Enrico fell to the ground. The impact of the bullet was great and it was now lodged in his right shoulder. Worried for his uncle, Patrick ran over to Enrico and that gave Collins the chance he needed to grab Julie.
“Elvis!” called Collins.
“Take my fiancée, bind her, put her in one of the jeeps and wait for me.”
“Will do, sir!” Elvis walked over to Julie and grabbed her by the upper arm. This allowed Collins to look at the hired workers, all of them with anger in their eyes. There was nothing honorable about Collins and they all knew it.
“Don’t do any heroics, gentlemen.” Said Collins. “I have a gun. I was a soldier. I was a soldier and I have a gun… That is the most redundant sentence I have ever said... Having been a soldier I know how to use a gun so back!”
“Elvis, do you want to be a girl?” Julie’s question was so odd and so sudden that it caused everyone to freeze.
Patrick lifted his head with a raised eyebrow. Enrico rested his head on the ground and sighed: “Life is strange.” Well, given how this expedition had been that was an accurate way to put it. Collins just outright put a finger in one ear and began to fiddle around until he pulled out a great glob of earwax. He was not that good in the hygiene department.
“I’m sorry, Julie. Can you repeat that?” asked Collins.
“Please!” exclaimed Elvis. “I actually saw the words come out of your mouth and I’m still not sure I heard you right!”
“Elvis, do you want to be a girl?” Julie repeated.
“Oh, so I heard right.” Said Collins as if nothing was out of the usual. “Elvis just get her to a jeep.”
“I am doing that right now, sir.” Replied Elvis. “No, Julie. I do not want to be a girl.”
“Too bad.” Julie’s comment caused Collins to stiffen as the sound of her knee coming into contact with Elvis’ groin rang out. Enrico sat up, completely ignoring the burning pain in his shoulder, while Patrick turned and watched as Elvis fell to the ground while muttering something that was about as understandable as French being spoken by a chimpanzee and since chimpanzees cannot speak and thus cannot speak French no one had any idea what Elvis was saying.
Everyone had a different idea of what Elvis had said though. Patrick believed that Elvis said: “Oil can.” Julie thought Elvis had said: “Rosebud.” Enrico thought he had heard: “Blue suede shoes.” Collins had heard: “I want my watch back!” What Elvis had actually said was: “This isn’t my day.” Considering that what caracals had done to his face, the Daeodon had done to his ribs and now what Julie had done to his groin this certainly was not Elvis’ day.
“Elvis, I am not giving you your watch back.” Without even turning, Collins pointed his gun at Elvis and shot off the younger man’s right ear.
“My ear… Finally, I look distinguished!”
Collins turned and stared at Elvis. He wasn’t the only one. Everyone was staring at Elvis, all with a raised eyebrow. Elvis had an uncanny resemblance to an Egyptian vulture, the caracals had turned his face into an awful mess and only the loss of an ear caused him to believe he now looked distinguished?
“Oh, you think that makes you look distinguished?” asked Collins, rhetorically. “How about this?” He then proceeded to shoot off the index and middle finger of Elvis’ right hand. “Now what do you think?”
“Now I look even more distinguished!”
Collins could only roll his eyes. His henchman was insane. Terrific. He then composed himself and grabbed Julie by the upper arm. In contrast to Elvis, Julie was absolutely terrified when she was in his grip. “Okay, now nobody make a move or I shoot Julie?”
“The old ‘If I can’t have her no one will?’” asked Patrick. “A little bit cliché isn’t it?”
“It is a classic!” countered Collins.
“Alright, carry on but I have one question.” Said Patrick.
Collins only gave a smile. “Shoot.” And with that he fired his gun at Patrick… More accurately, he fired his gun just a few inches before Patrick’s feet.
“Patrick!” whispered Enrico. “Be careful, his revolver… I know its design, it carries only nine bullets.”
Nine bullets? One bullet was fired when Collins shot Enrico in the shoulder… Another was fired when he shot off Elvis’ ear… Two were fired when he shot off Elvis’ fingers… And one was fired just now. That was five out of nine, four left and from the look on Collins’ face he knew he was running low on bullets.
“You had a question, young Mr. Malone.” Said Collins. “Aren’t you going to ask it?”
“You are going to force Julie into marriage with you… Once you leave what is to stop us from reporting your kidnapping of her?”
Collins froze. That was a good question and something he had not thought of. He had four bullets left. There was Patrick, Enrico and some twenty hired workers. He did not have enough bullets for all of them. The shooting off of Elvis’ ear and fingers was not a smart move on his part. His planning on making sure he had money so he wouldn’t be poor in the next great depression had been excellent but outside of it he was not the best. Still, he was someone who could make the best out of a bad decision.
A smile formed on Collins’ face. A smile that caused Patrick to grow uneasy… If there was someone who was not meant to smile it was Jeffrey Collins, there was just something about his face that made a smile inherently sinister looking. Granted, his resemblance to a baboon might have been the reason.
“Guess I’ll just kill you then. I got four bullets left so if I am going to use them I better put them to good use.” Collins just continued to smile. “Any last words, young Mr. Malone?”
“Another cliché?” asked Patrick.
“IT IS NOT A CLICHÉ! IT IS A CLASSIC!” yelled Collins. “SAY YOUR LAST WORDS! SAY THEM! SAY THEM NOW!”
Patrick looked down to the left slightly then looked Collins in the eye. “Ever feel the claws of caracal before?”
This only confused Collins. Those were the last words that Patrick chose? The next thing Collins knew was that he felt something leap at his left leg and began to dig claws into it. Jumping in fright, Collins fell forward and when he reached the ground his finger pulled the trigger.