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Authors: Elmore Leonard

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Raylan

BOOK: Raylan
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Raylan
Raylan Givens [4]
Leonard, Elmore
Harper Collins, Inc. (2012)
Tags:
Raylan Givens
Raylan Givensttt

 With the closing of the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mines,
marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the state. A hundred
pounds of it can gross $300,000, but that’s chump change compared to the
quarter million a human body can get you—especially when it’s sold off
piece by piece.

So when Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing
brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into
the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them.
But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic,
Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a
time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s
making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool
transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

The bad guys are
mostly gals this time around: Layla, the nurse who collects kidneys and
sells them for ten grand a piece; Carol Conlan, a hard-charging
coal-mine executive not above ordering a cohort to shoot point-blank a
man who’s standing in her way; and Jackie Nevada, a beautiful sometime
college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table and who
suddenly finds herself being tracked by a handsome U.S. marshal. 

Raylan

Elmore Leonard

 

Dedication

 

For Graham and Tim

 

Chapter One

 

R
aylan Givens was holding a federal warrant to serve on a man in the marijuana trade known as Angel Arenas, forty-seven, born in the U.S. but 100 percent of him Hispanic.

“I met him,” Raylan said, “the time I was on court duty in Miami and he was up for selling khat. That Arab plant you chew on and get high.”

“Just medium high,” Rachel Brooks said, in the front seat of the SUV, Raylan driving, early morning sun showing behind them. “Khat’s just catchin on, grown in California, big in San Diego among real Africans.”

“You buy any, you want to know it was picked that morning,” Raylan said. “It gives you a high for the day and that’s it.”

“I have some friends,” Rachel said, “like to chew it now and then. They never get silly, have fun with it. They just seem to mellow out.”

“Get dreamy,” Raylan said.

“What’d Angel go down for?”

“Thirty-six months out of forty and went back to selling weed. Violated his parole. He was supposed to have made a deal through that Rastafarian ran the Church?”

“Temple of the Cool and Beautiful J.C.,” Rachel said. “Israel Fendi, with the dreads, Ethiopian by way of Jamaica. Was he in the deal?”

“Never went near it. But somebody put the stuff on Angel, some doper lookin for a plea deal. Swears Angel was taking delivery last night. I doubt we walk in and find Angel sittin on it.”

From the backseat they heard Tim Gutterson say, “He’s looking at two hundred and forty months this time.” Tim going through a file folder of Angel Arenas photos came to a mug shot.

“Look at that grin. Nothing about him armed and dangerous.”

“He never packs,” Raylan said, “that I know of. Or has gun thugs hangin around.”

The SUV was traveling through a bottom section of East Kentucky, creeping along behind the state troopers’ radio cars, following a lake that looked more like a river looping around on its way down past the Tennessee line. A few minutes shy of 6:00
A.M.
they pulled up to the Cumberland Inn.

The state troopers, four of them, watched Raylan and his crew slip on Kevlar vests, which they wore underneath their U.S. marshal jackets, and watched them check their sidearms. Raylan told the officers he didn’t expect Angel would resist, but you never knew for sure. He said, “You hear gunfire come runnin, all right?”

One of the troopers said, “You want, we’ll bust in the door for you.”

“You’re dyin to,” Raylan said. “I thought I’d stop by the desk and get a key.”

The troopers got a kick out of this marshal, at one time a coal miner from Harlan County but sounded like a lawman, his attitude about his job. This morning they watched him enter a fugitive felon’s motel room without drawing his gun.

There wasn’t a sound but the hum of air-conditioning. Sunlight from the windows lay on the king-size bed, unmade but thrown together, the spread pulled up over bedding and pillows. Raylan turned to Rachel and nodded to the bed. Now he stepped over to the bathroom door, not closed all the way, listened and then shoved it open.

Angel Arenas’s head rested against the curved end of the bathtub, his hair floating in water that came past his chin, his eyes closed, his body stretched out naked in a tub filled close to the brim with bits of ice in water turning pink.

Raylan said, “Angel . . . ?” Got no response and kneeled at the tub to feel Angel’s throat for a pulse. “He’s freezing to death but still breathing.”

Behind him he heard Rachel say, “Raylan, the bed’s full of blood. Like he was killin chickens in there.” And heard her say, “Oh my God,” sucking in her breath as she saw Angel.

Raylan turned the knob to let the water run out, lowering it around Angel, his belly becoming an island in the tub of ice water, blood showing in two places on the island.

“He had something done to him,” Raylan said. “He’s got like staples closing up what look like wounds. Or was he operated on?”

“Somebody shot him,” Tim said.

“I don’t think so,” Raylan said, staring at the two incisions stapled closed.

Rachel said, “That’s how they did my mother last year, at UK Medical. Made one entry below the ribs and the other under her belly button. I asked her why they did it there ’stead of around through her back.”

Tim said, “You gonna tell us what the operation was?”

“They took out her kidneys,” Rachel said. “Both of ’em, and she got an almost new pair the same day, from a child who’d drowned.”

They wrapped Angel in a blanket, carried him into the bedroom and laid him on the spread, the man shuddering, trying to breathe. His eyes closed he said to Raylan staring at him, “What happen to me?”

“You’re here makin a deal?”

Angel hesitated. “Two guys I know, growers. We have a drink—”

“And you end up in the tub,” Raylan said. “How much you pay them?”

“Is none of your business.”

“They left the weed?”

“What you see,” Angel said.

“There isn’t any here.”

Angel’s eyes came open. “I bought a hundred pounds, twenty-two thousand dollar. I saw it, I tried some.”

“You got taken,” Raylan said. “They put you out and left with the swag and the weed.”

Now his eyes closed and he said, “Man, I’m in pain,” his hands under the blanket feeling his stomach. “What did they take out of me?”

R
aylan felt his pulse again. “He’s hangin in, tough little whatever he is, Sorta Rican? I can see these growers rippin him off, but why’d they take his kidneys?”

“It’s like that old story,” Tim said. “Guy wakes up missin a kidney. Has no idea who took it. People bring it up from time to time, but nobody ever proved it happened.”

“It has now,” Raylan said.

“You can’t live without kidneys,” Tim said.

“Be hard,” Raylan said. “Less you get on dialysis pretty quick. What I don’t see, what these pot growers are doing yanking out people’s kidneys. They aren’t making it sellin weed? I’ve heard a whole cadaver, selling parts of it at a time? Will go for a hundred grand. But you make more you sell enough weed, and it isn’t near as messy as dealin kidneys. What I’m wondering . . .” He paused, thinking about it.

Tim said, “Yeah . . . ?”

“Who did the surgery?”

A
bout noon Art Mullen, marshal in charge of the Harlan field office, came by the motel to find Raylan still poking around the room.

Art said, “You know what you’re looking for?”

“Techs dusted the place,” Raylan said, “picked up Angel’s clothes, bloody dressings, surgical staples, an empty sack of Mail Pouch, but no kidneys. How’s Angel doing?”

“They got him in intensive care, maintaining.”

“He’s gonna make it?”

“I think what keeps him alive,” Art said, “he’s half out but mad as hell these weed dealers ripped him off. Took what he paid for the reefer—if you believe him—and left him to die.”

“Didn’t mention,” Raylan said, “they took his kidneys?”

“I kept makin the point,” Art said. “ ‘Tell me who these boys are, we’ll get your kidneys back for you.’ He commenced to breathe hard and the nurse shooed me out. No, but his kidneys,” Art said, “were taken out by someone knew what he was doing.”

Raylan said, “They were taken out the front.”

“They’re always taken out the front. Only this was the latest procedure. Smaller incision and they don’t cut through any muscle.”

“I’d like to see Angel,” Raylan said, “less you don’t want me to. I’ve known him since that time he was brought up for sellin khat. When I was on court duty in Miami. Angel and I got along pretty good,” Raylan said. “I think he believes I saved his life.”

“You probably did.”

“So he oughta be willing to talk to me.”

“He’s at Cumberland Regional,” Art said. “Maybe they’ll let you see him, maybe not. Where’re your partners?”

“There wasn’t anything pressing—I told ’em go on back to Harlan.”

“They took the SUV—how’re you gonna get around?”

“We have Angel’s BMW,” Raylan said, “don’t we?”

A
ngel was lying on his back, his eyes closed. Raylan got down close, brushed Angel’s hair out of his face, caught a whiff of hospital breath and said in a whisper, “Your old court buddy from Miami’s here, Raylan Givens.” Angel’s eyes came open. “Was that time you went down for selling khat.”

Now it looked like Angel was trying to grin.

“Did you know,” Raylan said, “I saved your life this morning? Another five minutes in that ice water you’d of froze to death. Thank the Lord I got there when I did.”

“For what, to arrest me?”

“You’re alive, partner, that’s the main thing. Maybe a little pale’s all.”

Pale
—he looked like he was dead.

“They hook my arm to a machine,” Angel said, “takes the impurities from my blood and keeps me alive long as I can wait for a kidney. Or I have a relative like a brother wants to give me one.”

“You have a brother?”

“I have someone better.”

Smiling now. He was, and Raylan said, “You know I won’t tell where you’re getting this kidney, you don’t want me to.”

“Everybody in the hospital knows,” Angel said. “They send me a fax. You believe it? The nurse comes in and reads it to me. Tanya, tha’s her name. She’s very fine, with skin you know will be soft you touch it. Tanya, man. I ask her she like to go to Lexington with me when I’m better. You know, I always like a nurse. You don’t have to bullshit them too much.”

“The fax,” Raylan said. “You get to buy your kidneys back for how much?”

“A hundred grand,” Angel said, “tha’s what they offer. You imagine the balls on these redneck guys? They bring a surgeon last night so they can take my fucking kidneys and rip me off twice, counting what they stole from me. They say if I only want one kidney is still a hundred grand.”

Raylan said, “The hospital knows what’s going on?”

“I tole you, everybody knows, the doctors, the nurses, Tanya. They send the fax, then one of them calls the hospital and makes the arrangement. Nobody saw who deliver them.”

“The hospital knows they’re yours?”

“Why can’t you get that in your head?”

“And they go along with it?”

“Or what, let me die? They not paying for the kidneys.”

“When do you have to come up with the money?”

“They say they give me a break, a week or so.”

“You know these boys—tell me who they are.”

“They kill me. No hurry, get around to it.”

“And take your kidneys back,” Raylan said. “I don’t believe I ever heard of this one. You know the hospital called the police.”

“The police already talk to me. I tole them I don’t know these guys. Never saw them before.”

“Or know who’s telling them what to do?” Raylan said.

Angel stared at Raylan. “I don’t follow you.”

“You think your guys came up with this new way to score? They can take whoever they want off the street,” Raylan said, “while this doctor’s scrubbin up for surgery. Why should they be picky, wait for a drug deal to go down?” Raylan paused. He said, “You want, I’ll help you out.”

“For what? You find product in that motel room? Man, I’m the victim of a crime and you want to fucking put me in jail?”

Finally they reached a point, Angel on a gurney on his way to the operating room, Raylan tagging along next to it saying, “Give me a name. I swear on my star you won’t have to pay for either one.”

He watched Angel shake his head saying, “You don’t know these people.”

“I will, you tell me who they are.”

“You have to go in the woods to find them.”

“Buddy, it’s what I
do
.” They were coming to double doors swinging open. “I call Lexington with the names and they e-mail me their sheets. I might even know these guys.”

“They grow reefer,” Angel said, “from here to West Virginia.”

Right away Raylan said, “They’re Crowes, aren’t they?”

BOOK: Raylan
6.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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