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Authors: Michael Kerr

Tags: #Crime Fiction, #Thrillers, #Vigilante Justice, #Murder, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Crime

Absolution (7 page)

BOOK: Absolution
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That Logan would stop and ambush them had not even crossed Martin’s mind.  He stamped on the brake pedal as the windshield exploded in front of his face, and pulled to the side of the highway, knowing immediately that they were once more under attack.

Strother was thrown forward off the rear seat, and as he instinctively put his hands up to cushion the impact with the back of the driver’s seat, he was punched backwards again as a second bullet missed Martin by a hairsbreadth and plowed into his neck.

Not even knowing what had happened, Strother slumped on to his side and bled out as his ruptured left carotid artery spurted a pulsating stream of blood over the window and upholstery.

Quitting the car, Martin and Al crouched behind a thicket of bushes.

“What now?” Al said, holding his MP5 in a white-knuckled grip.

“Skirt round and get behind him,” Martin said.  “He only has a handgun, and I doubt he’s got a spare mag, so he hasn’t got our firepower.”

Logan had hoped that he would hit the driver, and that the vehicle would crash.  When it stopped at the side of the road and he saw two figures climb out and vanish into thick shrubbery, he had a choice; drive away or continue his assault on them.  He checked the Glock’s magazine.  He had five rounds left.  It seemed hardly enough to go up against two well-armed men.  Commonsense dictated that he beat a hasty retreat, but a belief in his ability to deal with the situation won out.  He ran back past the Mazda, along the side of the vacant diner and up a short track at the rear, to hunker down behind the crumbling remains of a small brick-built building that he supposed may well have been used as a store or garage.

He waited, listening for any noise of the two men approaching.  The sound of night insects seemed loud in his ears, and the sudden shriek of an owl startled him.

It was five minutes later when he saw the silhouette of a man stealthily making his way to the rear of the diner.  He narrowed his eyes in the gloom, searching for the other man, but couldn’t spot him.

Martin had gone to higher ground.  He crept down to a point directly behind the roofless, half-demolished outbuilding.  Decided to use it for cover and wait to see if Al flushed Logan out.  He approached a gap that had once been a doorway, careful to watch where he walked, intent on being silent in case Logan was hidden nearby, waiting and listening.

CHAPTER TEN

Fran
sat bolt upright in the bed and reached for the shotgun.  Her hair was damp with sweat, even though the stale air in the bedroom was chilly.  She caught hold of the edge of the dream that had woken her: realized that it had been a nightmare and that in it she had been in danger from faceless strangers that had soundlessly entered her house in Pisinimo and hurt her as they questioned her over Andy and Logan.  They were going to kill her, and it was when one of them aimed a gun at her head and pulled the trigger that she had escaped into sudden and full consciousness.

Hugging herself, Fran was shaking with cold and irrational fear.  Thank God she had changed her mind and decided to come to the cabin.  Logan had convinced her that she was at real risk.  Said that the people involved were organized and ruthless, and that if she stayed they would find her, force her to give up the cabin’s location, and then kill her.

Putting on a toweling robe, Fran went through to the living room.  Andy was sitting in an old easy chair next to the stove, dozing.

Fran tiptoed across the large and ancient Navajo rug that covered much of the timbered floor, but the creak of a board underfoot woke Andy up.

“What’s wrong, Sis, can’t you sleep?” Andy said.

“I had a bad dream.  It woke me up.  I need a drink.”

“Coffee?”

“No, something a lot stronger.  I packed a bottle of bourbon with the foodstuff we brought.  Do you want one?”

Andy nodded.

“You think Logan will be okay?” Fran said as she opened the bottle of Jim Beam and poured large measures into two tumblers, after first blowing into them to dispel the dust, and wiping them with a dish towel that she found in a drawer.

“I hope so,” Andy said.  “I asked him not to go back to your place, but he said it was necessary.”

“Why is he involved?” Fran said.  “Do you know?”

Andy shook her head.  “I don’t really know anything about him.  Only that he’s an ex-cop, and that I think he decided to protect me after the two men broke into his motel room and I showed up.”

“There’s something special about him,” Fran said.

“He’s brutal,” Andy said.

“I would imagine only with those that give him good reason to be.”

Andy frowned.  “He’s dangerous.  He does what he wants with no regard to whether it’s legal or not.”

“Isn’t that what you were planning on doing?  He does what needs to be done. And without him you could have got yourself killed going after Zack Slater’s men.”

Andy took a sip of the bourbon and swallowed hard as it made her eyes water, before a spreading warmth reached her stomach.  As a rule she drank wine.  “So now we’ve got ourselves a bodyguard; a protector of two damsels in distress,” she said.  “But can one man – however big and hard he is – deal with the type of people that murdered Sam?”

“I think so,” Fran said.  “He seems comfortable with adversity.  In fact I think he’s the type of guy that thrives on it.”

“We don’t even know him,” Andy said.  “He just appeared out of nowhere and assumed responsibility for me, and then you.”

“Could just be a good Samaritan who can’t walk away from someone in trouble.”

“He’s a loner, Fran.  I don’t understand why someone who chooses to avoid commitment gets involved with strangers’ problems.  Maybe it’s because he was a cop, and to a degree his past dictates how he acts, or reacts in given circumstances.  Logan may view people as being perpetrators or victims, and has some inbuilt need to be drawn in and deal with certain situations.”

They had another glass of bourbon as they discussed the man that they both hoped would be their savior.

“Do you think he’ll come back?” Andy said.  “He’s been gone a long time.”

“He’s just being ultra careful, Sis.  Slater may not be able to find out who you are, or link you to me even if he does.  Logan is just covering all the bases.”

“I saw the way you looked at him when we rolled up at your place, Fran.  Are you going to make a play for him?”

Fran grinned.  “He’s a good-looking man, but to be footloose and fancy free at his age means that he isn’t the type to be domesticated.  He’s as feral as a mountain lion.”

“And that would stop you having a fling with him?”

“No, I don’t suppose it would, if he was interested.”

Logan heard a faint scraping sound from directly behind him.

Martin stopped dead. The sole of his shoe had caught a piece of old roof tile, and the noise it made seemed magnified in the night air.  He held his breath and listened, but could only hear the soft murmur of the breeze through the branches of a few stunted trees.  He tightened his grip on the gun, entered the shadow-stained confines of the ruined building and gasped in both pain and surprise as a solid blow to his lower face caused him to drop to his knees on the rubble-strewn ground.

Logan’s reactions were still lightning fast. He had heard the sound and instantly whipped his head round to see the silhouette of an extremely tall figure framed in what remained of the doorway. He could have shot the man at what was almost pointblank range, but didn’t want to pinpoint his location to the other guy with the MP5.

Powering up from the crouched position he had adopted, Logan propelled himself forwards, swinging the silenced handgun up at a forty-five degree angle, for it to connect with the underside of the man’s jaw.  He heard the crack as the mandible fractured.  His aim had been a little awry.  He had intended to crush his attacker’s larynx, or maybe shatter the hyoid bone.

As the giant dropped to the ground, Logan hit him again across the temple, and as he keeled over onto his side, stamped on his right wrist as he bent down to retrieve the handgun from now limp fingers.

He smiled.  It was the same model Glock.  He checked the mag; twelve rounds.  Going down on one knee he rifled through the guy’s pockets, found a full spare mag, a cell phone and a wallet.  Opening the wallet and moving out of shadow to facilitate inspecting its contents, he removed a driver’s license and glanced from the photo on it to the now groaning guy on the floor.  A match; he was in the company of one Martin Keno, the biggest Native American Indian he had ever laid eyes on.

Swapping the almost depleted mag in his own gun for the full one, Logan then turned Keno over onto his stomach and pulled his coat part way down to trap his arms in a simple straitjacket style of restraint.

Martin came round within sixty seconds.  His head and jaw pulsated with pain, and he couldn’t move his arms.

Logan dropped down to place one knee in the center of Martin’s back, and pushed the muzzle of the Glock up against the side of his neck.

“Your name is Martin Keno,” Logan said.  “And if you don’t do exactly as I tell you to, you won’t get to see another sunrise.”

“So what do you want me to do?” Martin said, attempting to ignore the pain.  He remembered reading of how Mohammad Ali had carried on fighting after Ken Norton had broken his jaw.

“I’m going to fire a couple of rounds,” Logan said.  “And then I want you to call your buddy.  Tell him that’s it’s over, and that you nailed me.”

“And then you kill him when he comes over here, right?”

“I’ll give him the chance to drop his weapon.  If he does, then you two may live to tell Slater what happened out here tonight.”

Logan aimed the Glock up at the sky and pulled the trigger twice.

Martin waited for the sound of the gunshots to fade and then shouted, “Al, over here.  It’s over.  Logan is history.”

Al breathed a sigh of relief. He had checked out the small SUV parked at the side of the derelict diner, and was up against the side wall of the building, edging along towards a window frame that was partially boarded up.  He was sure that Logan would have taken refuge inside, but wasn’t going to risk being shot at from the pitch-black interior.  And now he wouldn’t have to worry.  Martin had taken Logan out.

Jogging up the track that led to the remains of a much smaller building, Al got to within thirty feet of it when the top half of a figure rose up above the remnants of a brick wall, pointing a gun at him.

“Dump the weapon, now,” Logan said.

Al froze and thought about it.  If he discarded the MP5, Logan would in all probability shoot him.  He decided that he had the advantage.  A handgun wasn’t very accurate over a distance like this.  He made a decision, dropped to the ground and sprayed the front of the ruined structure.

Logan felt a lance of heat as a slug from the submachine gun caught the side of his left biceps.  He ducked down, waited for a pause after the initial chatter of gunfire, and then rose up holding the Glock two-handed, saw his target and placed three bullets in the shooter.

Al jerked back as the first slug hit him in the shoulder; cried out as a second passed through his left cheek to blow away a large portion of gum and several teeth.  He didn’t feel the third shot.  It entered his right eye and cut a hot path through his brain, to bring an almost instantaneous end to his life.

Martin rolled over, reared up on to his knees and was almost on his feet before Logan turned, gave him a tight-lipped smile and shot him in the left foot.

Gritting his teeth, Martin took his weight on his right leg and somehow absorbed the pain and stared directly into Logan’s eyes as he let the jacket that had pinned his arms drop to the ground.  He was positive that the ex-cop was about to kill him, but was too proud a man to show fear or ask for mercy.  Death was not an enemy, just a state of eternal peace.  Living was the heartless bitch that caused all the fucking problems.

Logan assessed the giant standing in front of him, whom he judged to be at least six feet eight, with broad shoulders and not an ounce of spare body fat.  At almost six-four it wasn’t often that Logan had to look up to other men.

Martin bent forward, as if to inspect the damage to his foot, and simultaneously lunged forward, driving the top of his head into Logan’s chest and knocking him backwards into the disintegrating brick wall.

Even as Logan attempted to bring the gun up, Martin stepped in and grasped his wrist, to twist it in a viselike grip, rotating it backwards until the weapon slipped from Logan’s hand.

The blow from Martin’s fist connected high up on Logan’s ribs and drove all the air from his lungs; such was the power of the punch.  He went down onto one knee, looked up and saw the giant begin to swing his arm, intent on striking Logan in the head with enough force to at least daze him, and probably knock him unconscious.

Logan jerked his head sideways, almost avoiding the fist, which caught him a glancing blow above his right ear.  He was on all fours and knew that had he not shot Keno in the foot, then he would have suffered a kick to the head.

Martin grinned.  He had bested Logan.  One well-placed blow and the man would be out for the count, to wake up bound and at gunpoint, to be forced into the back of the SUV and driven to Ajo.  It went without saying that Zack would take great delight in dealing with Logan personally.

Logan reached out, snatched a brick from the rubble and swung it full force into Martin’s shin.  And as the giant Indian was consumed with the sudden shock and pain and once more fell to his knees, Logan lashed out again, bringing the brick up and sideways to connect with his enemy’s skull.

Martin fought the gray tide that engulfed his brain, but could not overcome the trauma and collapsed over Logan’s thighs.

Logan pushed the huge and unconscious man off him, picked up the gun and climbed to his feet.  Looking down the slope to the diner, he verified that the Mazda was out of sight.  Keno had approached from the rear of the outbuilding, so had not seen the vehicle. He quickly removed the insensate Indian’s clothes, pulled the belt free from the loops of the pants and used it to bind his wrists behind his back.  He then jogged down to where the body of the other man lay, checked that he was dead and moved on to the SUV and took a can of gas from the trunk.  On the way back he picked up the MP5, a spare mag that was in the dead man’s coat pocket, and his belt.

It was almost ten minutes later when Martin surfaced from unawareness into a world of darkness and pain.  He was sitting on cold ground, couldn’t move his hands or feet, and had also been blindfolded.  The slightly chill breeze against his skin told him that he was naked.  And he could smell gas.  A rare state of panic invaded his usually composed demeanor.  Logan had no reason to let him live, and was obviously going to set him on fire.

“You all set to go to the Happy Hunting Grounds, Keno?” Logan said.

“I can think of better places to go,” Martin replied, wincing at the combined pain from his jaw, head and foot. “You plan on burning me to death, Logan?”

Logan said nothing, just lifted the open can and poured gas over Martin.  He then flipped back the lid of a Zippo – which he had found in a pocket of the guy’s pants – and spun the wheel to light it.

Martin scrabbled backwards, but almost immediately came up against a rough brick wall.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t light you up,” Logan said.

Martin couldn’t think of a single thing to say in his defense.  He just tensed every muscle in his body and waited for the fire to engulf him.

Logan closed the lighter, extinguishing the flame.  “Here’s the state of play,” he said to Martin.  “Slater sent four of you to deal with me.  Now I have another handgun and an MP5, and you’re the only one left alive, and that’s because I don’t make a habit of killing unarmed men.

“I have your phone and wallet, and know where to find you if I need to.  I’m going to leave you here and make a call to your boss.  When he has you picked up, tell him what went down, and that his bad intentions are going to bring him nothing but pain and suffering.  The two women are a thousand miles away from Arizona now.  All you have to worry about is me.  And you need to know that when I turn up in Ajo it will be to finish what Slater started.”

“You could just walk away, Logan,” Martin said.  “Why start a war with us?”

“I didn’t start it, Slater did.  He wants me and the women dead, so I aim to pick my time and deal with him and anyone else that gets in the way.  Be advised that if you come up against me again, I
will
kill you without hesitation, Keno.”

BOOK: Absolution
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