On the night he escapes the asylum, Tom does not take his medication. He slips out of bed soon after lights out, pockets a knife, and goes looking for a guard. At knifepoint, he takes the man’s clothes, cuts his throat, and walks out of the institution a free man. His brother is waiting outside the gate. They have work to do.
As Tom and his brother cut a bloody swath across Los Angeles County, it falls to Blue Maguire and Spaceman Kowalski to find them. Even in the strangest precincts of the LAPD, there are no two cops quite like Spaceman, a hard-boiled detective of the old school, and Blue, his margarita-sipping, always-fashionable partner. Stopping the Hitchcock brothers will take them closer to the brink than ever before—but Spaceman and Blue are happiest on the edge.
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A Blue Maguire and Spaceman Kowalski Mystery
By Teri White
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1984 Teri White
All rights reserved.
He was getting out.
Tom Hitchcock had been planning this night for a very long time, waiting for it, hanging onto it as a fragile thread of hope. Now the moment was here and nothing could spoil it for him. He felt as if he could afford to savor each minute of anticipation.
Tom knew that the secret of his master plan was in its simplicity. Complicated plots, he'd decided a long time ago, just led to complications. His was the kind of mind able to grasp that basic truth, which was why he deserved to get out, while all the other idiots would stay locked up.
Survival of the fittest.
No one on the inside knew what was going to happen this night. Some of the assholes in here were so damned stupid that they blabbed their clever escape plans to all, even their stupider friends. Sooner or later word would get back to the cut-rate Nazis in charge, and bingo, another big break-out attempt would fall flat on its face.
That wasn't going to happen to him. Tom never let slip even the slightest hint of what he was going to do. It was pretty simple for him to keep the secret, of course, because he didn't have any friends to spill the beans to. After almost ten years spent within the walls of this place, the last three in the minimum security ward, he was as alone as he'd been on the day they locked him up.
There was only one person in the whole universe that Tom Hitchcock trusted, and that person was waiting for him on the outside.
Tom went into supper just as he did every other evening, although his stomach was feeling sort of queasy. There couldn't be any change at all in his routine or attitude; anything like that might alert the shrinks that something was up. They had their sneaky ways of reading people, even him sometimes. So he sat for what would be the last time in the steamy cafeteria, with its dirty green walls and damp smells, and shoveled the meal into his mouth.
He ate meat loaf, canned peas, and tapioca pudding with the same lack of interest as always.
When the meal was finally over, he even forced himself to parade into the dayroom with several others to watch the television. They took a vote and everybody wanted to see the same thing for a change, the Clint Eastwood movie. But the bitch of a nurse checked the Forbidden Viewing list and found Dirty Harry there, so that was out. They ended up with Love Boat.
Tom thought it was a dumb show, made even worse because much of the hour was peppered with comments from members of the group, mostly dealing with how much they'd like to get into the pants of the blonde broad. It was always the same with those jerks. Tom sat silently through the whole program, not wanting the others to see how disgusted he was by their words. They had no respect for themselves or others.
But then he decided: To hell with all these creeps and crazies anyway. Before long, Tom Hitchcock would be just a memory around here. Or maybe more than that; maybe he'd be a legend.
When the show finally ended, it was almost time for lights out. Tom headed for his room quickly, needing to use the john. It was about the tenth time of the day. Nerves, he knew. Yet he also knew that there wasn't a damned thing to be nervous about. The careful planning he'd done insured that nothing could go wrong.
It was thirty minutes before the night nurse showed up with his bedtime medication. He pretended to swallow the brightly colored capsules, just as he'd been doing for months. When the nurse was gone, he added the pills to his secret stash, which also included a couple of filled hypodermic syringes he'd managed to lift from the medications cart once.
Another hour passed before things were quiet on the floor. Tom, still wearing his khaki pants, was in bed, covered by a thin sheet, when the aide, Lang, made his final room check. Tom kept his eyes closed and his breathing even. As soon as the door closed again, he slid from the bed. The adrenaline was flowing through his body much too fast, and he took a couple of deep breaths to stop the slight shaking in his hands.
A faint light leaked in from beneath the door, and in the pale glow it created Tom crouched to pull the knife from its hiding place behind the dresser. He tested the blade lovingly and smiled.
He was ready to leave the room. This part had all been rehearsed so many times that the late-night hallway was a familiar place to him. He knew just who on the staff would be where at any given moment. Timing was the most crucial thing in an operation like this one. Being in just the right spot at the right second.
As he had expected, the door to the employee lounge was locked. The lock was such a shoddy piece of equipment, though, that it took him only an instant to snap it open. He stepped into the empty room, closing the door again, hearing the lock click into place once more.
There was a large metal wardrobe in one corner of the room, where the aides and nurses hung their jackets and things. Between the wardrobe and the wall was a niche just large enough for Tom's purposes.
The wait seemed much longer that the twenty minutes he knew it was. Lang left at the same time every night. Routine. It would be the downfall of mankind. At last Tom heard the door open again, and then footsteps approaching the wardrobe. He tensed, holding the knife more firmly in his left hand.
Hangers clattered as Lang reached into the closet to hang up the white lab coat and pull out something else. The wardrobe door clanged closed. Lang had just donned a light windbreaker when Tom made his move. The knife was at Lang's throat before he could react.
"Shh," Tom cautioned. Then he smiled. "I wouldn't like to cut you by accident," he said politely.
Lang's eyes darted from side to side, dark pools in his suddenly pale face.
Tom edged out of his hiding place, wrapping an arm tightly around Lang; the point of the knife just pricked lightly at the skin of his neck. "You won't go all stupid on me, will you, buddy?"
Lang opened his mouth as if to say something, but the extra pressure Tom exerted on the knife made him close it again. He just shook his head very slightly.
"Good boy. Now listen up. You and me, we're gonna take a little walk right down the hall to my room. No noise. Nothing, you understand? Because if anything goes wrong, you'll get hurt. Hurt bad. What've I got to lose by cutting you, right?"
Lang jerked his head once in mute understanding.
They moved out of the lounge, still locked together in the macabre embrace. They were almost of a size, of course; that was an important part of the plan. Also, Lang's hair, like Tom's, was black and curly. He had waited a long time for someone like Lang to come along.
The hallway was empty, although they could hear soft night voices coming from the nurses' station. As they walked in a sidewise crab style, the point of the knife never wavered.
The journey seemed to take a century at least, but finally they reached his room. Feeling safe again, Tom allowed himself a small sigh of relief. He switched the lamp on. "Lay down on the floor," he ordered. "Spread-eagled."
Lang obeyed. It helped the plan that he was a coward, Tom thought. But then most people were.
Tom knelt next to him. "Listen up again. I want you to undress. You might be thinking about trying something. And you might even be able to fuck up my plans. That would make you a hero, probably." He poked the knife into Lang's ribcage. "But you'd be a dead hero, I promise. William Lang would be one dead motherfucker, because I'd kill you before anybody else could get in here. Do you believe what I'm saying?"
"Good. Now you just stay right where you are and get those clothes off."
Lang began to wriggle out of shoes, pants, jacket, and shirt. His desperate gaze never left Tom's face. He didn't look at the knife even once. In moments, he was still again, clad now only in pale blue briefs and white athletic socks. His Giants baseball cap, which he seemed always to be wearing, on or off duty, had fallen to the floor. Tom reached over with one hand and removed the man's glasses. Then he pushed everything safely out of the way.
The knife blade grazed the front of the briefs lightly. "You can keep those on. See what a nice guy I am?"
"Yeah," Lang said in a hoarse whisper.
"Yeah, you're a nice guy."
Tom smiled at Lang and then with one swift gesture, cut the man's throat. Blood spurted and he pulled away quickly. He'd forgotten how much blood a human being had inside. Lang was still looking at him, bewildered. Finally, his body gave one terrible shudder, and Lang died with a soft gurgling noise.
Tom didn't have a chance to congratulate himself on how well things were going so far. Timing, timing. He hoisted Lang's body and dumped it into the bed, facing the wall. Blood made a dark trail across the floor, but that couldn't be helped. When the sheet was pulled high enough, all that could be seen of the dead man was a thatch of tangled dark hair.
Still moving quickly but calmly, Tom pulled off his pants and used them to wipe up some of the blood. It was a lousy cleaning job, but he reassured himself by remembering that it wouldn't have to stand a close inspection until morning. By that time, he'd be long gone.
If his luck held.
He went into the bathroom and washed carefully, leaving the bloody towel and pants in a pile on the floor. Returning to the other room, he donned Lang's slacks, red knit shirt with the little fox on the front, and sneakers. The clothes fit well enough, although Lang had about ten pounds on him. Tom added the navy windbreaker, the baseball cap, and finally the tinted aviator glasses. That idiot Lang had made it all so simple. It was almost as if he were asking for something like this to happen.
But the easy part was over now.
Tom retrieved his hidden drug stash, shoving the plastic bag into the windbreaker pocket. The supply might come in very handy later. If nothing else, he could always sell the shit.
The knife went into the other pocket.
He glanced at the cheap alarm clock sitting on the dresser. Right on schedule. After one more glance around, he turned off the light and left the crummy little room forever.
The shoes, he discovered immediately, were a little too small, but he forced himself to walk naturally, ignoring the twinges of pain in his toes. There was, as always, a paperback book shoved into the left rear pocket of Lang's jeans. Tom tugged at the book until it slid out. He opened it at random and started to read, paying no attention to the words, not even knowing what they were.
He could feel his gut tighten as he got closer to the circle of light that marked the nurses' station. A few feet to the left of that was the guard's desk. It had always seemed to Tom that this place couldn't make up its mind whether to be a jail or a hospital. Now he didn't care.
The guard, Morgan, had his face buried in a copy of Playboy. There was only one nurse at the station. The second, he knew, would be checking rooms in the east wing, and the third was on her break now, in the lounge. None of this knowledge was a result of luck or divine blessing. Tom knew that things were going so well only because he was so smart and had planned so carefully.
This part, however, had not been rehearsed; he was going in cold.
Keeping his head bent low over the book, Tom walked precisely in the narrow band of shadow that fell between the nurse and where Morgan sat. No man's land.
The nurse glanced his way, barely looking up from some papers she was working on. "'Night, Billy," she said.
He raised a hand in absent-minded farewell.
Morgan was still huddled over his magazine.
Tom hardly allowed himself to breathe as he moved down the hall. He stopped at the electronically controlled door. "Hey," he said in a muffled voice, not turning.
"Sorry, Lang," Morgan said, belatedly pressing the release button. "See you."
"Yeah." He stepped through the doorway.
When he heard the lock click shut behind him, Tom had to bite his tongue to keep from shouting. But he held the emotional urge in. There were still plenty of ways for things to go wrong.
He didn't lift his head as he stepped into the elevator and turned toward the front, away from the gaze of the operator. The ride down was silent, with Tom reading and the other man yawning. When the doors slid open again, Tom got out quickly.
It was all so unbelievably goddamned simple.
He paused long enough in the lobby to sign out, scribbling Lang's name in the thick book shoved at him. He could sense the guard look quickly at the picture on the badge that was pinned to the front of the windbreaker, then at him.
One part of his mind expected an outcry, and he was ready for it. They wouldn't stop him now, no matter what. Not when freedom was so close that he could almost taste it. His fingers curled around the knife inside the pocket as he crossed the lobby.
But nothing happened.
Tom smiled a little. There would probably be some changes made around this place when it was discovered that he'd gotten out. Heads would roll. Still smiling, he nodded to the guard by the door and walked out.
There was still one more hurdle in his path, but Tom was absolutely calm as he turned away from the employee parking lot and headed, instead, for the front gate.
Still another damned uniformed man stepped out of the cubicle as he saw Tom approach. "What's up?" he asked, checking the badge in the dim light.
"Fucking car died. I think it's the battery."
"Want me to call the auto club?"
Tom shook his head. "Thanks, but I already called a friend to pick me up. I'll worry about the car in the morning. Right now, I just wanna get home."
"I can dig that."
Tom peered down the road and saw two faint pinpoints of light. They blinked once, then again. "There's my ride."
The guard opened the gate and waved Tom through.
He walked rapidly away, feeling the darkness close around him protectively. As he got closer to the lights, he could see a solitary figure inside the old brown pick-up.
Jody. His brother hadn't let him down.
Tom felt a smile beginning on his face, although he knew that Jody couldn't see him yet. It didn't matter. He was free. They were together again.
It was great to be alive.CHAPTER 2
"So? What about it?"
"So what about what?"
"You want to screw or not?"
Her name was Pamela, and no one would ever have the guts to call her Pam. She had very long, absolutely straight silver-blonde hair, tortoise shell glasses, and at the moment, an expression of exquisite disgust on her face. "You really enjoy playing the role, don't you?" she asked, instead of answering his question.
Blue Maguire paused in the middle of what he was doing, which happened to be mixing another pitcher of margaritas. "What role is that?" He supposed that dialogue like this was what he deserved for getting involved with a professor of sociology. Knowing that, unfortunately, didn't make it any easier to live with.
Pamela sighed. "The role of macho cop," she said wearily.
"Oh, that role. Sure, I enjoy it." He gestured toward the just-silenced television with one salt-rimmed glass. "Me and Dirty Harry Callahan. Just a couple of tough guys walking the mean streets."
"Maybe the part suits him. It doesn't suit you."
"No?" He crossed the room and gave her one of the drinks, then sat facing her, his own glass in hand. "Why doesn't it 'suit' me, as you say?" Stretching his legs out onto the glass-topped table, he stared at her.
"You're far too intelligent to be very believable as a dumb cop."
"Cops are dumb?"
She shrugged. "You must admit that there aren't very many brilliant minds in the field."
He nodded slowly and sipped the drink. "Anything besides my extraordinary mind makes you think I don't belong?"
A faint smile tugged at her lips, but she suppressed it; this was, apparently, to be a Serious Discussion. "You don't dress for the part," she said.
"Which would be how?"
"In a baggy suit that hasn't been pressed since Ike left office. Jesus, you don't even have a beer gut."
He was wearing a pale green Lacoste shirt, with tailored jeans, and soft leather Italian-made loafers. Still, his wardrobe seemed fairly irrelevant to the issue at hand. "But I am a cop," he said. "And cops are supposed to be team players. So shouldn't I try to fit the mold? Shouldn't I try to belong as much as I can?"
Excerpted from Bleeding Hearts by Teri White. Copyright © 1984 Teri White. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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