A Hawk Stoops
Hawks rarely dive straight down. Instead, they dive at an angle in order to better catch their prey.
—The Fifth Korus of the Sapphire Tree
“Wot?” screamed Rodney.
“You ‘eard me, Slug.” Nigel’s eyes burned into Rodney’s like lasers. “We’re attacking by bloody air.”
Rodney gazed up at the three-story Brixton flat tilting sadly towards the elevated train tracks next to it. Had Nigel gone bonkers? “We aren’t the flippin’ RAF, you know.” He swallowed and sucked in what he could of his layered gut. “Me, especially.”
“Look, rollo,” hissed Nigel. “Don’t make me any more psycho than I already am. First you tell me this is where Bug Nut lives. Then you tell me the front door is locked, and you knocked but no one answered, so let’s just go home. Not exactly fightin’ words, mate.”
Rodney fixed his eyes on the seams in the cobblestones as Nigel continued.
“So what I’m telling you is that we’re going to jump through those upstairs windows to see if the smarmy bugger is in.”
Rodney joined Nigel and Sal, craning his neck to look up the brick façade to the second floor, where the Bug Nut was most likely hiding out. He studied the three windows. Bugger of it was, they were twenty feet up and looked awfully small. And while he was in complete agreement with Nigel—after all, the sod deserved a sound walloping—he had no idea how they were going to pull this off. Yes, he’d done a bit of flying lately—flying down the stairs of Westminster Station to be exact—but that didn’t mean he’d learned to fly. It was more of a suggestion, really—by way of gravity, a floor buffer’s cord, and the smart bastard two flights up.
Rodney looked over at Sal, who rolled his one good eye. Sal had taken his tumble down Westminster’s stairs mostly on his right side, smashing into the railing before coming to rest against the Hawk’s tail pipe. His right eye was black and blue and the size of a cricket ball. Good thing a person’s got two eyes. You could always lose one and still operate your pint if you had to.
Rodney didn’t dare look at Nigel. Nigel had fared far worse. Slamming one’s chin on a concrete and steel staircase was sure to knock anyone’s teeth out, but biting through your lip? That just wasn’t right. According to Nigel, the doctors had stopped counting when the stitches reached a hundred.
All in all, Rodney figured he’d escaped with relatively minor injuries—just a cast on his broken wrist. He drew in a breath and looked up at Nigel. He’d give it one more go. “Fly? Are you off your trolley? Through those windows? Mate, ain’t we had enough? Maybe we should let the crazy bugger be.”
“Never,” barked Nigel. “The Bug Nut is going to pay, and this time in blood.”
“Maybe the Slug’s right, Nigel,” said Sal. “Every time we get near him, something happens. Not to ‘im. Us. It’s like he’s protected or something. Let’s go home. Do something criminal on the way. That’ll cheer you up.”
It took but a heartbeat before the switchblade was pressed against Sal’s throat. Sal’s eyes grew wide, the whites overwhelming his pupils. Nigel held the knife steady. “I told you. He is going to pay, and he is going to pay today, do you understand?”
Rodney swallowed hard. He’d never seen Nigel so worked up before, so dangerous. Nickin’ scooters and rollin’ tinkers was one thing, but sticking a knife at your mate? Nigel may have shaken more than his teeth loose when he fell at Westminster.
“I said, do you understand?” Nigel worked the blade until a drop of Sal’s blood slid down its edge.
Sal nodded ever so slightly. Evidently, he didn’t want his Adam’s apple sliced off. “Sure, Nigel. Just offering options, is all. Nothing more.”
“We go through the second floor windows just like you said.” Rodney did his best to take some of the steam out of the situation. “Just tell us how.”
Nigel continued to hold Sal at knifepoint. With his other hand, he pointed at the train tracks—the elevated train tracks almost twenty feet from the windows they were supposed to jump through, the elevated train tracks that shuddered wildly as the 10:15 roared overhead toward London.
“We’re going to jump?” Rodney choked on his words as he eyed the trestle. “From there?”
Nigel spat as the train hurtled by. “Damn right we are.”
“Oh, well that’s different,” squeaked Rodney. “I thought you wanted us to do something stupid.”