The Hours of the Virgin

The Hours of the Virgin by Loren D. Estleman Read Free Book Online

Book: The Hours of the Virgin by Loren D. Estleman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Loren D. Estleman
rights because no fox ever wore it like her. She fished a gold-tipped cigarette and a silver lighter out of a clamshell purse the size of a compact, failed to get a spark out of the flint after two tries, and said, “Damn!” in a way that made it sound as if it had never been said before. The girl seated in front of us disentangled herself from her escort long enough to turn her head and tell her to shush.
    â€œI think smoking’s off limits,” I whispered.
    â€œForeplay too, apparently. At least onscreen.” Smiling, the brunette turned my way and raised the cigarette to her lips.
    It was one of those honey-over-grits accents, sweet and slightly scratchy. Below Kentucky, way below. I struck a match. Her hair was cut short and to the shape of her head, exposing her ears; reflections of the flame crawled on the surfaces of dangling earrings bent into open triangles. As she leaned forward I saw that her eyes didn’t match. The right one was baby-blanket blue, the left that reddish brown with hints of green they call hazel so it will fit in the blank on a driver’s license. Flaws in the features of good-looking women interest me. I was still looking at her eyes when they twitched past my shoulder.
    That set off an alarm. I used my elbow, colliding with her cheekbone where it met the mastoid and following through with the rest of my arm, sweeping her out of the way while I snatched at the revolver next to my leg. The vague object was to get the gun and go to the floor. The floor was my friend.
    For a flash I thought the Smith had gone off accidentally. A pistol report indoors at close range is louder than Krakatoa and more disorienting than a stroke. Voices raised, feet thudded, dully and without resonance in the echo of the blast. I glimpsed the sole of a fur-trimmed boot scrambling away. I felt the barrel of the .38. It hadn’t fired. The sulfur stench freshly laid in over the normal ones said somebody else’s had.
    Someone was talking. I stayed on the floor and listened.
    WOMAN : Alberto, stop!
    MAN : What’s wrong?
    WOMAN : Your organ; I don’t think it’s big enough.
    MAN : Sorry. I didn’t know it would be playing in a cathedral.
    The voices were loud and echoed around the edges as if they were being pushed through a P.A. system in a deserted terminal. They were coming from the theater’s speakers, buzzing along the floor and vibrating through the hand I was using to support myself. The movie was still playing, just in case anyone was paying attention.
    I leaned against the back of a seat, swung the cylinder out of the revolver from habit to make sure all the chambers were dressed, and snapped it back. My free hand was crusted with the things that collect on linoleum that hasn’t been mopped since Boy George. I plucked a bit of shiny metal off the heel of my palm, looked at it, and stuck it in a pocket. I wiped the rest off on my pants, grabbed an armrest, and levered myself up onto a cushion. The couple onscreen had stopped fencing and were now coiled together in a chaise longue that looked like the same one a different couple had used for the same purpose in the living room of a high-rise apartment earlier. If so, I was the only one there to appreciate it. There is no alone quite like being alone in a movie house with the feature ratcheting away for one’s own entertainment. I felt like a Hollywood mogul in a private screening room. A dumb Hollywood mogul. That got-a-match gag had rheumatism.
    I thought of Boyette, got up, still holding the .38, and trotted to the front row, where the screen towered overhead and if I’d wanted to I could have looked up into all kinds of interesting orifices. Then I walked back the other way, checking all the rows. My client wasn’t in any of them. The package he’d brought in with him was as gone as my good opinion of myself.
    Both emergency exits were chained and padlocked, a violation of the fire ordinance the

Similar Books

Alpha Call

BA Tortuga

Happy Is The Bride

Caroline Clemmons

Savage Instinct

Leila Jefferson

Homecoming Hero

Renee Ryan

Snow Garden

Rachel Joyce

The Rifle

Gary Paulsen

Pegasi and Prefects

Eleanor Beresford

Irma Voth

Miriam Toews