Date: April 23, 2008
Time: The Present
Bullets pinged off slot machines, card tables, walls, the floor, the ceiling and occasionally came to rest in some unfortunate combatant. Loud cursing in several languages was punctuated with agonized screams when a bullet found flesh. The big surprise was that it was not happening with greater frequency.
The gambling boat continued to travel in lazy circles off shore, just beyond the twelve-mile-limit. The engines and navigation on autopilot, the passengers on their way to panic city, the crew on adrenaline as they launched life boats in a disorganized frenzy to implement an escape from the gun battle playing out in the main gambling room.
There were seventeen black gangsters in the southeast corner. In the Southwest corner were four crooked cops, one wealthy arms dealer, and his three bodyguards. The northeast corner held twelve practicing terrorists from various Mid-Eastern locales. The northwest corner was currently occupied by fifteen Cuban exiles ostensibly dedicated to the overthrow of Castro. Huddled between overturned tables on the east side were nine teenagers from wealthy families who were very successful in the drug dealing trade of Miami.
In the center, between the rows of slot machines, crying like an infant with a full diaper, was a crooked lawyer. A crooked lawyer whose actions started the current gunfight, and incidentally, had filled his underwear.
Next to the soiled lawyer was a retired hit man, Cabe Holt, who started out trying to help an old friend.
“Shut up, Edward, ya pansy." Cabe told Edward Simmons, the whimpering lawyer. "Keep your head down before a stray bullet kills you and robs me of the pleasure. Be thankful none of these idiots can shoot.”
“Get me out of this and I’ll give you anything!” Simmons pleaded.
Cabe ignored him, concentrating instead on any remote possibility of getting out of this room. It was hard to concentrate with the steady thunder of gunshots, the angry screaming in a handful of languages and the intrusive moans and wails of the injured combatants. It was like a bad soundtrack on a nineteen-seventies, low-budget Chinese martial arts movie and Cabe gave up trying to focus. He was screwed. His last smell would be the stench of gunpowder mixed with the foul smell of the lawyer who’d dumped a load in his pants; his last sight—smoke. One retired hitman against fifty or so well-armed sociopaths equals burnt-toast no matter what page of the survival manual you flip to. The only thing left to chance was who’d shoot him first.
Crap!” Cabe muttered. “It would appear there was a fundamental flaw in my plan.”