Grace stumbled around the corner of the building, shoved from behind by the scrawny man in the ugly black and white striped shirt. It appeared he had Grace's arms bound behind her back. Her purse hung from her neck and rested on her bosom. Her abductor shoved her ahead of him a few more steps, until they stood broadside of the Mustang, then jerked her to a halt.
If it hadn't been for Grace's messed up hair and tight expression, Ray would have found it amusing that she stood a couple inches taller than the guy and outweighed him by more than a few pounds. Though still several yards away, Ray could make out the guy's fat lower lip below the cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. His right eye looked swollen, too. Ray didn't recall hitting him there.
When he met Grace's gaze, her chin bumped up a notch as if to assure him she still had some fight left in her. Ray guessed she leaned against the man a little heavier than need be for support, making him work to keep her hostage.
"You okay?" Ray called.
"Save the chit chat," Mustang man shouted. "Give me the bag and I let your grandma here go."
Ray clenched his fists. "She's my friend, asshole. If you hurt her – "
"You'll what? Sic the dummy pirate on me?"
From the direction the man jerked his chin, Ray knew without turning that Benny had gotten out and stood near the front of the Olds. In the steadiest voice he could muster, he called, "Stay back, son."
No response. Still, Ray didn't turn to see if Benny heard, much less obeyed. He kept his attention focused on Grace and the man blowing cigarette smoke over her shoulder. As the cloud wafted across her face, Grace's nose wrinkled and her brows drew even tighter. Her knees sagged, causing her abductor to stagger against the added weight. He must have poked her in the back, because she flinched and straighten. But Ray knew she hadn't straightened all the way because she and the man behind her were now the same height.
And she still had that severe look of disapproval on her face.
Easy, Ray silently warned. He didn't know what kind of weapon Mustang man had and he didn't want to find out the hard way. "How do we do this?" he shouted.
"Tell dummy boy to bring the bag over to me. Then I'll let your friend go."
Grace yanked against the man's hold. "That boy's smarter than you'll ever be," she snapped.
For a second, Ray thought she might pull free, but the little weasel stuck to her like a leach. Ray decided to end this before somebody got hurt. "Bring me the bag," he called to Benny.
Ray saw Grace's face slacken, as though in shock. His stomach clenched and he turned to see Benny come around the car, pirate hat low on his forehead, plastic sword hanging from his waist, the Smith & Wesson raised in a two-handed hold.
"Ben. No." His voice sounded as if it came from miles away. He remembered taking the rounds out of his shirt pocket and stowing them in his suitcase at the motel in Santa Fe. Did Benny get into his suitcase while he slept and reload the gun? He had time to walk across the street, buy a pirate costume and go for a swim, so why not? Ray had no way of telling from where he stood if the gun was loaded. Did his son even know how to load a revolver?
A betting man would put money on the pirate.
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