By J.A. Konrath, Henry Perez

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I think I’ve got something in my purse. ” Herb handed over the binoculars, then the car bounced on its shocks as he adjusted his weight to hunt for the purse. Jack made the left, took a moment to focus the binocs, and spotted Chapa two blocks ahead. “All you’ve got is a mint covered in fuzz,” Herb said. Jack’s purse was open and he was squinting at something between his fingers. ” Herb frowned, then began brushing off the mint. Jack peeked through the lenses. Chapa was turning again. She noted the street.

She unclips a MagLite from Stark’s belt and takes her pepper spray and radio. The handcuff keys are in her breast pocket, and Alex removes her bracelet and binds Stark’s wrists. Then she waits. The cop stirs, opens her eyes. Alex focuses the beam on her. ” “Ma’am... ” Cops like MagLites. Illumination is only one of the reasons why. Alex raises it, heavy with six D batteries, and brings it down on the Officer Stark’s leg. Not hard enough to break it—that would cause a delay—but hard enough to hurt like hell.

Alex pops out the lighter, admiring the orange glow. She hesitates, savoring the moment, letting some anticipation build. The fuse ignites, hissing and sparking and making Alex feel like she’s ten years old again, behind Father’s barn with Charles, lighting cherry bombs and blowing up tin cans. Four feet of pink thermalite equals eighty seconds. Alex pockets the lighter and strolls to the police car, no hurry, and climbs in the driver’s seat. Officer Stark has left her keys in the ignition, the car still running.

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