Bricks and Cam are back, this time fleeing from the East Coast after closing accounts with the mob. Planning a new life on the West Coast, the pair of hit men stop off in Ashton, a small, rural town in eastern Washington, only to immediately find themselves embroiled in trouble in typical fashion.
What starts in a bar as a simple intervention between an abusive boyfriend and his victim girlfriend quickly escalates into a blood feud between Bricks and Cam and the family of local backwoods royalty, the Crawfords. Once Bricks and Cam draw first blood, all of the force of the extended Crawford family and their militia-minded cohorts are brought to bear on them. The Crawfords have numbers and hometown advantage, but they’ve never gone up against anyone like Bricks and Cam before. Bricks’ lethal cunning and Cam’s penchant for successful messes wreaks havoc with the Crawford’s attempts to bring them to small town justice.
Despite their talents, though, the two big city assassins soon find themselves struggling not just to win this war, but to make it out of town alive.
The Getaway List is the explosive final Bricks & Cam Job.
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"I think we're lost," Cam said.
"We're not lost," I told him.
"I think we are."
"Then where are we?"
I turned to look at him. He sat perched forward in the passenger seat of the rental car, peering out the window like we were on a moon voyage and he was staring out into the depths of space. This current attitude contrasted with how easygoing he'd been for the last half of the trip or so.
"We are on a secondary highway, headed west from Spokane toward Seattle," I said calmly, but even I could hear the frustration creeping into my tone.
"You think so. But I haven't seen a sign in almost an hour." I held up a middle finger. "How's that for a sign?"
He scowled. Doing that didn't make him look any less average. Really, Cam could be the guy who worked at the grocery store or taught third grade. So scowling just made him look petulant. "I'm serious, Bricks. I think we're lost. And how much gas do we have?" I glanced at the fuel gauge. It was down to a quarter tank, so I decided not to address that issue. Instead, I stuck with his first point. "We're not goddamn lost."
"You're only saying that because you're driving. If I was driving, you'd be saying exactly what I'm saying. That we're lost. And probably making some comment about men and directions."
"That'd be sexist. I'd never do that. Besides, if you were driving, we'd still be in Montana somewhere."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"That you drive like old people fuck."
He shook his head. "Don't deflect. We're lost."
"I'm not deflecting, and we are not lost."
Cam sighed. "We should've stayed on I-90. I saw a sign that said two hundred seventy miles to Seattle. What's that, five hours?"
"Nine if you're driving," I said. "And let's not forget that you're the one who wanted to see the countryside. That's the reason we're on this stupid two-laner to begin with."
He raised his index finger. "Aha! So you admit we're lost!" "No. I admit you're an idiot, and we're on a two-lane highway headed west. Toward Seattle. Which is a stupid destination anyway, but whatever."
Cam sighed again, this time with dramatic exaggeration. "Again with the Seattle thing? I thought we settled this."
"It is settled. And stupid."
"If you think it's so stupid, why are you coming along?" I shot him a knowing look. He held up his hands in apology. "Okay, okay. Sorry."
We fell silent for a few minutes. I spent most of that time wishing the rental car had a navigation system in it, because the truth was, we were a little lost. The first rental car we'd had was fully stocked with satellite radio, seat warmers, and a nav computer. But we returned that one in Philadelphia, took a train to D.C., and picked up a new rental car from a different company there. We pulled the same stunt in St. Louis, using Cam's only fake credit card and ID in the process. It was the modern equivalent of using a leafy branch to cover our tracks, and while it would keep the casual observer at bay, I wondered how bulletproof it would be if a professional investigator came looking, however unlikely that was. After what we pulled, if anyone came looking, it'd be a goombah wearing a track suit and driving a Lincoln with a plastic-lined trunk.
So caution had become our newest habit. We figured if we wanted a fresh start out west, away from 'the life,' we needed a clean break from our identities on the East Coast. To that end, Cam had been spending his evenings on his laptop figuring out how to get us some new identities once we landed, and except for the rental car in St. Louis, we'd been paying cash for everything.
Cam's question rang in my ears. Why are you coming along? The answer was pretty simple. He was all the family I had, and I was it for him, too. So even though he irritated the hell out of me as much as if he were an actual little brother, I also knew he'd always come through for me. That was one thing we'd figured out about each other.
A new start was what we were looking for. A better life. That was the idea.
Seattle was his idea. I hated it. Flannels and fish, I told him. No thanks, I told him. Los Angeles, I told him. But he whined and cajoled and reasoned until I gave in. Kind of like when he said we should leave the interstate to see the countryside for this last leg of our trip.
Which is why we were lost.
"I can't believe we're lost," he muttered. "Probably run out of gas out here in the middle of nowhere, too."
"We're not lost," I replied automatically.
Cam muttered under his breath. The noise sounded suspiciously like "Are, too." I didn't bother coming back to that one. Up ahead, the car's headlights reflected off a sign, so I pointed instead. "Look."
Cam perked up a little, but his face remained doubtful. "Probably just says to watch for deer or buffalo or something."
"Maybe it says no bitching."
What it said was Ashton, 3 Miles.
I grinned. "See? We're three miles from Ashton. Not lost."
Cam didn't grin back. "Yeah, and Ashton is probably in Canada."
It wasn't. The sign at the outskirts of the town read Welcome to Ashton, Washington, Established 1884, Population 4873.
"Christ," I muttered. "My high school was bigger than this town. Think anything is even open this time of night?"
Cam glanced at his watch. "It's nine-fifteen."
"Exactly my point."
"There's gotta be a gas station, at least," Cam said. "And let's stop for some food. I'm hungry."
I slowed down and cruised down the main drag through the tiny burgh, which could have doubled for a museum presentation of small town Americana. Most of the shops were dark. A few people walked along the sidewalks, but you could have fit them all into the kitchen of my old apartment.
Downtown lasted all of about ninety seconds of drive time. It ended abruptly, opening up to the two lane highway again.
I slowed the car further. "I didn't see anything open. You want to swing back through?"
Cam shrugged. "It looked like there was another road that crossed Main Street. There might be some restaurants there."
"One cross street?" I said. "That's all we get?"
"It's not the City, but ..."
"Stop. No more need be said. Nothing will ever be like the City."
"You miss it already, huh?"
I looked for a place to turn around. "You don't?"
He thought about it. "Yes and no. More no than yes."
"More yes than no for me." I was about ready to flip a U-turn when I spotted another lit up business down the road. I pointed. "Does that look like a restaurant to you?"
Cam peered out the windshield. "More like a roadhouse, but yeah."
"Okay, Patrick Swayze," I teased, and accelerated. "Either way, they'll have food."
"And somebody we can ask for directions."
"Why?" I asked him, pulling into the gravel parking lot. "We're not lost."CHAPTER 2
A New York City bar is a very specific thing. They're tiny and dark, like you're nestled into someone's front pants pocket — it's usually warm and smells a bit like ball sweat. This place was a whole different kind of specific.
First off, it was one giant room. High ceilings with rafters made of uncut logs. Wood in varying slices and cross-sections seemed to be the main decoration, like we'd walked into an assemble-your-own-pine-forest kit. The walls were wood, the floors were wood, the bar, the chairs, the signs for the men's room.
The other main decorating highlight was taxidermy. The place was dense with all manner of woodland creatures: raccoons, beavers, bobcats, porcupines and one big specimen in the corner of a mountain lion who had seen better days. My first, horrified thought was that I was looking at samplings from the menu.
Bricks and I made our way to a table and our eyes were wide trying to take it all in.
The place smelled like a pencil sharpener. Sawdust, I guess.
The room was half bar and half restaurant with booths along one wall and a long bar with stools against another. Tables in back flanked a pool table and dart board while round tables filled in the eating part of the floor, though all of this took up only about a third of the room.
The music on the stereo was ... interesting. Not my style, let's just say that.
"This looks like the kind of place where you might meet a nice lumberjack who'll take you back to his log cabin and make you his wife," I said to Bricks.
She wasn't in the mood for humor yet and gave me a sour smile. As I looked at her I couldn't help thinking she didn't look too out of place here. Not for a girl who'd barely ever left the five boroughs. During our long drive she had paid less and less attention to stuff like makeup and her hair. Not that she ever did, but now it seemed like she was actively rejecting the idea. Throw a trucker hat on her and she'd look like ... a trucker, I guess. Although she didn't have that wide trucker ass. She was small, which always burned the guys back home a little hotter when she would show her skills with a gun or a knife. She was five-foot-five of killing power.
Bricks had never gone in for the beauty regimen bullshit. It's one thing I liked about her. Low maintenance. Her plain, not ugly or homely, but unspectacular looks made her a second class citizen among the made men and sexist pigs of the family. Out here, she looked like a good catch. A woman who would fit right in living in a log cabin. I almost told her as much, but didn't feel like getting my ass kicked right then.
We sat and a waitress brought two menus.
"Get you a drink?"
"Beer," Bricks said. "Whatever's on tap and not light."
I guess that was her way of telling me I was driving the next leg of our journey out west. "I'll have a Coke, I guess."
"We got Pepsi."
"Of course you do."
I smiled and she took that as an okay. As the hip-heavy waitress waddled away I opened the menu and found an array of meats like I'd never seen before. Steaks and slabs and burgers galore. They had beef, bison, lamb, pork, venison and — presumably for the housewives and little girls — chicken.
"Jesus, it's like the menu at a slaughterhouse," I said.
"Or a zoo." Bricks didn't look up from her menu but I guess she was warming to the idea of a little humor, so long as it was hers.
The rest of the crowd ignored us, which was easy to do in a place that big. The mountain lion could have come back to life and wandered around for a few minutes before anyone would have taken notice of him. I closed my menu, settled on a basic bacon cheeseburger.
Bricks closed hers and said, "I'm gonna get the buffalo burger." "When in Rome, I guess."
"I need something hearty. You wouldn't think sitting on your ass in a car would build up much of an appetite."
"At least we're almost done with the sitting on our asses part. Man, I've never driven this much before in my whole life."
"It's a big country."
"And everything is so spread out once you get past the Mississippi River."
"Once you get past the Hudson, you mean."
"Yeah, I guess so."
The waitress dropped off our drinks and Bricks attacked her beer hungrily. She intended on more, it seemed. We ordered and the waitress walked away scribbling it down on her pad.
"So, look," I said. "Do we need to talk about Seattle? It's not too late to change, I guess."
She licked beer foam off her top lip. I tried not to buy into it too much, but I could see how people made a habit of thinking she was a lesbian. A lesbian trucker. I knew damn well better than to say that out loud, even though I knew the trucker part was the insult. She never corrected anyone thinking she was a lesbian because she didn't see that it was anyone's business one way or the other. Neither did I. Still didn't mean I was gonna start saying it to her.
"No, it's fine." She exhaled, letting the beer wash away some of the road grit. "One place is as good as any other, I guess. But I'm telling you now, if it rains every goddamn day, I'm headed to L.A."
"The good thing about not being tied down anywhere, huh?"
"Yeah. I wish we had more money though."
She gave me a look from underneath her brows as she took another sip. Yeah, I'd given away a chunk of our cash to a distant relative, but that was because I'd almost gotten him killed, so I felt like I owed him. Now, if only I could get someone to pay me every time I almost got killed, I'd be a friggin' millionaire.
And what's money anyway when we have our lives? We'd barely escaped with them this last time. And the time before that, if I'm being honest.
"I'll say this," I said. "I like all these trees."
"Yeah. Way better than the flat plains for days and days. Why the hell does anyone live in Nebraska, anyway?"
"Someone's gotta be a farmer."
"And someone's gotta pull a trigger for money."
"It's the family business." I held up my Pepsi glass for a toast. For the first time in a hundred miles, Bricks smiled. We clinked glasses and drank.
Off in back near the pool table some drunk was getting loud. Loud enough to draw our attention to him. It may have been that we were perpetually jumpy, but any disturbance warranted checking out.
It turned out to be guy fighting with his girlfriend. In a way it made the place a little more like a New York bar. We ignored it and waited for our food to arrive. At least the belligerent bastard covered up some of the shit on the jukebox. I thought country music was for the South? I don't know what I expected up here, though. Grunge? Do they still do grunge?
When the hippy waitress returned with two plates of ground meat and a mini mountain of fries, baked beans and more condiments than I knew existed in the world, even she threw a look over her shoulder at the drunk who had gotten even louder.
Her attitude was minor annoyance and also a little fear. I wondered if he was a regular and if this was a regular occurrence.
His voice carried across the open room. "I told you I don't know when. I'll be back when I'm back. You're not my mama. I don't have a goddamn curfew with you."
I tucked into my burger and it was damn good. This was hearty lumberjack food and it hit the spot. I looked at Bricks to see if she was enjoying her buffalo as much. Her forehead was knitted as she chewed, her ears and attention tuned to that back corner of the room.
"Would you just shut the fuck up about it, Jesus H. Christ on a crutch."
I swiveled my head and saw the bartender calmly polishing glasses that were already clean. The waitress had retreated back into the kitchen and the other patrons had their mouths full and heads bowed like they were praying to their food. Or avoiding an awkward situation.
"All right, Hunt, just let it go." The woman's voice was aggravated but also cowed. "You're the one who can't let it fucking go, bitch."
I saw Bricks tense up at that word. She squeezed on her burger until the juices ran down her wrist.
The drunk, Hunt, I guess his name was, was on a righteous rant now about his personal freedoms to come and go as he pleased or some such bullshit. I didn't really want to stereotype, but he struck me as one of those guys who's always bitching about someone taking away his liberty even when nobody gives a good goddamn about him or where the hell he sleeps at night.
"I'll go where I want and I'll be where I'm at. I want to go fishing with my brothers — my goddamn, brothers, Shelly — so I fucking A will go."
Bricks set down her burger and swallowed. "I gotta say something."
"Say what? To him? Bricks, no way. Let it go. He's just a half drunk redneck."
"You hear the way he's talking to her?"
"I do, but it's not our problem."
"Cam," she said, giving me a serious stare-down. "Don't be such a guy."
"Hey, I respect women. I'd never talk to you or anyone else like that."
As if to prove my point a slightly slurred high-volume, "So fu-u-u-u-ck you," came from the back of the barroom.
She cocked her head at me. "And it's not okay for him to do it, either."
Any other time I'd have been right there with her, but we had to be cautious. There's nothing I love more than kicking a drunk's ass when he asks for it, but that doesn't mix and match with being on the run.
"Bricks, this is a stop-off. We're in and out, never to see this town or these people again. What we need to do now is stay off the radar. It's why we're on the smaller road, it's why we're going to the smaller city. We need to lay low and not get into any trouble."
It was like I'd worked some sort of masterful reverse psychology on her. Bricks waited until I'd finished my sentence, pushed back from the table and stood, turned for the back of the room and didn't look back.
"Son of a —"
I scraped my chair across the wood as I stood quickly and followed her. Not to stop her — to have her back.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Getaway List"
Copyright © 2018 Frank Zafiro and Eric Beetner.
Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Getaway List,
About the Author,
Also by the Author,