Detroit businessman Harry Mitchell had had only one affair in his twenty-two years of happy matrimony. Unfortunately someone caught his indiscretion on film and now wants Harry to fork over one hundred grand to keep his infidelity a secret. And if Harry doesn't pay up, the blackmailer and his associates plan to press a lot harder -- up to and including homicide, if necessary. But the psychos picked the wrong pigeon for their murderous scam. Because Harry Mitchell doesn't get mad...he gets even.
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July 30, 2002
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Excerpt from 52 Pickup by Elmore Leonard
He could not get used to going to the girl's apartment. He would be tense driving past the gate and following the road that wound through the complex of townhouse condominiums. Even when it was dark he was a little tense. But once he reached the garage and pressed the remote control switch and the double door opened, he was there and it was done.
It was cold in the garage, standing in the darkness between his car and Cini's, feeling for the key on the ring that held all the keys he had to carry. He didn't like keys and wished there was another way to do it. He wished he didn't have so many doors that had to be kept locked.
It was warm in the kitchen, with a warm glow coming from the light over the stainless steel range. Shiny and clean, nothing on the sink or the countertop. She was neat, orderly, and for some reason that had surprised him.
The rest of the apartment was dark, though dull evening light was framed in the sliding glass door across the living room. To the right was the front entrance and a suspended stairway that made one turn up to the hallway and two bedrooms. Beyond the stairway the door to the den was closed.
He called out, "Cini?"
Usually music was playing and in the silence the place seemed empty. But she was here because her car was in the garage. Probably in the shower. He listened another moment before going back intothe kitchen to the wall phone.
The sound of the plant came on with the voice answering and he said, "This is Mr. Mitchell, see ifyou can find Vic for me, will you?"
The ice bucket wasn't on the counter. Usually there were the ice bucket and two glasses, ready. Maybe at other times when he came in they weren't on the counter, but tonight he was aware of it.
"Vic, it's Mr. Mitchell. I'm not going to be back today... No, I'm tired. Son of a bitch has four vodka martinis, shish kebab, coffee and three stingers. We go back to his office and I have to listen to all this about delivery dates."
He was patient for almost a minute, leaning against the counter now, at times nodding, looking atthe window over the sink where a stained-glass owl hung from the shade string.
"Vic, I'll tell you what. You call on the customers and eat the lunch every day, I'll run the shop.... Victor ... All right, you got a problem, but we know weeks ahead when we have to deliver,right? We take into account the chance of screw-ups, breakdowns and acts of God. But, Victor, we deliver. We deliver, we pay our bills and we always take our two-percent ten days. That's what we always do, as long as I've been in business. If you've got a machine problem then fix the son of abitch, because I'll tell you something, I'm not going to go out every day and eat lunch, Vic, and run the shop too. You see that?"
He listened again, giving his plant superintendent equal time. "All right, I'll talk to you first thing tomorrow... Right ... All right, Vic. Listen, if anybody wants me I'm there, I'll call them back, right.... Okay, so long."