The car with Maryland plates crossed the Shenandoah River over the Grace Bridges and pulled into the Zip-Goneâ€™s parking lot. The dust barely lifted off the hard-packed gravel.
Cold Dad eased the .22 in his waistband. Next job, heâ€™d use a holster; the end of the barrel was cold and kept poking him. He glanced at Wall-Banger on the passenger side.
Wall caught the look and grinned toothily. He reached back to tug at the thong that held his sheathed knife just below the back of his collarâ€”something heâ€™d seen in a ninja magazine.
Post time. Cold followed his cousin through the convenience storeâ€™s doors. Wall took up position between the counter and the milk cooler where he could watch for the heat.
The old man looked up to find himself staring down the barrel of the .22. He frowned and met Coldâ€™s eyes.
There was a slight tremor in his voice as Cold snarled in a professional manner, â€œOkay, Apu, gimme a carton of Marlboros and all your money.â€
Wall snickered. He loved that line. And it always worked with these Indian guys. The one at the counter must have just got off the boat with his big white beard and turban.
The old man said nothing. He slowly reached up above for the cigarettes and came down with the biggest old revolver Cold had ever seen. The younger man jerked the trigger and the .22 spat. The older man grunted and fired three thunderous shots. Someone hit Cold three times all over his body with a baseball bat.
Like lightning, Wall drew his blade and flung it at the old man. The skinning knife struck his chest pommel-first and clattered on the floor. The next Wall knew, a younger, black-bearded and turbaned version of the old guy came roaring out of a door beside the cooler brandishing a huge sword. Wall did what any sensible man wouldâ€”he wet himself and fell to his knees screaming, â€œPlease donâ€™t kill me!â€
Sheriff E.D. Ritter examined the ancient .455 Webley Mark VI. â€œMr. Singh, I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever seen one of these in the metal before.â€
The old man smiled as the EMT, Ritterâ€™s daughter â€œBuster,â€ bandaged his arm. â€œIt is what I carried as an officer of the Raj.â€
E.D. glanced up as Odell Mooreâ€™s hearse turned toward Richmond with the dearly departed Cold on board. â€œWell, it does the job.â€ He looked back at the elder Singh. â€œâ€™Singhâ€™ means â€˜lionâ€™ doesnâ€™t it?â€
He nodded. â€œYes.â€
E.D. held up the .22 in its evidence bag and regarded it. â€œGuess he didnâ€™t bring enough gun for the game,â€ he mused.