the nut without hitting the overheating laser scalpel or the prone patient.
That gave Maggin enough time to grab the cranelike laser barrel and swing it over at Harry. The Inspector didn’t see anything, but he felt a slicing pain across his right arm. That wasn’t enough to make him drop his gun, but it was enough to throw off his aim.
When his finger pulled the Magnum’s trigger, the bullet smashed into the right side of Maggin’s pelvis, folding the junkie in two. Maggin collapsed, his scream of pain drowned out by the .44’s roar. A moment later, both were cut off.
When Maggin fell, he didn’t release his grip on the laser. He had pulled the device right across the top of his own head. The hardly visible beam of concentrated light sliced through his skull bone as if it were rice paper, and through his brain as if it were bread pudding.
Harry stayed exactly where he was, and yelled for the doctor. “Get the hell in here and turn this fucking thing off!”
The nurse and the surgeon ran into the room and tended to their patient and to the machinery. Quickly following was a small army of security guards and police, including DiGeorgio. Callahan was nursing his cut arm by moving it around.
“Where’s Patterson?” the Inspector asked quickly, almost ignoring the confrontation which had just occurred.
“I don’t know, Harry,” DiGeorgio said in amazement. “Checked out, I suppose. Gone.”
“Well, check it out,” Callahan said irritably. “I want to know where she lives and works.”
The Sergeant let the harsh words roll off his back. He had known Harry too long to be surprised by anything. “While I’m doing that,” he recommended, “I suggest you get checked out by Doctor Rogers back at headquarters.” With that parting advice, DiGeorgio left to do what Callahan had told him to.
Harry followed shortly after, but not before he had turned to the surgeon, who was toiling quickly over patient MacCurdy. “He’ll live,” the doctor announced.
“He won’t,” a security guard said of Maggin.
Harry shook his head and walked to the operating-room door. He took a last look at the smoky chaos and shook his head again.
“Better dying through science,” he muttered.
C H A P T E R
F i v e
“A mazing, really amazing.”
Doctor Steve Rogers was spending more time marveling at Callahan’s wounds than repairing them. Finally, Harry had stripped off the decrepit Salvation Army jacket and shirt to find that each had a perfect, thin slice in the sleeve. Just beneath that was an equally thin, perfect slice in Harry’s right arm.
“You’re incredibly lucky, Inspector,” the black police doctor commented as he looked at the surgical cut from almost every direction.
“So what else is new?” Harry said, with drawled impatience. It was hard for him to take Rogers’s comment seriously, considering the number of wounds his battered body had already sustained in his career—not to mention the fact that he had stared down a laser to get his latest marking.
“Really, I mean it, Harry,” Rogers continued, not picking up the cop’s sardonic tone. “Since the condensed light hit your arm, it was no worse than getting a shallow knife slice. But if it had hit any part of your upper torso or face, forget it.”
“All right, already, enough with the examination,” Harry declared. “Just wrap the thing up and get out of my way. I’ve got work to do.”
“Not so fast, Inspector,” Lieutenant Bressler said from the door of the first-aid cubicle on the seventh floor of the Justice Building. “I think you deserve a little R and R after your performance at the hospital today.”
Harry looked from Rogers, who was rummaging around a standing medicine cabinet for some gauze, a bandage, and Mercurochrome, to the dark-haired, ruddy-faced Bressler, who stood in front of DiGeorgio in the door opening.
“Thanks, Lieutenant,” he said, “but something smells about this whole Murray murder, and I don’t