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twenty-three

Bobby knew the dark green Jaguar. Seeing it as he approached the fortune-tellers house he had to make up his mind in a few seconds: keep going and come back later or stop.

He stopped. Because he knew from the way the feeling came over him all of a sudden and keyed him up, this was the time. Better than if hed planned it. His chance to meet the cowboy face-to-face and see what it was like.

When he was getting ready to leave the house he had told Chip, who didnt want him to come here, You like me to scare her? Okay, thats what Im gonna do. Chip asked if he was going to hurt her and he said, Why would I do that? Chip asked why was he bringing a gun. In a brown paper sack some food they bought for Harry had come in, a small sack. Bobby demonstrated. I hold it up, she thinks the money you owe is in here. I say to her, You want it? She says yes. I bring out the gun instead of money and she sees, man, she can get paid one way or the other, so she better not talk to nobody. Is like a surprise, so it scares her more than if I hit her a few times and she thinks about it later, when shes alone, and gets mad. You got to watch out for women that get mad at you. Louis said yes, that was right, and wanted Chip to tell about the woman who had cut off her husbands dick while he was sleeping; but Bobby wasnt going to stand there listening to stories. He folded over the top of the sack telling them, This is the way to do it, surprise her.

The sack with the gun was next to him on the seat.

Bobby watched the door of the fortune-tellers house open. Now the United States cowboy marshal, Raylan, appeared. There he was, like it was planned: wearing his suit, his hat, the boots Louis liked-they were okay-and with his coat open. Hes not leaving, Bobby thought, and waited a few moments.

Hes not coming to you, either. Hes going to stand outside the door like a fucking bodyguard. Meaning the fortune-teller had talked to him, so now he was protecting her. If it was true it gave Bobby another reason to get out of the car and do it. Or he could shoot him from here, not even get out. But it wouldnt be face-to-face the way the cowboys did it and he wanted to see what it was like.

He was glad hed brought the Sig Sauer, his own gun he was used to and knew the feel, and not the Browning. He slipped it out of the sack, racked the slide, cocked it and slipped it back in, careful not to tear the brown paper. Okay, he thought, are you gonna do it? Yes, he was ready now. Then get out of the fucking car and do it. Bobby got out of the car with a smile to greet the cowboy.

Man, every time I turn around

The cowboy stood there.

You not talking today?

It didnt look like it.

Bobby came away from the car. You know this lady, uh? Gonna get your fortune told? On the front walk now, he held up the paper sack in his right hand. I got something I want to give her.

She isnt home, Raylan said.

Bobby nodded toward the red Toyota in the drive.

Her cars there.

She still isnt home, Raylan said.

Maybe shes asleep, or shes taking a shower.

When I say she isnt home, Raylan said, it means she isnt home.

With that cop way of talking.

He had his thumbs in his belt, the same way he had posed before. Bobby could see his shirt, his dark tie, but couldnt see his gun back in there on his hip. The distance to the cowboy, Bobby believed, was about twenty meters. He wanted to get closer, but not too close.

I think shes home and you dont want me to see her, Bobby said, taking a step, then another; one more and now he was where he wanted to be. He held up the sack. Man, I just want to give her this.

What is it?

A gift-what do you think?

If its money, she doesnt want it.

Bobby was holding the sack in his left hand now, underneath. All he had to do was unfold the top-take one second-and slip his hand in.

He said, Money? What do I want to give her money for? I dont owe her no money.

He believed he was ready.

But now the cowboy was coming down the walk toward him, saying, Ill tell you what. You can give it to me and Ill see she gets it.

This was the moment, right now. But Bobby hesitated, because this wasnt the way it was supposed to happen, the guy so close, standing only a few feet away now. He had shot guys as close as you can get, but not standing up facing like this. He had never seen it done in the movies this close. It wasnt the way to do it. If the cowboy knew what was going to happen he wouldve stayed by the door, giving them some room-but he didnt know. Hed know when he saw the gun come out of the sack and hed try for his-that was the idea, how it was supposed to work-but he didnt know that yet.

Saying now, close, Whats in there?

Its a surprise.

Ill tell you what you do, Raylan said. Keep it. She doesnt want any surprises and I dont either. You arent to come around here anymore or phone Reverend Dawn or bother her in any way. Tell your friends Louis and Chip theyre to leave her alone.

With the cop way of talking, but calling her Reverend. Was he serious?

Bobby looked at the eyes in the dark of the hat brim looking back at him and thought, Yes, hes serious; and wondered if maybe this guy did know what he was doing and had done it before, even this close, even with his gun on his hip, or wherever he had it today.

Was there something else? Raylan said.

Bobbys fingers were on the folded opening of the sack.

You gonna show me what you have Raylan said.

Bobby hesitated.

Or back off and get out of here?

The guy knew.

Bobby was sure of it. He hesitated again, wanting so bad to do it, but the moment passed and he knew it and let his breath out, giving the cowboy a shrug. He said, You dont want her to have this gift, okay, forget it.

At his car, opening the door, Bobby looked back wanting to say something, but knew it was too late. Raylan the Cowboy hadnt moved. He stood there watching like all the fucking cops whod ever told him to go on, get moving, had stood watching until he was gone.


Raylan closed the door and turned to Dawn, still at the window. He said, Are you having a vision? Her expression-she looked like she was off somewhere, maybe doing some astral traveling.

When you die, Dawn said, you see your whole life all at once, like in a flash.

Ive heard that, Raylan said.

Did you know he had a gun?

It crossed my mind.

In the paper bag. She sounded amazed, awed. He was gonna kill me.

Or scare you, Raylan thought. But he liked this frame of mind she was in and said, It seemed his intention. They havent paid you yet, have they? When she hesitated, he said, Just say yes or no without giving me a reading, okay?

They havent paid me anything. She seemed to be still in her mind, or someone elses, until she looked at Raylan and said, He couldve shot you dead.

Hed have had to pull his weapon to do it, Raylan said.

He had it in his hands.

Yeah, but you need your mind set on it, too, pull on a man you know is armed. I doubt Bobbys ever done that. What Id like to know, Raylan said, is why they had Harry come here. They couldve picked him up off the street. Whatd they want you to do, get him relaxed and talking? Harrys a talker, hell tell you anything you want to know.

All they told me to do, Dawn said, taking her time, was find out a few personal things about him.

Like how much money he has? See if hes worth taking?

I wasnt in any position to ask why they wanted to know. I had no choice.

Harry tell you where his money is?

A bank in the Bahamas.

What else?

Thats all really.

Where did they take him?

I dont know. They left, I was in the bedroom.

But you know where he is, Raylan said. If you know anything reading minds you know that.

They said if I told anyone about this Id be sorry. I was put in the bedroom with the door closed and when I came out they were gone. Sounding now like she was reciting.

Youre waiting to see how it turns out, Raylan said, before you say too much. But what about Harry? Chip told you nothing would happen to him. Isnt that right? Theyd work some kind of scheme to get Harrys money and then let him go.

She looked out the window again, not saying anything.

You believe Chip so you wont have Harry on your conscience, Raylan said. Or you believe him because he can turn on the charm when he wants to. Remember telling him that?

It got her looking at him again.

You told Chip he could talk people into doing things theyd rather not. You said, at least some people.

She was staring at him now, her eyes holding tight to his. Raylan imagined her trying to look into his mind, see what else was in there.

So you had a drink with Chip, got to know each other; you thought he had a lot of money. It looked like a pretty nice connection, so you helped him duck a murder conviction.

Dawn said, Oh, I did? If you know anything about it at all youd know I helped the detectives, not Chip.

I know about the bookends, the brass bulls, Raylan said. I know you saw only one on the shelf in the womans apartment, where there shouldve been two. You decided, nothing to lose, the missing one must be the murder weapon.

She said, How did I know there were two?

You saw them, when you were up there before.

But the only time I was in Mary Anns apartment, Dawn said, was with the detectives.

Whether thats true or not, you know bookends come in pairs, Raylan said. You say about people whore alike, theyre a couple of bookends. You guessed, not taking much of a chance, and you were right. Chip saw why you were doing it and told you, to get your picture in the paper, become a famous psychic.

She said, Whats wrong with wanting to do better? I have the gift.

Eyes wide open, just a girl trying to get ahead in the world. For a moment there Raylan actually felt sorry for her. He said, But if you guessed

I didnt. I knew.

Did you know where the missing bookend was?

I didnt even think about it.

You dont know what suits you not to know, Raylan said. You tell me Harrys okay, but you dont know where he is. Dont you realize that if hes seen these guys and can identify them, theyll kill him? Whether they score the money or not. Dont you know that?

He hasnt seen them, Dawn said, turning to the window again. Hes blindfolded.

Thats what youre betting the mans life on, a blindfold? How do you know he hasnt seen them?

I just do.

Sounding like a little girl now.

Tell me where he is.

Raylan waited.

She looked like a little girl: at the window in sunlight, her fingers stroking dark strands of hair. She said, Right before Bobby came you were looking at me-remember? You were trying to tell, even with all that business on your mind, if I had on a bra. She turned from the window to look at Raylan. You couldnt decide, could you?

Raylan said, You slip in and out of conversations, from one thing to another

You were about to say like a snake, Dawn said, and changed your mind.

He watched her come away from the window, past him.

Where you going?

To get ready. I see Im gonna meet the woman in your relationship.

Each time she took him by surprise like that, hed try to keep from asking how she knew. Raylan said, Im gonna hide you out in Harrys apartment, the Della Robbia Hotel in South Beach. I imagine you already know where he lives. Joyce has a key, so I guess, yeah, you might see her.

Shes dying to meet me, Dawn said, at her bedroom door now. Ill pack a few things You go ahead, I want to have my car, case I have to be somewhere.

Raylan said, I dont know

And Dawn said, Bobbys not coming back. Hes home waiting for you.


twenty-two | Riding the Rap | twenty-four