The day has finally come–the long-awaited conclusion to the Charlie Hardie series, POINT & SHOOT, is now on sale in bookstores everywhere. Can’t wait until the workday ends to get your fix? Take a sneak peek at the opening pages of the award-winning Hardie trilogy’s slam-bang final chapter. Then go pick up a copy already!
This isn’t going to have a happy ending.
Morgan Freeman, Se7en
Near Brokenland Parkway, Columbia, Maryland—Seven Months Ago
A twenty-three-year-old hungover intern with a broken heart saved the day.
The intern’s name was Warren Arbona, and he was in a stuffy warehouse along with five other interns scanning endless pieces of paper and turning them into PDFs that nobody would ever, ever fucking read. The whole operation was strictly cover-your-ass. The interns’ bosses wanted to be able to tell their government liaisons that, yes, every page of the flood of declassified documents they released had been carefully read and scanned by an experienced member of their legal team.
“Experienced” = interns who’d been on the job for at least two months.
The new president had made a big deal about declassifying everything, the shining light of freedom blasting through the deceptions of the previous administration. A democracy requires accountability, he said, and accountability requires transparency. Which sounded awesome.
But before the PDFs could be uploaded, the president’s intelligence advisers insisted that no sensitive secrets harmful to the security of the United States would be leaked to the general public. This still was the real world.
So a white-shoe law firm specializing in government intelligence was retained to painstakingly review every line on every scrap of paper.
Nobody in the firm wanted to deal with that bullshit, so they put the interns on it.
And Warren Arbona, the intern in question, wouldn’t have noticed a thing if it hadn’t been for his cunt ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t help it. The name just jumped out at him.
He stopped the scan and looked at the paper again. Were his eyes playing tricks on him?
Nope. There it was.
No, it wasn’t Christy’s dad. Her dad was named Bruce or some such shit. Balding. Big asshole. Deviated septum and beady eyes. But this Charlie guy was an uncle, maybe? Some other relative? Warren had no idea.
And really, who the fuck cared. Christy didn’t matter anymore; he’d do best to put her out of his head and finish up with this scanning so he could go home and get good and drunk again.
They were all working inside the abandoned warehouse set of a canceled television show, Baltimore Homicide. The rent was absurdly cheap, and the set already had the delightful bonus of real desks and working electrical outlets, thanks to a subplot featuring a fake daily newspaper office.
So all the law firm had to do was arrange for the reams of paper—nearly three trucks’ worth—to be backed into the building, plug in a bunch of laptops and scanners, and then set the interns loose. See you in September, motherfuckers.
The working conditions were less than ideal. While an industrial AC unit blasted 60,000 BTUs of arctic air into the fake office via ringed funnels, the warehouse itself had diddly-squat in the way of climate management. So every time you left to drag in another set of files, you baked and sweated in the stifling summer heat. And then when you returned, your sweat was flash-frozen on your body. No wonder everybody was sick.
Warren had been fighting a cold since May, when he first started scanning the documents. He believed that if he polluted his body with enough tequila, the cold virus would give up and abandon ship. So far, it hadn’t worked.
But the tequila also helped him forget about Christy Hardie.
Now the name popped up, and Warren couldn’t help but be curious. He started to read the document, which was a deposition.
Seems Charlie Hardie was an ex–police consultant turned drunk house sitter who was later accused of snuffing a junkie actress named Lane Madden.
Warren kind of wished someone had snuffed Christy after she confessed that she’d been blowing his best friend for, oh, the entire first year of law school.
Anyway, Warren remembered the Lane Madden story from a bunch of years ago. Apparently she’d been raped and killed by this house sitter guy who used to be a cop and kind of lost his mind. But the rest of the deposition was kind of boring, so Warren stopped reading and fed the pages into the scanner. Yes, they were all supposed to eyeball each page—even the partners weren’t foolish enough to tell the interns to actually read them. But Warren and his colleagues dispensed with the eyeballing crap somewhere in late May. If fingers touched a page, it was considered read. Osmosis, they decided.
Warren looked at the clock. Just two more hours until his brain went south of the border.
But at fifteen minutes until closing, something strange happened. Continue reading ›