H Is For Homicide Page 80

’’You didn't do anything? I don't believe this...’’

’’Chick stole my car and I chased her. What'd you expect?’’

’’You're crazy!’’

’’I'm crazy? Why? Because I won't let that bitch take me for everything I'm worth? You better believe it.’’

’’What's going to happen?’’

’’Beats me.’’

I sat up, irritated with his attitude. ’’Don't play dumb, Raymond. What's Chopper going to do to her?’’

’’How do I know? I'm not a f*kin'psychic. Don't worry about it. It's got nothing to do with you.’’

’’What about her mother?’’

’’What do you care? Quit acting like this is my fault.’’

I looked at him with astonishment. ’’Who's fault is it, men?’’

’’Bibianna's,’’ he replied, as if it were self-evident.

’’Why is it her fault? You're the one who cut the woman.’’

’’Who, Gina? She's alive, isn't she? Which is more man you can say for Chago. I got a brother dead, and who do you think did that?’’

’’Not her,’’ I shot back.

’’That's my point,’’ he replied patiently. ’’She didn't do nothing. She's innocent, right? Just like him. Tit for tat. It says so right in the Bible - an eye for an eye - and that's all this is about. Lookit, I could have killed the bitch, but I didn't, did I. And you know why? Because I'm a good guy. Nobody gives me credit. Bibianna has to learn not to f*k with me, I told you that. You think I like this? She'd done what I said to begin with, we wouldn't be here.’’

’’Which is what?’’

’’Quit horsing around and get serious. She shoulda married me when I asked her. I'm not stupid, you know. I don't know what's going on, but I've been as patient as I'm gonna be. And that goes for you, too. You got that?’’

I stared at him, at a loss for words. His view of the world was so skewed there was no reasoning with him. He really seemed to see himself as innocent, the victim of a circumstance in which everyone was responsible for his behavior except him. Like every other ’’victim’’ I've known, he clung to his ’’one-down’’ position as justification for his abuse of other people.

Raymond picked up the car phone and punched in a number. ’’ 'Ey, Luis. Raymond. Put some clothes on, we're swinging by to pick you up.’’ He glanced at his watch. ’’Ten minutes. And bring the mutt.’’

He started the car then and pulled out, hanging a left onto a main artery as we headed south again. I glanced out the window. Raymond was driving at a sedate forty miles an hour. We were now on Sepulveda, not far from the airport. Not a wonderful neighborhood, but I thought I'd be safe until I could get a call through to the cops. I opened the car door. Raymond speeded up.

’’Please stop the car. I'm getting out,’’ I said.

He picked up the gun again and pointed it at me. ’’Close the door.’’

I did as I was told. He turned his attention to the road again. In the glow from the streetlights, I studied his profile, hair still damp from the shower, the tousle of curls, dark eyes, long lashes, the dimple in his chin. He was bare-chested, barefoot, his skin very pale. I could see the faint scarring in the crooks of his arms. My guess was that after the intensity of the chase and the rush of adrenaline, the euphoric effects of his shooting up were beginning to wane. His ticcing had returned. The mysterious connections in his neurological circuitry were touching off a series of reactions, as if he were enduring tiny jolts of electricity. His mouth came open and he jerked his neck to the right. His body jumped with the same irrepressible response I've felt when a doctor pops with his rubber hammer on my patellar reflex. In that quick tap, there isn't any way to prevent my foot from flying out. Raymond seemed to live with the constant assault of invisible rubber hammers, which rapped him randomly at all hours of the day, testing every reflex... little elves and fairies tapping on him like a boot. If his gun hand jerked the wrong way, he was going to plug me full of holes. My own adrenaline had seeped away, leaving me depleted.

’’Oh, God, Raymond. Please. I just want to go home,’’ I said wearily.

’’I'm not going to let you out here. It's too dangerous. You wouldn't last a block.’’

I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of his concern. There he was, holding me at gunpoint, probably willing to kill me if it came to that, but he didn't want me out on the streets in a questionable neighborhood. Raymond punched in another number. He really reminded me of some high-powered business exec.

Someone answered on the other end.

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