…The opening act music woke Les from a sound sleep. I must be
exhausted to sleep through the musicians’ tune-ups. I’ll need the
He listened to the music as he fastened the climbing harness and laced
his boots. He tidied the nest and arranged things for the CSU to find
later. The adrenaline pulsed through his veins, purging the last of his
sleep. He loved the high from anticipating the action.
Les pulled the carbine parts from the duffel bag and assembled them,
humming the tune to Dry Bones in his head. The butt stock’s connected
to the [click] lower receiver. The lower receiver’s connected to the
[click] upper receiver. The upper receiver’s connected to the [click]
magazine. Now hear the word of the Lord. He smiled at his cleverness.
Doing the work of the Lord.
He lifted the gunsight from its case and clicked it into position. He
smoothed the quilt, stretched out, and placed his left hand under the
He edged the gunsight’s ocular lens to his eye and twisted the side
The intermission after the opening act ended, and the lights dimmed
Cleo’s entrance was risky. I had objected to it before Friday
night’s concert, but she overruled me. “These folks paid good money
to come see and hear me. Their seats are so far from the stage that they
deserve a chance to get closer. If he’s even here, he won’t try
anything with all them other people around.”
Last night’s entrance had gone well. I hoped I was worried for
Someone in the crowd chanted, “Cleo… Cleo… Cleo…” Others
joined in. Soon the hall rocked to the chant and clapping hands.
The Kentucky Hillbillies struck the first notes of their opening song,
amplifiers cranked up to jet-engine volume.
Cleo made her entrance through a set of double doors below my post. She
stood on the back of an open-topped, red, white, and blue golf
car—lights flashing. My agent drove the car down one of the aisles
that separated the ground-floor seats into three sections. Another agent
rode in the passenger seat, his head on a swivel.
Cleo held a rail mounted on the platform behind the driver where the
golf clubs would be. She waved to the crowd and high-fived the fans as
the car inched its way toward the stage through the pandemonium.
My agents on the golf car studied every person who extended their hands
to touch Cleo’s outstretched fingers. Cameras mounted in their
sunglasses videoed every person.
The flashing spotlights around the proscenium blinded me again with an
almost physical stab whenever the beams passed across my binoculars. I
lowered the binoculars to reduce the glare and scanned the crowd with
The platform I shared with the spotlight jockeys vibrated with
The A/C vents rippled the curtains above the proscenium. Left of center
in the curtain wall, the air currents opened a small gap, and a
laser’s red dot flashed.
Impossible! It must be a video screen malfunction. Two spiral staircases
climbed to the catwalks above. I had an agent at the bottom of each. The
shooter couldn’t be there.
The laser’s red dot flashed again.
No way! How could…? The attack I had dreaded and prepared for was
happening. My stomach clenched like a fist.
Where is the son-of-a-bitch? I searched the arena frantically as I hit
the radio to alert my driver to grab Cleo and hide her. An eye-blink
later I realized the red light was targeting me, not Cleo.
I dove off the platform, plunging seven feet to the sidewalk behind the
mezzanine. I crashed on my left elbow and hip, knocking the radio from
my hand as I rolled to one side. On my back, I stared up at the platform
I had jumped from. The two spotlight jockeys were still exposed.
One operator saw me jump. She gawked at me with concern on her face. I
shouted at her to duck, but she couldn’t hear me for the music. I
waved at her as a bullet punched her chest and slammed her against the
wall. The other jockey was so intent on swinging his light across the
crowd that he was oblivious to my dive off the platform and the other
A fistful of bullets sprayed the spotlights, the wall, and the other
operator. Chunks of insulation showered me and nearby fans. Both
spotlights shattered in a hail of bullets, metal, and glass shards.
I found the radio and punched the all-call button. “Take Cleo down,”
I shouted. “The shooter is on the catwalk above the proscenium arch,
behind the blue curtain. Send men to the catwalks above the stage. Go,
Through it all, the Kentucky Hillbillies played on, not noticing my men
had spirited Cleo back the way she had entered.
I bolted through the exit and sprinted for the stairs, knowing the
action would be over before I arrived.
My agents had the shooter trapped on the catwalk. As I ran, I knew they
would advance up both staircases. They would capture or kill the shooter
before I could reach the backstage. Nevertheless, I sprinted at top
I hit the ground floor and was halfway to the stage when the music
stopped. My agents on the golf car had hustled Cleo to safety, and
Pete’s instructions were to clear the stage. Rule Three: First things
first, hide the women and children.
Cleo was on her way to her dressing room surrounded by my people. I
focused on nailing the bastard who shot the spotlight jockeys and tried
to kill me.
A few ticket holders filtered from the exit into the corridor. I ignored
their shouted questions and dodged around them, slowing just enough to
open the door without crashing into it.
Backstage was chaos. Angelina Curtis corralled the band members and
herded them toward their dressing rooms.
“Angelina,” I called, “who went up?”
“Pete, Morris, and Robby.”
I took the steps to the stage in two jumps. I leapt over the band
instruments scattered on the floor, stopped at center stage, gun drawn,
and rubbernecked up.
The steel catwalks thirty feet overhead rang with my agents’ steps.
Pete stood on the center catwalk, Morris and Robby at either end.
“Pete,” I hollered, “where is he?”
“Gone,” Pete shouted back.
“He can’t be. I’m coming up.” I ran up the stairs.
Pete waited for me in the center of the proscenium. “There’s an
equipment room here that you can’t see from the stage. He left another
M4 carbine, a folded quilt, and a canvas equipment bag. He must have run
after he fired the shots, but there’s no way down from here. He had
less than sixty seconds before we arrived. Did he hit anybody?”
I felt as if someone had gut-punched me. Feeling sorry for the victims
could wait. I couldn’t help them, but I might catch the guy who shot
them. If he had only a sixty-second head start…
Excerpted from "Yesterday's Trouble (A Carlos McCrary, Private Investigator, Mystery Thriller Series Book 7)" by Dallas Gorham. Copyright © 2017 by Dallas Gorham. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.