Loot the Moon

Loot the Moon by Mark Arsenault Read Free Book Online

Book: Loot the Moon by Mark Arsenault Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mark Arsenault
band. He wore sunglasses, indoors, despite the late hour and the dim light of the hallway. The glasses looked like something a poker player would wear to hide his eyes: two round, shimmering, rainbow-colored discs in an invisible nylon frame. Though slim in the waist, his shoulders were mushy and he seemed pitiably out of shape—after just three punches his colorless skin, peppered with freckles, glistened wet, and he pretended not to pant.
    He had confined his blows to her midsection. Probably to avoid making marks a prosecutor could examine, she figured. They won’t kill me, not tonight. They intended only to knock her about. The revelation gave her new confidence, which burned in her chest like a hot shot of whiskey. I can handle this. She stared at Robbie, the little man in the silly derby, who looked more exhausted for hitting her than Kit did for taking it.
    Kit sucked a deep breath and said in a hard whisper, “He’s no bigger than a size six.”

    The two hulks shook with giggles. Robbie’s lip peeled up in a snaggletoothed sneer. He drew back his arm as if to slap her face. She flinched and turned away. He did not slap her. Instead, he suddenly rocked back and plunged another uppercut into Kit’s stomach. Whump! She had not had time to fully tighten her muscles, and the punch wobbled her. She gasped, and was thankful for the hulks holding her arms; if not for them, she would have gone down. She’d rather have taken five ounces of speeding lead behind her ear than let Robbie see her go down.
    It’s just pain , she reminded herself as she grimaced against the void in her lungs and waited for the air to return. She remembered the runner’s proverb, the code for her life etched with a knife into her headboard: Pain is weakness leaving your body . She spoke the code out loud every night before she slept. The code had helped her, now at age thirty-three, through twenty marathons and six triathlons. Robbie’s jab could inflict no pain worse than what Kit regularly inflicted on herself, in training. She thought about the interval workout she had run two weeks before: up a one-mile dry ski slope in New Hampshire, a double black diamond cluttered with boulders, downed trees, and winter wheat. She had run until her legs could no longer support her weight. After she had collapsed on the mountain, she dry-heaved until she thought she might squeeze out her spleen or gallbladder, or maybe something important she might need in a race.
    For a runner, Kit’s legs were a little short of ideal, her hips a little wider than Olympic proportions. Slightly bowlegged, with high arches and a choppy running gait that no film study had ever fixed, she had never beaten a professional marathoner. That was all right with her; she could not control genetics, and was content to condition herself to within a whisker of her theoretical maximum. She had never lost a race to another amateur.
    She wheezed a half breath.
    Whump!

    Pain is weakness leaving my body.
    For a shrimp, this guy was whacking a lot of weakness out of her.
    The dance club racket bled continuously through the walls of buckling plaster. One song blended into another, mixed by a skilled DJ who knew how to keep a crowd of ravers on their feet. The walls of the hallway were covered with a high-gloss cream paint. The floor had long ago been painted red, though thousands of footsteps had worn a path down the middle to the tan floorboards. At the far end of the hall, the outside door was closed, to not invite attention to Robbie’s Tae Bo workout. One screw-in fluorescent bulb, curled like a pig’s tail, hung from the ceiling. The exit sign above the door was dark. Hmm, a burned-out bulb in the exit sign. That’s a fire code violation , Kit thought. Section 23-28 . Somebody needed to write these guys up.
    Kit coughed, spat on the floor, and stole a deep breath. One hulk held up his hand to freeze Robbie in place. “Let’s

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