The Final Detail Page 76

cloak. Just because you can hurl the rawhide with great velocity or put an orange ball in a metallic circle or swing a stick with a slightly more pure arc. You are special.

Nuts when you think about it.

"Did you kill him, Billy Lee?" Myron said.

Billy Lee looked like he'd been slapped. "What?"

"You were jealous of Clu. He had everything. He left you behind."

"He was my best friend!"

"A long time ago, Billy Lee."

Myron again debated making a move. He could try to slip the ropes-they were not on very tightly-but it would take time and he was still too far away. He wondered how Win was reacting to being cut off from all this and shuddered. Not worth dwelling upon.

A funny, tranquil flat line crossed Billy Lee's face. He stopped shaking, looked straight at Myron without jerking or twitching. His voice was suddenly soft.

"Enough," he said.


"I have to kill you, Myron. It's self-defense."

"What are you talking about?"

"You killed Clu. And now you want to kill me."

"That's crazy."

"Maybe you had your secretary do it. And she got caught. Or maybe Win did it. That guy's always been your lapdog. Or maybe you did it yourself, Myron. The gun was found in your office, right? The blood in your car?"

"Why would I kill Clu?"

"You use people, Myron. You used him to start up your business. But after he failed his last drug test, Clu was finished. So you figured, why not cut your losses?"

"That makes no sense," Myron said. "And even if it did, why would I want to kill you?"

"Because I can talk too."

"Talk about what?"

"About how helpful you are."

Tears started rolling down Billy Lee's face. His voice tailed off. And Myron knew he was in huge trouble.

The moment of calm was over. The barrel of the gun was shaking. Myron tested the ropes. Nope. Despite the heat, something icy flooded his veins. He was trapped. No chance of making a move.

Billy Lee tried to giggle again, but something inside him was too weary now. "Bye."

Panic squeezed Myron's insides. Billy Lee was only seconds away from killing him. Period. There was no chance of talking him out of it. The combo of drugs and paranoia had scooped out all his ability to reason. Myron accessed his options and liked none of them.

"Win," Myron said.

"I already told you. I ain't afraid of him."

"I'm not talking to you." Myron glanced over at Pat. The bartender was breathing hard, and his shoulders were drooping as though someone had packed them with wet sand. "Once he pulls that trigger," Myron said to him, "I'm better off than you are."

Pat started toward Billy Lee. "Let's just calm down a second, Billy Lee. Think this through, okay?"

"I'm going to kill him."

"Billy Lee, this Win guy. I've heard stories-"

"You don't understand, Pat. You just don't get it."

"Then tell me, man. I'm here to help."

"After I kill him."

Billy Lee stepped toward Myron. He put the barrel of the gun against Myron's temple. Myron went rigid.


Pat was close enough now. Or at least that was what he thought. He made his move, diving for Billy Lee's legs. But beneath the diminished drug addict lurked some of the athlete's old reflexes. Enough of them anyway. Billy Lee spun and fired. The bullet hit Pat's chest. For the briefest moment Pat looked surprised. Then he went down.

Billy Lee screamed, "Pat!" He dropped onto his knees and crawled toward the still body.

Myron's heart was flapping like a caged condor. He did not wait. He struggled with the ropes. No go. He slid down in a frenzied slither. The rope was tighter than he thought, but he made some headway.

"Pat!" Billy Lee screamed again.

Myron's knees were on the floor now, his body contorted, his spine bow-bending in a way it was never supposed to. Billy Lee was wailing over a too-silent Pat. The rope got caught under Myron's chin, pushing his head back and temporarily strangling him. How long did he have? How long before Billy Lee regained his senses? Impossible to say. Myron tilted his chin even higher, and the rope began to pass over him. He was almost out.

Billy Lee startled and turned around.

Myron was still caught in the rope. The two men locked eyes. It was over. Billy Lee lifted the shotgun. Maybe eight feet separated them. Myron saw the barrel, saw Billy Lee's eyes, saw the distance.

No chance. Too late.

The gun fired.

The first bullet hit Billy Lee's hand. He screamed in pain and dropped the shotgun. The second bullet hit Billy

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