Noir

Noir by K. W. Jeter

Book: Noir by K. W. Jeter Read Free Book Online
Authors: K. W. Jeter
droppings from the ancient bricks. At times like these—Harrisch had done this before; he never left jobs like this to underlings—time smoothly ratchetted down to slow motion. An occasional pleasure in his stressful executive life;
I deserve this
, he thought. That part at least was fair. For him. The Denkmann book agreed, which was one of the reasons it was popular with high-level execs.
    The impact of the bullet had lifted the cube bunny from her feet, tilting her onto her back as though on a feather bed of empty night air, her blond hair coming loose to form a radiant haloed pillow. Her bare arms flung back, as though wings. The petals of an intricate rose spattered against her chin. Then she fell, yards farther from where she had stood in front of Harrisch. She changed from angel to human, a wordless question in her clear eyes, and then to something that had the same shape and thermal signature of human, but wasn’t anymore. The pretty thing sprawled in the alley’s decaying litter, the side of her face turned against the base of the wall.
    Harrisch had preregistered the killing, so he didn’t have to wait around if he didn’t want to. But he did; he let the weight of the gun dangle in his hand, its fading warmth traveling up the muscles of his arm and into his shoulder. He walked a few steps, working a crick out of his neck and gazing up at the stars.
I should get out more
, he thought vaguely. The choir of whatever church was hidden beneath the grating had piled on fortissimo with the gunshot, as though the noise had been the announcement of their redeemer’s return. A little of their holiness, however shabby and subterranean it might have been, resonated inside Harrisch; he felt at peace as the excess adrenaline metabolized out of his system.
Get more exercise
, he vowed.
    Back at DynaZauber headquarters, he knew, some computer in the accounting department was humming almost silently to itself, deducting the minor cost of the girl’s death from the corporation’s stock of pollution credits, specifically on the urban misery index. Every year, DZ’s PR division planted along the roads enough seedlings—most of which died or grew into no more than toxin-stunted weeds—to more than counterbalance necessary operating deaths. Which proved that the system worked, if you let it.
    A franchised black-and-white cruised up alongside the Daimlerrepro at the alley’s mouth. Harrisch scratched his ear with the muzzle of the gun as he watched the cop—only one had shown up on the non-priority scene—examine the dead cube bunny. The cop left a tripoded coroner’s camera, a variable-focus lens and digital frame-storage device, spider-legging around the corpse and clicking away, and strolled over to talk.
    “That’s what you used?” The cop nodded toward the weapon in Harrisch’s hand. The cop’s voice was affable and unexcited. “Mind if I take a look at it?”
    Harrisch knew he didn’t have to do that, either; the cop had already read off the gun’s bar-code ID with a remote scanner and matched it up with the hit registration on file. But he didn’t mind; he handed the piece over.
    “Not bad.” The cop nodded in approval. “These three-fifty-seven parsifals do good work. Neat, as these things go; you don’t have to stand there, pumping away and knocking little bits off your target.” He held the gun back out to Harrisch. “Ever think of using something not quite so cannonlike? Something like that can really climb up in your hand, if you lose control of it.”
    “But I don’t,” said Harrisch. “I’ve got a pretty firm grip.”
    “I’m sure you do. Hey, no question about that, pal. But why take the chance? The wear and tear on yourself?” The dead cube bunny was forgotten as the cop warmed to his topic. “Personally, I think you could haul something a little more stylish, something a little more in keeping with your, um, position in life. Now, something like a tosca or a lightweight

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