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A Murder Mystery with a Twist

A dying lover. A brutal murder. A New Jersey private investigator and martial arts master fights to solve both in GD Baum's Point and Shoot.

A Lock Tourmaline Private Detective Murder Mystery

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Point and Shoot

–selected excerpts –

POINT AND SHOOT Pages 2-3

This is how you make love to a woman undergoing cancer treatments.
You ignore the metallic taste of her kiss; the slight snorting
sound she makes when you press into her; the bony feel of her
body, covered by skin that lacks tensile strength; the hairless
scalp. You close your eyes and remember what it was like before.
You move gently, until you forget yourself, as you should. You
savor the moment because there might not be many more. And
one more thing: you move very gently.
The burgundy curtains of our bedroom window were halfdrawn,
casting iron-barred shadows along the covers, extending
up Janice’s face. When we had first showered, she had taken off
the wig. It was resting on the Styrofoam decapitated head we
named Irving.
“Slow down a bit,” she whispered, running her fingers
through the hair at my temples.
“Okay, sure,” I said.
I could hear the cars outside. The traffic coming into New
Jersey from the George Washington Bridge was increasing.
Main Street in Fort Lee always bore the initial brunt of it. The
Turnpike and the Parkway would be congested soon. Fort Lee
was the sluice.
She grabbed my arm and pulled. “It still hurts.”
I stopped. “What hurts?” I gently dislodged her fingers.
Her wrist was so thin in my grip that it felt like I was making a
fist.
She patted my shoulder with her other hand. “Okay, now
start again.”
“You sure?”
“Yeah, yeah, go.”
I began to move, setting my elbows forward to displace my
weight from her body. She opened her mouth and kissed me.
That metallic taste again.
“Keep going,” she whispered.
“Are you getting there?”
“I told you never to ask me that question. It doesn’t matter.
Keep going. Finish.”
“If I’m hurting you.”
“Keep going.”
I sped up. She shifted her hips to make it easier. After a
while, I could see a tear well up at the corner of her eye. The tip
of her nose flushed. She patted my shoulder again. “I said keep
going.”
A wave of remorse and self-pity, a heavy, deadening feeling,
yanked me back.
I stopped for good and rolled off her.
She lay there, splayed out, staring at the ceiling.
Unmoving.
I propped myself on one elbow, stroking her abdomen.
We were silent for a long while.
“Janice.”
“I can’t do this,” she said.
“What part?”
“I can’t do the sickly-thing, Lock. It’s just not me. Do you
know what I mean?”
“I think so.”
She rolled over and sat up on her side of our bed. I could
see the slight outline of her ribs from the back. She placed her
hands on her thighs and steadied herself as she stood.
“Janice.”
She walked naked into our bathroom, closed the door and
vomited.

POINT AND SHOOT PAGES 136-137

“Who is Mr. Jing?” White Shirt said more loudly, aiming
the gun away from her and pointing it at me. That slight hand
movement was all she needed.
And so it started.
Bette stepped around to face him and clapped her hands off
center. One slapped his gun hand’s wrist to the left and the other
slapped the back of the same hand to the right. It caused his
hand to bend at a ninety degree angle. She kept the movement
flowing gently, locking his hand in the Snake Creeps Over grass
Chin-na technique. Her fingers splayed as she seized the wrist
joints and settled all her weight on her back leg, curving her
center in his direction, connecting her center with his, and
rearing backward, suddenly, jerking hard, the curvature of her
body like a human whip.
With Jing.
His head snapped back as his body was violently pulled
down. The gun fell from his hand. She kicked it, causing it to
slide in my direction. But before it reached me, she let go of his
now-sprained wrist, and began the tell-tale ”rat-tat-tat” machine
gun of Kempo strikes making a line up and down his body. I
recognized the combination from the form she had done at the
tournament the day before. The hand movements were just as
fast, though this time, they were punctuated with the sickening
sound of bone against flesh.
Thwap. Thwap. Thwap. A back to knuckle punch to the
temple, elbow to the anterior ribs, hammer fist to the kidney,
stomping kick to the knee, bending it the wrong way. And then
up again, knee to the groin, rising elbow to the underside of
his chin, leopard paw to the throat, leopard paw to the bladder,
rising leopard paw to the groin. The familiar drum roll of Kempo
Karate.
Thwap. Thwap. Thwap. He said nothing. There was simply
no time. He only emitted a long, animal-like groan, the predator
trapped as prey.
Then all at once, the tempo exponentially increased.
In that instant, as she settled in, her movements became so
incredibly fast, that they blended into one long blur of strikes.
The maximum possible expression of speed and power for her
compact feminine body, its absolute upper limit.
His body oscillated wildly, lurching at contradictory
angles, a marionette whose strings had suddenly become utterly
tangled. Out of his control, but in hers. A violent ballet taking
place at a higher frequency than seemed humanly possible,
too fast to really be happening. A smudge of black pants and
pink belly shirt (“I’ve Been a Bad Little Girl“) covering a thin
adolescent girl who had become in one instant the most lethal
weapon in the room.
The gun landed about ten feet away from me. I dove for it,
rolling as I grabbed and finished on one knee, the barrel aimed,
the slide pulled.
But in that two-second interval, the situation completely
changed. White Shirt was writhing on the ground, holding his
knee in both hands, shrieking. By now, Pony Tail had let go of
Lori and turned toward Bette to protect his partner.
He towered over her, at least a foot taller and far more
massive. She settled into a cat stance, ninety percent of her
weight on the back leg, ten percent on the front. He swung the
butt of his gun at her face, but she moved out of the way at a
forty five degree angle in perfect syncopation to the swing. Once
the hand passed her, she parried and accelerated the entire arm
in the same direction, in line with the force. It spun him off
balance, and in that instant, she roundhouse kicked the ankle of
his base leg, sweeping it in the same sideward movement.
His momentum lifted him off the ground into a horizontal
position, arcing into the air. She maintained her hold on his
wrist and lowered herself into a horse stance as he fell at the
same rate. Once he landed, she torqued his elbow against her
thigh, hyper-extending it so the joint was locked against her
knee. Then she jerked her knee forward into the joint.
With Jing.
There was a loud popping sound, and he screamed.
By now, I was on her side of the room. I stepped between
Lori and them to protect her from all the carnage, aiming the
gun at the two men. Pony Tail screamed again as Bette bore
down to torque the now-useless arm further.
“Bette, step away,” I shouted. “You’re in the line of fire.”
She continued the movement, ignoring me.
“Bette. Bette, do you hear me?” She looked up. Her
breathing was labored, her pupils dilated. “Step away.”
She nodded silently, as if in her present state of mind she
could not speak.
I gave Bette the gun. “Cover them.”
“Lock,” I heard Lori say behind me, “I have to pee real
bad.”
It occurred to me I had never taught Bette how to use a
gun. We only had time for a five second lesson. “Just keep your
finger off the trigger,” I said. “Point your finger forward under
the slide until and if you need to use it. Only shoot him in the
extremities.”
“What’s that?” Remember, who you are dealing with. A
fifteen year old.
“Arms or legs.” I stroked the back of her neck. I could feel
the perspiration beneath.
“Lock, I have to pee!” Lori shouted.
I had no time for her whining. “Then just pee, goddam it,
Lori” I shouted back. “Right there on the floor if you must.”
And so she did.