Chip watched Bobby’s Cadillac on the television screen until the car was through the shrubs along the drive and out of view. Finally. He’d been waiting all morning for them to leave so he could talk to Harry.
Trying to hurry them along didn’t work. “You want to get the show on the road-isn’t that what you told me?”
Louis said they’d leave when it was time to leave. Louis dragging his feet, Bobby taking half the morning to get dressed, Ganz smoking weed. This was before the guy in the hat showed up on the patio and spoke to Louis and Bobby. Ganz lit another joint, sucked it down listening to Louis say the man was a United States marshal, with the star, with the gun on his hip under his coat. Could see it when he took out his I.D. But mostly the man was a friend of Harry’s, the reason he came. Chip toking, Louis saying the man’s seen how it is now, who’s who, and won’t have a reason to come back. By the time Louis finished Chip was worry-free, zonked on the weed, able to ask deadpan, “A U.S. marshal? He ride in on a horse?” Louis grinned while Bobby sat there with a bug up his ass as usual. Chip thinking, even if it was the same guy who spoke to Dawn, so what?
Wait some more, finally one o’clock before Louis said it was time and they left, the program now back on track in spite of interruptions, shit happening, revising the timetable, his two helpers thinking they knew more than he did. Why argue? If they wanted to speed up the program, get it done, fine. Chip thinking, telling himself, Go with the flow, man. Saying, You cool? Yeah, you’re cool. He felt it, full of his old confidence, in control…
Pushed a button on the remote, to switch the picture from the front drive to the hostage room upstairs, and stared at the picture for several moments-at the cots, the chains on the floor, trash, boxes of snacks-before he realized, Christ, Harry wasn’t there.
Ganz came up out of the sofa.
The black guy had stood behind him the whole time while he cut the blindfold off with scissors, so Harry didn’t get a look at him. All he knew for sure, it was the same guy who’d said the other night, “We do some business. Just me and you.” Harry had thought at the time the guy was putting on a Bahamian accent so his voice wouldn’t be recognized. This time the guy said, “Go on in the bathroom and clean yourself up. Man, you smell ripe.” And Harry realized what the guy had was the trace of a Bahamian accent, maybe left over from when he was a kid. The guy stood close breathing on him, Saying, “There’s a toothbrush in there, a razor, I believe anything you need.” The guy who wanted to do some business being nice to him. Making a play, it sounded like, to cut out the other guys-Harry pretty sure now there were three of them. He said, “I can’t take a shower with these chains on.”
“Do the best you can,” the black guy said. “Take a whore bath. You know what that is?”
“Before you ever heard of it,” Harry said.
The guy handed him a bathing cap to use as a blindfold, with instructions when to put it on, didn’t say anything about doing business, and left. Harry washed up and shaved; next thing would be to talk the guy into a shower and promote some clean clothes. He looked around his cell for the first time, the room bigger than he’d thought; looked at the windows covered with plywood and shuffled over to see if he could work the sheet free, but it was nailed onto the window frame.
Later on, Harry was coming out of the bathroom when he heard the key turn in the lock. The door swung open. Harry saw the look on the guy’s face, a different guy…
What Chip saw was the blindfold gone, something else covering his hair that Harry reached up and stretched down over his eyes: a rubber bathing cap, white with a yellow flower design that Chip’s mother used to put on when she swam in the ocean, years and years ago. He could see her wearing it.
Harry raised his arms as though to protect himself, saying, “I didn’t see you, okay? Honest to God, I didn’t. The other guy said it was okay to take it off when I went to the bathroom or if I was alone, but cover my eyes if anybody came in. I swear I didn’t see you.”
Chip said, “But you saw the other guy.”
“No, I didn’t, he was behind me. He told me to put the bathing cap on-it’s tighter’n hell and hot. Pull it down over my eyes I can’t see a goddamn thing.”
Chip said, “He tell you what you have to do?” and watched Harry lower his arms before he spoke.
“What do you mean?”
“Didn’t say anything about getting out of here?”
Harry hesitated again. “No. Was he suppose to?”
He watched Harry stoop to pick up the chain and shuffle to the cot, used to moving this way. When he was seated, Ganz walked over and sat down next to him.
“Have you decided?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“What it’s worth to you to get out.”
“Name it,” Harry said. “Whatever you want, if I’ve got it.”
“How about three mil?”
“You kidding? I don’t have that kind of money.”
Chip said, “You sure?”
“I know how much I’ve got put away, about two and a half, two hundred fifty thousand plus some interest.”
“Where is it?”
“In the bank. Barnett branch on Collins.”
“What about in the Bahamas, in the Swiss bank?”
“Freeport. You forgot about that one. What I’m gonna do,” Chip said, “is give you one day, twenty-four hours, to come up with a way of drawing all the funds out of the Bahamas account and giving it to us, in cash. I mean, of course, without anyone else knowing about it. If I don’t like the idea, Harry, you’re dead. You pay up, you go home. So it better be the best fucking idea you ever had in your life.”
Harry said, “Do I get my car back? It’s brand-new.”
He heard the guy say, “That’s what you’re worried about?” And felt the guy’s hand on his shoulder, pushing on it as he got up from the cot, the guy saying, “Twenty-four hours, Harry,” and a few seconds later heard the door open and close and the key turn.
Harry waited. He said, “You still there?” He waited again, a little longer, and said, “You still there, asshole?” and peeled up the edge of the bathing cap.
He tried now to picture the guy from the glimpse he got of him, no one he’d ever seen before, but a type: Miami Beach, there were hundreds of those skinny middle-aged guys around with tans, retired, nothing to do; they sat on benches in Lummus Park watching the models getting their pictures taken. But this one-in a place right on the ocean, carpeting that had to run seventy, eighty bucks a square yard easy, expensive fixtures in the bathroom, a marble floor… Did the guy live here? He didn’t sound like a wiseguy, he sounded like a guy trying to act cool. Giving him twenty-four hours to come up with an idea-that was bullshit. If they knew he had an account in the Bahamas, all they had to do was get him to transfer the money from his account to their account. Open one-what was hard about that?
Harry ate an Oreo cream cookie thinking: They start out with this great idea, how to score a bundle. Propose a deal, dress it up. If it works and they get the money they let you go. He believed they would, otherwise why bother with a blindfold? But the black guy had his own proposition, cut the other guys out, and if he did he’d have to kill them. So that’s the kind of people you’re dealing with, Harry thought. Some guys with an idea who most likely never tried it before, felt their way along without knowing shit about what they were doing. So you don’t know either, Harry thought. It could come apart for any number of reasons: not trusting each other, or one of them tells somebody else, the wrong person, the cops enter the picture and these guys panic… Harry thinking, The cops should be on it by now anyway, for Christ sake. What were they doing? Buck Torres, he’d know you’re missing. Joyce would call him first thing. It got Harry excited. But then he thought, No, she wouldn’t call Buck, she’d call Raylan… Well, that was okay, get the cowboy on his trail. But would he have his heart in it? That fucking cowboy might just as soon you stayed missing.
No, he’d get on it. Wouldn’t he?
What Raylan did was drive along Ocean Boulevard looking for vacant property, someplace he could park and cut through to the beach. As a last resort he could go up to the shopping center by the Lantana bridge and park there; he didn’t think it was too far, maybe a mile. He watched his odometer. At six-tenths of a mile he came up on a bunch of Australian pines, big and scraggly, bent from years of wind off the ocean, the trees lining an empty lot of scrub growth. It looked good. He’d leave the Jag here and approach Ganz’s place from the ocean side. Take his boots off to walk along the beach.
Chip was back in the study keeping watch, the hostage room still showing on the TV screen: Harry Arno, without the bathing cap, sitting on his cot eating a cookie… eating another one, digging into the package of Oreos again, Jesus, biting into another one. It made Chip hungry to watch. Not for cookies, though, popcorn. Nothing hit the spot after smoking weed like hot buttered popcorn laced with garlic salt. Thinking about it he had to swallow. Sit here and shove handfuls of popcorn into his mouth while he kept watch. He remembered there was a big jar of Newman’s Own popcorn, unopened, in the kitchen and it gave him a good feeling. He preferred Paul Newman’s to Orville Redenbacher’s, though Orville’s wasn’t bad. It was nice to be a little stoned and know the situation was in hand. Watching Harry the bookmaker eating Oreo creams. Chip grinning now-hey, shit, look at him, still eating. An Oreo wouldn’t be bad… Or peanut brittle-there was a box of it in Harry’s room, right there, on the floor. Jesus, peanut brittle, he could taste it. That’s what he needed, something sweet. First scan the grounds, then go upstairs and get the peanut brittle. Fuck Harry, he had his cookies. Chip pushed a button on the remote. Nothing going on out front. Now the back of the property…
And Chip felt himself jump, the same way he’d jumped ten minutes ago when he looked at the room upstairs and didn’t see Harry. What he saw this time, out beyond the patio, was the guy in the hat again, the U.S. marshal, by the trees at the edge of the yard, the guy pulling on his boots, looking toward the house and now coming this way past the pool, coming across the patio, the guy in the hat and dark suit in full view now, close, filling the screen, looking up as he approached and now he was out of the picture, beneath the video camera mounted above the French doors.
The phone rang and Chip reached for it.
It was in his mind he didn’t want the guy to hear any sounds from inside the house and had the phone in his hand before he realized his mistake. What he should’ve done, let the guy hear the phone ring and no one answer… It wasn’t too late to hang up. He started to when he heard, “Chip?” and thought he recognized the voice but wasn’t sure.
“Who is this?”
“Who do you think?” Dawn said.
“Listen, I can’t talk to you right now.”
Chip watched the TV screen, the empty patio, wanting the guy to appear again, see him walk away. All the doors were locked; he’d made sure of that after Louis and Bobby left. The guy wouldn’t break in-he couldn’t, he was a federal officer, for Christ sake.
“Chip? I’m at Chuck and Harold’s…”
“I know-something came up, I couldn’t make it.”
“You don’t have my money, do you?”
“Tomorrow, how’s that?”
“You’re stringing me along…”
“No, I called, you’d already left,” Ganz said.
“I’ll check my machine.”
“I didn’t leave a message. Listen, I wondered, has that guy been back?”
“With the hat.”
“You said he was a fed, some kind of federal cop.”
“How’d you know?”
“I guess the same way I know he’s looking for you now. He hasn’t found you yet, but he’s getting close.” Dawn paused and Chip waited. She said, “He isn’t by any chance there right now, is he? Outside, looking around…?”
“I haven’t seen him.”
“You mean you haven’t spoken to him,” Dawn said.
The front door chimes rang in the hall.
Chip switched the picture on the screen from the patio to the front entrance and there he was, waiting, touching his hat as he looked up at the video camera, Dawn’s voice saying, “But you have seen him. Chip? Tell me the truth, aren’t you looking at him right now?”
He didn’t answer.
He was watching the guy, watching him turn finally and walk off the front stoop, gone, out of camera range, and Chip switched the picture to the driveway. Nothing. No sign of him. Chip thinking, He’s gone around back. And Dawn’s voice came on again.
“Chip? He knows we know each other.”
“How could he?”
“It’s what he does. He finds out things.”
“All right, let’s say he’s on it. But you haven’t seen me. Listen, I’m not even here. Louis told him I’m down in the Keys, doesn’t know when I’ll be back.”
“He’s talked to Louis,” Dawn said, “but not to you. Is he still there?”
“But you saw him.”
“For a minute,” Chip said. “Not even that.” He felt alert but was thinking in slow motion, trying to hold a conversation and make sense, sound convincing without saying too much, Christ, with a federal U.S. marshal creeping around outside. It was hard, it required nerves of fucking steel. He put the patio on the screen-empty in a glare of sunlight-and said, “Look, you don’t know anything, so there’s nothing you can tell him, is there?”
“You mean what I might’ve gotten from you.”
“Exactly, since I haven’t told you anything.”
“But what about what I know,” Dawn said, “without anyone telling me? I’m not going to prison, Chip, for fifteen hundred dollars I don’t even have.”
Chip said, “Jesus Christ.” He said, “Wait.” But she’d already hung up.
He sat listening now, staring at the empty patio. He wanted to smoke another joint and wanted something sweet, hungry again, and wanted to go to the bathroom. He thought of going through the house, the living room, the library, to look outside, all around, but didn’t want to leave the study and be in rooms with windows. He didn’t know how long he could sit here. Or what to do when he heard the sound coming from the sunroom-a rapping sound, four times on a pane of glass-and felt his neck become rigid.
Raylan had taken another walk around the house. He pressed close to the French doors now, hands at his face to block out his reflection looking in at the white-covered furniture and the door across the sunroom that was closed, but showed a line of light beneath it. He reached up and rapped his knuckles against glass, hard, watching the door inside the room, wanting to see it open. He waited a minute before stepping back, and now thought of taking off his hat, putting his fist inside and punching it through a pane of glass. Reach in then and open the French doors, walk over to the door with the light showing underneath and yank it open.
He thought of doing it knowing he wouldn’t. He could cut official corners to call a man out, give him twenty-four hours to leave the county, but couldn’t a walk in a man’s house unless invited, or else with a warrant and bust down the door.
It was the way he was raised, to have good manners. Though a situation one time in particular had set it in his mind as something more than etiquette, back when they were living in a coal camp and the miners struck Duke Power: Raylan walking a picket line most of the year, his dad in the house dying of black lung, and company gun thugs came looking for Raylan’s uncle, his mom’s younger brother, living with them at the time. They came across the street, five of them, a couple with pick handles, and up the walk to where his mother stood on the porch. He remembered she was having trouble with her teeth and they ached her that day. The gun thugs said they wanted to speak to her brother the agitator, set his thinking cap on straight for him. She told them he wasn’t home. They said they intended to look in the house, and if she didn’t move out of the way they would help her. Raylan came out the screen door to stand with his mother and remembered her eyes, the way she looked at him like she’d given up hope. Though it was not in her voice when she told them, “You don’t walk in a person’s home ‘less you’re invited. Even you people must believe that. You have homes, don’t you? Wives and mothers keeping house? This is our home and I’m not inviting you in.” They shoved her aside and hit Raylan with the pick handles to put him down; they went through the house and out the back, empty-handed.
Her words hadn’t stopped them. No, what they did was stick in Raylan’s mind-her words, her quiet tone of voice-and stop him, more than twenty years later, from breaking into this man’s house.
Walking away he had a strange thought. What if he wrote Harry a letter and sent it to this address?