'I've been waiting in my car around these flats,' he said. 'I knew you'd come back, some time or other. I knew you would. All I had to do was wait. I've spent most of my time here, since last Thursday, waiting for you. So tonight you came back… with that friend. But I wanted you on your own… I went on waiting. And you came back. I knew you'd come, in the end.'

I said nothing.

'I came here to do what I promised. To blow your hand off.' He paused. 'Why don't you beg me not to? Why don't you go down on your bloody knees and beg me not to?'

I didn't answer. Didn't move.

He gave a short laugh that had no mirth in it at all. 'It didn't stop you, did it, that threat? Not for long. I thought it would. I thought no one could risk losing both their hands. Not just to get me busted. Not for something small, like that. You're a bloody fool, you are.'

I agreed with him, on the whole. I was also trembling inside, and concerned that he shouldn't see it.

'You don't turn a hair, do you?' he said.

He's playing with me, I thought. He must know I'm frightened. No one could possibly, in those circumstances, not be frightened to death. He's making me sweat… wanting me to beg him… and I'm not… not… going to.

'I came here to do it,' he said. 'I've been sitting here for days, thinking about it. Thinking of you with no hands… with just stumps… with two plastic hooks.'

Sod you, I thought.

'Today,' he said, 'I started thinking about myself. I shoot off Sid Halley's right hand, and what happens to me?' He stared at me with increased itensity. 'I get the satisfaction of fixing you, making you a proper cripple instead of half a one. I get revenge… hideous delightful revenge. And what else do I get? I get ten years, perhaps. You can get life for G.B.H., if it's bad enough. Both hands… that might be bad enough. That's what I've been sitting here today thinking. And I've been thinking of the feeling there'd be against me in the slammer, for shooting your other hand off. Yours, of all people. I'd be better off killing you. That's what I thought.'

I thought numbly that I wasn't so sure either that I wouldn't rather be dead.

'This evening,' he said, 'after you'd come back for ten minutes, and gone away again, I thought of rotting away in jail year after year wishing I'd had the bloody sense to leave you alone. I reckoned it wasn't worth years in jail, just to know I'd fixed you. Fixed you alive, or fixed you dead. So I decided, just before you came back, not to do that, but just to get you down on the ground squealing for me not to. I'd have my revenge that way. I'd remind you of it, all your life. I'd tell people I'd had you crawling. Make them snigger.'

Jesus, I thought.

'I'd forgotten,' he said, 'what you're like. You've no bloody nerves. But I'm not going to shoot you. Like I said, it's not worth it.' He turned abruptly, and stooped, putting one hand under the garage door. Heaved; rolled it upwards and open.

The warm drizzle in the dark outside fell like shoals of silver minnows. The gentle air came softly into the garage.

He stood there for a moment, brooding, holding his gun: and then he gave me back what in the straw-barn he'd taken away. 'Isn't there anything,' he said bitterly, 'that you're afraid of?'

Вы читаете Whip Hand
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату