Authors: Elmore Leonard
“She knows where he is and has some other reason for not telling. What it could be,” Raylan said, “I have no idea. How about Harry's ledgerâyou find it?”
“I have it right here,” Joyce said. “All the ones he's checked off are the ones he saw when I was driving him around.”
“Any up this way, around Delray Beach?”
“It lists just names and phone numbers, and the amount owed. Some of the ones not checked off have 407 area codes.”
“That's up here, Palm Beach County.”
“I know,” Joyce said. “And the guy who owes Harry the sixteen five? Harry has it written sixteen point five K. His name is Chip Ganz, with Cal in parens, and a phone number with a 407 area code. I could call him, find out if the money was collected.”
Raylan said, “WellÂ .Â .Â .” thinking about it. “Why don't you give me the number. I'll find out where Ganz lives and go see him, unless you hear from Harry. It won't be for a couple of days, though, we're pretty busy.”
“What if I don't hear from him?”
“Let me know. I'll have another talk with Reverend Dawn.”
“What does she look like?”
“The way girls used to look twenty years ago. Long, dark hair parted in the middle. ThinÂ .Â .Â .”
“Nice-looking, but bites her fingernails.”
“You want to see her again, don't you?”
“I may have to,” Raylan said.
awn phoned Chip's pager as soon as Raylan was out of the house, no wolf following him now, Raylan putting on what seemed his official hat as he walked from tree shade into sunlight, cocking the brim low on his eyes, and Dawn thought, He knows you're watching. Okay, Mr. Raylan Givens, I'm gonna keep watching. Pretty sure he'd be back in the next couple of days.
Waiting for Chip to answer his pager she looked for a fingernail to bite on.
Sundays he was never home. He'd stroll one of the beaches or a mall or visit a Huggers
Gathering in the park and try not to get hugged while he mingled and looked for runaways. Chip's favorite kind were young girls who'd left home pissed off at their dads and feeling betrayed by their moms; they came to Gatherings homesick, would get caught up in the flashing peace signs and Huggers saying “Love you” with dopey grins and pretty soon the little girls would be dosing on acid.
The time Chip held a Gathering at his home Dawn stopped by to see what it was all about. There were Huggers all over the patio and what used to be a lawn that extended to the beach; Chip's New Age pals and their girlfriends, about forty people, most of them hairy, pierced, tie-dyed and tattooed earth people and born-again bikers. They came in rusting-out vans and pickups with their beer and dope and got high while cops cruised Ocean Boulevard past the
PRIVATE DRIVE, KEEP OUT
sign, and while Chip moved among them grinning, showing his movie-star teeth he'd had capped in another time, before his life went in the toilet.
Dawn had the tip of her left thumb between her teeth, gnawing to get a purchase on the nail and thinking about Raylan again, a cowboy in a shirt with sailboats on it driving off in a dark green Jaguar she knew wasn't his.
The phone rang.
Chip said, “This is important, right?” With his deadpan delivery he thought was cool. “Taking me away from business?”
“Where are you?”
“Dreher Park, West Palm; I'm picnicking.”
“Let's see,” Dawn said, closing her eyes, “the girl you're with has stringy blond hair, cutoff jeans, she's from Ohio and hasn't had a bath in a week.”
“Indiana,” Chip said, “she's a little Hoosier. Nasty kid, hates her parents. I dropped acid in her eye and she sweetened up some.”
“Going on thirty, but dumb.”
“Her folks,” Dawn said, “don't even miss her.”
“What're you, a mind reader? I told her dad up in Kokomo, Indiana, I'd let him know where to find his little girl for five big ones. He goes, âShe isn't worth near that much,' and hangs up on me. What we're doing, you understand, we're negotiating. I call him back. âOkay, twenty-five hundred and I'll see no harm comes to your little girl. All you have to do is wire the cash.' I give him the name I use and he hangs up on me, again. I'm thinking, What kind of a father
this guy? When I call back I'll talk to the mom. Jesus, parents these daysÂ .Â .Â .”
“Try the mom for fifteen hundred,” Dawn said, “so I can get paid. Your new guy, Bobby? He said he'd bring it next week, and I'm sure he'll come, but it won't be to pay me.”
Chip said, “You call to chat or what?”
“A guy came by for a reading,” Dawn said. “It turns out he's some kind of federal agent and guess who he's looking for?”
Chip said, “What do you mean
kind of federal agent? He show you his I.D.?”
“He didn't have to, except he doesn't look anything like one. He's forty-three. When he was younger he was a coal miner.”
“You check his fingernails?”
“He walked in, I thought he was a farmer, or maybe a rancher. He looks like a cowboy, that raw-boned, outdoor type. Wears cowboy boots and a hat with a curled brim.”
“The Marlboro man,” Chip said.
“Yeah, except he's real.”
“And he's looking for me?”
“Actually your name didn't come up. He's looking for Harry Arno.”
There was a silence before Chip's voice came back on the line. “What reason did he give?”
“Are you kidding? The man was here Friday and hasn't been seen since.”
“But why is this guy looking for him?”
“I just told you.”
“I mean, you say he's a federal agent, is he investigating Harry's disappearance or he's a friend or what?”
Dawn wasn't sure, so she said, “What difference does it make? He thinks Harry was here.”
“How could he?”
“I guess someone remembered seeing us together, at the restaurant.”
“What'd you tell him?”
“That he wasn't here.”
“He buy it?”
“He's thinking about it,” Dawn said. “I hope I get my money before he comes back.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“If I'm arrested for some dumb stunt you're pulling, I want to be able to make bail.”
“There's no way this guy can possibly get onto us, so be cool,” Chip said. “You thought he was a
“I told you, he's got that outdoor good-guy look. Even has crow's-feet when he squints.”
“But he was wearing, what, a snappy blue suit and wing tips with the hat? That's how you made him, huh? I mean why do you say he's a fed, not some local cop?”
“'Cause that's what he is,” Dawn said. “I'll give you something else to think about. Not very long ago he shot and killed a man and did it deliberately, at close range. What I'm saying is he intended to kill the guy and he did.”
Again the silence before Chip said, “Come on, he told you that?”
“I felt it in his hand,” Dawn said. “The one that held the gun.”
ate Tuesday afternoon Louis was relaxing in the study, feet on the cocktail table chest, watching Oprah on the big screen giving the audience some cool intro shit about the guests she had coming on next. The surveillance picture in the corner of the screen showed the front drive, or where it was supposed to be in all that vegetation. Oprah wasn't doing much of anything at the moment, so Louis pushed a button on the remote to put the back of the house on the screen, the patio, and Bobby Deo out there with his fine Latino shirt off pruning shrubs. Louis
had to watch him because it made no sense, the man working when he didn't have to. Louis pressed a button and was now looking at the hostage room, Harry Arno sitting on the cot, his head wrapped upâalways sitting, never lying down, a man his age. Chip was suppose to be in there checking on him.Â .Â .Â .
No, he was coming into the study, looking at the TV screen before sinking down on the sofa, next to Louis.
“How's the houseguest doing?”
Chip said, “Turn it down, will you?” Sounding like he was irritated about something. The man picked lint off his clothes, something always bothering him. Louis would have some hip-hop going on the CD player, Digable Planets, and the man would come in saying, “Turn that goddamn racket off. Jesus.” He liked Neil Diamond and such. Old Sammy Davis Junior CDs, the candyman can, that kind of shit.
“Harry hears the faintest sound,” Chip said, “he goes, âIs somebody there?'”
So the man wasn't irritated especially, he just wasn't Oprah-minded. Louis said, “I know what you mean. Four days the man's been saying it. âSomebody there?' His voice getting to sound pitiful.”
“That's the idea,” Chip said, “get him to the point he's dying to hear a human voice.” Chip paused, his gaze on the TV, on Oprah and her sad-looking white women guests. “What's this about?”
“I believe they gonna tell how breast implants fucked up their lives.”
The Chipper, not too interested, said, “The time comes I
speak to him, Harry will be more than receptive, agreeable to whatever I tell him.”
“He won't have much choice but agree,” Louis said, watching Oprah listening to a woman talking about her implanted ninnies, Oprah's eyes concerned without it taking away from her stylish look. “He'll agree to what you say, but then he has to do it, has to produce.”
“I'm not worried about that,” Chip said. “Harry's a manipulator, it's one of the reasons we picked him. Anyone who can scam the wiseguys and get away with itÂ .Â .Â . He's a conniver. You can say the same thing about the other people we want, the S&L guy. They live, in a way, by their wits. Someone said that about me once, that I lived by my witsÂ .Â .Â .”
Louis let the man talk, the sound of his voice laid in among the TV voices, until Louis heard words that sounded familiar and he said, “What?”
“I said it's time we picked up Ben King.” Talking about the crooked S&L man now. “He's sitting there waiting, can't go anywhere, can't leave townÂ .Â .Â .”
“Not suppose to anyway,” Louis said, “with that bond set on him.”
“It has to look like he took off,” Chip said.
“We keeping that in mind.”
“Not like he was abducted.”
“No need to worry your head.”
“So when're you gonna do it?”
“They bring him to trial he's going away. Then it's too late.”
“What that S&L man done with money don't belong to him,” Louis said, “they be in court a month shuffling papers around.”
“Why can't you just tell me when you think you'll do it?”
“I said soon, didn't I?”
Man could drive you crazy. Louis had to ease up in his mind so as not to take the man by his neck and shake him. He said, “Me and Bobby been dry-running through it. We close now, so don't keep talking about when. We watch the man's house, watch him come and go, watch him play golfÂ .Â .Â . It's gonna happen. I give my man Bobby Deo a head bob and we gone. You know Mr. Ben King has to play golf alone? Nobody wants to associate with him.” He watched Oprah up in the audience finding ladies with implants and fucked-up lives, Oprah not needing anything planted underneath that brown suit she had on. Chip even was quiet now, watching Oprah with him.
Quiet for a minute, then saying, “Why don't you go help Bobby?”
Listen to the man.
“It's your house, why don't you? I'm watching your property.” Louis used the remote to switch the video from Harry to Bobby, pruning away, to the front drive, what you could see of it. Louis thinking if the man had anything going for him, any kind of grit to him, he wouldn't say why don't you go help Bobby, he'd say get your
ass out there. Bobby was right asking did they need the man. They needed the man's house more than they needed the man. He'd gone out yesterday looking for runaway children to scam the parents and came back with reefer. So the man smoked while they tended to the houseguest asking was somebody there.
Louis saw the car the same time the man did, Chip saying, “Jesus Christ!”
The car showing in all that shrubbery choking the drive, approaching Bobby Deo's car parked in the foreground of the picture. The man saying, “Get Bobby,” and Louis jumped. Punched his thumb on the remote to take Oprah off and put the car on the screen big, what looked like a Jaguar. Chip had the chest open now to get out the shotgun, saying, “For Christ sake, go!”
Louis stood there not moving on purpose, watching the man looking at him. He said, “Be cool,” and it seemed to take off some of the man's edge. Louis turned then, walked out of the study.
Raylan almost passed the driveway looking at the
, the words spray-painted on a board. He saw the house number on the mailbox just in time, braked hard and turned into the drive:
Like a road through a tropical forest, cracked pavement full of weeds, the roof line of the house showing back in there, red tile against the sky; sea grape on both sides brushing the car,
different kinds of palm growth he didn't know the names of. Until coming to Florida, Raylan thought he knew trees and plants, but tropical growth was something else and there was so much of it. He came to a stop at the front end of a Cadillac parked in the drive facing out, and thought of Harry's as he saw the grille, but this car was black.
Raylan got out and walked past the Cadillac toward the house, seeing more of its white shape through the trees. Then, right in front of him, seeing a guy step out of the growth to stand waiting. A guy with no shirt on holding a machete.
Raylan walked toward him through sunlight and touched his hat brim to set it lower on his eyes. He said, “You got your work cut out for you,” looking around at the vegetation. “You cleaning up this whole place?”
The guy didn't move, standing there with his machete.
He said, “It needs to be cut back and start over.”
A Cuban or P.R. accent. No shirt, but wearing what looked to be his good pants and came to work in a Cadillac. Raylan loosened his hat and set it again, looking around at the growth. “There plants here I'm not too familiar with. Is that some kind of palmetto there?”
“Yucca. Over there, that's saw palmetto.”
Wearing his good shoes, too. Snake or lizard under the film of dust.
“I recognize the oleander and hibiscus. Is this periwinkle?”
“Yeah, what they call it here.”
“What's that tree growing all over the place?”
“Gumbo-limbo. It has to be taken out.”
“You're busy, I don't want to hold you up,” Raylan said. “I'm looking for Mr. Ganz. Is he in the house?”
The guy frowning at him now, shaking his head.
“I don't know any Mr. Ganz.”
“He doesn't live here?”
“I never saw him.”
Shaking his head again.
“His name's on the mailbox out front. Isn't this the Ganz place?”
“Yeah, Ganz, sure. I work for Ms. Ganz.”
“That his wife?”
The guy shook his head. “His mother.”
“Well, is she home?”
“She don't live here. She's in a place in West Palm Beach, staying there, you know, so somebody can take care of her.”
“She's in a nursing home?”
“Yeah, that's what it is, for old people. I go see her to pay me, but she don't know who I am. You understand? She's old, has something wrong with her head, like she forgets who you are. So when she don't know me this time, she don't pay me and I have to go back.”
“You see her every day?”
“Two times, I just start to work here. You looking to buy this place?”
“Why, is it for sale?”
“I don't know that.”
“What's the name of the nursing home?”
“But you go there.”
“Yeah, it's by the hospital, that street there.”
“Yeah, I think that's it. Listen, I got all this work to do, okay?”
Raylan watched the guy turn and walk away, a pair of pruners on his belt at the hip, the same place Raylan carried his gun.
Chip said, “What's he doing?”
“Nothing,” Louis said. “He's standing there.”
“Well, why doesn't he leave?”
“He's looking the place over.”
Louis had sent Bobby out front and got back to the study quick to keep an eye on Chip, watch how he behaved in this situation, somebody coming to the house. The man looked like he'd froze, his eyes stuck to the TV screen, the video of the front drive on big. Bobby wasn't in the picture now, he'd walked off, but the dude in the suit was still there.
“I make him to be a real estate man,” Louis said. “Come to see you want to sell the house. Got all dressed up in his suit, his dude hat, wearing it like he knows what he's doing, or wants you to think he does.”
Right then Chip said, “The
.” Sounding at the moment excited, like he was remembering something he'd forgot.
Louis looked at him. “Yeah? What?”
Chip didn't answer, staring at the screen.
Louis looked at it to see the dude walking away now, past Bobby's Cadillac to his car. The dude doing all right for himself to be driving that Jag-u-ar.
“He's leaving.” Louis watched the car back out of the drive, disappear, then looked over at Chip to see the man still watching the screen. “He's gone, Chipper, the show's over.”
It brought the man back to life saying, “Jesus, that was close.”
“Close to what? You saw Bobby talk to him, send the dude on his way?”
“I thought he might come up to the house.”
The man looked to be still edgy, rubbing his hands together, scratching his arms.
“Why would he come to the house? He don't have no business here. Bobby told him nobody's home; what he said he'd tell anybody came. He's cleaning up around the place and don't know shit otherwise. With that blade in his hand. You think the dude's gonna argue with him?”
Bobby came in the study then, sweaty, still holding the machete.
“Told the dude you just the help around here, don't know shit, huh?”
“Who was it?” Chip said. “What did he want?”
Louis said, “Was a real estate man, huh?”
“I ask him,” Bobby said. “He didn't say.”
Chip said, “Will you tell me, for Christ sake, what he wanted?”
“You,” Bobby said. “I told him you not here. So he's gonna visit your mommy now, then maybe come back. What do you think?” Looking right at Chip. “You ever see this guy before?”
Chip said, “No,” shaking his head.
But didn't seem that sure about it, edgy, or like he was thinking of something else. Louis watched him walk out of the study, the man not telling where he was going.
Louis asked it. “What you think?”
“If we have to watch him, too,” Bobby said, “it's more work.”
“I know what you mean. We got to keep the man out of sight.”
“Tie him up in a room,” Bobby said, “if we have to.”
“Why you say the dude may come back?”
“I think he's a cop.”
“He didn't show you nothing.”
“No, it was the way he checked me out,” Bobby said. “Like a cop trying to be a nice guy.”
“So if he comes back?”
“We wait and see.”
Chip phoned Dawn from his bedroom.
“You said the guy wore a hat.”
She said, in almost a whisper, “I happen to have a client with me.”
“Just tell me, for Christ sake, what it looked like.”
“I did. Like a cowboy hat, the way the brim was shaped. But not one of those big ones like the country music guys wear.”
Chip sat at his desk in the bedroom staring out a window at dark shapes, the sun gone from the yard. He heard her say, “Turn a light on so I can see you,” and felt himself jump. He heard her say, “You called him the Marlboro man and I said, âYeah, except he's real.' Don't tell me he came to see youÂ .Â .Â . please.”
“Somebody did. Bobby spoke to him.”
“Chip, if you get me involved in thisÂ .Â .Â .”
“It's not the same guy. I just wanted to make sure.”
Her voice said, “ChipÂ .Â .Â .” as he hung up the phone.