"The drugs are in the guitar."
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He sat across the street on a bus bench, huddled behind the guitar and rocking back and forth. He was strumming the thing, but made no attempt to play it. He was thin and seedy looking, fifteen, maybe sixteen years old. Jim and I sat in an unmarked car, pretending to sip cold coffee and read newspapers.
I wanted to go over and bust him now and maybe get him into a program, but this sick adolescent was only a go-between. Jim and I were waiting for a Bigger Fish to arrive.
"I used to do drugs sometimes when I was a kid," I said.
"Marge, there's a big difference in what you did and what's in that guitar."
"True. That stuff didn't even exist when I was a kid." I took a sip of the coffee. The boy was blond, and his short hair looked like he had hacked it off himself.
Finally the Bigger Fish turned the corner and swaggered toward the bus bench with his fists shoved deep in the pockets of expensive bluejeans. He looked like a low-rent James Dean in a black leather jacket.
"There's our boy," I said. Jim nodded. He folded up his newspaper and eased his gun out of its holster. I did the same. Now came the tricky part-- busting them without spooking either of them too early. The Fish was too sharp to turn his back to the street.
I shoved my gun into my jacket pocket and got out of the car, pretending to look for something in my purse. "What's the matter, Hon?" Jim called as he got out of the car. He was a lousy actor, but he got the job done.
"I left my keys in the store," I said, and headed across the street with Jim only a few steps behind me.
The Fish didn't buy any of this; he made us with one glance.
"Shit!" His fist came out of his pocket filled with a Saturday night special. The kid with the guitar turned as white as grade school paste.
"Police," Jim and I shouted at the same instant. The Fish fired three wild shots at us and snatched at the guitar. The kid clung to it, rigid with panic. Without hesitation the Fish put two rounds into the guitar. The thin ashwood didn't stop the .22 bullets, and the kid crumpled like a paper sack in the rain. By then I was across the street.
The Fish took off, and I went after him. When we were almost to the corner, I made a grab for him, but all I got was the neck of the guitar. He ducked around the corner. Jim pounded past me and went after him.
I stopped, puffing, and looked at the ruined guitar with the blood on the back. "Shit," I said and went back to the bus bench to clean up the mess.
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