Read 20 Takedown Twenty Online

Authors: Janet Evanovich

20 Takedown Twenty (9 page)

“Will not,” Lula said.

Mildred shook her blue-veined bony fist at Lula. “I’ll
you take it back, you
dumb bunny

“Oh yeah?” Lula said. “You want a piece of me? Come get it.”

Mildred got one foot up on her chair and launched herself across the table at Lula. Bingo cards went flying, the chair tipped over and crashed to the floor, and Mildred tried to claw her way to Lula while the women on either side of her grabbed hold of her feet and tried to haul her back.

“Holy bejeezus,” Lula said.

Marion Wenger pulled her .45 out of her purse and fired one off at the ceiling. A big chunk of ceiling fell down and everyone looked over at her.

“Let’s have some decorum here,” Marion said. “This is a Bingo game, not a WWE match.”

“Too bad,” Grandma said. “I wouldn’t mind being at a WWE match. I like when those big men get naked except for them little baggies over their privates.”

“Boy,” Lula said, “that Mildred is a scary old lady.”

“Yep,” Grandma said. “She’s a nasty one.”

“I heard that,” Mildred said. “At least I’m not a slut.”

Lula went indignant. “Are you implying that Granny is a slut?”

“I do get around a little bit,” Grandma said to Lula.

“You should leave,” Mildred said to Lula. “We don’t want your kind here.”

Lula leaned forward in rhino mode. “And just exactly what
my kind?”

“You’re a
dumb bunny
,” Mildred said.

“Well, I don’t want to play no more anyways,” Lula said. “And I want my money back, because this game isn’t run right.”

We left the Senior Center, piled into Lula’s car, and sat there for a moment.

“I kind of like being a slut,” Grandma said. “It beats the heck out of being an old lady.”

“Now what?” Lula asked. “Are we going home now?”

“I’d like to check on Uncle Sunny,” I said. “I want to see if he’s in Hamilton Township.”

“I’m on it,” Lula said. “I’m in a mood to kick some butt.”

“I wasn’t thinking of kicking butt tonight,” I said. “I mostly
wanted to confirm that Sunny spends his nights with Rita. And that Tweedledum and Tweedledee don’t stand watch.”

Lula found Rita’s street and drove by her house. Lights were on in the front room. No car in the driveway. No thugs hanging out on the front porch. Lula made a U-turn and parked across the street.

“Stay here,” I said to Lula and Grandma. “I’m going to take a quick look around the house.”

I crossed the street and quietly ran to the side of the house that was shadowed by a large maple tree. I crept up to a window and peeked in at the dining room. The room was dark, but I could see light spilling out of the living room and I could hear television noise. I worked my way around to the back of the house, looking in windows, mentally cataloging the interior. I turned a corner and saw Grandma and Lula with their noses pressed against Rita’s kitchen window.

“I told you to stay in the car!” I stage-whispered.

“That wasn’t no fun,” Grandma said. “We’re here watching Rita fix Sunny a grilled cheese sandwich.”

“Uh-oh,” Lula said. “I think they see us.”

Lula and Grandma jumped away from the window, there was shouting inside the house, and the back door crashed open. Lula grabbed Grandma by the hand and yanked her at a flat-out run around the side of the house. Lula was in four-inch spike-heel ’ho boots, and Grandma was in red and white Vans, and all things considered they were making good progress at beating a retreat.

Sunny came through the door first with a gun in his hand. I tackled him from the side, knocking the gun away, taking us both to the ground.

“Step away or I’ll shoot,” Rita said.

“You can’t shoot,” I told her. “This isn’t a home invasion. I’m in your yard.”

“Easier to clean up the blood,” Rita said.

I heard the ratchet of a shotgun, and I rolled away from Sunny. I scrambled to my feet and was about to take off when Sunny came at me. He barreled into me, there was a shotgun blast, and Sunny yelped and went down to one knee.

“You fucking idiot,” he yelled at Rita. “You shot me!”

“You got in the way,” Rita said. “Stay down.”

I saw her shoulder the shotgun, and I ran around the corner. I was halfway across the street when Rita’s front door burst open and she squeezed off her second shot. A bunch of pellets pinged against the Firebird, but I didn’t get hit. I dove into the backseat, and Lula took off.

“Boy, that was something,” Grandma said. “That was way better than Bingo.”


I WAS ON the couch, in front of the television, enjoying a glass of wine, when Ranger knocked once and walked in. Every part of Ranger is perfectly hinged and in perfect proportion. When he walks into a room his stride is fluid and self-assured. His athleticism is unconscious. He relaxed back into the overstuffed chair opposite me.

“Pretty,” he said.

“The wine?”


I was wearing a white T-shirt and striped pajama bottoms with a drawstring waist. My feet were bare and my hair was down and disorderly.

“This would be perfect if we were in my apartment and not yours, and you were spending the night,” he said.

“I didn’t know you were interested in that.”

“I’m always interested in that,” Ranger said. “I’m just not willing to pay the price right now.”

I felt my eyes go wide. “Right now?”

“Probably never,” Ranger said. “How did it go tonight?”

“We sort of got kicked out of Bingo.”


“Lula got into a fight with Mildred Frick. You don’t want to know the details.”

“Did you learn anything helpful?” Ranger asked.

“I can honestly say I didn’t see anyone there that I could suspect of murdering the women. Okay, maybe Mildred Frick, but she would be a long shot.”

“Was there any talk of the murdered women?”

“Not that I heard. Bingo is serious stuff at the Senior Center. You get your cards set up, you hunker down and concentrate. There’s not a lot of chitchat.”


“I counted seven. None of them looked robust enough to heave a body into a Dumpster.”

“Did any of them look robust enough to persuade a woman to empty her bank account?”

“Hard to say. You can’t always tell with old people. You think they have one foot in the grave, and next thing they’re ramming you with a shopping cart at Costco.”

Ranger stood, crossed the room, and pulled me to my feet. He slid his hands under my T-shirt and leaned in to kiss me.

“Um,” I said.

He stopped a fraction of an inch away from my mouth. “ ‘Um’?”

“What about paying the price?”

“I wasn’t going to pay the price.”

“Okay, but you have to be careful of my finger. You noticed it, right?”

“You’re carrying a tracking device in your messenger bag,” Ranger said. “I called the hospital when you checked in.”

“You planted a bug in my messenger bag?”

“Is that news?”

It wasn’t news. Ranger tracked me all the time. Sometimes I was relieved to be rescued from a crazed killer, and sometimes it was an invasive annoyance.

“I guess it’s not news,” I told him.

“Would you like me to stop tracking you?”

“Would it do any good if I said yes?”

He smiled. “No.” He took the remote from the coffee table and shut the television off. He closed the distance between us and kissed me.

“Wait!” I said, pulling back. “What’s that sound?”

He stopped and listened. “Rain?”

“It’s raining? How long has it been raining?”

“It started when I pulled into your lot.”

“Is it just a shower?”

“It’s supposed to rain for the rest of the night.”

I jumped away and straightened my T-shirt. “You have to go. The game will be called.”


“Disaster!” I pushed him toward the door. “This is a sign,” I told him. “An act of God. I swear I’m going to church tomorrow.”

“That sounds extreme,” Ranger said.

“Morelli wanted to see me tonight but he promised his brother he’d go to the ball game with him. And now it’s raining!”

“Babe,” Ranger said, “you need to make some decisions.”

“I made decisions. I’m just having a hard time sticking to them.”

Ten minutes after Ranger left, Morelli showed up with Bob and a box of hot dogs. He shucked his shoes and his soaking wet windbreaker in the foyer and handed the box to me. “It started raining and they put the hot dogs on sale.”

I took the hot dogs into the kitchen, pulled the six-pack of beer from the fridge, and we stood at the sink and tore into hot dogs and beer. Morelli flipped a hot dog to Bob, who snatched it out of the air and ate it in one gulp.

“Catch any murderers tonight?” Morelli asked me.

“No. But Lula, Grandma, and I got kicked out of the Senior Center.”

Morelli looked over his hot dog at me. “So the night wasn’t a complete bust.”

“True. It’s not like I didn’t accomplish
. How was the game?”


I debated telling him about Uncle Sunny getting an assful of buckshot, but decided against it. He’d find out soon enough, and he’d probably calm down by the time I saw him again.

Morelli polished off a third hot dog and slung an arm around my shoulders. “Do you know what I’d like now?”

“Ice cream?”

“Not even close.” He kissed my neck.

“Remember I have a broken finger.”

“I can work around it.”

I woke up smelling coffee. I opened my eyes as Morelli was setting a mug on my bedside table.

“How’s your finger?” he asked.

“Okay. How’s your leg?”

“It’s okay. I’m on my way out. I need to walk Bob and take him home. What’s going on with you today? Anything I should know about?”

“Bingo at the firehouse tonight.”

“Another chance to create chaos,” Morelli said. “Go for it.”

He kissed me on the top of my head, Bob gave me a slurp on the cheek, and they left.

I sipped my coffee and thought about my day. Probably it
wasn’t going to be great. I took a shower, pulled my hair into a ponytail, and swiped on extra mascara to perk up my mood. I had a leftover hot dog for breakfast and headed for the office. I got the call just as I parked in the bonds office lot.

“Notice how calm I am,” Morelli said. “I’m not yelling, right?”


“You should know it’s costing me. I can feel myself getting a double hernia from keeping it in.”

“I’m supposing you heard something.”

heard. It’s stopped just short of the morning news on CNN. What the heck happened?”

“What did you hear?” I asked him.

“I heard that you caught Sunny taking the garbage out for Rita, and you filled him with buckshot.”

“Actually, Rita was the one who shot Sunny. She was trying to shoot me, but she got him by mistake.”

“That doesn’t even make me feel better,” Morelli said.

“Lula, Grandma, and I were doing surveillance, and one thing led to another, and Sunny got a load of buckshot. How is he?”

“He’ll live. My mother said he got a few pellets in his leg and his ass.”

“Your mother said ‘ass’?”

“She said ‘buttock,’ but I feel stupid saying ‘buttock.’ My crazy grandmother is going to be on the rampage.”

“She already condemned me to hell. What’s left?”

“She could send you there sooner rather than later, and I wouldn’t be happy to have a dead girlfriend and a grandmother behind bars.”

“Do you really think she’d shoot me?”

“No. She’d poison you. She’s Sicilian. She’d get you with a meatball.”

I said goodbye on that happy thought and walked myself into the office.

“I’m not driving you anymore,” Lula said to me. “Every time I take you somewhere, people shoot at us.”

“Not every time.”

Vinnie stuck his head out of his office. “Way to go, cuz. I hear there’s a contract out on you for shooting up Uncle Sunny.”

“I didn’t shoot Sunny. Rita shot Sunny.”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass
shot Sunny,” Vinnie said. “Bottom line is he’s still out there, and I’m in the red for a
of money. And you know what happens when this agency is in the red? Harry gets nervous. And you know what happens when Harry gets nervous? He smashes things… like fingers and knees and private parts I’m real fond of. So get on your horse and make a freaking capture. The guy’s full of buckshot. He’s not gonna be moving fast. How hard could it be to run him down?”

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