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I waited until Brick lifted the cigarette to his mouth to take a Russian-sized inhalation. At the apex of that I said, “Hey,” imitating the voice of a thousand addicts I’d heard wanting to bum a smoke. Brick twisted his neck, bringing his nearly square face around, lining him up just the way I wanted.
I gave him a strong left jab, crushing the cigarette against his face in a cloud of hot ash and sticky tobacco. Not enough to break any teeth, it just stunned him and left him momentarily blind, giving me the chance to reach into his jacket and pull the pistol out from underneath it. By the time Whip had begun to bring the car to a shuddering stop I had the pistol pointed at him and his partner pinned.
On the side of the road Whip popped his head around the headrest, hand in his own jacket. He came face-to-face with the pistol’s muzzle. I could tell this wasn’t the first time he’d had a gun pointed at him, but he stopped reaching for his own weapon. Brick alternated between rubbing his eyes and trying to slap my foot away. I held it there, keeping mostly out of his reach, but to his credit, it wasn’t easy. He was as strong as his dimensions suggested. I was glad I wasn’t having a fair fight with him in the contained space of the Mercedes.
I quickly slid a round into the chamber and took the safety off. With the demonstration that the pistol was hot any ideas of retaliation evaporated. Whip’s Adam’s apple worked and Brick stopped even the slightest of struggles.
I spared the big man a glance saying, “Good boy.” Gun still on Whip I directed, “Both hands on the wheel. Drive.”
Whip obediently put his hands and 10 and 2, then smoothly guided the Mercedes back onto the road. After a moment he asked, “Where are we going?”
“To see Mr. Mitnick.” I felt Brick’s mass tense under my foot at those words. Even with the pistol pointed at his partner’s head the possibility of putting his boss in danger was stirring up resistance.
Not wanting that I added, “Since you won’t answer my questions maybe he will.” I took my foot off Brick who angrily fussed with his shirt, but generally appeared appeased that I wasn’t going to murder anyone without provocation.
While keeping an eye on him I caught glimpses of the road out the window. We were heading east, towards the hills outside of town. Past the orange roofs and white walls of the tiny shops, pharmacies, and post offices, you could see where the winter rains were bringing the cork oaks and heather to life, carpeting the steady rise in green. At one point Whip tried to say something, but at the first Russian syllable that left his mouth I crammed the muzzle of the pistol into the base of this skull and told him to be quiet.
After a time we pulled off the main drag and onto a switchback road, climbing higher with each turn. The clouds had gone that day, so passed Brick’s glowering I could see all of town, laid out like a jewel sitting on the seaside. If it weren’t for my companions, it would have made for a lovely drive. As it was, I felt very cold in the Mediterranean sunshine.