From Thunderstorm Books.
Cover art Dave Kendall. Lettering Zach McCain.
"I was a Viking old,
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told...”
The Skeleton in Armor/Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Bag. The Bagman.
When you break a hand, it heals - plenty of wounds get better, no big deal. Three years gone, Mallory’s hand still hurt. It always would, and the thin leather gloves he wore weren’t much of a match for wintertime in Chicago. Cold enough for the streets to freeze and his hand ached like the ice was inside his knuckles, broke in a stupid fight over a woman he didn't even fuck. He couldn’t remember the girl's name.
It wasn't like the cold slowed his mind. The cold didn't have much to do with how he thought. Maybe his hands were a little slower, but not his mind.
Two or three paces ahead, the girl was in the lead. Not the girl he'd broken his hand for. This wasn't that kind of girl. The girl in the bar fight hadn't worn jeans, but a short skirt. His left hand had wandered up that short skirt. His right hand held a bottle of beer. Rolling Rock. Maybe Becks. Something watered down and bland as a Sunday morning talk show.
What the fuck was her name?
The girl in front, the one in jeans, fumbled a key from her coat pocket. The wind howled, the guy between Mallory and the girl rubbed his hands. Dumb fuck wasn't wearing gloves, not even thin ones. Mallory held the bag. He was the bagman, he guessed. If that was a job, even.
The girl in jeans and a thick, long, black coat...she was the gunman. Woman. Whatever. A psychopath, no doubt about that. Not that it mattered much to Mallory. What are you going to do? You work for a man, he gives you a gun and a car, tells you to follow orders like a good lad. You follow. ‘The girl in jeans is in charge,’ he says. So you do what he tells you to do, which is to do what she tells you to do.
Fetch, shoot, run, sit, punch.
The dumb fuck without the gloves must be freezing. Mallory had gloves, and he was freezing. The middle knuckle on his right hand was about 1°C from seizing totally.
He wondered if a gun would fire in sub-zero temperatures. Probably not. Guns were oiled, right? Some place inside, in the workings. Metal doesn't like working with metal, so there would be some kind of lubrication, like old people need for a fuck. The slide, spring. Maybe a magazine wouldn't be oiled, though, and it wouldn't feed because the metal was cold. Things shrink when they're cold. Maybe different metals contract at different rates.
Mallory wasn’t a metallurgist and he didn't understand the workings of an automatic well enough to know how a frozen gun would behave. He wished he had a revolver, instead of an automatic. But you work with what you've got, right?
Two hours ago, the jean-girl shot the dealer. The guy with no gloves drove Mallory and the girl here, then, to this safe house. All neat and tidy.
The dumb guy's the driver. She's the shooter. Mallory's the bagman. The dealer's the dealer.
But things aren't always so straight up. Jean-girl had busy eyes. Like she was still on a job, but the job was done, so that weren't right at all.