Ride the Lightning

Ride the Lightning by John Lutz Read Free Book Online

Book: Ride the Lightning by John Lutz Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Lutz
middle-aged guy,” Nudger said, after about ten minutes. “We get that way when we see the dark at the end of the tunnel.”
    She laughed softly, and he kissed her forehead and shifted so his body was poised above hers. The bed creaked, then was quiet, as if waiting.
    “What else does this Archway teach out at the school?” Nudger asked.
    “Physio-social analysis and adaptability.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Sex education.”
    Nudger rolled heavily to the side, said, “ Damn! ”
    V I
    dna Fine lived in the Hallmont Apartments, directly across the street from Olson’s Liquor Emporium. Hers was a one-bedroom unit facing the street, and on the day of the murder she’d heard shots and looked out her win dow in time to see a man flee from the store, climb into a dark green car that was waiting for him at the curb, and fire a shot back from the speeding car as it left the scene. She’d told her story to the police, made her identification, given her deposition for the prosecution, and thought the affair was ended.
    But here was Nudger, sitting across from her in her living room, asking questions. Pesky Nudger.
    He smiled at Edna Fine and thought that she looked more like a middle-aged spinster than anyone he’d known. She was tall and unattractively angular, with a tiny pinched face, graying hair, and an austere look about her that suggested teetotaling, no sex except once during leap years, and stern morality in all matters. She wore rimless round glasses and had on a plain black dress suitable for funerals. A jury would sense that she might be bending over too far backward in her effort to smite evil, and might hear her tes timony with some dubiousness if they saw her. The prosecutor knew what he was doing when he’d taken her deposition and merely had her sworn testimony read into the record, so she wouldn’t actually appear in court. Colt’s lawyer, a guy named Siberling, hadn’t cross-examined her. Nudger would have to talk with Siberling.
    Edna Fine’s small, antiseptic apartment’s furniture fit her appearance; it was dull, stiff, and unadorned. Nudger shifted uncomfortably on the wood-trimmed, straight-backed sofa and said, “Did you get a good look at the suspect’s face, Miss Fine?”
    “You mean Curtis Colt?”
    Nudger nodded.
    Edna Fine smiled.
    Wait a minute. It changed her entire appearance, gave her surprising warmth. The pinched face widened, and crow’s feet added humanity to the close-set blue eyes. Nudger liked her better. A jury might have, too; maybe the prosecutor had missed a good bet after all. And maybe Siberling had done some pre-trial investigation and was wise not to have put her on the stand.
    She said, “Don’t think I’m so cocksure of my identification that you have to humor me as if I’m some kind of tightassed old maid.”
    Nudger was constantly amazed by how appearances could deceive. The world was made up of distorting mirrors, things were the opposite of what they seemed. “Then you’re not sure?”
    “I’m as sure as it says in my deposition. I went to the window after hearing shots, looked out, and saw this skinny little man carrying a gun run from the store and get into a car that drove away with him.”
    “How many shots did you hear?”
    “Four, plus one when the car sped toward the corner. I knew they were shots immediately; I spent three years as a nurse in Southeast Asia and I recognize gunfire.”
    “And did you see the man’s face?”
    She sat down with an exaggerated, incongruous primness on a dainty chair facing the sofa and nodded. “Got a glimpse. What I saw mostly, though, was the top of his head. Mass of wavy dark brown or black hair. Parted in the middle, I think. He was a slender little bastard, but sort of wiry, strong-looking. Remember, though, I had to take all this in within about four seconds.”
    “But you picked Curtis Colt out of a police lineup.”
    She shrugged. “When I saw him standing there, it just hit me that he was the man.

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