I Shot You Babeby Leslie Langtry
Perennial grad student Veronica Gale gets more than she bargained for when her latest dissertation project puts her in the path of philosopher/assassin/carnival-ride operator Coney Bombay-and an unsolved murder that might just kill her, too. See more details below
Perennial grad student Veronica Gale gets more than she bargained for when her latest dissertation project puts her in the path of philosopher/assassin/carnival-ride operator Coney Bombay-and an unsolved murder that might just kill her, too.
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I Shot You Babe
By Leslie Langtry
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2009 Leslie Thompson
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him." -Mark Twain
Okay. Stop me if you've heard this before. A pro football player walks into a bar. He falls to the floor clutching his head in pain and says, "I didn't see that coming." True story. Although maybe, just maybe, it would be more accurate to say the iron rod walked into the football player, but I'm telling it my way.
I managed to kick the guy in the ribs as he tried to get up, but one of his enormous hands (which, I assume, can only have made him good at his sport) grabbed my ankle and pulled me down to join him on the floor. It was at this point that he seemed to gain the upper hand. The lumbering side o' beef with legs climbed on top of me, bouncing my head off the cement twice. This did nothing for my self-esteem and probably wasn't good for the "rugged attractiveness" women told me I had. Did you know you actually do see stars when your head is pummeled against something so unyielding as concrete? I know, it seems too cartoonish, but then, there it is.
I distracted my target by biting his forearm. I'm not fond of biting, but in thisbusiness, you have to think quickly. As he screamed, I punched him in the throat, and he crumpled over like a stack of dimes. With Vic (as in, my victim) facedown, I climbed on top and began my choke hold. Frankly, I was tired of using a choke hold. So overdone, and not terribly elegant.
Vic struggled to get free, but unfortunately for him, he was losing strength. To my surprise, he got lucky and managed to flail out, catching me (quite to his surprise) in the gut with his elbow. I dropped him and he scrambled backward until he hit the wall.
I walked toward him slowly (for dramatic effect, of course). The bastard wasn't going anywhere. Stupid athlete. They always think they can handle themselves in a fight. It was true that he was much larger than me. But it was also true that, because of this fact, he'd never really had to fight before. For his first actual battle, he was literally fighting for his life-a brilliant irony I thought would likely be wasted on him.
My fist hit him square in the face, and he slid down the wall. Through the gurgling blood coursing from his nose into his mouth just seconds before I sent the broken shards of his nose piercing into his brain, he asked, "Who are you?"
Bombay. Coney Island Bombay. Actually, you can call me Cy. I go by Coney only when I'm working as a carney. Most of the time I prefer eliminating the middle three letters from my name. It's kind of like what I really do, which is eliminating bad people.
That might sound a bit simplistic. Sorry about that. But there really is no point in analyzing it any further. I know this because I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and it has driven me to distraction most of my life. It is possible to overthink things now and then. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
This, however, isn't one of those times. This time, the cigar is more than it seems. The rather ugly, large cigar of which I speak (who now lay lifeless on his basement floor) was a popular sports figure who ran an illegal white slave trade on the side. I've never been much of a sports fan. It seems wrong to me that professional athletes make millions of dollars when scientists trying to cure cancer and teachers educating children live from check to check. This gig was my own small contribution toward evening things out. You know, the old yin-yang thing.
My vic was a professional football player who'd invested in an Eastern Europe an slaver. The slaver sent young women all over the world to work as prostitutes. I use the past tense because I took care of that bastard a couple of days ago. The athlete was quick to join him in death. It wasn't pretty. And honestly, I don't feel too bad about that.
Most of the Bombays tend to maintain a low profile when it comes to wet work. Making murder look like an accident seems to make them feel better. I don't really go that route. My preferred modus operandi is to actually make it appear to be foul play. And if you knew how bad these people were, you'd probably agree with me.
Two days later, the police and media seemed to think the Russian Mafia was responsible, and when the evidence I left behind revealed his crimes, Vic's jersey and status were yanked from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My mother and the rest of the Bombay Council were pleased. Dad, an Aussie, had to call to remind me that technically my vic didn't play real football. But that's Pop, always splitting hairs.
My family history is interesting, in a bloodthirsty sort of way. The Bombays have cornered the market on international assassination for hire since ancient Greece. Every infant born with Bombay blood becomes a killer. We begin training at age five and progress from there. There is no way out. Once you are born a Bombay, your fate is sealed. No one rebels unless they have a suicide wish. Occasionally, someone does. What can I say? Every family has at least one idiot. Doesn't yours?
The football job took place in Chicago, and a few days later I was in Omaha. The alarm went off at six a.m., and I sat up on the edge of my bed, running my hands through my hair. You might think I'm a morning person. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm actually more of a discipline guy. I get up to make myself functional. The exercise that follows is simply for masochistic purposes. I've been told I'm in excellent shape. It's the discipline thing.
Wheek! Wheek! came the brain-splitting cry of my guinea pig, Sartre. The minute I wake up, she reminds me that it's time for breakfast. She's affectionate and sweet, but I've always suspected that she considers me to be little more than a servant.
"Here you are," I said as I placed a small dish of strawberries, collard greens and baby carrots in front of her. Sartre grunted and began her feast. I walked to the door of my trailer to get the paper.
When I'm on the road (which is pretty much always), I like to park my RV in Wal-Mart parking lots. They seem to have a camper cult following. At every one I've been to, there's a newspaper at my door in the morning and fresh coffee ready before the shoppers arrive. I like that. It's a nice touch.
Opening the door revealed a bright, late August. I scooped up the paper and nodded to the older woman standing in the parking lot across from me. It was then that I realized I hadn't put any clothes on. Huh. I shut the door behind me (but not before winking at the lady) and, after tossing the paper on a chair, threw on some running clothes. Ten minutes later, I opened the door to find her and several other women standing in the same place. I don't know what they hoped to see, but clearly my having clothes on had been a bit of a buzz kill. Just for fun I grinned and shouted, "G'day, ladies," with an Australian accent (something I inherited from Dad). That seemed to do the trick. I believe one actually fainted.
A good jog always helped clear my head. With my Bombay-appointed duty over for the year and the carnival season coming to an end, I had to start making my plans for fall. I was pretty sure it was time for a sabbatical. I needed a break.
Back at the trailer, Sartre squeaked indignantly. I scooped her up as I flipped on the television to listen to while I threw breakfast together. Sartre wiggled in the crook of my left arm before sprawling out luxuriously. I found an orange and made some toast while the little pig ran up and down the table. There wasn't much on in the news, as usual. I had a gig coming up in rural Nebraska. Just a county fair. Then the season would be over for me. Sartre nibbled on an orange peel, never taking her eyes off me. Huh. It's sad when your own pet doesn't entirely trust you. But that's the nature of an assassin pet owner, I guess. I gave her some of the fruit and she devoured it. An ad for Disney World came on and somehow managed to get my attention.
I clicked off the TV and pulled open my laptop. After a few more hours of research, I decided on my sabbatical: Disney World. I had a few connections there-a couple of my carney brethren who had gone legit. I flipped open my cell phone and dialed. Within moments I had a job lined up from fall to spring. After that, who knew what I'd do? I was unattached. A loner, to be clichéd-but it suited me.
Besides, I already had a career. I had travel, adventure, middle-aged women in the parking lot ogling my physique, and the love of a good, elitist rodent. What else could I possibly need?
Excerpted from I Shot You Babe by Leslie Langtry Copyright © 2009 by Leslie Thompson. Excerpted by permission.
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