Hot Six(9)

By: Janet Evanovich

“Yes, and it is not good when we become annoyed,” Habib said, wagging his finger. “We are not to be taken lightly. Is that not so?” he asked, looking to Mitchell for approval. “In fact, if you annoy us we will spread your entrails across an entire parking space of my cousin Muhammad’s 7-Eleven parking lot.”

“What are you, nuts?” Mitchell said. “We don’t do no entrails shit. And if we did, it wouldn’t be in front of the 7-Eleven. I go there for my Sunday paper.”

“Oh,” Habib said. “Well, then, we could do something of a sexual nature. We could perform amusing acts of sexual perversion on her … many, many times. If she lived in my country she would forever be shamed in the community. She would be an outcast. Of course, since she is a decadent and immoral American she will undoubtedly be accepting of the perverse acts we will inflict upon her. And it is most possible that because we will be inflicting the perversions upon her, she will enjoy them immensely. But wait—we could also maim her to make the experience unpleasant in her eyes.”

“Hey, I don’t mind about the maiming, but watch it with the sexy stuff,” Mitchell said to Habib. “I’m a family man. My wife catches wind of anything like that, and I’m toast.”


I THREW MY hands into the air. “What the hell do you want, already?”

“We want your pal Ranger, and we know you’re looking for him,” Mitchell said.

“I’m not looking for Ranger. Vinnie’s giving him to Joyce Barnhardt.”

“I don’t know Joyce Barnhardt from the Easter Bunny,” Mitchell said. “I know you. And I’m telling you, you’re looking for Ranger. And when you find him, you’re gonna tell us. And if you don’t take this to be a serious … responsibility, you’ll be real sorry.”

“Re-spons-i-bility,” Habib said. “I like that. Nicely put. I teenk I will remember that.”

“‘Think,’” Mitchell said. “It’s pronounced ‘think.’”



“That is what I said. Teenk.”

“The raghead just came over,” Mitchell said to me. “He used to work for our employer in another capacity in Pakistan, but he came over with the last load of goods, and we can’t get rid of him. He don’t know much yet.”

“I am not a raghead,” Habib shouted. “Do you see a rag on this head? I am in America now, and I do not wear these things. And it is not a nice way that you say this.”

“Raghead,” Mitchell said.

Habib narrowed his eyes. “Filthy American dog.”


“Son of a camel-walla.”

“Go fuck yourself,” Mitchell said.

“And may your testicles fall off,” Habib responded.

Probably I didn’t have to worry about these guys—they’d kill each other before the day was over. “I have to go now,” I said. “I’m going to my parents’ house for lunch.”

“You must not be doing so good,” Mitchell said, “you gotta mooch lunch from your parents. We could help with that, you know. You get us what we want, and we could be real generous.”

“Even if I wanted to find Ranger, which I don’t, I couldn’t. Ranger is smoke.”

“Yeah, but I hear you got special talents, if you get my drift. Besides, you’re a bounty hunter … bring’im back dead or alive. Always get your man.”

I opened the door of the Honda and slid behind the wheel. “Tell Alexander Ramos he needs to get someone else to find Ranger.”

Mitchell looked like he might hack up a hairball. “We don’t work for that little turd. Pardon my French.”

This had me sitting up straighter in my seat. “Then who do you work for?”

“I told you before. We can’t divulge that information.”


MY GRANDMOTHER WAS standing in the doorway when I drove up. She lived with my parents now that my grandfather was buying his lotto tickets directly from God. She had steel-gray hair cut short and permed. She ate like a horse and had skin like a soup chicken. Her elbows were sharp as razor wire. She was dressed in white tennis shoes and a magenta polyester warm-up suit, and she was sliding her uppers around in her mouth, which meant she had something on her mind.