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Excerpt from Dead Wrong—
He drove into the shadows of the old parking lot and drew his battered black pickup to a halt near the building entrance. There were a few cars scattered across the cracked blacktop but no one else was in sight. The apartment building was old, a three-floor walk-up with battered stucco-clad walls and a flat roof. It had clearly seen better days.
The sky was heavily overcast and it looked like rain was imminent. Maybe that’s why everyone was indoors on this dreary February evening. He stepped out of the cab of his truck and stared at the building, hoping Billy was home. It was time to sort out a few things that had been left untended too long. He was in no rush to begin the encounter. On second thought, knowing how Billy operated, he was better safe than sorry. He reached behind the driver’s seat to grab the tire iron.
Billy Zach was an unpredictable man. Tonight, he wasn’t going to take any chances with how this played out. But he was going to deal with the bastard, one way or the other. Why had no one stepped up to take control? This situation had gone on far too long. There were lots of people who should have challenged him over the issue of how he treated his girlfriend, but surprisingly no one had. Well, tonight there was a different agenda, and it was going to cost the asshole big time. He’d take care of things now, because it couldn’t be left any longer to chance.
As he approached the entrance, the front door opened and his target stepped out. Billy wore his usual worn denims low on his hips, feet stuffed into a pair of laceless runners. A faded green tee shirt showed beneath his heavy wool jacket. Most surprising was the bright red bruise forming in front of his left ear. Perhaps someone else had already tried to sort him out. A feeling of satisfaction settled in the man’s gut. Good timing, that’s what it was, remarkable timing to find him here like this.
“What do you want?” Billy snarled, glaring angrily as he came down the stairs. “Are you just hanging out here waiting for me? Coward! Couldn’t even knock on my door?”
“I’m no coward,” he said, determination rising in his chest. “I’ve come to give you a warning. You’d better take it to heart if you know what’s good for you.”
“Take it to heart?” Billy put back his head and laughed derisively. “What heart?” He was staring at him now, a strange penetrating gaze that sent an unwelcome shiver down the man’s backbone. “I don’t have a heart. And no measly warning from you is going to change that.”
“Forget it,” he said. “I’ve come to tell you it’s going to cost. Pay up or else. You owe me and you know it. This is your last chance…”
He suddenly lost his words because Billy took a long step forward and hit him square in the face with a closed fist. His head snapped back and he staggered as blood spurted from his nose. Before he could react, Billy took another heavy swing. At the last minute, he remembered the tire iron in his hand and aimed it squarely at the side of Billy’s head.
Zach fell, whirling in what seemed like slow motion toward the ground. The back of his skull connected with the concrete step behind him. There was a sharp crack like the sound of a hammer on tile. Billy Zach lay still.
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