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Authors: Cormac McCarthy

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No Country for Old Men

BOOK: No Country for Old Men
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No Country For Old Men
No Country For Old Men

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

 

Set in our own time along the bloody frontier between Texas and Mexico, this is Cormac
McCarthy's first novel since Cities of the Plain completed his acclaimed, best-selling
Border Trilogy.

Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load
of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change
everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim's burning car lead
Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes how desperately Moss
and his young wife need protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an
ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while
on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem. The pursuit
stretches up and down and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to
answer what one asks another: how does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?

A harrowing story of a war that society is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on
the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, No Country for
Old Men is a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.

 

SCANNER's NOTE: This author has his own style of unorthodox dialect and punctuation.

 

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

By

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

CORMAC MCCARTHY

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

ISBN-10:0-330-44011-X

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Copyright ©M-71, Ltd. 2005

The author would like to express his appreciation to the Santa Fe Institute for his long
association and his four-year residence. He would also like to thank Amanda Urban.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country For Old Men
I

I sent one boy

to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony. I went up
there and visited with him two or three times. Three times. The last time was the day of
his execution. I didnt have to go but I did. I sure didnt want to. He'd killed a fourteen
year old girl and I can tell you right now I never did have no great desire to visit with
him let alone go to his execution but I done it. The papers said it was a crime of passion
and he told me there wasnt no passion to it. He'd been datin this girl, young as she was.
He was nineteen. And he told me that he had been plannin to kill somebody for about as
long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew
he was goin to hell. Told it to me out of his own mouth. I dont know what to make of that.
I surely dont. I thought I'd never seen a person like that and it got me to wonderin if
maybe he was some new kind. I watched them strap him into the seat and shut the door. He
might of looked a bit nervous about it but that was about all. I really believe that he
knew he was goin to be in hell in fifteen minutes. I believe that. And I've thought about
that a lot. He was not hard to talk to. Called me Sheriff. But I didnt know what to say to
him. What do you say to a man that by his own admission has no soul? Why would you say
anything? I've thought about it a good deal. But he wasnt nothin compared to what was
comin down the pike.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I dont know what them eyes was the windows
to and I guess I'd as soon not know. But there is another view of the world out there and
other eyes to see it and that's where this is goin. It has done brought me to a place in
my life I would not of thought I'd of come to. Somewhere out there is a true and living
prophet of destruction and I dont want to confront him. I know he's real. I have seen his
work. I walked in front of those eyes once. I wont do it again. I wont push my chips
forward and stand up and go out to meet him. It aint just bein older. I wish that it was.
I cant say that it's even what you are willin to do. Because I always knew that you had to
be willin to die to even do this job. That was always true. Not to sound glorious about it
or nothin but you do. If you aint they'll know it. They'll see it in a heartbeat. I think
it is more like what you are willin to become. And I think a man would have to put his
soul at hazard. And I wont do that. I think now that maybe I never would.

 

 

The deputy left Chigurh standing in the corner of the office with his hands cuffed behind
him while he sat in the swivelchair and took off his hat and put his feet up and called
Lamar on the mobile.

Just walked in the door. Sheriff he had some sort of thing on him like one of them oxygen
tanks for emphysema or whatever. Then he had a hose that run down the inside of his sleeve
and went to one of them stunguns like they use at the slaughterhouse. Yessir. Well that's
what it looks like. You can see it when you get in. Yessir. I got it covered. Yessir.

When he stood up out of the chair he swung the keys off his belt and opened the locked
desk drawer to get the keys to the jail. He was slightly bent over when Chigurh squatted
and scooted his manacled hands beneath him to the back of his knees. In the same motion he
sat and rocked backward and passed the chain under his feet and then stood instantly and
effortlessly. If it looked like a thing he'd practiced many times it was. He dropped his
cuffed hands over the deputy's head and leaped into the air and slammed both knees against
the back of the deputy's neck and hauled back on the chain.

They went to the floor. The deputy was trying to get his hands inside the chain but he
could not. Chigurh lay there pulling back on the bracelets with his knees between his arms
and his face averted. The deputy was flailing wildly and he'd begun to walk sideways over
the floor in a circle, kicking over the wastebasket, kicking the chair across the room. He
kicked shut the door and he wrapped the throwrug in a wad about them. He was gurgling and
bleeding from the mouth. He was strangling on his own blood. Chigurh only hauled the
harder. The nickelplated cuffs bit to the bone. The deputy's right carotid artery burst
and a jet of blood shot across the room and hit the wall and ran down it. The deputy's
legs slowed and then stopped. He lay jerking. Then he stopped moving altogether. Chigurh
lay breathing quietly, holding him. When he got up he took the keys from the deputy's belt
and released himself and put the deputy's revolver in the waistband of his trousers and
went into the bathroom.

He ran cold water over his wrists until they stopped bleeding and he tore strips from a
handtowel with his teeth and wrapped his wrists and went back into the office. He sat on
the desk and fastened the toweling with tape from a dispenser, studying the dead man
gaping up from the floor. When he was done he got the deputy's wallet out of his pocket
and took the money and put it in the pocket of his shirt and dropped the wallet to the
floor. Then he picked up his air-tank and the stungun and walked out the door and got into
the deputy's car and started the engine and backed around and pulled out and headed up the
road.

On the interstate he picked out a late model Ford sedan with a single driver and turned on
the lights and hit the siren briefly. The car pulled onto the shoulder. Chigurh pulled in
behind him and shut off the engine and slung the tank across his shoulder and stepped out.
The man was watching him in the rearview mirror as he walked up.

What's the problem, officer? he said.

Sir would you mind stepping out of the vehicle?

The man opened the door and stepped out. What's this about? he said.

Would you step away from the vehicle please.

The man stepped away from the vehicle. Chigurh could see the doubt come into his eyes at
this bloodstained figure before him but it came too late. He placed his hand on the man's
head like a faith healer. The pneumatic hiss and click of the plunger sounded like a door
closing. The man slid soundlessly to the ground, a round hole in his forehead from which
the blood bubbled and ran down into his eyes carrying with it his slowly uncoupling world
visible to see. Chigurh wiped his hand with his handkerchief. I just didnt want you to get
blood on the car, he said.

 

 

Moss sat with the heels of his boots dug into the volcanic gravel of the ridge and glassed
the desert below him with a pair of twelve power german binoculars. His hat pushed back on
his head. Elbows propped on his knees. The rifle strapped over his shoulder with a
harness-leather sling was a heavybarreled .270 on a '98 Mauser action with a laminated
stock of maple and walnut. It carried a Unertl telescopic sight of the same power as the
binoculars. The antelope were a little under a mile away. The sun was up less than an hour
and the shadow of the ridge and the datilla and the rocks fell far out across the
floodplain below him. Somewhere out there was the shadow of Moss himself. He lowered the
binoculars and sat studying the land. Far to the south the raw mountains of Mexico. The
breaks of the river. To the west the baked terracotta terrain of the running borderlands.
He spat dryly and wiped his mouth on the shoulder of his cotton workshirt.

The rifle would shoot half minute of angle groups. Five inch groups at one thousand yards.
The spot he'd picked to shoot from lay just below a long talus of lava scree and it would
put him well within that distance. Except that it would take the better part of an hour to
get there and the antelope were grazing away from him. The best he could say about any of
it was that there was no wind.

When he got to the foot of the talus he raised himself slowly and looked for the antelope.
They'd not moved far from where he last saw them but the shot was still a good seven
hundred yards. He studied the animals through the binoculars. In the compressed air motes
and heat distortion. A low haze of shimmering dust and pollen. There was no other cover
and there wasnt going to be any other shot.

He wallowed down in the scree and pulled off one boot and laid it over the rocks and
lowered the forearm of the rifle down into the leather and pushed off the safety with his
thumb and sighted through the scope.

They stood with their heads up, all of them, looking at him.

Damn, he whispered. The sun was behind him so they couldnt very well have seen light
reflect off the glass of the scope. They had just flat seen him.

The rifle had a Canjar trigger set to nine ounces and he pulled the rifle and the boot
toward him with great care and sighted again and jacked the crosshairs slightly up the
back of the animal standing most broadly to him. He knew the exact drop of the bullet in
hundred yard increments. It was the distance that was uncertain. He laid his finger in the
curve of the trigger. The boar's tooth he wore on a gold chain spooled onto the rocks
inside his elbow.

Even with the heavy barrel and the muzzlebrake the rifle bucked up off the

rest. When he pulled the animals back into the scope he could see them all

standing as before. It took the 150 grain bullet the better part of a second to

get there but it took the sound twice that. They were standing looking at the

plume of dust where the bullet had hit. Then they bolted. Running almost

immediately at top speed out upon the barrial with the long whaang of the rifleshot
rolling after them and caroming off the rocks and yawing back across the open country in
the early morning solitude.

He stood and watched them go. He raised the glasses. One of the animals had dropped back
and was packing one leg and he thought that the round had probably skipped off the pan and
caught him in the left hindquarters. He leaned and spat. Damn, he said.

He watched them out of sight beyond the rocky headlands to the south. The

pale orange dust that hung in the windless morning light grew faint and then it

too was gone. The barrial stood silent and empty in the sun. As if nothing had occurred
there at all. He sat and pulled on his boot and picked up the rifle and ejected the spent
casing and put it in his shirtpocket and closed the bolt. Then he slung the rifle over his
shoulder and set out.

It took him some forty minutes to cross the barrial. From there he made his way up a long
volcanic slope and followed the crest of the ridge southeast to an overlook above the
country into which the animals had vanished. He glassed the terrain slowly. Crossing that
ground was a large tailless dog, black in color. He watched it. It had a huge head and
cropped ears and it was limping badly. It paused and stood. It looked behind it. Then it
went on. He lowered the glasses and stood watching it go.

He hiked on along the ridge with his thumb hooked in the shoulderstrap of the rifle, his
hat pushed back on his head. The back of his shirt was already wet with sweat. The rocks
there were etched with pictographs perhaps a thousand years old. The men who drew them
hunters like himself. Of them there was no other trace.

At the end of the ridge was a rockslide, a rough trail leading down. Candelilla and scrub
catclaw. He sat in the rocks and steadied his elbows on his knees and scanned the country
with the binoculars. A mile away on the floodplain sat three vehicles.

He lowered the binoculars and looked over the country at large. Then he raised them again.
There looked to be men lying on the ground. He jacked his boots into the rocks and
adjusted the focus. The vehicles were four wheel drive trucks or Broncos with big
all-terrain tires and winches and racks of rooflights. The men appeared to be dead. He
lowered the glasses. Then he raised them again. Then he lowered them and just sat there.
Nothing moved. He sat there for a long time.

When he approached the trucks he had the rifle unslung and cradled at his waist with the
safety off. He stopped. He studied the country and then he studied the trucks. They were
all shot up. Some of the tracks of holes that ran across the sheetmetal were spaced and
linear and he knew they'd been put there with automatic weapons. Most of the glass was
shot out and the tires flat. He stood there. Listening.

In the first vehicle there was a man slumped dead over the wheel. Beyond were two more
bodies lying in the gaunt yellow grass. Dried blood black on the ground. He stopped and
listened. Nothing. The drone of flies. He walked around the end of the truck. There was a
large dead dog there of the kind he'd seen crossing the floodplain. The dog was gutshot.
Beyond that was a third body lying face down. He looked through the window at the man in
the truck. He was shot through the head. Blood everywhere. He walked on to the second
vehicle but it was empty. He walked out to where the third body lay. There was a shotgun
in the grass. The shotgun had a short barrel and it was fitted with a pistol stock and a
twenty round drum magazine. He nudged the man's boot with his toe and studied the low
surrounding hills.

The third vehicle was a Bronco with a lifted suspension and dark smoked windows. He
reached up and opened the driver side door. There was a man sitting in the seat looking at
him.

Moss stumbled back, leveling the rifle. The man's face was bloody. He moved his lips
dryly. Agua, cuate, he said. Agua, por dios.

He had a shortbarreled H&K machinepistol with a black nylon shoulderstrap lying in his lap
and Moss reached and got it and stepped back. Agua, the man said. Por dios.

I aint got no water.

Agua.

Moss left the door open and slung the H&K over his shoulder and stepped away. The man
followed him with his eyes. Moss walked around the front of the truck and opened the door
on the other side. He lifted the latch and folded the seat forward. The cargo space in the
rear was covered with a metallic silver tarp. He pulled it back. A load of bricksized
parcels each wrapped in plastic. He kept one eye on the man and got out his knife and cut
a slit in one of the parcels. A loose brown powder dribbled out. He wet his forefinger and
dipped it in the powder and smelled it. Then he wiped his finger on his jeans and pulled
the tarp back over the parcels and stepped back and looked over the country again.
Nothing. He walked away from the truck and stood and glassed the low hills. The lava
ridge. The flat country to the south. He got out his handkerchief and walked back and
wiped clean everything he'd touched. The doorhandle and the seatlatch and the tarp and the
plastic package. He crossed around to the other side of the truck and wiped everything
down there too. He tried to think what else he might have touched. He went back to the
first truck and opened the door with his kerchief and looked in. He opened the glovebox
and closed it again. He studied the dead man at the wheel. He left the door open and
walked around to the driver side. The door was full of bulletholes. The windshield. Small
caliber. Six millimeter. Maybe number four buckshot. The pattern of them. He opened the
door and pushed the windowbutton but the ignition was not on. He shut the door and stood
there, studying the low hills.

BOOK: No Country for Old Men
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