فصل 12

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فصل 12

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

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CHAPTER TWELVE

Guns and mountain lions

Crocker stopped and looked round. So did everyone else. They couldn’t see anyone. No-one knew where the voice had come from. Then Crocker moved, his hand going towards the pocket where he had put his gun. There was the sudden loud noise of a shot. Crocker screamed and dropped the bag. Everyone moved at the same time.

Latto turned quickly and, knocking Molinaro’s gun hand to one side, hit him hard in the stomach. Molinaro fell forwards and Latto hit him again on the back of the head. Molinaro fell to the ground and lay there without moving.

It took Martinez only a few seconds to reach Crocker. Crocker was in no condition for a fight. The shot had hit his left hand and there was blood all over it. It clearly hurt. Martinez pushed him to the ground, face down, and pulled Crocker’s good hand halfway up between his shoulders. Then, holding him down with one hand, he used his free hand to take Crocker’s gun from his pocket. That done, he moved back a few metres and kept a careful watch over Crocker and Molinaro.

Max had already disappeared. He had turned and run when he heard the shot. Latto saw someone else running past him and after Max. He picked up Molinaro’s gun and followed.

Max was quick. He led the way up through the trees. The person following wasn’t far behind, and Latto was a few metres behind them. It was easy to find their way in the moonlight. They passed the South African Garden and the New Zealand Garden. Max ran faster, got about twenty metres ahead and then quite suddenly disappeared into some trees. Everything went quiet.

Latto and the person in front of him both stopped. Latto moved forward slowly to see who it was. Long brown hair tied back.

‘Sylvia! What are you doing here?’ He couldn’t believe his eyes.

‘Sh!’ said Koning. She kept her eyes on the trees ahead. There were noises in the trees. Far off there was a loud animal noise; then another one closer to where they were standing.

‘Mountain lions,’ said Koning.

‘Are they dangerous?’ asked Latto.

‘They can kill,’ said Koning. Then without turning her head, she asked Latto, ‘This man in the trees - the one with the ear-ring - do you know his name?’

‘Max.’

Koning called out, ‘Hey, Max! There are mountain lions out there. Do you want one of them after you? Or you can come with us. Just come out and throw down your gun.’

There were more noises and then suddenly Max appeared from the trees. He was running towards them as fast as he could. Behind him was a mountain lion, getting nearer with every step.

Koning went down on one knee, looking along her gun. Seconds passed as she waited for the right moment. Then she shot. The mountain lion took one more step and fell to the ground like a stone.

Koning was immediately back on her feet, her gun pointing at Max.

‘Stop!’ she ordered loudly. ‘And drop your gun!’

Max did what he was told.


As they arrived back at the open-air theatre, Martinez was speaking into his phone.

‘I need a van over here and five or six officers. There are two…’ - he looked up and saw the others arriving back - ‘… no, three men here to take to jail, though one probably needs the hospital first.’ He finished the call and turned to Koning.

‘Not a bad shot,’ he said.

‘She just killed a lion back there,’ said Latto.

‘I did tell you.’ Koning smiled. ‘I used to go shooting a lot in the summer back home.’

Crocker was sitting on the ground, holding a handkerchief round his bloody hand. Latto walked over and looked down at him. He reached down, felt in the side pocket of Crocker’s jacket and pulled out the CD. He held it in front of Crocker’s face.

‘This is what caught you, Crocker. Do you want to know what it really is? It’s a CD of some bad country music that one of my patients gave me before I came to Santa Cruz. There are no copies of Deborah Spencer’s book.’ He waved a hand at Crocker, Max and Molinaro. ‘You and your friends took care of that. But at least we made sure you’ll all go to prison.’ He looked at Martinez. ‘Right, Martinez?’

‘Right,’ replied Martinez.

Crocker had a strange look on his face as he listened to Latto. It turned into a kind of half-smile and he said, ‘Well, at least nobody will be reading Deborah Spencer’s book in the future, even if I am in jail. Keiffenheim Laboratories will be very happy.’

Just then blue lights appeared as three police cars drove in through the gates and up the hill to the top of the open-air theatre.

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