About the Author
A proud Native Texan, Will Prince is presently a corporate security director in Houston. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in criminal justice and has been a Certified Protection Professional (Board Certified in Security Management) since 1996. Will was previously a tenure-track instructor at a four-year state college in West Virginia and has recently taught as an adjunct at a Houston area community college. In addition to reading and writing, Will's favorite pastimes include The Four Cs: cigars, coffee, computers, and classical music. He lives near Houston with his wife (a college English department head) and twin daughters.

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"Chapter One: No Small Matter"
"Clint pushed a finger against the small hole in his chest and realized that the bullet had barely entered his body.  He could feel the small chunk of lead just below the surface.  He briefly considered trying to squeeze it out as one might exude a blemish, but better judgement prevailed.  It was a small caliber, probably .22 or .25, and although he was aware of some pain, there wasn’t nearly as much as he would’ve expected.  He didn’t seem to be losing much blood, but he decided he’d better keep some pressure on the wound anyway, although it was a little more painful to do so.

Clint walked across the street to where the body lay across the curb, half in the street and half on the sidewalk.  He squatted and touched the neck, but he already knew that there would be no pulse.  The 240-grain semi-jacketed hollow point from Clint’s .44 magnum Smith and Wesson revolver—yes, the very same as another Clint carried in the movies—had entered just off the bridge of the nose, pretty much the corner of one eye, and the guy had died at precisely the same instant.  That eye was gone, of course, but the other remained open with that telltale empty stare.

The guy’s expression was blank, and on the whole his face didn’t look all that bad under the circumstances.  Even so, Clint knew without turning him over that the void in the back of his head was considerable.  There was significant blood and gray matter on the sidewalk, and let’s face it—the chances of anyone surviving a .44 mag to the face are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery, perhaps less.  The guy was dead, and there was no need to wait around for official confirmation.

Clint didn’t see the guy’s pistol and didn’t feel compelled to look for it.  It’s not as if he would ever use it again.  There was no sign of anyone around at the moment, and Clint didn’t think that there would be anyone peeking right now.  Virtually no one lived in this part of Dallas, and anyone who might have been lurking about probably hit the ground and covered up at the thunderous ka-BOOM! of the .44.  Clint got in his truck, quickly stowed his sidearms and holsters, and drove himself toward the emergency room at Parkland Hospital.

On the way to Parkland, Clint continued applying pressure to the wound, and he tried to figure out why this had happened.  A man was dead, and that is no small matter.  Regardless of circumstances, no matter the justification, anyone who can cause the death of another human being and not feel some ambivalence about it is one sick bastard.  Normal, compassionate people just can’t feel good about killing and dying, even when killing and dying are necessary.

This was textbook self defense, excusable homicide.  The dead guy drew first; in fact, he’d gotten off the first shot.  Clint’s only choice was between the snub-nose .38 on his ankle and the .44 mag in his shoulder holster, and that was only a choice in the most technical sense.  Clint had been reaching for the big six-inch revolver when he felt the small slug hit him in the chest, and he’d gotten off his only shot after he realized that he’d already been shot.  Could there be a clearer case of self defense?

Why had this guy come after Clint?  Was it a simple robbery attempt, and had Clint merely been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a seemingly random victim chosen by virtue of convenience alone?  Or was it something else, and had Clint himself set the wheels in motion?  The more questions Clint asked, the more he realized that it was likely that this man had been sent to kill him.  If so, it had to be Mike reaching out from behind bars to exact his revenge.

Clint’s body count was now up to five—six including the vegetable.  Killing was becoming a habit, and Clint realized that it was starting to bother him less each time.  He feared that he was becoming desensitized to death, too accustomed to killing."

Copyright 2008 by William T. Prince All rights reserved