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The 6th Target
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown, 2007

Chapter One


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A KILLER IN WAITING, Fred Brinkley slumps in the blue-upholstered banquette on the top deck of the ferry. The November sun glares down like a big white eye as the catamaran plows the San Francisco Bay, and Fred Brinkley glares right back at the sun.

A shadow falls across him, a kid’s voice asking, “Mister, could you take our picture?”

Fred shakes his head — no, no, no — anger winding him up like a watch spring, like a wire tightening around his head.

He wants to smash the kid like a bug.

Fred averts his eyes, sings inside his head, Ay, ay, ay, ay, Sau-sa-lito-lindo, trying to shut down the voices. He puts his hand on Bucky to comfort himself, feeling him through his blue nylon Windbreaker, but still the voices pound in his brain like a jackhammer.

Loser. Dog shit.

Gulls call out, screaming like children. Overhead, the sun burns through the overcast sky and turns him as transparent as glass. They know what he’s done.

Passengers in shorts and visors line the rails, taking pictures of Angel Island, of Alcatraz, of the Golden Gate Bridge.

A sailboat flies by, mainsail double-reefed, foam flecking the rails, and Fred doubles over as the bad thing whips into his mind. He sees the boom swing. Hears the loud crack. Oh, God! The sailboat!

Someone has to pay for this!

Startling him, the ferry’s engines grind into reverse and the deck vibrates as the ferry comes into dock.

Fred stands, works his way through the crowd, passing eight white tables, lines of scuffed blue chairs, his fellow ferry riders giving him the eye.

He enters the open compartment at the bow, sees a mother berating her son, a boy of nine or ten with light-brown hair. “You’re driving me crazy!” the woman shouts.

Fred feels the wire snap. Someone has to pay.

His right hand slips into his jacket pocket — finds Bucky.

He slips his finger into the trigger loop.

The ferry lurches as it bumps the mooring. People grab on to one another, laughing. Lines snake out from the boat, bow and aft.

Fred’s eyes shoot to the woman who is still belittling her son. She’s small, wearing tan clam diggers, her breasts outlined in the soft skin of her white blouse, nipples pointing straight out.

“What’s wrong with you, anyway?” she yells over the engines’ roar. “You really piss me off, buster.”

Bucky is in Fred’s hand, the Smith & Wesson Model 10, pulsing with a life of its own.

The voice booms, Kill her. Kill her. She’s out of control!

Bucky points between the woman’s breasts.

BLAM.

Fred feels the jolt of the gun’s recoil, sees the woman jump back with a little hurt yelp, a red stain blooming on her white blouse.

Good!

The little boy follows his mother’s fall to the deck with his big round eyes, strawberry ice cream plopping out of his cone, pee spreading across the front of his pants.

The boy did a bad thing, too.

BLAM.



Excerpted from The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Copyright © 2007 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.









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