This is a comedy.mystery with several fifth graders as characters, but the opening….Well, it is a cop story.
Even in the dim light, Craig recognized the trio entering the warehouse—tall thin kid, short squat man old enough to be his father, and the bearded one, all in matching Nitrogen sunglasses. He and Kip had bought a Springfield 9mm from them not long ago that had no past—never bought, stolen, or used in a crime. A gun they could have sold on e-bay or Craig’s list.
Well, stranger things had happened.
Still, Craig hung back, studying the three. This time the gun was a prize—an assault rifle, an expensive Wilson M-4 with a 100-round clip. A mounted clip. Craig reached for Kip, but already his partner was walking forward, a big smile on his face.
“Wow, that’s something I’d like to own myself.”
A volley of shots barked harshly as bullets ripped first into the wall and then into Kip.
Instinctively, Craig reached out to keep his partner from falling and, then—just as instinctively—held the man up as a shield, feeling the bullets drumming into Kip’s slack body as Craig stumbled his way to shelter behind the counter.
Then the backup crew entered.
In seconds it was over. The bearded gunman was dead. His two companions lay face down on the concrete floor.
And, behind the counter, Craig helplessly tried to stop the blood seeping from the flesh that moments ago had been his partner. Somehow knowing that Kip had died in the first seconds, even knowing the man would have willingly died to save Craig’s life, didn’t help. What kind of coward shields behind his partner?
He heard the sirens, shut his eyes, and leaned against the counter. This would play out as it would play out. He had to ride it through. Later, he would think, but not now.
They pried Kip’s body from his arms. Even when aware that he still gripped his partner, Craig was unable to let go; every limb, every muscle, every cell fought to keep the man close. When the body left, Craig sat back and cried–not manly tearing up, but an unearthly wailing.
Craig let them pull him onto his feet, but fought when they pushed him to a gurney. “I’m not hit,” he said. “I’m not hit. I’m not hit.”
Four men pinned him to the gurney. “It’s not your body we’re worried about,” a voice growled. “You are F-ing mad.”
Mad. Craig chuckled as they strapped him to the gurney. Mad. Oh, god, what he wouldn’t give to be completely out of his mind.