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The first shot rang out seconds after they had slammed the car door, startling them both with its utter unexpectedness and shattering the windshield between them. Cheryl, on the street side of the blue Ford, dropped down behind it onto the dirt shoulder, almost even with the front of the back door. She reached for the short-barreled .38 in the shoulder holster under her shirt-jacket as Allen Conyers, with one shocked glance at the house, rolled across the hood of the car to join her. He had his service revolver out by the time he landed beside her.
"Where'd it come from?" Allen shouted, rather too close to Cheryl's ear for comfortable shouting.
"I don't know," Cheryl answered, moving away from him. "Up there somewhere."
"Up there somewhere" covered a lot of territory. The old three-story Victorian mansion had been converted into apartments thirty years before, and they must have been slum apartments for most of those years, but all the same, there were twenty-four windows overlooking the bare dirt yard.
There hadn't been another shot yet to tell them where the sniper was.
"What the hell?" Allen said, more quietly. "All I wanted to do was talk with her, for crying out loud."
"That's not going to be her doing the shooting," Cheryl answered.
"No?" Allen asked dubiously. "You already told me she'd gotten away with killing two people."
"But they were both on account of drug rip-offs," Cheryl answered. "She doesn't shoot at cops. At least, she hasn't before. Well, not unless she's really drunk, and she doesn't get drunk this time of day. I don't have any extra ammo," she added. "Do you?"
"Yeah, but it's in the glove box, and I don'tknow if I can get to it." He glanced again, apprehensively, at the house.
"I'm shorter than you. I can get it if you'll give me the car key."
"If I haven't dropped it--" He didn't argue about safety; he just handed over the key. The instant she reached for it a second shot rang out, ricocheting off the hood of the car and lodging in a live oak tree in the yard. They both fired back, but too late; the gunman had stepped back again into the darkened room behind the window.
But at least they knew, now, which window.