Back in Columbus, Susan and Emily stopped in the food court so Susan could complain about Emily’s attitude. “You are so distracted.”
“What? You don’t like what I am wearing?” She was in a dress and her long winter woolen coat, a rich burgundy color with big brass buttons.
“No, you look fine, which for you is a bit of a miracle. But I mean you have money for Christmas presents and you are not anxious to spend it. Are you feeling all right?”
Emily smiled. Susan was famous for getting money from her parents to go buy presents for people and accidentally spending it on herself. “I’m just waiting until I find something for someone else,” Emily said and sat back. They heard the sound of a firecracker in the distance. The bullet split the table where Emily had been hovering over her burger. She grabbed Susan and dragged her to the ground over Susan’s very loud protests. Then Emily scooted from under one table to under another and slowly worked her way in the direction she imagined was the source of the gunfire.
The screaming started in a second, and people began to run as soon as they saw the man with the gun. As far as the man’s position was concerned, people running away was sort of a dead giveaway. The man craned his neck and tried to catch sight of Emily, but Emily was already closer than he was looking. Another moment and the man holstered his gun, having attracted far too much attention. He started toward the exit at the end of the food court, and Emily cursed softly because she was almost at the point where she could jump him.
The man suddenly doubled over and fell to the floor. Emily looked with her eyes but did not vacate her safe spot. There was another man by the exit. He was mostly hidden by a trench coat so Emily could not quite make out the man’s features, and he left before she could get closer.
Emily was fairly sure what happened, and confirmed her guess when she found the man on the floor soaked in blood. She turned him over. He took a bullet in the heart, and it was a perfect shot.
Susan stepped up to her shoulder and commented. “I see with you the violence has escalated. Back in high school you just beat people up.”
The following night, Emily went to her now annual Thanksgiving bowling tournament with Molly and Cathy. This time Marion, the police woman went along for the ride. They made her get some funky shoes and pick out a ball. Marion insisted she had not been bowling since high school herself, but Cathy thought that was a good thing because she might be someone Cathy could beat.
“Roll it this year,” Molly teased. “Throwing is cheating.”
Cathy explained for Marion. “Last year she got mad and put her ball through the back wall of the alley.”
Emily shrugged off her embarrassment, and when Cathy went first, Marion spoke quietly. “No identification on the man, but the guess is he is a drifter. He opened a bank account yesterday afternoon and five thousand got deposited.”
“Gee,” Emily responded. “I thought I would be worth more than that.”
“But who do you figure the other is? We haven’t a guess. A friend wanting you alive?”
Emily shook her head. “I was thinking rival gang wanting credit for the kill, like a competitor.”
Marion shrugged just before they heard the rat-ta-tat of a semi-automatic and both hit the ground. Molly caught a bullet in her shoulder. Cathy got shot in the leg. Marion and Emily escaped, and Marion had her gun out, but there was confusion in the alley. Once again people were screaming and running away.
Emily managed a peek around the corner into the next lane where a man sat, unmoving. He appeared frozen with fear. Otherwise, Emily could not see anything.
Marion risked rising up. Her hands sweated on her gun, but she had a clear lane, saw the man with the assault rifle coming close. She managed a shot. She hit him somewhere. His gun went off and two more people fell, bloody to the floor while he backed into the snack bar. There was a very long second before people rushed out of the snack bar, and both Emily and Marion caught a glimpse of a trench coat, but nothing more.
When the two of them got to the room where the woman behind the bar was cowering in the corner, they found the man with the rifle on the floor, dead. He had Marion’s bullet in his stomach, but the killer shot the man in the heart.
“Bet the bullet matches the other one,” Emily said.
“No bet, your majesty,” Marion responded.