G is for Gumshoe - Page 54/98

I murmured, "Good morning."

He nodded at the Davis. "I want you to dump that."

"What for?"

"It's a pocket pistol. Useless under the circumstances."

I resisted the temptation to say something flip. "I just got that!"

"Get another one."

"But why?"

"It's cheap and unreliable. It's not safe to carry with a round in the chamber, which means you have to keep the magazine full, the chamber empty, and the safety off. If you're in trouble, I don't want you having to rack the slide to chamber a round in order to put it into action. You can get a new holster while you're at it."

I stared at him. He didn't seem that impressed with the look I was giving him.

He said, "Where's the closest gun shop?"

"I don't have the money. You're talkin' five or six hundred bucks."

"More like eleven hundred for the gun you should have."

"Which is what?"

"Heckler Koch P7 in nine-millimeter. You can get it used somewhere. It's the latest yuppie firearm. It looks good in the glove compartment of a BMW, but it's still right for you."

"Forget it!" I said.

This time he stared at me.

I felt myself faltering. "Even if I bought a gun today, I'd have to wait two weeks to pick it up."

"You can use the Davis until then, but not with those cartridges. You should be using a high-velocity hollow-point like the Winchester Silvertip or a prefragmented round like the Glaser Safety Slug. I suggest the Winchester Silvertip."

"Why those?" Actually it didn't matter. I was just feeling stubborn and argumentative.

He ticked his reasons off, using his fingers for emphasis. "It's less expensive for one thing and it's fairly widely used by law enforcement. With the underpowered thirty-two round, penetration is the most important-"

"All right. I got it," I said irritably. "Is that all you did last night? Sit around thinking up this stuff?"

"That's all I did," he said. He opened the paper and checked the front page. "Actually I have a Colt.45 out in the car. You can practice with both guns when we go up to the firing range."

"When are we doing that?"

"After the gun shop opens at ten."

"I don't want to go out."

"We're not going to let the guy affect your life this way." His gray eyes came up to mine. "Okay?"

"I'm scared," I said.

"Why do you think we're doing this?"

"What about the banquet?"

"I think we should go. He won't make another move for days. He wants you to think about your mortality. He wants your anxiety to mount until you jump every time the phone rings."

"I already do that."

"Have some breakfast. You'll feel better."

I poured my cereal and some milk, still brooding while I ate.

Dietz broke the silence, looking across the paper at me. "I want to say one thing again so listen carefully," he said. "A truly professional assassin kills either at close range or very long range. Up close, the weapon of choice would probably be a suppressed.22 long rifle with subsonic ammunition. From a distance, a bolt-action.308. Messinger is a bad-ass, but he's also an amateur. I'm going to nail him."

"What if he gets you first?"

"He won't." He went back to the sports section.

I felt better, I swear to God.


Dietz and I went to the office first. I checked my answering machine (no messages) while he glanced at the mail from the day before (no letter bombs). I locked up again and we went next door to the California Fidelity offices, where Vera was just getting in. She was wearing a two-piece outfit of red parachute material, long flowing skirt, blousy top with long sleeves and a red belt at the waist. Since I'd seen her yesterday, her hair had turned very blond, with streaks, and her glasses had changed to aviator shades with blue lenses. As usual she looked like the kind of woman any guy would love to jump out of an airplane with, an effect that wasn't lost on Dietz. She was carrying a garment on a hanger, covered by a cleaning bag. "Oh hi. You guys going tonight?"

"That's what we stopped by to tell you," I said. "Should I call the hotel?"

"I already did that," she said. "I figured you'd be there. This is for you." She indicated the cleaning bag. "Come on back to my office and you can take a look. This is girl stuff," she said to Dietz. "You still off cigarettes?"