Leonard, Elmore - Raylan Givens 03

BOOK: Leonard, Elmore - Raylan Givens 03
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FIRE IN THE HOLE

 

Elmore Leonard

I.

They had dug coal together as young men and then lost touch over the years. Now it looked like they'd be meeting again, this time as lawman and felon, Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder.

Boyd did six years in a federal penitentiary for refusing to pay his income tax, came out and found religion. He received his ordination by mail order from a Bible college in South Carolina and formed a sect he called Christian Aggression. The next thing he did, Boyd formed the East Kentucky Militia with a cadre of neo-Nazi skinheads, a bunch of boys wearing Doc Martens and swastika tattoos. They were all natural-born racists and haters of authority, but still had to be taught what Boyd called "the laws of White Supremacy as laid down by the Lord," which he took from Christian Identity doctrines. Next thing, he trained these boys in the use of explosives and automatic weapons. He told them they were now members of Crowder's Commandos, sworn to take up the fight for freedom against the coming Mongrel World Order and the govermint's illegal tax laws.

Boyd said he would kill the next man tried to make him pay income tax.

The skinheads accepted Boyd as the real thing, his having seen combat. Boyd had caught the tail end of Vietnam, came back with three pairs of Charlie's ears on silver chains and an Air CAV insignia on his arm, the tat faded from having been there now some twenty-five years.

Raylan Givens, a few years younger than Boyd, was now a deputy United States marshal. Raylan was known as the one who'd shot it out with a Miami gangster named Tommy Bucks—also known as the Zip—both men seated at the same table in the dining area of the Cardozo Hotel, South Beach, when they drew their pistols. Raylan had told the Zip he had twenty-four hours to get out of Dade County or he would shoot him on sight. When the Zip failed to comply, Raylan kept his word, shot him through china and glassware from no more than six feet away.

The day the Marshals Service assigned Raylan to a Special Operations Group and transferred him from Florida to Harlan County, Kentucky, Boyd Crowder was on his way to Cincinnati to blow up the IRS office in the federal building.

II.

Boyd was making the run in a new Chevy Blazer, all mud from wheels to roof after coming out of the hollows and forks of East Kentucky. The Blazer belonged to his skinhead driver, a new boy named Jared who'd just finished his sixty-day basic training and indoctrination, a skinhead from Oklahoma. Boyd said to him, "You see where out'n Oregon a militia group threw a stink bomb in their IRS office?"

"A
stink
bomb," Jared said, his eyes holding on the road, the view all trees, sky and semis. He said, "Shit, throw a pipe bomb in there, a grenade, you want to get their attention."

It sounded good, but did he mean it? Boyd had his doubts about this Jared from Oklahoma.

They had come out of deep woods five hours ago and were now following 75 on its approach to Covington and the Ohio River. Riding with them in back, covered in plastic wrap, were a pair of Chinese AKs, ammo and an RPG-7 antitank grenade launcher, another Chink weapon Boyd had used in the Nam, a little honey that fired a 40-millimeter hollow-charge rocket grenade.

He said to Jared, "I want you to tell me if there's something you don't understand about what you been learning."

Jared moved his shoulders in kind of a shrug, eyes straight ahead as they came up on a line of big diesel haulers. He had that lazy manner skinheads put on to show they were cool. He said, "Well, a couple of things. I don't understand all that Christian Identity stuff, their calling Jews the progeny of Satan and niggers subhuman."

Boyd said, "Hell, it's right in the Bible, I'll show it to you we get back. Okay, what're the Jews behind?"

"They control the Federal Reserve."

"What else?"

Jared said, "ZOG?" not sounding too sure.

"You betcha ZOG, the Zionist Occupational Government," Boyd said, "the ones set to rule us we let the government take away our guns. You see Chuck Heston on TV? Chuck said they'd have to take his out of his cold dead hand."

"Yeah, I saw him," Jared said, not sounding moved or inspired. Then saying, "There's Cincinnati up ahead. You see it before you get to the bridge."

This Jared had come recommended from an Oklahoma group, the Aryan Knights of Freedom, Jared saying he heard of Crowder's Commandos he couldn't wait to drive his new SUV over to Kentucky and join up. Saying he was anxious to get into high explosives 'stead of chasing niggers down alleys and spray-painting synagogues; shit. He said he was in Oklahoma City for the Murrah Federal Building, got there just a few minutes after she blew. He said it had inspired him to get in the fight. Sometimes talking about the Murrah Building it would sound like he had taken part in that mission with Tim and Terry.

No, Boyd and others weren't all that sold on this Jared from Oklahoma. How come he didn't have any Aryan tattoos? How come he was always touching his head? Like wondering if his hair would ever grow in again. Boyd didn't personally care for that bare-skull look, but allowed it since it was what they were known as. He preferred an inch on top and shaved sidewalls like his own regulation grunt cut, now mostly gray at fifty, steel bristles crowning his lean leathery face.

They were coming on to Cincy now, its downtown standing over there against a sky losing its light. A few minutes later they were on the northbound span of the Ohio River bridge. Boyd said, "Get off on Fifth Street."

"Another thing I don't understand," Jared said, "there's all these white power outfits around but nothing holding 'em together, no kind of plan I ever heard of."

"Except purpose," Boyd said. "Militias, the Klan, your pissed-off Libertarians and tax protesters, your various Aryan brotherhoods, we're all part of the same patriot movement."

They were on Fifth now passing hotels and that big fountain there.

"Also you have your millions who don't even realize yet they're part of the revolution. I'm talking about all the people caught up in white flight. You know what that is?"

"Yes sir, people moving out of town."

"White people moving to the suburbs. You think it's 'cause they're dying to cut grass and have barbecues in the backyard? Shit no, it's to get away from the niggers and greasers. And Asiatics, Christ, we got 'em all. Anybody wants in, sure, come on. Look at all the fuckin' Mexicans... "

He paused to give directions, but Jared was already turning left onto Main—without being told where they were going, now or anytime before.

Boyd gave him a look, but then had to hunch down as they passed the John Weld Peck Federal Building, Boyd trying to see up to the seventh floor of the nine-story building, where the IRS office was located. All he saw was a wall of tall rectangular windows up no more than a few floors. Sitting up again Boyd said, "Take a left on Sixth and come around the block."

They passed the Subway sandwich shop on Sixth his recon man Devil Ellis had told him about. Boyd didn't mention it or say a word the rest of the way around the block, not until they were coming up on the federal building again.

"Lemme off on the corner over there and make your circle. I'll be waiting."

Jared turned left, pulled up in front of the yellow Subway awning, and Boyd got out. He went inside the shop—no one here but the woman behind the counter—and stood at the plate-glass window smelling onions. The view showed most of the John Weld Peck Building diagonally across the way. From here, Devil Ellis said, he'd have a clear shot at the corner windows up there. Which was how much Devil—what they called him—knew about firing a grenade rocket at a target this close and high up. It was the kind of stunt Devil would try, stoned or just crazy, stand here chewing on a roast beef sub dripping onions and decide, yeah, shoot through this big window.

Devil was the one drove down to the Tennessee line one night and set off a charge in the Jellico post office, and all the pissed-off retirees had to wait and wait to get their social security checks, which didn't help the cause. Got the post office bombing listed with the abortion clinic Boyd was supposed to have blown up—the dumbest thing he ever heard of. What did you gain by it? Rob a bank and spray-paint
White Power
on the wall, you make your point and get away with a bag or two of cash.

It was Devil told him to keep an eye on Jared—both Devil and Boyd's baby brother, Bowman, suspecting Jared had been planted among them by the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Imperialism, or was an agent himself, although pretty dumb.

Boyd walked out to the corner and stood watching for unmarked cars creeping around, vans parked where they shouldn't be, spotters inside. It was getting dark already.

The muddy Blazer rolled up. Boyd got in and Jared said, "Which way?"

"Straight ahead."

Boyd sat there and didn't speak again until they were up Main Street a ways, crossing East Central Parkway now, and Boyd said, "We coming to it, Niggaville," Boyd looking at dingy old buildings, run-down storefronts, people he saw as winos on the street. Another couple of blocks and he spotted the place Devil told him to look for. Sure enough, up on the right. "There it is," Boyd said. "Go past slow." He could read the sign now sticking out from the front of the building:

 

TEMPLE OF THE COOL AND BEAUTIFUL J.C.

 

A thin coat of whitewash covered the front, the place a dump, the sign blasphemous, calling Jesus cool and beautiful, for Christ sake.

"Turn left that next street and stop. I believe I can take 'er from over there." Boyd stuck his butt in Jared's face pushing his way between the seats to get in the back. Jared raising his voice now:

"You gonna blow up that church?" Sounding surprised, then in kind of a panic. "Boyd, we're in the middle of fucking Cincinnati."

Now Boyd, in the back end of the Blazer, getting his Chinese grenade launcher unwrapped, raised his own voice to tell Jared, "You always have a secondary target, just in case." He looked out the rear as Jared came to a stop. "This is good, I'm gonna have a clear shot."

"Boyd, there's people on the street."

"I don't see none. Just some niggers."

"They gonna
see
us. I.D. my
car."

Boyd loved times like these he could show how cool he was under fire, so to speak. "You worried about your car, huh?"

"They's people right up the block, watching. Boyd, you see 'em? They watching us."

Even if this Jared wasn't a snitch, which could be, he sure as hell wasn't commando material. "Fuck 'em," Boyd said. "We're about to raise a whole lot of hell."

He had the RPG just about put together. He'd screwed the propellant cylinder to the back of the missile grenade and slipped it into the tube, sticking out now like a fat spear. Next, he removed the nose cap from it. Shit, he could do this in the dark drinking from a jar of shine. He pulled out the pin, the safety, and called to Jared to get ready.

Now Boyd dropped the tailgate and slipped out to the street with his rocket gun, hefted it to his shoulder, flipped the sight up and took aim. He called out to no one in particular, "Fire in the hole!" Squeezed the trigger and that Temple of the Cool and Beautiful J.C. blew up before his eyes.

III.

Boyd got rid of the RPG crossing the Ohio River south, stuck his head and shoulders out the back end of the vehicle and flung the weapon out into the night. He told Jared to look for 275. That took them over to the airport, where he got Jared to follow the signs to long-term parking and find a spot a good ways from the terminal. "Over there toward the fence," Boyd said, still crouched down in the back end.

Once they were parked, Jared said, "Now what?" sounding like all his energy had drained out of him.

Boyd didn't answer. He had one of the Chink AK-47s unwrapped and armed with a magazine. He heard in his mind the familiar words
lock and load
and was ready for business.

Jared said to the rearview mirror, "What're you doing?"

Boyd could see just the top of his head above the cushion on the front seat.

"How'd you know where we was going?"

"What?"

"You heard me." It was quiet in here, neither of them moving.

"How'd you know we's going to the federal building?" Now Jared's voice in the dark said, "Was your brother told me. Him and Devil."

"You mean you heard 'em talking?"

"Uh-unh, Bowman told me and then Devil goes, 'But don't let on you know.' "

"I think you spied on 'em."

"No sir—you can ask 'em."

"I think you listen in on things you shouldn't, and then report it to who you work for. Is that what you are, a snitch for the feds?"

Jared had his head raised to the rearview mirror. "Boyd, you got no reason to say that, none."

"I saw how you acted, I'm setting up to blow out that nigger church. You didn't want no parts of it."

"They was
people
around, watching us."

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