Nothing Lasts Forever

Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorpe

Book: Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorpe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roderick Thorpe
Tags: det_action
enough to make death far from quick. His stomach churned and he had to back out of the shaft.
    He looked again at what he had. How was he going to carry all this stuff? He was going to need both hands, and the Thompson had no sling.
    The kit bag had a canvas strap. Unhooked, it extended about five feet. Could one of the hooks hold him? If it could, and if he used the Thompson as a T-bar across the small iron door, he could lower himself into the shaft. Figuring on not being able to extend his arms fully because they'd be bearing almost all of his weight, he could get down perhaps as much as ten feet. If one hook could hold him, so could two — if the first hook failed, that would be the end of it, anyway.
    The shoulder harness was thick, top-grain cowhide, and presumably stronger than the canvas of the kit bag sling. Another two feet, with the Browning stuffed in his belt. Another two feet. He might lose the Thompson. As well as the kit bag. No. He could leave the kit bag on one end of the sling, drop it into the shaft, and climb his way down around it, then down the shoulder harness. After he found a foothold, if he couldn't shake the Thompson loose, he could still reach up and unhook the shoulder bag. And if he had to give up all that firepower, they would think he was unarmed again — if, of course, he called it to their attention. First, there had to be a toehold.
    Don't get ahead of yourself, boy.
He thought. He had been able to step from the roof on the elevator to the catwalk here — step up: he had reached above his head for the railing. It took a little figuring. He could be as little as four or five feet above the conduits in the ceiling of the fortieth floor. Then what? Suppose they heard him scratching around overhead, like a rat inside the plaster?
    He had to face the fact that he would go no farther down if he found a passageway at a safe level. If he could not have the relative security of the sling and harness, he would not be able to think about getting in there.
    The clips were the weakest links. They could be nothing more than some kind of flattened wire. In the light, they'd looked like brass. He was going to see if he could rig a test, wrapping the Thompson around the railing. No noise. If they heard him crapping around, they would be on their way.
    It was a good idea to think of other things when he could. It rested the mind. He wondered about the benefit in talking to himself. He'd thought for years that he'd never done it, but his mother had told Karen that he'd done it as a child. Karen had been an orphan, a foster child. She'd talked to herself. She'd remembered more of her childhood than he ever could remember of his. Since he'd never wanted to be anything but a cop, he'd spent his childhood in a dream world, playing, listening to the radio, passing the time, coming awake to make note of something only when someone spoke one of dozens of buzz words, like
the verb, or
the noun.
    His mother had given him so much support, he'd taken so much for granted, that he'd gotten past the middle of his life, and at the end of hers, before he'd realized how little he understood her. His relationship with Karen had a lot to do with that realization and his father's advancing senility. A lovely woman, his mother, a twentieth-century classic. She'd met her husband right after high school and her only child had been born before her twentieth birthday. She spent the rest of her life creating a home, which an unmarried man knew was making something out of nothing but love, will, effort, and sacrifice.
    He stopped to get his bearings again. Even the cartoon Napoleon going out the window of the nut house paused for a check of the knotted bedsheets. Leland was going to know this building — perhaps for only four seconds, but he was going to know it. He made sure the safety was on the Thompson, and then he looped the sling over the railing, which had already taken his weight. The clips still worried

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