Sounds now of men squirming in the brush, acquiring a tension-engineered shooting position. Most chose to go to one knee, some tucking foot under ass. A slouchy feed bag like Frank probably didn't think too much of such a thing and just made himself comfortable. Charles went into an athlete's crouch, because he would be the only one breaking cover. His job, now that the early sighting was done, was to rotate around the vehicle to get shots in from the quarter angle, then close and finish the job with his Government Model if needed. If by some strange chance either bad one made it out of the car on this side, Charles would handle the last applications of rough justice, issuing quick dispatch. His long finger went to the safety lever of the Model 8, which was a gigantic thing (another reason your gun-savvy peace officers liked it, as it required no fumbling with a nubbin of a button when lead filled the air), and slid it smoothly down. He tucked the rifle under his shoulder and coiled the necessary muscles to break from cover, circle fast and low behind, and come up on the other side.
Now it was Ted Hinton's show. He was a car expert and always up on the latest Detroit issue. As soon as details became clear, Ted would know if it was a 1934 Cordoba-gray V-8 Ford 730 DeLuxe. That seemed
to be the car—these folks traded up whenever it was possible as the fellow was, like Ted, a fan of Detroit's latest—which would be the final go-ahead. Then it fell to them to halt at Old Man Ivy's flat tire to give assistance that would put them flat in the beaten zone that the captain had laid out.
Charles watched it come. The car pulled a screen of dust behind it, for the boy behind the wheel knew what he was doing and was good at it, loving the roar of the engine, the buzz of the vibrations, the smell of the gasoline. The car was gray, all right, and as sleek as Mr. Ford could turn out, a blur as it unzipped the dust off the still gravel bed, now and then dipping out of sight but never able to escape the marker of its roiling signature.
"That's it, by god!" screamed Ted, way too loud, for a bubble of excitement in his lungs had pushed his voice up a register and he signified the end of his sentence with a loud, involuntary gulp as he swallowed excess spit and saliva.
"On my shot," the captain reminded, and at that, the car—its occupants having now seen Old Man Ivy and his tire-distress diorama—had gone to gentle brake and begun its slowdown as it drew near. It was a hundred feet, fifty feet, twenty-five, and then, as close as the end of his nose, it scooted by Charles, slow enough for him to see the slouch of the boy driving it. Lord God, he was smallish. Looked like Our Gang, scrawny, cowlicks pointing this way and that, but, wanting to be grown-ups, all dressed out in grown-up
clothes, even to his cinched-tight Sunday-school tie.
As the car eased to a halt, Charles stepped out, low, to get to his duty position, hearing the boy yell through the window in a surprisingly mellow voice, "Say there, Dad Ivy, what's the problem?"
So Charles had his head cranked down the left side of the vehicle when all the shooting commenced. There was a first shot, but the second and third and fourth, out to the hundred fiftieth, came on so strong, like a blizzard wind, there was no sense of independence to the notes. Ted's Browning gun was closest to Charles, thus loudest, manufacturing hell in the form of noise, flash, and lead. Ted just dumped the mag, loosing all twenty .30-06s in about a second, and possibly even hit the target a time or so. Meanwhile, wincing, Charles had a glimpse as the other five all opened up, and he could see the lead in the air, not palpably as singular objects but as a kind of wavering disturbance, as it sped through and pushed the
atmosphere aside in its hunger to strike flesh. The wind of lead blew straight from the cemetery into the vehicle and through it, and where the bullets struck—seemed to be everywhere at once—they lit into the car hard, banging it, causing it to wobble, ripping and twisting the metal to slivers and craters, powdering the glass into diamond spray, all the damage heaped on in what seemed but a fraction of the first second.
Charles continued his scuttle, came up just at the right rear fender and got a good look into the cab at the two kids. They lounged behind a smear of fracture that occluded the windshield, smoke rising from themselves but also from it seemed a dozen punctures in the car's dashboard, and they were festooned with metal shards torn from the Ford body, dusted with the atoms of glass where the windows were blown out and had the stillness of the death that already afflicted them. They had that rag-doll look that the dead find so comfortable, all akimbo and beyond caring, on the loll and only obedient to gravity.
But at that moment, by the rule of farce, a dead foot must have fallen from the brake pedal, and even as the men in the brush were slamming reloads into their now empty hot guns, the car began to creep ahead.
In a move that was pure gunman's instinct, Charles threw the rifle to his shoulder to find the front sight just where it should be—that is, sharp and clear against the fuzzier outline of the boy's head slumped back against the seat—and with an unconsciously perfect trigger pull, he fired a big .35 through the glass, hazing
it to spiderweb for a dead-center hit, knocking bone fragments and brain spew everywhere; then, even coming off the stout recoil, he rotated and put a second one into the back of the seat on the other side, against which, dead or alive, the girl had to slump, and where it hit, it kicked up a big cloud of dust and debris, to add to the toxins afloat in the air.
By this time the deputies had gotten their pieces reloaded or picked up new ones, and as the car drifted slowly down the road, they came out of the brush, gun-crazed, and launched another but completely pointless fusillade, rocking and ripping the car still more. Only Captain Frank did not participate, for he knew the day's business was finished.