Liam felt the blade of the knife rip into his left shoulder. The experience was not what he expected, if in fact he ever expected to be stabbed. There was no pain, just the sensation that his skin, and then the tissues beneath his skin, and finally the muscles underneath, were being pierced and separated from their natural places above the bones in his arm. It was as if the physical destruction of his flesh was happening in slow motion, with pain sensors turned to their lowest levels; the knife attack was an educational video being replayed in freeze-frame. Pain interrupted the stuttering staccato of the frames as they moved forward, but the pain was distant, as if it weren’t his pain but, instead, the pain he imagined would be felt by a character in a movie. But, then, suddenly it become immediate, real, excruciating.
Liam yelped as the knife twisted in his upper arm. He swung his right hand, holding a three-pound bar bell, hard into the left temple of the man with the knife. The man’s skull offered resistance for an instant, but gave way almost immediately to the weight and speed of the metal cudgel as it shattered bone and proceeded into the soft matter beneath. The attacker slumped and fell to the ground, the metal weight having permanently reduced his dangerous rage to warm pulp, remnants of a brain with no enmity left to deliver.
“Good god, what the hell happened?” Liam asked himself as he looked at the corpse on the ground in front of him. Blood sprayed from the wound with every beat of his heart and his shoulder hurt like hell. The attack, albeit brief, confused him; he wasn’t able to fully process the experience right away. As he scrambled to stem the flow of blood, though, his brain allowed his thoughts to catch up to his experience.
“Jesus, the bastard wasn’t kidding.” The body beneath his feet was Roger Cameron, his wife’s lover. Everything Cameron said a few moments earlier became more immediate. The man’s words rang in Liam’s ears: “Either you give her the divorce—uncontested—or your sordid fling with your court clerk will hit the newspapers. And if that’s not enough to convince you, you son of a bitch, know this: I’ll kill you if you get in our way!”
Liam recalled his own response to Cameron: “Be my guest! Tell the goddamn newspapers whatever you want! You’ll have to kill me if you want to get your hands on anything of mine!”
And, then, Cameron’s rage exploded into full fury, a sharp knife appearing in his right hand for a fraction of a second before Liam felt the blade in his shoulder.