John's forehead wrinkled.

"That's right," Hank said and felt the doorjamb. "Holes are still here. Almost got you."

The man walked back and stood in front of the desk. "I want you to stay away from Tammy. I still plan to manage her. She's going places and I really don't want to deal with her tied to you in any way that might slow us down. Got me?"

"Maybe we should see what she thinks," John said as a passing bus rumbled like an angry bear.

The man shook his head and sucked on his own teeth with a wet smack. "No need to even tell her about our discussion."

"You'd kill for someone to manage?"

He shook his head. "First time for everything."

"How are you tied to all this? I just don't get it," John said. He was trying to keep the conversation going while he gathered up his ideas for escape.

"You know, the only good guy in all this is no longer with us. Michael was the only one out of the loop."

"You were in with the lieutenant the whole time? You helped him and he helped you."

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Hank smiled broadly. "Poor bastard."

"Tell me something," John said. "What would you have gained if one of your bullets had found a home in my scull?"

The man visibly enjoyed the prospect. He stroked his chin and smiled again. "Well, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"Seriously."

"It would have cut so much out of the picture. So much time and effort could have been saved. So much more could have been done. No PI asking questions and confusing Tammy. It wouldn't help me having you alive in all honesty."

"I think there was more of a motive to it than that, but all right."

"I'm serious, John. At this point I should be in Nashville with Tammy getting ready to record her first CD."

As the man stood there talking and smiling like a goofy carved Halloween pumpkin, John saw his way out. His heart was both relieved and twisted at the same time. The gears in his head suddenly switched from escape to protection as Tammy quietly walked in with a piece of a broken broomstick in her hand. She was shaking, but stepped so softly that John almost did not notice her.

"I should be negotiating a tour schedule for her and maybe even some TV spots," Hank continued. He was oblivious to what Tammy was doing behind him as he went on about how huge he planned to make his client.

Suddenly the talking stopped as the man's head snapped forward under the whip crack blow from a broomstick. John lunged across the desk for the pistol. He grabbed it as the man dropped to his knees. For a few horrible seconds they both had a pretty fair grip on the gun until finally John was able to over take it and toss the thing across the room.