The deadly snout of the gun didn’t waver as William Alexander spoke again, “I thought I’d seen the last of you in Prague. Too bad about Peterson.”
A series of images flashed through Rule’s mind. The climb up the fire escape. Peterson springing the rooftop ambush on Alexander. Rule making it to the roof just in time to see Alexander fling Peterson from the edge. Alexander getting away. Peterson’s body going limp just as Rule reached him. The distant wail of sirens.
“Yeah, too bad.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing him again soon. Get your hands up.” Alexander gestured with the gun, “Over there!”
Rule started walking. Alexander directed him towards a set of steel stairs mounted against the inside wall of the warehouse. The footsteps of both men echoed hollowly in the cavernous brick building as they slowly made the climb.
“You know” said Rule as he reached the top and began to move along a steel catwalk, “I thought you were smarter than this.”
Alexander stopped for a moment, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“For a guy who always seems to be one step ahead, it’s certainly not your MO to take this kind of chance with me.”
“Smart words from the man with a gun at his back”, sneered Alexander.
Rule was already measuring angles. He considered for a moment before replying.
“Granted. But you know what’s interesting?”
“Until recently, I wouldn’t have had you figured for the kind of guy to do his own dirty work. You’d have people to take care of that side of things. But then you went and threw Peterson off that roof. You hadn’t reckoned on us getting that close to you. It didn’t fit with your plan. You had to improvise. You got sloppy.”
“Then how come I’m the standing here and Peterson’s the one that’s dead? Keep moving!”
Rule saw a winch platform up ahead. It was positioned beside a gap in the guard rail with a security chain hanging across it.
“Even sloppy guys get lucky sometimes,” he commented dryly, “but sooner or later luck runs out.”
“Very true. The same goes for you, Rule. Turn around!”
Rule stopped and turned on spot. Alexander was holding the gun in a firm grip, but Rule could tell at a glance that his hunch about Alexander had been right. The man was no expert when it came to getting his hands dirty in the field. The next few seconds would be critical.
“Before I go, don’t you want to know what your biggest mistake was?”
“You assumed I came alone.” Rule’s eyes darted to a point over the man’s shoulder as he yelled, “Now Paul!”
The rouse worked. Alexander’s eyes flickered to the side momentarily and his gun angled away a fraction, but it was all that Rule needed. He kicked out, catching the criminal’s wrist with his foot. The gun clattered to the catwalk, rattled across it and plunged to the floor far below.
Alexander recovered and swung the briefcase around, but Rule dodged and delivered a vicious uppercut to the man’s jaw. He staggered back against the chained section of the railing. The chain snapped and with a shriek of terror he plunged over the edge, landing with a crash on a stack of wooden packing crates on the floor level.
Rule stared down at him. The fall had not been fatal, but Alexander wouldn’t be making a run for it. He probably wouldn’t even be walking any time soon.
Making his way back along the catwalk, Rule collected the briefcase and went down the stairs to retrieve Alexander’s gun. There was a telephone in an annex office from which he called the police and an ambulance. Then he went back into the warehouse, pulled over a chair and sat down with a heavy sigh to guard the criminal until the authorities arrived.