"When You Can't Just Walk Away" XVII
by Myra Love
  Article # 478 Article Type: Weekly Serial

To my surprise, Sean was at the deli with the other Razors when I got there. He looked very grouchy, so I figured he’d learned that the gun was gone.
“ What’s up?” I asked, squeezing in next to Jeremy.
“ You’re late,” Fogger grumbled.
“ Sorry. My father got sick,” I said. “My mom’s taking him to the hospital right now.”
Fogger grunted. “McCabe’s father is still home. He said he doesn’t have a job today.”
I felt relief, but I tried not to let it show. “So I guess we really are royally screwed.”
Sean snarled. “I still want to know who squealed.”
“ You have a one-track mind,” Fogger snapped at him. “No one squealed. You just didn’t cover your tracks when you took the gun.”
“ The hell I didn’t!” Sean snapped back. “He had no idea.”
“ Well, obviously he knows now,” I interjected.
Sean hissed, “For all we know you’re the rat, Buzz! So just keep your mouth shut until we come up with another plan.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Fine with me. Maybe I should try to hitch a ride over to the hospital to be with my father while you geniuses figure out what you’re going to do.”
I stood up, but Fogger pulled me back into my seat. “Chill out, Buzz! Sean’s just pissed because he thought this job would make him a big man. But he screwed it up.”
Sean jumped to his feet and hit the table hard with the palm of his hand. “Shut up!” he yelled.
There weren’t too many customers in the deli, but everyone stared. Nora sniffed, then looked away. Old Sam cleared his throat so loudly that everyone stopped looking at us and looked at him instead. He barked, “Out!”
Sean sneered at him. “Who’s going to make us?”
“ The police, if necessary,” Sam replied, striding toward our booth.
“ Yeah, right!” Fogger said. “They’ve got nothing better to do.”
Sam pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
Fogger stood up. He looked really angry. “Well, guys,” he said softly, “I think this is just what we need to get us thinking creatively about our little problem.” He started towards the door, making sure to bump old Sam really hard with his hip on the way out. We all followed. Once we were outside the deli, Mike piped up, “I think I know where to find a gun.”
Fogger stopped dead in his tracks, and Sean barely caught himself before he ran into him. Jeremy and I stared in astonishment, and Mike’s face flushed. “It’s really old and only holds one bullet at a time, but it works.”
“ What kind of story are you making up now?” Sean challenged Mike.
“ It’s not a story,” Mike protested. “My dad has a dueling pistol from the eighteen hundreds.”
“ Yeah, sure,” Sean said. “And my father has the gun that shot Lincoln.”
“ Shut up, Sean!” Fogger said. “If Mike can get hold of a gun, our problems are solved.”
“ A gun that only holds one bullet at a time is just what we need,” Sean said with a sneer. “We line up Sam and Nora and see if we can get one bullet to go through both of them. Sort of like shooting pool.” He snorted and started to walk off.
“ Where are you going?” Fogger called after him. “I always knew you were chickenshit.”
Sean stopped in his tracks and turned to face Fogger. “I’m not, but I’m not stupid either. Do you know anything about dueling pistols?”
Fogger shrugged. “You load them and shoot. What more is there to know?”
Sean turned to Mike. “Go get the dueling pistol, Mike. And meet us in back of the high school.”
Mike trotted off, and Sean led the way to the football field. I was so distracted by trying to figure out how to get away and contact Andy that I nearly tripped over Fogger when he stopped in his tracks again.
“ Hey,” he called out to no one in particular, “don’t dueling pistols usually come in pairs?” Then he turned to me. “Buzzard, can you catch up to Mike and ask him to bring both pistols?”
I saw my chance. Before Fogger could change his mind, I jogged off, ignoring the pain in my leg. As soon as I went around the corner of the building I slowed to a walk. I wished I had a cell phone. There was a pay phone inside the high school, but I knew the doors were locked on weekends, so I headed to the convenience store. Because it was early afternoon, Yusuf wasn’t working. The guy behind the counter ignored me.
Andy didn’t pick up, so I left him a message. There was no place for him to call me back so I told him as much as I could, looking around to make sure no one was listening. I thought about trying Miss Carswell again, but I had to head off Mike before he made it back to the high school with the dueling pistol. I walked towards his house as quickly as I could.
Mike saw me as he jumped from his stairs to the sidewalk, a wooden box under his arm. I fell into step with him. He looked sideways at me but said nothing, so I had to break the brief silence.
“ Fogger says to bring the other pistol,” I began.
Mike grimaced when I mentioned Fogger. “What other pistol?”
“ He says that dueling pistols come in sets of two.”
Mike shook his head. “My dad got this off ebay. Sets cost more.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Come again?”
He sighed. “You can buy a complete set for a lot of money. He got this pistol for about two hundred.”
“ Two hundred?” I repeated. “You’re kidding, right?”
“ Complete sets can go for triple that,” he replied. “At least it came with ammunition.” He stopped and sat down on a step. He put the box beside him and beckoned me over. “Look,” he ordered, opening the box. “This is the powder and these are the bullets,” he pointed to about a dozen little, black, round, metal balls.
“ They don’t look like bullets,” I said, sounding dubious. “They look like miniature Christmas tree ornaments.”
He laughed. “Have you ever seen a musket, like from the early eighteen hundreds?”
I shook my head.
“ They work almost the same as this pistol, only the bullets look like small bowling balls made of lead.” He went on, “Today any slob can put some bullets in a gun and shoot someone. Back then you had to know what you were doing. You have to load the gun with the little balls and the powder and make sure the flint is all right and nothing is wet. Otherwise you can’t use it.”
“ So are you going to have to be the one to shoot someone?” I blurted out. “I mean, the other guys have probably never seen one of these either.”
He closed the box and stood up, picking it up off the step as he did. “I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it,” he replied, starting to walk towards the high school again.
“ Well, maybe you should think about it,” I said. We walked together in silence down the peaceful, sunlit street.

When we got to the school, Fogger and Jeremy met us in front of the gate. Mike looked around and asked, “What happened to Sean?” His voice sounded anxious.
Fogger shrugged. “He went home to see if his father has gone out. He still wants to find the gun.”
I had to repress a grin. With Sean gone, I thought, the only trick was to persuade Fogger that it was impossible to eliminate two people with one dueling pistol. “He only has only one pistol,” I announced with a sharp nod at Mike. “That’s all his father could afford.”
Fogger snorted. “Well, let’s take a look at it,” he said firmly. He reached out to take the wooden box from Mike, but Mike pulled away. “I’ll get it out and show you how to load it,” he said. Fogger’s eyebrows rose, but he backed off.
It took Mike about ten minutes to get the thing loaded. He talked the whole time about how to measure out exactly the right amount of powder and how important it was to keep everything dry.
“ It’s not raining, you jerk,” Jeremy finally shouted. “And we don’t need a lecture from you. Just give Fogger the gun!”
“ But you can’t shoot two people with one shot, so he needs to know how to reload,” Mike protested. “And the right amount of powder…”
Fogger rolled his eyes. “Tell you what,” he interrupted. “I’ll do the shooting and you do the reloading.” He reached out and took the pistol from Mike, who was about to protest, but didn’t get a chance. “You hold onto the powder and the bullets. If I need to reload, I’ll hand you the gun and you can do the honors.”
“ I don’t know…” Mike began, but Fogger’s cell phone rang, cutting off his objections.
“ Yeah,” we heard Fogger say. “Okay, good. We’ll be over in about five. Yeah, of course a real gun would be better, but we have to find it first.” He clicked his phone shut. “Okay, we’re going over to Sean’s to look for the key.” He grinned at Mike. “We can use this thing as a back-up,” he said, handing him the dueling pistol. Mike seemed relieved to get it back. He unloaded it, before tucking it into the wooden box.

Sean was at the front door. “He left for the afternoon,” he announced. “My mother and sister are out shopping. We have about three hours.”
I knew, of course, that we wouldn’t find the gun. I just hoped there were no others in the house. We fanned out all over the place looking for the key to the desk. Eventually Jeremy found a whole box of keys. “Do you think it’s in here?” he asked, handing the box to Sean.
“ Where did you find it?” Sean asked.
“ In the basement behind the furnace,” Jeremy replied proudly.
Sean snorted and handed the box back to him. “What a jerk!” he exclaimed. “Those keys have been down there since before my sister was born.”
Fogger took the box from Jeremy and glowered at Sean. “That doesn’t mean your father couldn’t have hidden the desk key in with the other keys where you wouldn’t expect to find it.”
Sean snarled at him. “He doesn’t even know I’m looking for the key!” Then he shook his head in exasperation and wandered off into the kitchen, cursing under his breath.
Fogger insisted on trying all the keys in the box. Mike, Jeremy, and I stood around and watched him. After a half hour, Fogger came up empty. “Worth a try,” he murmured as he closed the box and handed it back to Jeremy.
We were still hunting for the key when Sean’s dad came back. He didn’t say anything to Sean about the whole gang of us wandering around his house. He got himself a Bud and settled in front of the TV. It was close to seven o’clock, and I wondered whether my parents had come home yet.
“ I’ve got to go, you guys,” I said casually.
Fogger grabbed my wrist. “Oh no you don’t!” he growled at me. “We’re all in this together.”
“ But my father is in the hospital,” I protested.
“ Visiting hours are over,” he replied, his lip curling. “You can see him tomorrow.”
“ What’s the problem, boys?” Mr. McCabe called from the kitchen.
Fogger replied, “No problem, Mr. McCabe.” He gave my wrist a burning twist before dropping it and leading us out of the house.
Sean was the last to come outside, and his face was beet red. “If I find out which of you guys ratted, I’ll kill you, I swear!” he said through clenched teeth.
Fogger shook his head. “Shut up, Sean!” he said. “If the key isn’t in the house, it’s in the van. All we need to do…”
“ Or on my father’s key chain on his belt,” Sean interrupted. “I told you I already looked in the van.”
“ Well, look again,” Fogger ordered.
Sean snorted, but he went into the house and came out with a car key. “Here!” he said, sounding very grouchy. He tossed it at Fogger. “You wanna look? Be my guest!”
We searched the van, but there was no key.
“ How about under the van?” Jeremy asked. “My father keeps a spare key in a little magnetic box under the car.”
Sean glared at him. “My father doesn’t!” he replied sullenly. But we looked under the van anyway.
Finally we gave up. It was after eight, and we were all pretty tired.
“ Let’s go to the deli,” Fogger suggested.
“ Now?” Sean asked. “It’s full of customers. I thought we’d do our hit later, right after closing.”
Fogger started to laugh. “We’re going to the deli now, McCabe,” he said between whoops of laughter, “to get something to eat. Then we’ll go back at closing time to take care of business.”
Sean scowled. “Yeah right!” he grumbled. “With an ancient dueling pistol.”

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