“Johnny Scalzi,” I say as I walk towards his desk. “It’s time you paid for your crimes.”
He looks up from his paper and into the barrel of my SIG Sauer, then he looks me in the eye. “So our masked vigilante has finally decided to pay me a visit.”
“He has,” I say. “You know how this ends.”
“And I guess Mancini’s not coming.”
I nod. His bodyguard lies dead at the bottom of the stairs.
“Hmm. I see.” He smiles. “But did you get the other one?”
The oldest trick in the book, and I fall for it. I glance towards the door, and in the next moment his newspaper flies off his desk and his right hand points a Desert Eagle at my left eye.
He grins. “It makes a mess, this one.”
I know it does; I’ve seen its latest victim. Poor girl, she didn’t deserve to die like that. It’s why I came for Johnny today.
“So what we got ourselves now,” he says, “is a standoff.”
“Freeze!” The voice comes from the door; it belongs to a man who’s said the word a thousand times. Senior Detective Sam Morgan, one of New York’s finest.
He shouldn’t be here. Not tonight.
He walks into the room and steps towards my left, the Glock in his right hand pointed at…
“I’m not the one you want, Detective,” I say. “Scalzi is. I’m just doing the jobs your department can’t do.”
“Scalzi didn’t kill my daughter, Parker.” His words stab me like daggers of ice.
So he knows who I am. And he’s come for his revenge.
I didn’t mean for his daughter to die. We were both young and foolish back then; she shouldn’t have brought the drugs, and I shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel. But I thought I had put that behind me. I staged Jason Parker’s death three years ago, and I became… this. The Black Hunter, cleaning up New York one villain at a time.
Until tonight. Sam Morgan has always been one of the best shooters in the department. From this distance, he can’t miss.
“Wait,” I say. “Don’t do this, Sam. Not now.”
Just then, Scalzi winks at me. Then, slowly, he points his gun away from me, and towards Sam.
I let him. I don’t want to die.
“You shouldn’t have shot my brother, Detective,” he says.
Mario Scalzi’s death two weeks ago, in a shootout with the cops, was all over the news. I didn’t know Sam was involved — and Johnny shouldn’t have known either. Perhaps he has a mole in the department. Sam doesn’t deny it though.
So, here we are. The good, the bad, and the ugly, only with better guns. And instead of clashing over bags of gold, we are fighting for justice. Or vengeance, as it may be.
Oh, if you were wondering who the ugly was: I am no longer the dashing Jason Parker who stole Jane Morgan’s heart four years ago. I got burned pretty badly in that car crash. It’s one of the reasons for the mask; I can’t stand to see myself in a mirror anymore.
A three-way standoff. Whoever shoots first, dies.
I should do it. I should let Sam win; he’s been through enough. But I don’t want to die.
Besides, I have a job to do. Many jobs, in fact. The jobs that Sam’s department can’t do.
Scalzi smiles again, and I am beginning to hate that smile.
“Let’s make this more interesting,” he says. “I’m going to count to three. And then, all hell breaks loose.”
Instantly, I know what he’s going to do.
He’s going to cheat; he’s going to shoot when he reaches two. He’s going to take Sam out. Then he will turn on me, hoping to take me by surprise.
Except that I’ll be ready for it. As soon as he fires, he’s history.
“One,” he says.
Sam is a smart guy; one of the best minds in the department. He must be thinking the same thoughts.
He’s not going to wait until Scalzi gets to three. He’s going to take me out before Scalzi takes him out. And then we both die, and Scalzi walks.
I can’t let this happen.
I will die here tonight. But the Black Hunter will finish this job. A job that Sam’s department couldn’t do.
=== The End ===
When I first wrote Standoff, this was the end of the story. If you like it, feel free to stop here. On the other hand, if you’d rather find out who lived and who died, read on here.