The Second Bat Guano War: a Hard-Boiled Spy Thriller

The Second Bat Guano War: a Hard-Boiled Spy Thriller by J. M. Porup

Book: The Second Bat Guano War: a Hard-Boiled Spy Thriller by J. M. Porup Read Free Book Online
Authors: J. M. Porup
hysteria.
    “This is about Lynn, isn’t it,” I said. “Some sort of weird fucked-up revenge. You’re pissed that I was sleeping with her. Is that it?”
    He froze for an instant, before slowly playing another card. His fist clutched the deck tight, his knuckles white.
    I scooted my chair closer to the desk. Stood. Rested my knuckles on the flaking leather blotter. The mouth breathers behind me took a step forward, but did not interfere. I put my palm flat on top of his card game.
    I said, “Ambo? Lynn is dead. And I am sorry.” I leaned over the desk as far as I could go, trying to catch his eye, but he avoided my gaze. “But it wasn’t me.”
    Ambo looked at my hand, as though unsure what to do with an unexpected joker. “Randy?” he said.
    Before I could say, No, not really, one of the marines came to attention.
    “Sir!”
    He strode to Ambo’s side. Peered down at the cards. His peaked cap brushed my forehead. I didn’t move my hand. He pointed with an outstretched index finger, clad in white. “Black knave on red queen, sir.”
    Ambo nodded. He pried the jack from under my middle finger, moved it to the right. “Knave on queen. Thank you, Randy.”
    “Sir.”
    The room was cold but sweat beaded on Ambo’s forehead. A drop grew in the furrow above his eyebrows, ran along his nose until it hung from the tip, a future stalactite. He looked up at me. Again, he asked, “How old am I?”
    I slashed sideways at the cards, wiped them from the surface of the desk with my forearm. “Didn’t you hear me?” I said. “I told you it wasn’t me.”
    “I know it wasn’t. It was Pitt.” His brown eyes jumped up at me from deep inside his motionless skull. His gaze whipped my head back. I crumpled, caught myself against the back of the chair. I coughed, tasted bile.
    “Pitt killed his own mother?”
    “Answer the question.”
    “Why he would do such a thing? I have no idea, Ambo,” I said. “I really don’t.”
    His voice rose in crescendo, rage and panic blending together. “My age, Horace.”
    “The fuck it matter?” I stood, knocked over my chair with the backs of my calves. Brown hands gripped my shoulders, picked up the chair and slammed me down.
    Ambo folded his large hands, as though in prayer. Linked together they were the size of a small melon. “How old am I?” he asked.
    “Old enough to know better, but not old enough to care.”
    He did not so much as grin. “How old is that?”
    I sat silent.
    “Horace.” His voice was a growl, a bear prepared to rip your throat out.
    “Seventy-five.”
    He dropped his feet to the floor. Took off his glasses, laid them aside. Rubbed the bridge of his nose between a giant thumb and forefinger.
    “Seventy-five years old.” He drummed his hand on the metal desk, a sound like rain pattering on rooftops. “And this is
not,”

and here his fist smacked the hollow metal surface, the remaining cards twitching, the warden’s name plaque bouncing

“not
how I am going to die.”
    I looked at my own puny white hands, then at Ambo’s muscular pile driver of a fist. His fingers were thick as carrots, the tips calloused and hard.
    “What makes you think you’re going to die?” I asked.
    His fist rose up, the warhammer of the gods. Crashed down on the desk, denting it this time. He flung the remaining cards into the air, Lynn’s emerald eye twinkling amidst the blue paisley rain of dots and cartoon heads. With a primeval roar he overturned the desk.
    I leaped backward. Footfalls shuffled behind me, as though drawn by the disorder, some atavistic urge to corral the chaos. Stopped. The marines on either side of Ambo had not flinched.
    “What makes you think you’re not?” he demanded.
    He glowered at me from under those monstrous eyebrows. I had the sudden vision of horns curving from his temples, a red tail twitching back and forth as he offered Faust a bargain.
    I said, “So go ahead and kill me. What’s the problem?”
    Ambo took out a pack of

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