identifications. 'We have orders to bring you in for questioning.'

The two young recruiting agents came to their feet, tense and angry.

'These white mothers can't let us alone,' one said. 'Now they're using our brothers against us.'

Reverend O'Malley waved them down and spoke to the detectives, 'Have you got a warrant?'

'No, but it would save you a lot of trouble if you came peacefully.'

The second detective added, 'You can take your time and finish with your people, but I'd advise you to talk to the D.A.'

'All right,' Reverend O'Malley said calmly. 'Later.'

The detectives moved to one side. Everyone relaxed. One of the recruiting agents ordered a serving of barbecue.

For a moment attention was centered on a meat delivery truck which had entered the lot. It had been passed by the zealous volunteers guarding the gate.

'You're just in time, boy,' the black chef called to the white driver as the truck approached. 'We're running out of ribs.'

A flash of lightning spotlighted the grinning faces of the two white men on the front seat.

'Wait 'til we turn around, boss,' the driver's helper called in a southern voice.

The truck went forward towards the speaker's table. Eyes watched it indifferently. The truck turned, backed, gently plowing a path through the milling mob.

Ignoring the slight commotion, Reverend O'Malley continued speaking from the amplifiers: 'These damn southern white folks have worked us like dogs for four hundred years and when we ask them to pay off, they ship us up to the North.'

'Ain't it the truth!' a sister shouted.

'And these damn northern white folks don't want us-' But he never finished. He broke off in mid-sentence at the sight of two masked white men stepping from the back of the meat delivery truck with two black deadly-looking submachine guns in their hands. 'Unh!!!' he grunted as though someone had hit him in the stomach.

For the brief instant following, silence reigned. The scene became a tableau of suspended motion. Eyes were riveted on the black holes of death at the front ends of the machine guns. Muscles became paralysed. Brains stopped thinking.

Then a voice that sounded as though it had come from the backwoods of Mississippi said thickly: 'Everybody freeze an' nobody'll git hurt.'

The black men guarding the armored truck raised their hands in reflex action. Black faces broke out with a rash of white eyes. Reverend Deke O'Malley slid quickly beneath the table. The two big colored detectives froze as ordered.

But the young recruiting agent at the left end of the table, who was taking a bite of barbecue, saw his dream vanishing and reached towards his hip pocket for his pistol.

There was a burst from a machine gun. A mixture of teeth, barbecued pork ribs, and human brains flew through the air like macabre birds. A woman screamed. The young man, with half a head gone, sank down out of sight.

The Mississippi voice said furiously: 'Goddamn stupid mother-raper!'

The softer southern voice of the gunner said defensively, 'He was drawing.'

'Mother-rape it! Git the money, let's git going.' The big heavy white man with his black mask slowly moved the black-holed muzzle of his submachine gun over the crowd like the nozzle of a fire hose, saying, 'Doan git daid.'

Bodies remained rigid, eyes riveted, necks frozen, heads stationary, but there was a general movement away from the gun as though the earth itself were moving. Behind, among the people at the rear, panic began exploding like Chinese firecrackers.

The driver's helper got out from the front seat, waving another submachine gun, and the black people melted away.

The two sullen cops in the police cruiser jumped out and rushed to the fence, trying to see what was happening. But all they could see was a strange milling movement of black people.

The three colored cops inside, pistols drawn, were struggling forward against a tide of human flesh, but being slowly washed away.

The second machine-gunner, who had fired the burst, slung his gun over his shoulder, rushed towards the armored truck and began scooping money into a 'gunny-sack'.

'Merciful Jesus,' a woman wailed.

The black guards backed away, arms elevated, and let the white men take the money. Deke remained unseen beneath the table. All that was seen of the dead young man were some teeth still bleeding on the table, before the horrified eyes of the two young secretaries. The colored detectives hadn't breathed.

Outside the fence the cops rushed back to their cruiser. The motor caught, roared; the siren coughed, groaned, began screaming as the car went into a U-turn in the middle of the block heading back towards the gate.

The colored cops on the inside began shooting into the air, trying to clear a path, but only increased the pandemonium. A black tidal wave went over them as from a hurricane.

The white machine-gunner got all of the money — all $87,000 — and jumped into the back of the delivery truck. The motor roared. The other machine-gunner followed the first and slammed shut the back door. The driver's helper climbed in just as the car took off.

The police cruiser came in through the gate, siren screaming, as though black people were invisible. A fat black man flew through the air like an over-inflated football. A fender bumped a woman's bottom and started her spinning like a whirling dervish. People scattered, split, diving, jumping, running to get out of the cruiser's path, colliding and knocking one another down.

But a path was made for the rapidly accelerating meat delivery truck. The cops looked at the driver and his helper as they passed. The two white men looked back, exchanging white looks. The cops went ahead, looking for colored criminals. The white machine-gunners got away.

The two black guards climbed into the front seat of the armored truck. The two colored detectives jumped on the running-boards, pistols in their hands. Deke came out from underneath the table and climbed into the back, beside the empty safe. The motor came instantly to life, sounding for all the world like a big Cadillac engine with four hundred horsepower. The armored truck backed, filled, pointed towards the gate, then hesitated.

'You want I should follow them?' the driver asked.

'Get 'em, goddammit. Run 'em down!' one of the colored detectives grated.

The driver hesitated a moment longer. 'They're armed for bear.'

'Bear ass!' the detective shouted. 'They're getting away, mother!'

There was a glimpse of gray paint as the meat delivery truck went past a taxi on Lexington Avenue, headed north.

The big engine of the armored truck roared; the truck jumped. The police cruiser wheeled to head it off. A woman wild with fright ran in front of it. The car slewed to miss her and ran head-on into the barbecue pit. Steam rose from the bursted radiator pouring on to the hot coals. A sudden flash of lightning lit the wild stampede of running people, seen through the cloud of steam.

'Great Godamighty, the earth's busted open,' a voice cried.

'An' let out all hell,' came the reply.

'Halt or I'll shoot,' a cop cried, climbing from the smoking ruins.

It was the same as talking to the lightning.

The armored truck bulldozed a path to the gate, urged on by a voice shouting, 'Go get 'em, go get 'em.'

It turned into Lexington on screaming tyres. The off-side detective fell off to the street, but they didn't stop for him. A roll of thunder blended with the motor sound as the big engine gathered speed, and another police cruiser fell in behind.

O'Malley tapped on the window separating the front seat from the rear compartment and passed an automatic rifle and a sawedoff shotgun to the guard. The remaining detective on the inside running-board was squatting low, holding on with his left hand and gripping a Colt. 45 automatic in his right.

The armored truck was going faster than any armored truck ever seen before or since. The red light showed

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