Chapter 18. Pawns out

Abraham Weiss loved the sunlight. Others may take comfort in the moderate Arizona winters, but Weiss preferred the burning heat of summer because it also meant more hours of daylight in each twenty-four.

Not that he was afraid of the dark.

He would not admit that even to himself. He Just Preferred the sunlight. One reason he hated Washington was the damn short days — especially in winter. God, how he hated Washington in the winter!

But he definitely had mixed feelings about these desert sunsets. SO beautiful to behold, sure, but sort of like dying, also. Even knowing that the sun also rises, there was something very sad and tragic in a sunset.

Like a man’s life, slowly waning, waning, waning then snuff! — gone — blackness — nothingness. He shivered and stepped away from the window. Another hour of daylight. So where the hell was Moe! And where the hell was all this police protection he’d been promised! Leave a man hanging out here like the final damn grape on the vine, just waiting for someone to come along and Snuff!

That kind of thinking would get him nowhere!

He crossed to the desk, opened the secret panel, reversed the tape on the recorder, and played back that ridiculous telephone conversation with his lifelong buddy, Moe Kaufman. Some buddy.

“Goddammit, Abe, sometimes I think you’re getting senile! You can’t pay any attention to a guy like that! He’s just trying to get us scratching at each other’s eyes.”

“Did he talk to you or didn’t he?”

“Yes, dammit, he talked to me. Walked right into the police station, and we sat in an empty office and talked for about five minutes.”

“Go get fucked, you miserable … I’m not that senile! Why are you holding out on me?”

“Listen, I’m coming out there. Personally. I’m bringing you some new comfort. Now just sit tight and wait till I get there.”

“I can pick up this phone and place one call, one call. I could call Cronkite. Hell, I could call the White House if I wanted to. If you’re playing cute games with me!”

“For God’s sake, Abe. Get ahold. Can’t you see what you’re doing?”

“It will be getting dark soon, Moe. I don’t want to be here alone when it gets dark.”

“Buck up. I’m on my way.”

“Come alone!”

“Are you crazy? Why should I come alone? I’m bringing comfort, dammit!”

“I won’t be here, Moe. I swear. I’m leaving.”

“Don’t you dare leave that house! It’s the only protection you’ve got for now. Do you want me to send a police car screaming to the rescue? Is that what you want?”

“I don’t know. Maybe so. Yeah. I want them In uniform. I want a whole goddamn platoon of uniformed cops.”

“You know better. We’re trying to quiet this, not put it on the evening news. We can’t afford that kind of-“

“We can’t afford it?! That’s rich, that’s really rich.”

“Put a gun in your hand, dammit, and sit tight. I’ll be there.”

Sure. He’d be here. When? In time for the second coming? The Senator stared at the desk clock. Was It stopped? Could a clock move that slowly and still be working properly?

Ridiculous! Such a ridiculous and demeaning conversation! That tape should be destroyed. Who’d want something like that in the memoirs?

Ridiculous, absolutely. Moe was right. Bolan was just trying to confuse things, sow dissension.

That clock could not be working. How long had it been? Why wasn’t he here?

He toyed with the Browning, checked the clip, tested the action, removed the clip and ejected the round from the magazine, put it back in the clip, returned the clip … oh, God dammit!

A man should not be alone at a time like this. A man should have friends, family, someone who cared.

Moe Kaufman was the only true friend he’d ever had. True? True to what?

True to Abraham Weiss? Hell no, not so. Moe Kaufman did not befriend. Moe Kaufman merely used.

A puppet, huh? That son of a bitch! Where’d he get off calling Abraham Weiss a puppet? Pawn, maybe. Yeah. Pawn.

What was that? Had he heard something? Carlos? Of course not. They’d sent Carlos away hours ago. But someone was in the home!

Expendable, huh! Abraham Weiss was expendable! He snatched up the Browning and whirled to the door, screaming, “Bullshit! Bullshit!”

A dark form materialized in the gloom of that doorway, something glinting from an outstretched hand. And then the two persons who lived inside the body of Abraham Weiss parted, separated into two, fragmenting that consciousness. The one quickly raised the Browning, sighted cooly and squeezed; the other stood back in horror, stunned by the thunderous report of the bucking pistol. Something grunted and pitched forward into the room, while something else moved in quickly to take its place, making startled sounds and calling out in alarm. Part One squeezed the trigger again and then again, as Part Two awoke with dismay as Old Friend Moe screamed at him from the doorway — but too late came the awakening. Part One was still squeezing, squeezing, squeezing — and the Browning roared on until there was nothing but dull clicks to be heard from the automatic movements of that trigger finger.

Something clicked, also, inside Abe Weiss’s head.

The Browning fell to the floor and he sank into his chair, hands clasped across the belly, bent forward, eyes straining into the gloom.

“Moe? Is that you? Moe?”

He turned on the desk lamp and looked again.

Two men lay crumpled on the floor just inside the room. He hesitantly got to his feet and went over for a cautious closer look. God, he’d drilled them perfect. God, they were dead as hell. Take that, dammit. Issue paper on Abe Weiss, will you. Fuck you.

He stepped over the corpses and ventured into the hall, finding the light switch, illuminating a scene straight from hell.

Old Friend Moe lay on his back in a pool of blood, dead eyes staring up at Old Friend Abe and mirroring shock — surprise — what? Take that, Old Friend Moe. Take that, you fucking pawn. Expendable, huh?

Self-defense. Clearly it was self-defense. They’d come to get him, to expend him, to replace him with virgin flesh untainted by the competitions of a corrupt world. Fuck them all. It was self-defense, pure and simple.

He returned to the den where all his trophies of the hunt now shared honors with the trophies of survival.

They’d come in with guns drawn — he knew that for sure — he’d seen the glint of gunmetal lifting into the pull.

Abraham Weiss? Are you Senator Abraham Weiss?

Sure. Identify yourself so they know they got the right cookie. There’s no profit in gunning the wrong cookie.

He turned one of them with a foot and knelt for a closer inspection of that gun-metal Shit. Oh shit.

Self-defense. It was self-defense!

Against a badge, Abe? The man came in with a badge in his hand and you gunned him down?

Cop killer!

You fucking lunatic! You killed two cops and your best friend — you killed your comfort!

He went back to the desk and sat down. The sun would be setting soon.

Yeah. Yeah. The sun would be setting very soon, now, for Honest Abe Weiss.

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