“How’d you find me gumshoe?”
Horner looked up into the barrel of the gun, a five shot revolver with a barrel half as long as the cylinder. “Answer me!” Frankie growled.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Horner said. “You weren’t what anyone would call careful.”
Frankie snarled and pushed the barrel of the gun against Horner’s temple. “You think you’re funny gunshoe?”
“And you think you’re smart. So I guess that puts us both in the wrong.”
Frankie dug in his pocked and pulled something out, tossing it on the table in front of Horner. “Know what that is gunshoe?”
“I’m gonna guess…Pez dispenser.”
Frankie pulled the hammer back. “No more jokes, gumshoe!”
Horner reached down and opened the Leatherman pliers. “What do you want me to do with these?”
“Your teeth. Yank ’em out.”
Horner almost laughed. “You think you’re gonna fool anybody that way?”
“Tooth Fairie Killer’s all over the news,” Frankie said. “No way they’ll trace this back to me.”
Horner looked at the pliers and then up at Frankie. “Which ones?”
“You know which ones. Now shut your mouth and get started.”
Horner grabbed his left front tooth with the pliers and started to pull. He could feel the metal digging into the white of his teeth, and the pressure on his tooth sent jolts of pain shooting through his mouth.
“Faster gumshoe!” Frankie screamed. “You need a little incentive?”
And before Horner could answer Frankie pointed the gun down at his leg and pulled the trigger. The blast from the shot shredded his pants and peeled the top layer of skin from his thigh, but didn’t seem to do much else.
Frankie laughed. “Birdshot,” he explained. “But who knows? The next one might be solid lead.”
Horner looked down at his hand and realized that he had managed to yank out his front tooth. It was bloody and still attached to fragments of the root.
“That’s real good,” Frankie said. “You shoulda been a dentist.”
Horner put his tongue up into the space made by the tooth. His mouth throbbed with pain, but it was nothing compared to the fire that burned in his leg.
“Keep going,” Frankie said.
The next tooth came out easier. Horner was falling into a place where the pain faded into a mind numbing haze. He forced himself to focus. Two more teeth. Then Frankie would kill him. He would pull the trigger on the ridiculously overpowered pistol and blow Horner’s brains out.
And it wouldn’t matter to Frankie that the real Tooth Fairie Killer never used a gun. Frankie wasn’t the kind of guy to be troubled by details. Frankie was dumb. But was he dumb enough?
“That’s quite a piece you’ve got there,” Horner said.
Frankie grinned. “You like? Got it off some old broad who thought it’d protect her from guys like me. They call it the Judge. Shoots 45’s and them little shotgun shells. That’s what I just got you with.”
“They’re called .410’s,” Horner said.
Frankie’s brow lowered. “You better not be stalling for time gunshoe. Not that it matters anyway. You and I both know nobody else is coming.”
Horner yanked at the his bottom front tooth with the pliers, pulling it free.
Three down, one more to go.
“You know nobody says gumshoe anymore right?”
“Shut up. You talk funny with no teeth.”
The blood from his leg had started to drip from the chair down to the floor. The wound wasn’t deep, but it was still bleeding heavily. Horner didn’t know how much more blood he could lose before he lost consciousness.
“Stop stalling,” Frankie said. “One more tooth.”
“Why don’t you do it yourself? You’re going to kill me anyway.”
“This is more fun,” Frankie said.
Horner obliged. He gripped the Leatherman pliers with both hands and grasped the tooth. He felt so tired. But he wasn’t ready to give up. Not yet.
The final tooth came loose with a sickening tearing sensation, and Horner tossed it onto the table with the rest.
“Not bad, gunshoe,” Frankie said. “Not bad at all.”
“I told you,” Horner growled as his fingers fumbled under the table for a grip on the blood soaked Leatherman, “Nobody says gumshoe anymore.”
The knife finally folded out of the handle of the Leatherman as Frankie snarled and took aim at Horner’s head. Horner used every ounce of spare strength he possessed and rose from the chair, his left leg screaming in agony. He knocked the gun aside and brought the knife plunging down into Frankie’s neck.
Frankie screamed a gurgling scream as blood welled up around the knife wound. The Judge clattered to the floor as he pressed his hands into his neck trying to staunch the flow of blood.
Horner leaned over and picked up the gun. “You were lying about having solid lead in the next chamber, Frankie.” He pointed the gun at Frankie’s face and pulled the trigger. Birdshot ripped his face to shreds.
Frankie collapsed to the floor screaming in pain, and Horner murmured to himself, “Here come da judge.”
And despite the blackness closing in around the edges of his vision he managed a smile. A big, toothless smile.