Read Deadlock Online

Authors: Robert Liparulo

Tags: #Thriller, #ebook, #book

Deadlock (7 page)

BOOK: Deadlock
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“Well . . .
!” Hutch called and smiled at Dillon.


Dillon plopped down in his mother's place on the couch. He scooted closer to Hutch, seeming perfectly content.

“Man, look at you,” Hutch said. “You've grown—what?—a couple of feet since I saw you last?”

Dillon lifted his feet, parked them on the table, and waggled them. “Nope, these are the ones I've always had.”

Hutch gave him a push. “Sharp as ever,” he said. “What do you think of Denver so far?”


“Next to Fiddler Falls, what isn't?”

Dillon shrugged.

Hutch said, “Your mom tells me you're using the bow and arrow set I sent you.”

Dillon nodded. “I shoot it almost every day, when the weather's good enough.”

“So you're getting pretty good?”

“I shot a squirrel,” he said, excited. “While it was running up a tree!”

“Really? Wow. Did I tell you
been working on my moving-target shooting?”

“How? What do you shoot at?”

“There's a bow hunters group over in Golden. They have a contraption that flings plastic Coke bottles in the air.”

“And you shoot at them? With a bow and arrow?”

“Well, I do shoot
them,” Hutch said. “Hitting them is another story. But I'm getting better.”

Dillon shook his head in amazement.

“That's nothing,” Hutch said. “Have you ever heard of Howard Hill, the greatest archer who ever lived?”

Dillon's brow scrunched up in thought. “I don't think so . . . You told me about Zhou Tong.”

“Oh, yeah. Zhou Tong was something. Taught the Song Dynasty to be the best military archers in history. But Howard Hill, let me tell you.” Hutch hopped up, getting into character. “Okay, picture this. People coming from all over to see this guy. He comes out, big, handsome, fit. Kind of like me.”

Dillon laughed.

“He looks into the crowd and selects someone.” Hutch pointed majestically at Dillon. He grabbed his hand and pulled him up. “He tells the young lad, ‘Stand right here, and whatever you do, don't move.'” Hutch positioned Dillon by the living room's back window and squared his shoulders. “He takes an apple . . .” Hutch pretended to polish the fruit on his shirt and place it on Dillon's head.

“That's William Tell,” Dillon said.

“Mr. Tell used a crossbow. Doesn't count.” Hutch waved his hand, shooing away such nonsense, and strode into the foyer thirty feet away. With exaggerated gestures he nocked an arrow onto a bowstring, raised the bow, and aimed at Dillon. He plucked back on the string and released. His face contorted in horror. He pressed his cheeks between his palms and ran toward Dillon, staring at an imaginary tragedy at the boy's feet. “Oh my goodness, what have I done?”

!” Dillon said. “He didn't do that!”

Hutch straightened. “No, Howard Hill would split the apple. Then he'd do it with a plum. And when the crowd thought they'd seen everything, he'd have someone flip a coin in the air, and he'd shoot

“For real?”

“I saw him do it in a documentary,” Hutch said.


“I heard of another guy,” Hutch said, “who'd shoot
out of the air. You can do just about anything with a bow and arrow. All depends how much you practice.”

Dillon's gaze was far off. Hutch could almost see inside his head, where the boy was shooting coins out of the air.

Dillon walked to the table, stuffed his mouth with popcorn, and mumbled, “Can I see it?”

“See wha—?” But Hutch got it before he finished the question.

He felt an attachment to the bow he had used to save their lives in Canada. He supposed it was odd to give an inanimate object such value, but if anyone challenged him on his feelings, he'd tell them,
You clobber Death when he's breathing in your ear and see how you feel about the club

“Come on,” Hutch said.

They walked out of the living room, through the entryway, and down the hall. Hutch put his hand on the back of Dillon's head and brushed his fingers through his hair. He'd nearly forgotten how much Dillon had come to seem like his own son. Why had he let their phone calls become so infrequent? Why had it taken thirteen months to get Laura and Dillon to Colorado?

As they walked, Dillon put his arm around Hutch's waist. Hutch felt a vague ache in his chest. All the things he'd set aside to pursue Page: the long telephone conversations he'd enjoyed with Dillon and Laura; the times his own children were over and he'd done nothing with them except unveil the latest video game or DVD he'd purchased to keep them busy while he worked.

What a jerk.

He steered Dillon into the master bedroom and went to the closet. He pulled a long nylon bag off the top shelf and brought it to the bed. Unzipping it, he said, “I've done a few things to the bow.”

things?” Dillon said, excited. “Is that the same one?”

In Canada, Hutch had fashioned a sapling into a longbow, which amounted to a smoothly arching bow with a string running from tip to tip. To make the bow stronger and turn it into a recurve, which he preferred, Hutch had laminated strips of maple to the front and back of the birch sapling. He had then carved a handgrip and arrow rest into the center of the bow, called the riser. Above and below the riser, the limbs arced in toward the shooter. Each tip, to which the string was attached, curved away from the archer.

“I turned it into a recurve, like the one you have,” he said. “I'm more comfortable shooting recurves, so it's more accurate for me. See this lighter wood running though the center?” Hutch said. “That's the original sapling, the original bow.”

Dillon caressed it. “It's smooth.”

“Took a lot of sanding, and some varnish.”

“What's this?” The boy was running his fingers over the material on top of the arrow rest, which the arrow slid over as it was drawn back and released.

“Deer fur,” Hutch said. “It doesn't interfere with the arrow's flight the way some man-made rests can, and it's practically silent.”

“Cool. Can I pick it up?”

“More than that,” Hutch said. “Think you can handle a sixty-pound draw?”

Most kids couldn't, but Dillon wasn't most kids; Hutch knew he was tougher than he looked. And bow shooting almost every day? Heck, yeah.

Dillon's eyes flashed wide. “You mean I can

“I mean, you can have it.”

“Like, for
?” Dillon's face lit up.

“For keeps.”

Hutch picked it up and handed it to Dillon in the manner of a king presenting a sword to his bravest knight.

The boy looked it up and down, turning it in his hands. His expression grew serious, and he held it out to Hutch. “I can't. You made it. It's yours.”

“Then it's mine to give away, right? I know you'll take care of it.”

Dillon's head bobbed up and down. “I will.”

Hutch unzipped an inner pocket of the case and showed Dillon a quiver of arrows. “We'll shoot a few times before you go home, then I'll box it up and mail it to you.”

Dillon beamed. “Thank you!”

“For what?” Laura said, coming into the room.

“Hutch gave me his bow.” Dillon held it up. “

“You don't have to do that,” she told Hutch.

“He'd get more out of it than I would. Especially up there in the woods. Unless, of course, you don't want him to have it.”

She rubbed her son's back and leaned in close to his face. “I think it'd be okay, if you promise to be careful.”

Dillon's head went bobbing again. His big grin and sparkling eyes told Hutch he'd done the right thing.


The doorbell rang.

“Finally,” Hutch said.

Dillon put the bow back in its case, then zipped it. Hutch returned it to the closet.

The bell rang again and again, over and over in quick succession.

Laura smiled. “I think one of your kids is having fun.”

Hutch made a face. “That's probably my ex.” He headed out of the room.

Dillon fell in next to him, and before they reached the front door, the boy gripped his hand.

“Nervous?” Hutch asked.

Dillon shrugged.

“You and Logan are a lot alike. You'll get along fine.” He opened the door and stepped back as three people streamed in.

“Why does it always take you five minutes to answer your door?” Janet said.

“Nice to see you too,” Hutch said.

Janet's eyes fell on Laura and narrowed.

Hutch introduced them. Laura held out her hand, which Janet predictably ignored.

“So you're Macie?” Laura said. “You know, you're prettier than your dad said. I didn't think that was possible.”

Macie beamed.

Laura extended her hand to Logan. “Nice to meet you, Logan.”

He lowered his eyes and shook her hand.

“I heard you have a pretty cool set of grillz,” Laura said. “May I see?”

The briefest of smiles touched his tight lips. He showed her his teeth.

“There's blue in them,” Dillon said. “Cool.”

Logan's lips closed over the sparkling metal. He glared at Dillon. His eyes settled on his and Hutch's hands, clasped together. He managed to turn up the intensity of his expression.

Dillon released his grip. “Hello,” he said.

“Hi!” Macie chimed. “Daddy talks about you a lot.”

Logan said, “You're smaller than I thought.”

“Logan,” Hutch warned.

“He is!” Logan made a point of sizing Dillon up with his eyes, clearly unimpressed.

“Come here,” Hutch said, and walked Logan onto the front porch. He closed the door. “Look, Dillon's anxious enough about being here, meeting you guys and all. What's with the attitude?”

“He's a little kid,” Logan said. “You made it sound like he was . . . I don't know, some tough guy or something.”

“He's a brave boy,” Hutch said. “He saved my skin—”

Logan rolled his eyes. “I know. He showed you how to get out of the mine. You told us all about it a thousand times.”

“Just get along. Play with him.”

“He's too little.”

“He's ten. You're only two years older. You can find something the two of you can do together.” Hutch gave his son's shoulder a squeeze. “I told Dillon how cool you are. Don't make a liar out me, all right?”

Logan lowered his head. “I guess. Can we at least do something fun, maybe tomorrow?”

“Like what?” Hutch knew what was coming.

“Casa Bonita?”

“Of course,” Hutch said. “I told Dillon I'd take him back.”

“Take him back?”

Okay, my bad
, Hutch thought. Not only was Casa Bonita Logan's favorite restaurant, but he considered it his special place.

Hutch said, “I just thought . . . I mean,
like it so much, and I wanted to kick off their visit right. I took them on the way home from the airport. Doesn't mean
can't go tomorrow.”

Logan nodded.

The front door opened, and Janet stepped out. She said, “Go inside, Logan. I want to talk to your father.” After he left and closed the door, she said, “I am not thrilled about that woman being here.”

“Since when am I supposed to care what you're thrilled about?”

“You don't see a problem, your girlfriend staying here in front of the kids?”

“She's not my girlfriend. She's a houseguest.”

Janet's eyebrows went up. “Really? Where is she sleeping?”

Hutch let out a heavy sigh. He leaned against the doorjamb and crossed his arms. “In Macie's room.”

“With Macie?”

“Macie said it was okay. I put a cot in there. Dillon's sleeping in Logan's room.”

“Oh, Logan will love that.”

“Stop looking for trouble, Janet. I don't grill you about your various boyfriends.”

“Various boyfriends? I've been with George over six months. I don't have

He came off the jamb and gripped the door handle. He was glad the porch light wasn't any brighter. He didn't want her to see how tightly he was gripping it, how easily she had gotten under his skin—again.

He said, “Whatever, Janet. It's my week with the kids. You dropped them off. Adios.”

It had taken his heart a long time to move her from soul-mate status to friend to someone he had to tolerate—despite her every attempt to make the transition easy for him.

She scowled at him. He tried to look bored and unaffected. Finally she spun around and took off for her car.

When Hutch stepped back in, Logan was pushing fistfuls of popcorn into his mouth. Dillon watched from across the room. Macie's and Laura's voices drifted to him from Macie's bedroom down the hall.

Hutch felt his office tugging at him, like the gravitational pull of a planet.

Not tonight
, he thought.
Well . . . maybe after everyone goes to bed.

He rubbed his palms together. “Okay, who's up for a game of Monopoly?”

Macie held up a small red car. “Shelby GT500 convertible,” she said. “Logan likes the Viper better, but I think convertibles are way cooler.”

Laura was sitting on the floor in the little girl's room, her legs tucked under her. A fleet of Matchbox cars and trucks fanned out before her. Mini briefcases holding entire parking lots of the tiny rides, from classics to fantasy vehicles, lay open around them.

Macie would sit for a moment to point out a prized automobile, then hop up to retrieve a new one from a bookshelf, drawer, or dresser top. She returned from the closet to dump twin handfuls of cars in front of Laura.

BOOK: Deadlock
9.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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