At that moment, my daughter called, “Hi, Daddy,” from somewhere in the background.
“You want to talk to her?” Angie asked.
“That’s low,” I said.
“I never said I fight fair.”
I passed Gillette Stadium on my right. Without a game being played inside, it looked large and alone. There was a mall beside it, a few cars in the parking lot. Up ahead, Pavel turned on his right blinker and drifted over into the far right lane.
“I’ll be home soon. Love you,” I said and hung up.
I moved over one lane, then another. There was only a red PT Cruiser between the Hummer and their Ram, so I kept the distance to a hundred yards.
At the next intersection, the truck turned right on North Street and then took an immediate right into a lot filled with tractor trailers backed up to a long, white distribution terminal. From the road, I could see the Ram drive down a dirt path alongside a row of tractor trailers and then take a left toward the back of the terminal.
I pulled into the lot and followed. To my right stood a retaining wall by the Route 1 overpass. Beneath the overpass, freight train lines and commuter rails fed north into the city or south toward Providence. To my left were the tractor trailers backed into their receiving bays. In one receiving bay, a few beefy guys pushed through thick strips of plastic to load boxes onto a trailer with Connecticut plates.
At the end of the path, the rail lines stretched off to my right while the brown dirt road curved to the left. I curved left around the terminal. The pickup truck sat in the middle of the path about fifteen yards away. Its parking lights were on. The engine idled. The passenger door was wide-open.
Yefim hopped off the passenger seat, screwing a suppressor onto the end of a semiautomatic handgun. In the time it took me to compute this, he walked five paces and extended his arm. The first shot punched a puckered hole in my windshield. The next four shots took out my front tires. The tires were just starting to hiss when the sixth shot added another puckered hole to the windshield. The hole sprouted veins. The veins widened, and the windshield crackled like popcorn in a microwave. Then it collapsed. Two more shots ripped up the hood, though I couldn’t be positive of either the number or their locations, because I was curled on the front seat, covered in windshield.
“Hey, guy,” Yefim said. “Hey, guy.”
I shook some glass out of my hair and off my cheeks.
Yefim leaned into the Hummer, his elbows on the window frame, the pistol and silencer dangling from his right hand. “License and registration.”
“Good one.” I eyed that pistol.
“No good one,” he said. “Serious request. License and registration.” He tapped the silencer against the side of the window frame. “Right fucking now, guy.”
I sat up and searched for the registration. Eventually, I found it tucked into the visor. I handed it to him, along with my driver’s license. He took a long look at them and handed the registration back.
“It’s registered to piece-of-shit Kenny. Piece-of-shit Kenny drives piece-of-shit fag-yellow Hum-vee. I knew it wasn’t yours. You too classy, man.”
I brushed some windshield pebbles off my coat. “Thank you.”
He fanned the air with my driver’s license and then put it in his pocket. “I keep this. I keep it, Patrick Kenzie of Taft Street, so you remember. So you know that I know who you are and where you live with your family. You have family, yes?”
“Go to your family, then,” he said. “Give them big hugs.”
He rapped the door with the gun one last time and walked back to the pickup truck. He climbed in, shut the door, and they drove away.
One positive thing I learned about a Hummer—bitch didn’t drive too bad with its front tires blown out. As a few brave truckers and freight loaders worked their way out of the nearest loading bays, I backed the Hummer up twenty yards, pinned the wheel, and then popped it into drive and headed for the train tracks. Those front tires were slap-slap-slapping away as the men shouted at me but nobody gave chase; an SUV sporting eight fresh bullet holes tends to diminish the desire to confront its owner.
Or, in this case, its driver. Kenny was its owner, and Kenny was fucked when the police found the car and saw who it was registered to. Not my problem, though. I drove it down the freight train tracks a couple hundred yards to a depot that led to the parking lot of Gillette Stadium. The only cars nearby were parked by the executive offices of One Patriot Place. The fan parking areas were barren for a couple hundred yards until you reached the shopping center next door. That’s where I drove the yellow Hummer. As I drove, I wiped. I used a handkerchief on the seat, the steering wheel, and the dashboard. I’m quite sure I didn’t get every fingerprint I’d left, but I didn’t have to. No one was going to get all CSI on the interior when it was registered to an ex-con who lived within two miles of the stadium.
I parked on the outer fringe of the mall lot and took the escalator into the movie theater. It was Cinema De Lux, so I could have enjoyed table service from the balcony and paid $20 to watch a movie that would be on DVD for a buck in three months, but my mind was elsewhere. I found a bathroom with a handicapped stall and its own sink. I closed the door and removed my jacket and shook all the glass from it. I did the same with my shirt and then I used a wad of paper towels to push all the glass into one corner of the stall. I put my shirt back on, doing my best to ignore the tremors in my hands, but it was hard to do so when my fingers shook so much I couldn’t get the buttons into their holes. I gripped the sink and bent at the waist and took a dozen long, slow breaths. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Yefim walking toward me, casually extending his arm, casually firing into the windshield, casually ending my life if the situation had called for it. I opened my eyes. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and splashed some water on my face and stared at myself a little longer until my reflection looked a bit more in command of itself. I splashed some water on the back of my neck and tried to button my shirt again. My hands still shook but not as violently, and eventually I made do. Five minutes later, I left the bathroom looking a little bit better than when I’d entered.
I went back down the escalator. A dark green cab sat out front of the theater. I hopped in and gave the driver the address of the house two doors over from where I’d left my car. A security guard was parked behind the Hummer, roof lights flashing. As we exited the parking lot, a Foxboro Police cruiser passed us. Kenny was almost out of time.