I got to Carmichael's and set up—as I had last night—in a spot where I could see the back and side entrances. Then I settled down to watch and wait for Carmichael's thief---and for Caiazzo's goons.
The thief showed up first. I saw something move in the shadows behind the building. Picking up my camera, I zoomed in and the shape coalesced into a man. He stopped by the back door of the store, looking around furtively. I snapped a couple of pictures. He returned his attention to what he was doing, getting the door open. Then he was inside. Ten long minutes later he was back, a carrying case slung over one shoulder. While I took more pictures he locked up and after a quick look around he came my way down the alley. When he turned the corner onto the sidewalk I followed his progress to a car parked a few hundred yards from me, snapping two more pictures. One was of the license plate, the second of him getting into the car. What I had on the camera would be more than enough to give Carmichael—and the cops when he brought them in—evidence about which employee had been helping himself to the goods.
I'd been there for two hours at this point, with no sign of the goons. Of course the fact I was parked on the street and had no intention of going into the nearest alley might have something to do with that. Yeah, I wanted round two with them, to settle the score if nothing else, but I wasn't stupid. Besides which, I suspect they wouldn't buy it if I made myself an obvious target again.
So I started the car, fully intending to head home. In the morning I'd download the pictures I'd taken and email them to Carmichael along with the final bill for services rendered. Speaking of which… I leaned over the console and got the camera out of the glove compartment where I'd put it when I was done shooting pictures of the thief. Sure a hell if I left it there I'd forget I had until I got up to the office and needed it.
When I straightened, sticking it in my pocket, a tap on my window told me someone else had other plans for the rest of my night. I turned to look and saw the muzzle of a gun pointing at me. I recognized the man at the other end, his finger on the trigger. It was the third assailant from last night. The one who'd been asking me questions while his compatriots did their best to make me answer.
He nodded toward the front of the car and I saw the big goon standing there, arms crossed over his massive chest. Then the scrawny goon opened the passenger side door, a gun in his other hand.
I had two choices. One, find out what they had in mind. I had the distinct impression it was not going to be good. Two, get the hell out of there since this time they were armed and dangerous. Not that they hadn't been dangerous the last time we'd met, but if they'd had guns they hadn't shown them.
I took option number two, kicked the car into reverse and backed away from them fast, thanking whoever was watching over me they hadn't parked behind me. The question man fired a shot. It hit the front fender.
Scrawny took more careful aim. I figured he wanted to take out a tire so I swerved, changed gears and floored it. The car sped forward, barely missing him. The big guy was in the middle of the street, moving faster than a man his size should be able to. As I swerved around him, a gun appeared in his massive hand. He fired.
Pain blossomed in my left bicep. "Lucky shot," I growled and kept going. It was damned obvious they were playing for keeps when all three men continued shooting as they raced for a dark sedan that pulled out of the alley across from the one I'd been staking out. Four on one? Guess they thought I was Superman.