The Bum's Rush (Leo Waterman Series #3)by G. M. Ford
In a world where few can be trusted, loyalty and friendship are hard-won and tightly held. So when one of "The Boys" - the down-and-out, mostly-on-the-street people who often assist Seattle p.i. Leo Waterman in his investigations - goes missing, Leo is right there to lead the search. He couldn't have known where the hunt was going to take him, but even if he had,… See more details below
In a world where few can be trusted, loyalty and friendship are hard-won and tightly held. So when one of "The Boys" - the down-and-out, mostly-on-the-street people who often assist Seattle p.i. Leo Waterman in his investigations - goes missing, Leo is right there to lead the search. He couldn't have known where the hunt was going to take him, but even if he had, Waterman would never have backed down. The simple investigation turned quickly into a deadly tangle: Looking for Ralph led directly to saving a homeless woman from being beaten to death. Having saved her, Waterman felt responsible for her, even though she kept telling him to butt out. But he couldn't, especially not after finding the connection to the mysterious death of a local rock star. Tracing the ties between the two investigations is time consuming and the clock is ticking loudly. Someone in Seattle is taking the homeless in...and doing them in soon thereafter. Moving from the downtown alleys to the world of quick wealth and sudden fame of the music industry, The Bum's Rush will delight all fans of G. M. Ford.
Both plots go flat in the end, but Ford's way with dialogue and charactershe's well on his way to becoming the Raymond Chandler of Seattlemay keep you from noticing.
Read an Excerpt
In the lowdarkness of the alley, the sole delineation of blood fromblackness was a certain vibration of line where the animal movementended and the uneven: bricks began. Ahead in the gloom, a succession ofshoulders moved as a single beast, ears hot and full of blood, lipsmumbling encouragement to some bizarre ballet being danced down on therough gray stones
George lifted a stiff hand to my elbow as we closed the distance. Twentyyears on the streets had filed Ins instincts smooth. He knew. This wastrouble. Without willing it so, I found myself stopped. George's handfell, to his side. Harold wedged himself tight between my right shoulderand the wall. Inside the circle of men, white smoke from a trash firerose up the west wall, adding further insult to the overhead ocean ofairborne waste that had been hanging low over the city for the betterpart of two weeks. An inversion, they called it.
"That's it, git 'er." A slurred voice rolled along the alley, oddlyamplifying the silence left in its wake. I could hear it now. Under theshoe noise and the grunting. First the sporadic ticking of the fire,then, down at the bottom, a continuous, rhythmic keening, at timesalmost a whistle, rising insistently from the ground. I willed my legsforward, but apparently they had other plans. Before I could get a grip,Norman shouldered me aside and strode out ahead.
Arriving at the circle of men, he reached in and separated the nearestpair with enough force to create a staggering chain reaction around theentire circle. On his left, the force ricocheted the heads of twoloose-necked drunks. A bottle shattered on the pavement. An emaciatedguy of about thirty,his blue watchcap dislodged and rolling at hisfeet, stumbled to one knee, clutching his ear. "On the right" the old guyin the tweed overcoat was squeezed, seedlike, out into the center, ofthe circle where he stood blinking and chewing his gums, waiting forhis numbed nerves to give him some sort of hint as to what in bell hadjust happened. I followed Norman through the breach.
Two figures rolled and kicked amid the damp refuse. Up close, the soundI'd heard back in the mouth of the alley was less a whine of terror andmore a groan of strained resistance. Sitting astride a strugglingfigure, blue bandana worn pirate style, was a ragged specimen -- fortygoing on seventy-five -- his leathery face a maze of booze-etchedcrevices, landscaped here and there by a dun beard and mustache. He towat the clothes of the other figure, who was scrunched into a defensiveposture, one hand with a death lock on the belt line of a sagging pairof trousers, the other clawing at the dangling sleeve of a green satinjacket, torn to strings at the shoulder, revealing an oblong breast, bigbrown nipple slightly off center, peeking from beneath a bunched flannelshirt.
With a single lengthened stride, Norman punted the pirate back toPenzance. The ungodly force of the huge boot completely separated himfrom his victim, propelling him airborne express to the far side ofthe circle of men, where he came to rest, rocking silently on his spine,face smoothed with purple blood, bug-eyed paralyzed at the feet of a pair ofIndians who seemed unable to comprehend this sudden change in tonight'sentertainment schedule.
The remaining figure immediately regained her feet and tottered towardthe east wall, the free hand hauling her drawers back up over her hips,one eye, visible through her hair, never leaving Norman. Instinctively,I reached to help. She backed against the wall, pulled her right fist back into her sleeve, and waited for my next move.
George stepped between us. "Leave her be, Leo," he said, "Don't be such a goddamn social worker."
"She needs --" I started.
He stepped in closer. "Yeah. She needs a lotta shit, Leo, and ain't none of it gonna come from you neither. "Less of course you wanna take her away from all this. You gonna marry her or something?"
Over George's left shoulder, I could see that she was halfway back the way we'd come, eyes welded to us, using the wall for support.
The pirate had rolled onto his side and rite-bed up a small pool ofthick liquid that struggled to spread itself upon the dirt. The eight ornine spectators began to stagger off intodie darkness,
"Ally ally infree." Norman roared from behind me. He held down thecenter like a ragged obelisk. Bigger even than usual. Wearing everythinghe owned. The better part of six-seven, his massive arms spread as if inembrace, his gnarled hands beckoning. On the street they, called himNearly Normal Norman, or sometimes just Normal. It was a joke. You Onlyhad to once look into Norman's eyes to be absolutely certain that thisperson was not watching the same channel as the rest of us. A couple ofyears back, the last time he'd earned himself a state-mandated tune-up,I'd watched six cops and a couple of paramedics fail to get him into anambulance. The third wave of reinforcements finally tracked him downover in Hing Hay park, where he was contentedly feeding corned-beefhash to the park's feral pigeons.
As the gathering crowd jeered, they'd cornered, him in the pagoda andTasared him six times. He'd seemed to devour the voltage -like somewalking storage battery, his eyes Slowing ever brighter after each shotof juice. It wasn't until they'd busted the third syringe off in himthat he even began to slow down. I don't care what anybody says, I stillcontend that if he hadn't been naked, they'd never have taken him...
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