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I Is for Innocent

I Is for Innocent

Titel: I Is for Innocent
Autoren: Sue Grafton
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minute he'd figure out I was gone and come barreling after me.
    I was squeezed in beside the Xerox machine with my knees drawn up. I was hoping to keep the target area as small as possible, though crammed in a corner was probably not such a hot idea. Guy fires one bullet, he hits everything you got.
    "Hey!" he said. "I'm talking to you." I could tell from his voice he was still down around Lonnie's office. The man was annoyed.
    I tried to still my breathing.
    He fired.
    Even down the hall and around the corner, I jumped. That was eight. If the man had an eight-shot, I was doing okay. A nine-shot, I was screwed. Once he figured out where I was, I was fair game. It was really too late to go anywhere else. I was feeling clammy, that cold, sick sensation that overwhelms you when you're about to pass out. I wiped my cheek against my shirtsleeve. Fear had settled over me like an icy vapor, rippling against my spine.
    The notion of dying is, at the same time, trivial and terrifying, absurd and full of anguish. Ego clings to life. Self lets it go, willing to free-fall, willing to soar. If I regretted anything, it was simply not knowing how all the stories would turn out. Would William and Rosie fall in love sure enough? Would Henry reach the age of ninety? With all the blood oozing out, would Lonnie ever get his carpet clean?
    So many things I hadn't done. So many things I wouldn't get to do now. Dumb to die like this, but then again, why not?
    I took two deep breaths, trying to keep my head clear.
    In the hallway, quite close, I heard David Barney's voice. "Kinsey?" He was checking the kitchen as I had, realizing there was no place of concealment. He'd probably scouted the place while he was waiting for me to show up. He had to know the copy room was the only place left. I could hear his shallow breathing.
    "Hello. You in there? Now we can have a little liar's contest. Do I have one bullet or no bullets?"
    I said nothing.
    "And what about the lady? She claims she has two left. Does she lie or tell the truth?"
    My hands were shaking so hard I couldn't steady the gun. I pointed in the general direction of the door and fired.
    His "Oh" was full of pain. He made a humming sound that told me I had hit him and he was hurting. Well, good. It made two of us. He shuffled into the room. "That makes nine," he said. His voice turned grim and silly and theatrical. He was clowning. "Are you prepared to die?"
    "I wouldn't say prepared exactly, but I wouldn't be surprised." I held the small flashlight in my left hand and pinched the center. It gave off a scant tablespoon of light, but it was enough to see him with. "How about you?" I said. "Surprised?" I fired at him point-blank and then studied the effect.
    This was instructional. In the movies, you shoot someone and they're either blown back a foot or they keep coming at you, up from the bathtub, up from the floor, sometimes so full of bullet holes their shirts form red polka dots. The truth is, you hit someone and it hurts like hell. I could testify to that. David Barney had to sit down with his back to the wall and think about life. A wet red stain was forming on his left side, fairly ruining his shirt and causing his expression to shift from smug superiority to consternation.
    I studied him for a moment and then said, "I told you I had a ten-shot."
    He didn't seem interested in that. I pulled myself into a standing position, leaving a sticky handprint on the Xerox machine. I crossed the room to the wall he was propped against. I leaned down and took his gun, which he offered up without resistance. I checked the magazine. There was one bullet left. His eyes had gone empty and his fingers opened slowly as he released his own life. Something like a moth fluttered off into the dark. I limped into the hall, raking my little flashlight across the wall until I found the fire alarm box. I busted the glass door and pulled the lever.

Epilogue
----
    Now that I've learned how to sit down again, I suppose I should fill in the few remaining gaps in my paperwork. The new year has rolled over and the torrid romance between Rosie and William continues unabated. Henry has threatened everything from a hunger strike to fisticuffs to no avail. I can understand his concern – William would be a trial in any event – but there's still something wonderful about love at close range. The police referred Tippy Parsons to the district attorney's office, where she had a lengthy and candid conversation with one

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