WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 5:30 P.M.
"Everybody on the floor! Close your eyes and cover your heads with your hands."
Silhouetted by a bright neon light in the parking lot that read bay liquor emporium, a gunman dashed into the store and slammed the door behind him. "Get down, now!"
He quickly checked out the situation. Stuffed with unopened cases of beer, wine, liquor, and food, along with Thanksgiving decorations, the store had barely enough room to walk through the aisles, much less hide someone from view.
Except for a lone customer -- a pudgy bald man in a business suit who looked like an accountant -- and one clerk, it looked empty.
The clerk behind the cash register looked up, startled. "What the hell -- "
"I said drop to the floor!"
The clerk's hand inched toward the edge of the checkout counter but before it reached the silent alarm button, the bandit squeezed off three quick rounds from his old nickel-plated .45-caliber military automatic. They reverberated through the room like a howitzer.
The first slug shattered the beer cooler's glass door, launching a foamy yellow wave of pressurized Corona Extra that spewed over the beancounter who was studying the champagne selection.
The second bullet hit the snack display like a freight train, pulverizing a chest-high stack of canned nuts and a couple dozen bags of pretzels and chips. The remnants rained down on the head of the terrified man who dived to the floor, rolled behind the wine rack, curled up in a fetal position, and clasped his arms over his head.
The third slammed into the clerk's sternum, driving him backward into the whiskey display, killing him before his body slumped to the floor.
The bandit sprinted around the counter and spat on the clerk. "Tol' you to get down, you dumb asshole."
He punched the No Sale button, yanked the cash drawer open, scooped up a handful of bills, and started to flee. Then he turned around and licked his lips.
"What the fuck." He grabbed a pint bottle of Wild Turkey, twisted off the top and took a deep swig, then vaulted the counter and bolted for the door.
Before he got there, another clerk ran in from a storage room in the rear carrying a 12-gauge shotgun. "Stop, you son of a bitch."
Before the clerk could raise the scattergun's muzzle the robber fired again. The bullet tore through the clerk's left shoulder, spun him around, and knocked him to the floor. The shotgun discharged and obliterated a set of shelves full of cognac and brandy.
The bleeding clerk moaned. When he heard the engine roar, he climbed to his knees and crawled to the door just in time to see the getaway vehicle fishtail into the early evening traffic.
Copyright © 2003 by Christine McGuire
Until Judgment Day
Kathryn Mackay has had her share of triumphs and tragedies throughout her career in the California District Attorney's office. In and out of the courtroom, she's seen the best of times -- such as her marriage to Santa Rita County Sheriff Dave Granz -- and the worst of crimes, including the ones she's currently investigating: the serial murders of three local priests during the Christmas holiday season. Now it's up to Kathryn to stop the killer before he makes his final judgment....But with the specter of sexual abuse and money laundering hanging high above the Church's spire, few individuals are willing to offer their confessions. So it's up to Kathryn and Dave to break the silence and learn some impossible truths -- including a devastating one of their own.