The past is never past. Sometimes it repeats itself. And sometimes it comes back to pay a visit. Blu Carraway, flush with cash and back in business, never had it so good. Or so he thought.The reality is his love life is in shambles, his business partner is spending too much time with women half his age and not enough time on the job, and someone close goes missing. Blu’s business partner goes off the rails, his friends show their true colors, and he realizes that getting closure sometimes means walking away from everything. With a case from the past gone wrong twice, a loved one in trouble, and an unanswered marriage proposal, it’s a bad time to be in it for Blu Carraway Investigations.
Belize City, Belize, August, mid-Monday
Paco squinted as he stared out over the courtyard, the afternoon sun a brilliant blaze. Sounds of local women selling vegetables, cheap pottery, and trinkets to tourists filled the air. The clinking of dishware. Some of the vendors were lucky enough to have an umbrella or canopy to shield them from the burning heat. Most weren’t.
The pavement baked Paco’s feet through his cowboy boots.
He lifted his straw hat, one with an orange band he’d bought from a local Mennonite child, and wiped his brow. The air tasted of salt, dust, and tamalito grease.
His two partners, a Belizean Creole called Lin and a Jamaican named Peter, were already in position. Lin nodded at him from the other side of the square. Paco checked on Peter and found him fifty meters due east scoping out the three young women they’d come for.
Well, really it was just one of them they wanted. The other two women were going to be a bonus. The contract was to grab the woman with the family name of Kincaid, make a phone call when they had her at their hideout, and then do whatever they wanted with the other two. And eliminate any resistance.
The stupid chicas had only one guard with them. Some tall, middle-aged Bufon Paco guessed was half-Cuban, half-gringo, who wore sunglasses and dressed in light-colored fatigues and military style boots. He looked fit but was most likely nothing but an easy target. In the three days Peter, Lin, and Paco had tracked the women, the man with the sunglasses always kept watch from behind.
The past two nights Paco had dreamt of shooting the man through those sunglasses.
Using the sleeve of his shirt, Paco wiped his forehead one more time and then replaced his hat. He watched Peter wait until the women and the man passed and then fell in behind them.
God, the women were beautiful. Suntanned white girls in their early twenties. Perfect teeth. Curled, long hair. Linen blouses, short shorts, and sandals. After he shot their protector, his dreams ended with tying each of them to a bed, the fear in their eyes giving him immense pleasure.
And today was the day his dream would come true.
Paco watched the group pass through a crowd of old people in bright clothes unloading from a tour bus.
Except Peter didn’t emerge behind them when the women came through the other side of the gray-haired mass.
Neither did the sunglass-wearing guard.
Paco smiled and thought, good, Peter took him out already.
He nodded at Lin who gave him a thumbs-up.
The women perused another row of vendors.
He and Lin followed, coming from opposite ends.
The women were just ahead. Paco caught sight of their toned caderas and thanked his god again for tight American shorts. He picked up his pace as he threaded through the crowd.
After about forty meters, something didn’t seem right any more. He should have caught up to them by now. And Lin should have joined him.
Paco stopped, checked his phone. No messages.
Looking around, he thought he spotted the women turn down an alley.
Where were Peter and Lin?
It didn’t matter.
He had to get the woman now. Especially with the guard out of the picture.
Paco knew he could handle her by himself, even if the other two females had to die to make things easier. He sprinted after them, cut down the alley, and found himself alone with nothing but a dead end. The only noise he heard was the market from which he’d come.
An abandoned car on blocks with its hood open mocked him. Dust kicked up from his boots as he skidded to a stop. Paco turned around. No one had followed him.
He turned back and looked straight down the barrel of a revolver.
His eyes would not—could not—keep from staring at the black hole in front of him that brought death. Where in the hell did this come from? There had been no sound.
A man’s voice said, “Esto es donde dar la vuelta y a pie.” (This is where you turn around and walk away.)
Thinking fast, Paco said, “Que buscaba para mi hija.” (I was looking for my daughter.)
The thumb of the hand holding the revolver cocked the hammer back.
Anyone else would have soiled his pants at this. But Paco knew the man had made a very big mistake. Other peoples’ mistakes, and Paco’s awareness of them, were how he had survived this long. The cocked pistol an arm’s reach from his face had caught him off guard. If it had been five feet away, the perfect distance for control,he would have had a problem.
But this close—
Paco swung an arm at the hand with the pistol and ducked the other way, all in one motion just like he’d done before.
Except another gun fired.
Paco felt an inferno of heat and lead tear through his leg. He screamed and crashed to the ground.
A large, military boot kicked him in the face. It jolted his focus off the pain in his leg for a second and onto the sunglasses of the man from his dreams. Paco spotted a second pistol in the man’s other hand. He hadn’t seen the second gun because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the first. The man had outsmarted him.
The man smiled down at him and said, in Spanish, “Who hired you?”
The pain flooded back. Paco seethed out a “Piss off.”
The man with the sunglasses put his large boot on Paco’s injured leg and stepped down hard.
Paco had never felt pain so great in his thirty-three years on this earth. He tried to scream, but nothing came out. He swam in a horizon of white noise.
The pressure on his leg let up. The boot kicked him in the ribs, ripping his concentration away from his leg once more, long enough for him to breathe.
“Your two friends won’t be joining us. Tell me who hired you. Do it now. I won’t ask again.”
Paco’s mind recovered enough from the pain to formulate a last desperate plan. He slipped a hand behind his back and pulled out a derringer.
Before he could aim it, the man standing over him blasted his hand from two feet away. And Paco felt a different twinge of pain that almost matched the firestorm in his leg. He lifted his hand to where he could look at it. Two of his fingers were missing.
Then he saw nothing.
Excerpt from Bad time To Be In It by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2018 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.
David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Bad Time To Be In It (July 2018, Henery Press) will be his sixth. Having lived on Charleston’s Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.