Love and Fear

Love and Fear by Reed Farrel Coleman Read Free Book Online

Book: Love and Fear by Reed Farrel Coleman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Reed Farrel Coleman
Tags: FIC050000, FIC022090, FIC031010
    “Just me, Tony. You there would be like a red cape in front of a bull. I don’t want to start trouble. If there is trouble, I want to end it.”
    Gulliver knew Tony didn’t like that. But he knew, too, that over the years Tony had learned how to deal with things he didn’t like.
    “Okay, Dowd,” was all Tony said.

    He sensed the trouble coming out of the darkness before he was even aware of it. He ducked. Swoosh! Crack! Gulliver had had a baseball bat swung at his head before, so he knew the feeling. He felt the rush of air over his head and heard the aluminum smack against the brick of his building. Without thinking, he placed his right palm flat on the pavement. Anchored, he thrust out his left leg and connected. The kick didn’t hit his attacker’s knee flush, but it was enough to throw off his second swing of the bat. Gulliver heard the man stumble backward and moan in pain.
    Sometimes that was all it took. You got your opponent off-balance. You made him miss a few times, and he retreated. Not this time. Before Gulliver could right himself, his attacker was coming back at him for a third swing. He saw the metal flash. Instead of ducking, he sidestepped it. Strike three! As he sidestepped, he reached under his jacket and unholstered his SIG . Though Gulliver already had a bullet in the chamber, he racked the slide of his semiautomatic. While the racking of the slide wasn’t as effective as the cha-ching of a pump-action shotgun, it did tend to get people’s attention.
    “Holy crap!” the attacker screamed. “Screw this!”
    The next thing Gulliver heard was the clink of the aluminum bat falling to the sidewalk. That was followed in short order by the sound of feet running in the other direction. Gulliver supposed he could have shot in the direction of the footfalls and hit the man who had attacked him. But you didn’t shoot a gun in the city unless you had no other choice. Only gangsters or fools took that risk. It was too dangerous. There were people and hard surfaces everywhere. Bullets could ricochet. The chances of hitting an innocent person were too great.
    When the fight-or-flight tension had left his body, Gulliver tried to piece together the details of the attack. He closed his eyes and controlled his breathing as his sensei had taught him. As he relaxed, he asked himself questions. What did he remember about his attacker? Not about the weapon, but the man who had swung it. Not much. Could he remember what the man was wearing? Too dark. But he did remember two smells. The stink of old cigarettes and the sickly sweet smell of cheap aftershave. In fact, those odors still hung in the air around him. Gulliver smiled to himself, because he had a good idea who had wielded the bat. And since he had the bat, it might be easy to prove.
    He holstered his weapon. He bent down and picked up the bullet that had been ejected from his SIG . But as he picked up the bat by the barrel, Gulliver felt sad. He thought again about the attack. What would have happened if he had been killed and never got a chance to see Mia again? What if he never got a chance to say the things to her he still had to say to her? What if they never got to live the life they were meant to live together?
    When he got to his custom-made van, he placed the bat in a plastic garbage bag. He turned the key and was about to give a voice command to call Mia when his phone rang. The name and number that flashed onto the screen in his dashboard made him smile. It was Mia calling him. Sometimes the universe is like that.
    “I was just going to call you,” he said.
    “Really. How are you?”
    “Okay, I guess,” she said.
    As happy as he was to hear from her, Gulliver didn’t like the way her voice sounded.
    “What’s wrong, Mia?”
    “I can’t do this anymore, Gullie.”
    “I know. I’ve been an idiot, and this is all my fault.”
    “I’m not interested in blame. I’m just lonely. It’s not the same living

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