn’t tell. Probably both. A man stood in the center of the room. He gripped a beer bottle with the neck broken off. He waved it in front of him, yelling and swearing a blue streak. Another man had blood streaming down his face from a cut above his eye. His dirty white sweatshirt was covered in blood.
    I took one look at the broken bottle and called for backup. “Why don’t you put that down,” I said from the doorway.
    The man turned his head slowly and looked at me. “Why?”
    It was Pete Grey. He was still dressed in the suit he’d worn to his daughter’s funeral. His words were slurred and he swayed on his feet.
    â€œBecause I’m telling you to,” I said. I took a step forward. I was careful to stay out of his reach. I felt for the pepper spray on my belt.
    The woman stopped screaming. She watched us with wide eyes. My radio told me backup was on its way.
    The bartender said, “Do what the lady says, Pete, and I’ll forget about it. No problem. Ed here was way outta line. Weren’t ya, Ed?”
    Ed mumbled something. The woman nodded.
    â€œYou’ve just come from your daughter’s funeral, Mr. Grey,” I said. “Do you want to spend the night in jail? You should be at home with your wife.”
    He lowered the bottle. But he didn’t put it down. “Maureen was my girl. She was a good girl.”
    â€œMy mother knew her,” I said. “Mom says Maureen was smart and nice. Mom liked her a lot.”
    â€œI taught her to ride a bike when she was little,” Grey said. “I ran along behind her holding on to the seat. Didn’t go more than a few yards before she had the hang of it and didn’t need my help. She got good marks in school too.”
    â€œPut the bottle down, Mr. Grey, and tell me about Maureen. She was pretty, wasn’t she?” I heard sirens. Blue and red light washed the dingy bar. The door opened with a blast of cold air. I felt an officer standing behind me.
    Pete Grey looked at me. His eyes were full of pain. “Real pretty. Maureen was a good girl,” he said again.
    â€œYes, sir.”
    â€œHe…” The bottle swung toward Ed again. “Had no account to say bad things about her.”
    I didn’t like the look in Ed’s eyes. I knew him also. Another drunken lowlife. He gave a mean grin. Now that the police were here to take any blow aimed at him, he was full of talk.
    â€œI didn’t say nothin’ but the truth.” Ed glanced at the woman, hoping for a laugh. “I heard she was pregnant. Shouldn’t bother you none, Pete. Not as if she was your daughter anyway. Like mother, like daughter, I guess.” He wiped a drop of blood away with the back of his hand.
    Pete lifted the bottle. “You pack of shit.”
    â€œShut the hell up,” I yelled at Ed. “Or I’ll arrest you for inciting violence.”
    Ed lifted his hands and backed away. “Hey, just tellin’ the truth here. No hard feelings.”
    â€œGet out,” I said. “Now.”
    â€œSure, sure.” He stayed against the walls and edged around me out the door.
    The woman followed Ed. Pete Grey watched them go.
    He put the broken bottle onto the counter. I let out a long breath I hadn’t noticed I was

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