A PREVIEW OF LUKE RULES
by William & Marilyn Hoffer
FRED LUNGED TOWARD my office door. Stuck his snout low then raised his head high. Let loose with a world class howl: AAAOOOWOOH!!! By the time I caught up with him, I smelled it too. Reminded me of some of the after-battle bad in the Afghan mountains. Also heard a deep pulsing sound like someone had pumped up the bass on a cheap 70's boom box. What the hell? I felt an ass-cramp take hold. Hoped to hell there was a dead raccoon or some other varmint inside. And, who else knew my entry code? Dagmar. Reddy. Al.
I dragged Fred backward. Not easy when a 90-pound bloodhound has caught the scent. Managed to hoss him back into the shotgun seat of my Cherokee. Grabbed a hunk of crumpled napkins from the floor mat. Held them over my nose as I headed back to the door. Punched in the code. Peered inside. A thick cloud of flies buzzed all over the place. Blood-soaked papers littered the floor. A trail of dark blotches led to the corner, where a dead guy was sprawled across my Harley-Davidson Third Edition pinball machine.
You have no idea how that craps up your day.
He must have triggered the on-switch when he fell. The machine’s lights were flashing and on the screen a pair of bikers roared their Fat Boys across a bright orange desert. The man spread out on top was too big to be Reddy. Too small and too white to be Al. Sure wasn’t Dagmar. Who the hell was he? How did he get here? Who offed him? Why?
I studied the body from a distance. Head was turned to one side. Arms were thrust forward, covering what was left of his face. Dressed in dark slacks and a gray windbreaker. Back of his jacket was blown apart. Dark stains covering it. Dry. He’d been here awhile.
I hustled back outside. Grabbed my cell.
“No!” Al snarled. He always answers that way when I call. Damn caller-ID.
“Get your big black bahookie over to my office,” I said. “There’s a dead guy who’s spilled blood and brains all over my pinball machine.”
“Not the Harley-Davidson Third Edition?”
“I don’t have time for this, pinhead. You’re shitting me, right?”
“You call it in?”
“Not yet. Wanted to get to you first.”
“Did you kill him?”
“Are you sure he’s dead?”
“Either that or he’s a piss poor pinball player. Score’s still at zero.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“I know I’m going to regret this, but I’m on my way. Make that call. And I’m gonna give you a piece of advice and you’re not gonna like it. When the cops get there, the best thing you can do is something you’re not very good at.”