“All the good guys have to work with are the victims’ torsos. He also sexually mutilates the women with a sharply pointed object like a stake. I haven’t called Feds yet. You in?”
“Just their torsos, you say?”
“Right. Both women shot through the heart, and with the same gun.”
“Damn,” Pearl said.
Mr. Tattoo said something that made Judy flinch, then he wheeled and made for the door at a fast walk.
Pearl looked at Judy.
Judy looked at Pearl.
Judy looked at Mr. Tattoo and silently mouthed, “Stop him!”
“You in, Pearl?”
Pearl took two long strides, shoved a woman in a teller’s line aside, and made for the tattooed guy. “You,” she said softly but firmly, so as not to cause instant bedlam. “Stop right where you are.”
“What’s that, Pearl? What’s going on?”
She slipped the cell phone into a side pocket of her gray uniform pants and caught up with the tattooed guy. He glanced at her and broke into a run. Pearl tackled him and brought him down on the hard marble floor, bumping her elbow hard enough that her right arm went numb. Customers were moving fast, like dancing shadows, on the periphery of her vision. A woman screamed.
“Hey, you bitch!” yelled the tattooed guy, scrambling to get up.
Pearl kicked his legs out from under him.
“Hey!” he yelled again and scooted backward out of her reach. Didn’t try to get up, though.
She fumbled for her gun and couldn’t get it out of its holster. Hell with it. She crawled over and turned Mr. Tats on his belly and reached around for her handcuffs. He wasn’t resisting. The kick in the legs she’d given him might have sprung one of his knees.
“Miss Kasner!” a woman’s voice was saying. “Miss Kasner, don’t hurt him! Please!”
Pearl looked up to see Judy standing over her. Behind Judy, all around the lobby, the bank’s customers were frozen by fear. Some of them were on the floor like Pearl and the tattooed guy.
“You asked me to stop him,” Pearl said to Judy. “Didn’t he try to rob the bank?”
“No. He just robbed me by refusing to give me my child support money. He’s my ex-husband, is all, not a bank robber.”
Pearl struggled to her feet, furious. The pain in her elbow flared. “Why the hell did you ask me to stop him?”
“I dunno. I just did.” Judy began to cry.
“I’m gonna goddamn sue you!” snarled the tattooed guy, sitting up now and glaring at Pearl.
“Sue me? You’re lucky I didn’t—”
Another voice. That of Copperthwaite, the bank manager. “When Judy calms down I’d like to see both of you in my office.”
“I-I’m okay.” Judy sniffled and used the back of her wrist to wipe her eyes, which were blackened by running mascara, making her look like a distraught raccoon. She kneeled low and brushed a lock of hair from Mr. Tats’s forehead.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Pearl swore, dusting herself off and rubbing her sore elbow.
Yet another voice. Very faint. Familiar.
Oh, yeah. Quinn.
Pearl fished the cell phone out of her pocket and held it to her ear.
“I’m in,” she said.
Fedderman wondered if he’d retired too soon. He was the youngest of the golf foursome from the Coral Castle condo project on Florida’s serene and scenic southwest coast. It was like paradise here except for hurricane season, and Fedderman knew he should be happy despite the fact that his wife, Blanche, had left him…what, a year ago now. It seemed much shorter. All he had to do in life was collect his pension and lie around the condo or play golf. Being retired, he was supposed to like just lying around. He was supposed to like golf.
He was supposed to like fishing, too, but frankly some of the things he’d caught in the ocean while deep-sea fishing scared him. Not to mention the seasickness.
“Hit the damned ball, Larry!” Chet, one of his foursome, shouted.
Fedderman looked back at him and waved. His drive had taken him off the fairway and into the rough, which was to say high saw grass that would cut your hand if you tried to pull up a clump. It was a miracle he’d even found the damned ball.
Never a man whose clothes quite fit, Fedderman’s tall and lanky yet potbellied form even made his golf outfit look like it belonged on someone else. One sleeve of his blue knit pullover seemed longer than the other, and his muted plaid slacks made him look as if he were standing in a brisk wind even though the weather was calm. And hot. And humid.
As he approached the ball, Fedderman slapped at a mosquito and missed. His seemingly mismatched body parts made for an interesting golf swing as he took a practice swish, then moved closer and slashed the ball out of the rough. It rose neatly toward the green, carrying Fedderman’s hope with it, then suddenly veered right as if it had encountered the jet stream and landed among some trees.
“You missed the sand trap, anyway!” Chet shouted. Fedderman was learning to dislike Chet.
Fedderman’s shot again. His three fellow golfers were already on the green. He was isolated in what seemed a forest of palm trees near a running creek. There was his ball. Not a bad lie, on a stretch of grass that wasn’t so high, because the sun never reached it beneath the closely grouped palms.
Something moved near the creek. Fedderman stared but saw nothing in the tall grass. He’d heard about alligators on the golf course but had never seen one, even on his frequent journeys into the rough. Still, he was sure he’d seen some kind of movement not human and it gave him the creeps.
He quickly approached his ball and set himself. He’d have to keep the shot low and get the ball between the trunks of two palm trees if he even had a chance to get near the barely visible green.
“Shoot the ball!” Chet yelled. “Shoot the ball, Larry!”
Shoot you, you dumb bastard!
Movement again, in the corner of his vision. There sure as hell was something over there in the shadows.
Fedderman took a quick practice swing, then hurried his shot.
He really nailed this one. Solid. It felt great.
The ball flew about ten feet, bounced off a palm trunk, and rocketed straight back and hit Fedderman in the head.
He threw down his club and clutched his skull, then staggered out into the searing sunlight. His cleated golf shoes snagged in the tall grass and he almost fell. Chet was yelling something, maybe laughing.
He had to get out of here! Had to!
Fedderman’s cell phone chirped.
Two months earlier
Shellie Marston paced in the vast glass and marble atrium of the CitiGroup Building at Third Avenue and Fifty-third Street. She walked again past a display window and tried to glance at her reflection without attracting attention. She saw a woman in her late twenties with medium-cut blond hair, a definitely filled-out but not too fat figure in a new maroon Avanti sweat suit and startlingly white New Balance jogging shoes. She wore a white scarf around her neck. Too much? Not considering that she was wearing no jewelry