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N Is for Noose

N Is for Noose

Titel: N Is for Noose
Autoren: Sue Grafton
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doorway, allowing his eyes to adjust to the black. He crossed to the window, bumping into cardboard boxes. I heard him force the window open and look out. I was gone. There was no sign of me running across the grass. "Shit!" He slammed the window shut and said, "Shit, shit, shit!" He must have had a gun because I heard him rack one into the chamber.
    He left the den, hollering my name as he went. Now he was mad. Now he didn't care if I knew he was coming. I pulled myself out of the cabinet, hanging on to the shelf as I staggered to my feet. I crossed to the desk and opened the bottom drawer as quietly as possible. I took out Tom's handcuffs and tucked them in my back pocket. I could feel myself swell with power. I was suddenly larger than life, far beyond fear, luminous with fury. As I turned right out of the den into the darkness of the hallway, I could see him moving ahead of me, his body mass blacker than the charcoal light surrounding him. I began to run, picking up speed, my Reeboks making no sound on the carpet. Brant sensed my presence, turning as I lifted myself into the air. I snapped a hard front kick to his solar plexus, taking him down with one pop. I heard his gun thump dully against the wall, banging against wood as it flew out of his hand. I kicked him again, catching him squarely on the side of the head. I scrambled to my feet and stood over him. I could have crushed his skull, but as a courtesy, I refrained from doing so. I pulled the handcuffs from my pocket. I grabbed the fingers of his right hand and bent them backward, encouraging compliance. I lay the cuff on his right wrist and snapped downward, smiling grimly to myself as the swinging arm of the cuff locked in place. I put my left foot on the back of his neck while I yanked his right arm behind him and I grabbed for his left. I would have stomped down on his face, pulverizing his nose if he'd so much as whimpered. He was out cold. I double-locked both handcuffs in place. All of this without hesitation. All of this in the dark.
    The light in the kitchen was snapped on. Selma appeared in the doorway, still wearing her fur coat. She stood as still as a soldier and took in the sight before her. Brant was now moaning. Blood was pouring from his nose and he was struggling for breath. "Mom, watch out. She's stoned," he croaked.
    Selma backed into the kitchen. I was moving away from her down the corridor, looking for Brant's gun when she showed up again, this time with the Smith Wesson in her right hand. I had no idea where Brant's gun had gone. I remembered the telltale thump at the end of its airborne journey.
    "Stop right there," she said. She was now holding the gun with two hands, arms extended stiffly at shoulder height. I went about my business, ignoring her little drama. She had no way of knowing I'd been sanctified by Angel Dust. I was higher than a kite on PCP, methamphetamines, whatever it was-some amazing mix of excitation and immortality. The unpleasant side effects were now gone and I was detached from all feeling, secure in the sense that I would prevail over this bitch and anyone else who came after me.
    "You're not going to take my son away from me."
    As much as anything, I was annoyed with her. "I told you to forget it. You should have left well enough alone. Now you've not only lost Tom, you've lost Brant as well," I said, conversationally. I got down on my hands and knees and felt under the chair. Where the hell was Brant's gun?
    "You are completely mistaken. I haven't lost Brant at all," she said. "Now get up right this minute! Do as I say!"
    "Blow it out your ass, Selma. Do you see Brant's gun? I heard it bang against the wall. It's gotta be here somewhere."
    "I'm warning you. I'll count to three and then I'm going to shoot you."
    "You do that," I said. I moved into the dining room, convinced the gun had somehow become wedged under the hutch, the centerpiece in Selma's entire set of handsome, formal, glossy dark wood furniture. I placed my shoulder against the floor, reaching under the hutch as far as the length of my arm. It was in this awkward position-me spread-eagled on my stomach, Brant handcuffed and moaning in the hall, Selma angling herself into position to blow my head off if she could manage it-that I chanced to look up at her, watching in slow-motion amazement as she screwed up her face, closed her eyes, turned her head, and squeezed the trigger. There was a bright flash and a loud bang. The bullet exited the barrel at

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