بخش 02کتاب: جایی برای پیرمردها نیست / فصل 2
- زمان مطالعه 64 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
Bell climbed the rear steps of the courthouse and went down the hall to his office. He swiveled his chair around and sat and looked at the telephone. Go ahead, he said. I’m here.
The phone rang. He reached and picked it up. Sheriff Bell, he said.
He listened. He nodded.
Mrs Downie I believe he’ll come down directly. Why dont you call me back here in a little bit. Yes mam.
He took off his hat and put it on the desk and sat with his eyes closed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Yes mam, he said. Yes mam.
Mrs Downie I havent seen that many dead cats in trees. I think he’ll come down directly if you’ll just leave him be. You call me back in a little bit, you hear?
He hung the phone up and sat looking at it. It’s money, he said. You have enough money you dont have to talk to people about cats in trees.
Well. Maybe you do.
The radio squawked. He picked up the receiver and pushed the button and put his feet up on the desk. Bell, he said.
He sat listening. He lowered his feet to the floor and sat up.
Get the keys and look in the turtle. That’s all right. I’m right here.
He drummed his fingers on the desk.
All right. Keep your lights on. I’ll be there in fifty minutes. And Torbert? Shut the trunk.
He and Wendell pulled onto the paved shoulder in front of the unit and parked and got out. Torbert got out and was standing by the door of his car. The sheriff nodded. He walked along the edge of the roadway studying the tire tracks. You seen this, I reckon, he said.
Well let’s take a look.
Torbert opened the trunk and they stood looking at the body. The front of the man’s shirt was covered with blood, partly dried. His whole face was bloody. Bell leaned and reached into the trunk and took something from the man’s shirtpocket and unfolded it. It was a bloodstained receipt for gas from a service station in Junction Texas. Well, he said. This was the end of the road for Bill Wyrick.
I didnt look to see if he had a billfold on him.
That’s all right. He dont. This here was just dumb luck.
He studied the hole in the man’s forehead. Looks like a .45. Clean. Almost like a wadcutter.
What’s a wadcutter?
It’s a target round. You got the keys?
Bell shut the trunklid. He looked around. Passing trucks on the interstate were downshifting as they approached. I’ve already talked to Lamar. Told him he can have his unit back in about three days. I called Austin and they’re lookin for you first thing in the mornin. I aint loadin him into one of our units and he damn sure dont need a helicopter. You take Lamar’s unit back to Sonora when you get done and call and me or Wendell one will come and get you. You got any money?
Fill out the report same as any report.
White male, late thirties, medium build.
How do you spell Wyrick?
You dont spell it. We dont know what his name is.
He might have a family someplace.
What do we have on the perpetrator?
We dont. Give Wendell your keys fore you forget it.
They’re in the unit.
Well let’s not be leavin keys in the units.
I’ll see you in two days’ time.
I hope that son of a bitch is in California.
Yessir. I know what you mean.
I got a feelin he aint.
Yessir. I do too.
Wendell, you ready?
Wendell leaned and spat. Yessir, he said. I’m ready. He looked at Torbert. You get stopped with that old boy in the turtle just tell em you dont know nothin about it. Tell em somebody must of put him in there while you was havin coffee.
Torbert nodded. You and the sheriff goin to come down and get me off of death row?
If we cant get you out we’ll get in there with you.
You all dont be makin light of the dead thataway, Bell said.
Wendell nodded. Yessir, he said. You’re right. I might be one myself some day.
Driving out 90 toward the turnoff at Dryden he came across a hawk dead in the road. He saw the feathers move in the wind. He pulled over and got out and walked back and squatted on his bootheels and looked at it. He raised one wing and let it fall again. Cold yellow eye dead to the blue vault above them.
It was a big redtail. He picked it up by one wingtip and carried it to the bar ditch and laid it in the grass. They would hunt the blacktop, sitting on the high powerpoles and watching the highway in both directions for miles. Any small thing that might venture to cross. Closing on their prey against the sun. Shadowless. Lost in the concentration of the hunter. He wouldnt have the trucks running over it.
He stood there looking out across the desert. So quiet. Low hum of wind in the wires. High bloodweeds along the road. Wiregrass and sacahuista. Beyond in the stone arroyos the tracks of dragons. The raw rock mountains shadowed in the late sun and to the east the shimmering abscissa of the desert plains under a sky where raincurtains hung dark as soot all along the quadrant. That god lives in silence who has scoured the following land with salt and ash. He walked back to the cruiser and got in and pulled away.
When he pulled up in front of the sheriff’s office in Sonora the first thing he saw was the yellow tape stretched across the parking lot. A small courthouse crowd. He got out and crossed the street.
What’s happened, Sheriff?
I dont know, said Bell. I just got here.
He ducked under the tape and went up the steps. Lamar looked up when he tapped at the door. Come in, Ed Tom, he said. Come in. We got hell to pay here.
They walked out on the courthouse lawn. Some of the men followed them.
You all go on, said Lamar. Me and the sheriff here need to talk.
He looked haggard. He looked at Bell and he looked at the ground. He shook his head and looked away. I used to play mumbledypeg here when I was a boy. Right here. These youngsters today I dont think would even know what that was. Ed Tom this is a damned lunatic.
I hear you.
You got anything to go on?
Lamar looked away. He wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve. I’ll tell you right now. This son of a bitch will never see a day in court. Not if I catch him he wont.
Well, we need to catch him first.
That boy was married.
I didnt know that.
Twenty-three year old. Clean cut boy. Straight as a die. Now I got to go out to his house fore his wife hears it on the damn radio.
I dont envy you that. I surely dont.
I think I’m goin to quit, Ed Tom.
You want me to go out there with you?
No. I appreciate it. I need to go.
I just have this feelin we’re looking at somethin we really aint never even seen before.
I got the same feelin. Let me call you this evenin.
I appreciate it.
He watched Lamar cross the lawn and climb the steps to his office. I hope you dont quit, he said. I think we’re goin to need all of you we can get.
When they pulled up in front of the cafe it was one-twenty in the morning. There were only three people on the bus.
Sanderson, the driver said.
Moss made his way forward. He’d seen the driver eyeing him in the mirror. Listen, he said. Do you think you could let me out down at the Desert Aire? I got a bad leg and I live down there but I got nobody to pick me up.
The driver shut the door. Yeah, he said. I can do that.
When he walked in she got up off the couch and ran and put her arms around his neck. I thought you was dead, she said.
Well I aint so dont go to slobberin.
Why dont you fix me some bacon and eggs while I take a shower.
Let me see that cut on your head. What happened to you? Where’s your truck at?
I need to take a shower. Fix me somethin to eat. My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut.
When he came out of the shower he was wearing a pair of shorts and when he sat at the little formica table in the kitchen the first thing she said was What’s that on the back of your arm?
How many eggs is this?
You got any more toast?
They’s two more pieces comin. What is that, Llewelyn?
What would you like to hear?
He sipped his coffee and set about salting his eggs.
You aint goin to tell me, are you?
What happened to your leg?
It’s broke out in a rash.
She buttered the fresh toast and put it on the plate and sat in the chair opposite. I like to eat breakfast of a night, he said. Takes me back to my bachelor days.
What is goin on, Llewelyn?
Here’s what’s goin on, Carla Jean. You need to get your stuff packed and be ready to roll out of here come daylight. Whatever you leave you aint goin to see it again so if you want it dont leave it. There’s a bus leaves out of here at seven-fifteen in the mornin. I want you to go to Odessa and wait there till I can call you.
She sat back in the chair and watched him. You want me to go to Odessa, she said.
You aint kiddin, are you?
Me? No. I aint kiddin a bit. Are we out of preserves?
She got up and got the preserves out of the refrigerator and set them on the table and sat back down. He unscrewed the jar and ladled some onto his toast and spread it with his knife.
What’s in that satchel you brought in?
I told you what was in that satchel.
You said it was full of money.
Well then I reckon that’s what’s in it.
Where’s it at?
Under the bed in the back room.
Under the bed.
Can I go back there and look?
You’re free white and twenty-one so I reckon you can do whatever you want.
I aint twenty-one.
Well whatever you are.
And you want me to get on a bus and go to Odessa.
You are gettin on a bus and goin to Odessa.
What am I supposed to tell Mama?
Well, try standin in the door and hollerin: Mama, I’m home.
Where’s your truck at?
Gone the way of all flesh. Nothin’s forever.
How are we supposed to get down there in the mornin?
Call Miss Rosa over yonder. She aint got nothin to do.
What have you done, Llewelyn?
I robbed the bank at Fort Stockton.
You’re a lyin sack of you know what.
If you aint goin to believe me what’d you ask me for? You need to get on back there and get your stuff together. We got about four hours till daylight.
Let me see that thing on your arm.
You done seen it.
Let me put somethin on it.
Yeah, I think there’s some buckshot salve in the cabinet if we aint out. Will you go on and quit aggravatin me? I’m tryin to eat.
Did you get shot?
No. I just said that to get you stirred up. Go on now.
He crossed the Pecos River just north of Sheffield Texas and took route 349 south. When he pulled into the filling station at Sheffield it was almost dark. A long red twilight with doves crossing the highway heading south toward some ranch tanks. He got change from the proprietor and made a phone call and filled the tank and went back in and paid.
You all gettin any rain up your way? the proprietor said.
Which way would that be?
I seen you was from Dallas.
Chigurh picked his change up off the counter. And what business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?
I didnt mean nothin by it.
You didnt mean nothing by it.
I was just passin the time of day.
I guess that passes for manners in your cracker view of things.
Well sir, I apologized. If you dont want to accept my apology I dont know what else I can do for you.
How much are these?
I said how much are these.
Chigurh unfolded a dollar onto the counter. The man rang it up and stacked the change before him the way a dealer places chips. Chigurh hadnt taken his eyes from him. The man looked away. He coughed. Chigurh opened the plastic package of cashews with his teeth and doled a third part of them into his palm and stood eating.
Will there be somethin else? the man said.
I dont know. Will there?
Is there somethin wrong?
Is that what you’re asking me? Is there something wrong with anything?
The man turned away and put his fist to his mouth and coughed again. He looked at Chigurh and he looked away. He looked out the window at the front of the store. The gas pumps and the car sitting there. Chigurh ate another small handful of the cashews.
Will there be anything else?
You’ve already asked me that.
Well I need to see about closin.
See about closing.
What time do you close?
Now. We close now.
Now is not a time. What time do you close.
Generally around dark. At dark.
Chigurh stood slowly chewing. You dont know what you’re talking about, do you?
I said you dont know what you’re talking about do you.
I’m talkin about closin. That’s what I’m talkin about.
What time do you go to bed.
You’re a bit deaf, arent you? I said what time do you go to bed.
Well. I’d say around nine-thirty. Somewhere around nine-thirty.
Chigurh poured more cashews into his palm. I could come back then, he said.
We’ll be closed then.
That’s all right.
Well why would you be comin back? We’ll be closed.
You said that.
Well we will.
You live in that house behind the store?
Yes I do.
You’ve lived here all your life?
The proprietor took a while to answer. This was my wife’s father’s place, he said. Originally.
You married into it.
We lived in Temple Texas for many years. Raised a family there. In Temple. We come out here about four years ago.
You married into it.
If that’s the way you want to put it.
I dont have some way to put it. That’s the way it is.
Well I need to close now.
Chigurh poured the last of the cashews into his palm and wadded the little bag and placed it on the counter. He stood oddly erect, chewing.
You seem to have a lot of questions, the proprietor said. For somebody that dont want to say where it is they’re from.
What’s the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss?
I said what’s the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss.
I dont know. Folks dont generally bet on a coin toss. It’s usually more like just to settle somethin.
What’s the biggest thing you ever saw settled?
I dont know.
Chigurh took a twenty-five cent piece from his pocket and flipped it spinning into the bluish glare of the fluorescent lights overhead. He caught it and slapped it onto the back of his forearm just above the bloody wrappings. Call it, he said.
Just call it.
Well I need to know what it is we’re callin here.
How would that change anything?
The man looked at Chigurh’s eyes for the first time. Blue as lapis. At once glistening and totally opaque. Like wet stones. You need to call it, Chigurh said. I cant call it for you. It wouldnt be fair. It wouldnt even be right. Just call it.
I didnt put nothin up.
Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didnt know it. You know what the date is on this coin?
It’s nineteen fifty-eight. It’s been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it’s here. And I’m here. And I’ve got my hand over it. And it’s either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
I dont know what it is I stand to win.
In the blue light the man’s face was beaded thinly with sweat. He licked his upper lip.
You stand to win everything, Chigurh said. Everything.
You aint makin any sense, mister.
Chigurh uncovered the coin. He turned his arm slightly for the man to see. Well done, he said.
He picked the coin from his wrist and handed it across.
What do I want with that?
Take it. It’s your lucky coin.
I dont need it.
Yes you do. Take it.
The man took the coin. I got to close now, he said.
Dont put it in your pocket.
Dont put it in your pocket.
Where do you want me to put it?
Dont put it in your pocket. You wont know which one it is.
Anything can be an instrument, Chigurh said. Small things. Things you wouldnt even notice. They pass from hand to hand. People dont pay attention. And then one day there’s an accounting. And after that nothing is the same. Well, you say. It’s just a coin. For instance. Nothing special there. What could that be an instrument of? You see the problem. To separate the act from the thing. As if the parts of some moment in history might be interchangeable with the parts of some other moment. How could that be? Well, it’s just a coin. Yes. That’s true. Is it?
Chigurh cupped his hand and scooped his change from the counter into his palm and put the change in his pocket and turned and walked out the door. The proprietor watched him go. Watched him get into the car. The car started and pulled off from the gravel apron onto the highway south. The lights never did come on. He laid the coin on the counter and looked at it. He put both hands on the counter and just stood leaning there with his head bowed.
When he got to Dryden it was about eight oclock. He sat at the intersection in front of Condra’s Feed Store with the lights off and the motor running. Then he turned the lights on and pulled out on highway 90 headed east.
The white marks at the side of the road when he found them looked like surveyor’s marks but there were no numbers, just the chevrons. He marked the mileage on the odometer and drove another mile and slowed and turned off the highway. He shut off the lights and left the motor running and got out and walked down and opened the gate and came back. He drove across the bars of the cattleguard and got out and closed the gate again and stood there listening. Then he got in the car and drove out down the rutted track.
He followed a southrunning fence, the Ford wallowing over the bad ground. The fence was just an old remnant, three wires strung on mesquite posts. In a mile or so he came out on a gravel plain where a Dodge Ramcharger was parked facing toward him. He pulled slowly alongside it and shut down the engine.
The Ramcharger’s windows were tinted so dark they looked black. Chigurh opened the door and got out. A man got out on the passenger side of the Dodge and folded the seat forward and climbed into the rear. Chigurh walked around the vehicle and got in and shut the door. Let’s go, he said.
Have you talked to him? the driver said.
He dont know what’s happened?
No. Let’s go.
They rolled out across the desert in the dark.
When do you aim to tell him? the driver said.
When I know what it is that I’m telling him.
When they came to Moss’s truck Chigurh leaned forward to study it.
Is that his truck?
That’s it. Plates is gone.
Pull up here. Have you got a screwdriver?
Look in the jockeybox there.
Chigurh got out with the screwdriver and walked over to the truck and opened the door. He pried the aluminum inspection plate off of the rivets inside the door and put it in his pocket and came back and got in and put the screwdriver back in the glovebox. Who cut the tires? he said.
It wasnt us.
Chigurh nodded. Let’s go, he said.
They parked some distance from the trucks and walked down to look at them. Chigurh stood there a long time. It was cold out on the barrial and he had no jacket but he didnt seem to notice. The other two men stood waiting. He had a flashlight in his hand and he turned it on and walked among the trucks and looked at the bodies. The two men followed at a small distance.
Whose dog? Chigurh said.
We dont know.
He stood looking in at the dead man slumped across the console of the Bronco. He shone the light into the cargo space behind the seats.
Where’s the box? he said.
It’s in the truck. You want it?
Can you get anything on it?
Not a bleep.
Chigurh studied the dead man. He jostled him with his flashlight.
These are some ripe petunias, one of the men said.
Chigurh didnt answer. He backed out of the truck and stood looking over the bajada in the moonlight. Dead quiet. The man in the Bronco had not been dead three days or anything like it. He pulled the pistol from the waistband of his trousers and turned around to where the two men were standing and shot them once each through the head in rapid succession and put the gun back in his belt. The second man had actually half turned to look at the first as he fell. Chigurh stepped between them and bent and pulled away the shoulder-strap from the second man and swung up the nine millimeter Glock he’d been carrying and walked back out to the vehicle and got in and started it and backed around and drove up out of the caldera and back toward the highway.
No Country For Old Men
I dont know that law enforcement benefits all that much from new technology. Tools that comes into our hands comes into theirs too. Not that you can go back. Or that you’d even want to. We used to have them old Motorola two way radios. We’ve had the high-band now for several years. Some things aint changed. Common sense aint changed. I’ll tell my deputies sometimes to just follow the breadcrumbs. I still like the old Colts. .44-40. If that wont stop him you’d better throw the thing down and take off runnin. I like the old Winchester model 97. I like it that it’s got a hammer. I dont like havin to hunt the safety on a gun. Of course some things is worse. That cruiser of mine is seven years old. It’s got the 454 in it. You cant get that engine no more. I drove one of the new ones. It wouldnt outrun a fatman. I told the man I thought I’d stick with what I had. That aint always a good policy. But it aint always a bad one neither.
This other thing I dont know. People will ask me about it ever so often. I cant say as I would rule it out altogether. It aint somethin I would like to have to see again. To witness. The ones that really ought to be on death row will never make it. I believe that. You remember certain things about a thing like that. People didnt know what to wear. There was one or two come dressed in black, which I suppose was all right. Some of the men come just in their shirtsleeves and that kindly bothered me. I aint sure I could tell you why.
Still they seemed to know what to do and that surprised me. Most of em I know had never been to a execution before. When it was over they pulled this curtain around the gas-chamber with him in there settin slumped over and people just got up and filed out. Like out of church or somethin. It just seemed peculiar. Well it was peculiar. I’d have to say it was probably the most unusual day I ever spent.
Quite a few people didnt believe in it. Even them that worked on the row. You’d be surprised. Some of em I think had at one time. You see somebody ever day sometimes for years and then one day you walk that man down the hallway and put him to death. Well. That’ll take some of the cackle out of just about anybody. I dont care who it is. And of course some of them boys was not very bright. Chaplain Pickett told me about one he ministered to and he ate his last meal and he’d ordered this dessert, ever what it was. And it come time to go and Pickett he asked him didnt he want his dessert and the old boy told him he was savin it for when he come back. I dont know what to say about that. Pickett didnt neither.
I never had to kill nobody and I am very glad of that fact. Some of the old time sheriffs wouldnt even carry a firearm. A lot of folks find that hard to believe but it’s a fact. Jim Scarborough never carried one. That’s the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldnt wear one. Up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the old timers. Never missed a chance to do so. The old time concern that the sheriffs had for their people is been watered down some. You cant help but feel it. Nigger Hoskins over in Bastrop County knowed everbody’s phone number in the whole county by heart.
It’s a odd thing when you come to think about it. The opportunities for abuse are just about everwhere. There’s no requirements in the Texas State Constitution for bein a sheriff. Not a one. There is no such thing as a county law. You think about a job where you have pretty much the same authority as God and there is no requirements put upon you and you are charged with preservin nonexistent laws and you tell me if that’s peculiar or not. Because I say that it is. Does it work? Yes. Ninety percent of the time. It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.
The bus pulled into Fort Stockton at quarter to nine and Moss stood and got his bag down from the overhead rack and picked up the document case out of the seat and stood looking down at her.
Dont get on a airplane with that thing, she said. They’ll put you under the jail.
My mama didnt raise no ignorant children.
When are you goin to call me.
I’ll call you in a few days.
You take care.
I got a bad feelin, Llewelyn.
Well, I got a good one. So they ought to balance out.
I hope so.
I cant call you except from a payphone.
I know it. Call me.
I will. Quit worryin about everthing.
What is it.
Nothin. I just wanted to say it. You take care. Llewelyn? What.
Dont hurt nobody. You hear?
He stood there with the bag slung across his shoulder. I aint makin no promises, he said. That’s how you get hurt.
Bell had raised the first forkful of his supper to his mouth when the phone rang. He lowered it again. She’d started to push her chair back but he wiped his mouth with his napkin and rose. I’ll get it, he said.
How the hell do they know when you’re eatin? We never eat this late.
Dont be cussin, she said.
He picked up the phone. Sheriff Bell, he said.
He listened for a while. Then he said: I’m goin to finish my supper. I’ll meet you there in about forty minutes. Just leave the lights on on your unit.
He hung up the phone and came back to his chair and sat and picked up the napkin and put it in his lap and picked up his fork. Somebody called in a car afire, he said. Just this side of Lozier Canyon.
What do you make of that?
He shook his head.
He ate. He drank the last of his coffee. Come go with me, he said.
Let me get my coat.
They pulled off the road at the gate and drove over the cattleguard and pulled up behind Wendell’s unit. Wendell walked back and Bell rolled down the window.
It’s about a half mile down, Wendell said. Just follow me.
I can see it.
Yessir. It was goin real good here about a hour ago. The people that called it in seen it from the road.
They parked a little way off and got out and stood looking at it. You could feel the heat on your face. Bell came around and opened the door and took his wife’s hand. She got out and stood with her arms folded in front of her. There was a pickup truck parked a ways down and two men were standing there in the dull red glare. They nodded each in turn and said Sheriff.
We could of brought weeners, she said.
You wouldnt think a car would burn like that.
No, you wouldnt. Did you all see anything?
No sir. Just the fire.
Didnt pass nobody or nothin?
Does that look to you like about a ‘77 Ford, Wendell?
It could be.
I’d say it is.
Was that what the old boy was drivin?
Yeah. Dallas plates.
It wasnt his day, was it Sheriff.
It surely wasnt.
Why do you reckon they set fire to it?
I dont know.
Wendell turned and spat. Wasnt what the old boy had in mind when he left Dallas I dont reckon, was it?
Bell shook his head. No, he said. I’d guess it was about the farthest thing from his mind.
In the morning when he got to the office the phone was ringing. Torbert wasnt back yet. He finally called at nine-thirty and Bell sent Wendell to get him. Then he sat with his feet on the desk staring at his boots. He sat that way for some time. Then he picked up the mobile and called Wendell.
Where you at?
Just past Sanderson Canyon.
Turn around and come back.
All right. What about Torbert?
Call him and tell him to just set tight. I’ll come get him this afternoon.
Go to the house and get the keys to the truck from Loretta and hook up the horsetrailer. Saddle my horse and Loretta’s and load and I’ll see you out there in about a hour.
He hung up the speaker and got up and went down to check on the jail.
They drove through the gate and closed it again and drove down along the fence about a hundred feet and parked. Wendell unlatched the trailer doors and led the horses out. Bell took the reins of his wife’s horse. You ride Winston, he said.
Oh I’m more than sure. Anything happens to Loretta’s horse I can tell you right now you damn sure dont want to be the party that was aboard him.
He handed Wendell one of the lever action rifles he’d brought and swung up into the saddle and pulled his hat down. You ready? he said.
They rode side by side. We’ve drove all through their tracks but you can still see what it was, Bell said. Big offroad tires.
When they got to the car it was just a blackened hulk.
You were right about the plates, Wendell said.
I lied about the tires though.
I said they’d still be burnin.
The car sat in what looked like four puddles of tar, the wheels wrapped in blackened skeins of wire. They rode on. Bell pointed at the ground from time to time. You can tell the day tracks from the night ones, he said. They were drivin out here with no lights. See there how crooked the track is? Like you can just see far enough ahead to duck the brush in front of you. Or you might leave some paint on a rock like that right yonder.
In a sandwash he got down and walked up and back and then looked away toward the south. It’s the same tire tread comin back as was goin down. Made about the same time. You can see the stripes real clear. Which way they’re a goin. They’s two or more trips each way, I’d say.
Wendell sat his horse, his hands crossed on the big roping pommel. He leaned and spat. He looked off to the south with the sheriff. What do you reckon it is we’re fixin to find down here?
I dont know, Bell said. He put his foot in the stirrup and stood easily up into the saddle and put the little horse forward. I dont know, he said again. But I cant say as I’m much lookin forward to it.
When they reached Moss’s truck the sheriff sat and studied it and then rode slowly around it. Both doors were open.
Somebody’s pried the inspection plate off the door, he said.
The numbers is on the frame.
Yeah. I dont think that’s why they took it.
I know that truck.
I do too.
Wendell leaned and patted the horse on the neck. The boy’s name is Moss.
Bell rode back around the rear of the truck and turned the horse to the south and looked at Wendell. You know where he lives at?
He’s married, aint he.
I believe he is.
The sheriff sat looking at the truck. I was just thinkin it’d be a curious thing if he was missin two or three days and nobody said nothin about it.
Bell looked down toward the caldera. I think we got some real mischief here.
I hear you, Sheriff.
You think this boy’s a doperunner?
I dont know. I wouldnt of thought it.
I wouldnt either. Let’s go down here and look at the rest of this mess.
They rode down into the caldera carrying the Winchesters upright before them in the saddlebow. I hope this boy aint dead down here, Bell said. He seemed a decent enough boy the time or two I seen him. Pretty wife too.
They rode past the bodies on the ground and stopped and got down and dropped the reins. The horses stepped nervously.
Let’s take the horses out yonder a ways, Bell said. They dont need to see this.
When he came back Bell handed him two billfolds he’d taken from the bodies. He looked toward the trucks.
These two aint been dead all that long, he said.
Where they from?
He handed Wendell a pistol he’d picked up and then he squatted and leaned on the rifle he was carrying. These two is been executed, he said. One of their own, I’d say. Old boy never even got the safety off that pistol. Both of em shot between the eyes.
The othern didnt have a gun?
Killer could of took it. Or he might not of had one.
Bad way to go to a gunfight.
They walked among the trucks. These sumbitches are bloody as hogs, Wendell said.
Bell glanced at him.
Yeah, Wendell said. I guess you ought to be careful about cussin the dead.
I would say at the least there probably aint no luck in it.
It’s just a bunch of Mexican drugrunners.
They were. They aint now.
I aint sure what you’re sayin.
I’m just sayin that whatever they were the only thing they are now is dead.
I’ll have to sleep on that.
The sheriff tilted forward the Bronco seat and looked in the rear. He wet his finger and pressed it to the carpet and held his finger to the light. That’s been some of that old mexican brown dope in the back of this rig.
Long gone now though, aint it.
Wendell squatted and studied the ground under the door. It looks like there’s some more here on the ground. Could be that somebody cut into one of the packages. See what was inside.
Could of been checkin the quality. Gettin ready to trade.
They didnt trade. They shot each other.
There might not of even been no money.
But you dont believe it.
Bell thought about it. No, he said. Probably I dont.
There was a second mix-up out here.
Yes, Bell said. At least that.
He rose and pushed the seat back. This good citizen’s been shot between the eyes too.
They walked around the truck. Bell pointed.
That’s been a machinegun, them straight runs yonder.
I’d say it has. So where do you reckon the driver got to?
It’s probably one of them layin in the grass yonder.
Bell had taken out his kerchief and he held it across his nose and reached in and picked up a number of brass shell-casings out of the floor and looked at the numbers stamped in the base.
What calibers you got there, Sheriff?
Nine millimeter. A couple of .45 ACP’s.
He dropped the shells back into the floor and stepped back and picked up his rifle from where he’d leaned it against the vehicle. Somebody’s unloaded on this thing with a shotgun by the look of it.
You think them holes are big enough?
I dont think they’re double ought. More likely number four buck.
More buck for your bang.
You could put it that way. You want to clean out a alley that’s a pretty good way to go.
Wendell looked over the caldera. Well, he said. Somebody’s walked away from here.
I’d say they have.
How come do you reckon the coyotes aint been at them?
Bell shook his head. I dont know, he said. Supposedly they wont eat a Mexican.
Them over yonder aint Mexican.
Well, that’s true.
It must of sounded like Vietnam out here.
Vietnam, the sheriff said.
They walked out between the trucks. Bell picked up a few more casings and looked at them and dropped them again. He picked up a blue plastic speedloader. He stood and looked over the scene. I’ll tell you what, he said.
It dont much stand to reason that the last man never even got hit.
I would agree with that.
Why dont we get the horses and just ride up here a ways and look around. Maybe cut for sign a little.
We can do that.
Can you tell me what they wanted with a dog out here?
I got no idea.
When they found the dead man in the rocks a mile to the northeast Bell just sat his wife’s horse. He sat there for a long time.
What are you thinkin, Sheriff?
The sheriff shook his head. He got down and walked over to where the dead man lay slumped. He walked over the ground, the rifle yoked across his shoulders. He squatted and studied the grass.
We got another execution here Sheriff?
No, I believe this one’s died of natural causes.
Natural to the line of work he’s in.
He aint got a gun.
Wendell leaned and spat. Somebody’s been here before us.
I’d say so.
You think he was packin the money?
I’d say there’s a good chance of it.
So we still aint found the last man, have we?
Bell didnt answer. He rose and stood looking out over the country.
It’s a mess, aint it Sheriff?
If it aint it’ll do till a mess gets here.
They rode back across the upper end of the caldera. They sat the horses and looked down at Moss’s truck.
So where do you think this good old boy is at? Wendell said.
I do not know.
I would take it his whereabouts is pretty high on your worklist.
The sheriff nodded. Pretty high, he said.
They drove back to town and the sheriff sent Wendell on to the house with the truck and the horses.
You be sure and rap on the kitchen door and thank Loretta.
I will. I got to give her the keys anyways.
The county dont pay her to use her horse.
I hear you.
He called Torbert on the mobile phone. I’m comin to get you, he said. Just set tight.
When he pulled up in front of Lamar’s office the police tape was still strung across the courthouse lawn. Torbert was sitting on the steps. He got up and walked out to the car.
You all right? Bell said.
Where’s Sheriff Lamar?
He’s out on a call.
They drove out toward the highway. Bell told the deputy about the caldera. Torbert listened in silence. He rode looking out the window. After a while he said: I got the report from Austin.
What do they say.
Not much of anything.
What was he shot with?
They dont know.
They dont know?
How can they not know? There wasnt no exit wound.
Yessir. They freely admitted that.
Well what the hell did they say, Torbert?
They said that he had what looked to be a large caliber bullet wound in the forehead and that said wound had penetrated to a distance of approximately two and a half inches through the skull and into the frontal lobe of the brain but that there was not no bullet to be found.
Bell pulled out onto the interstate. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. He looked at his deputy.
What you’re sayin dont make no sense, Torbert.
I told em that.
To which they responded?
They didnt respond nothin. They’re sendin the report FedEx. X-rays and everthing. They said you’d have it in your office by in the mornin.
They rode along in silence. After a while Torbert said: This whole thing is just hell in spectacles, aint it Sheriff.
Yes it is.
How many bodies is it altogether?
Good question. I aint sure I even counted. Eight. Nine with Deputy Haskins.
Torbert studied the country out there. The shadows long on the road. Who the hell are these people? he said.
I dont know. I used to say they were the same ones we’ve always had to deal with. Same ones my grandaddy had to deal with. Back then they was rustlin cattle. Now they’re runnin dope. But I dont know as that’s true no more. I’m like you. I aint sure we’ve seen these people before. Their kind. I dont know what to do about em even. If you killed em all they’d have to build a annex on to hell.
Chigurh pulled in to the Desert Aire shortly before noon and parked just below Moss’s trailer and shut off the engine. He got out and walked across the raw dirt yard and climbed the steps and tapped at the aluminum door. He waited. Then he tapped again. He turned and stood with his back to the trailer and studied the little park. Nothing moved. Not a dog. He turned and put his wrist to the doorlock and shot out the lock cylinder with the cobalt steel plunger of the cattlegun and opened the door and went in and shut the door behind him.
He stood, the deputy’s revolver in his hand. He looked in the kitchen. He walked back into the bedroom. He walked through the bedroom and pushed open the bathroom door and went into the second bedroom. Clothes on the floor. The closet door open. He opened the top dresser drawer and closed it again. He put the gun back in his belt and pulled his shirt over it and walked back out to the kitchen.
He opened the refrigerator and took out a carton of milk and opened it and smelled it and drank. He stood there holding the carton in one hand and looking out the window. He drank again and then he put the carton back in the refrigerator and shut the door.
He went into the livingroom and sat on the sofa. There was a perfectly good twenty-one inch television on the table. He looked at himself in the dead gray screen.
He rose and got the mail off the floor and sat back down and went through it. He folded three of the envelopes and put them in his shirtpocket and then rose and went out.
He drove down and parked in front of the office and went in. Yessir, the woman said.
I’m looking for Llewelyn Moss.
She studied him. Did you go up to his trailer?
Yes I did.
Well I’d say he’s at work. Did you want to leave a message?
Where does he work?
Sir I aint at liberty to give out no information about our residents.
Chigurh looked around at the little plywood office. He looked at the woman.
Where does he work.
I said where does he work.
Did you not hear me? We cant give out no information.
A toilet flushed somewhere. A doorlatch clicked. Chigurh looked at the woman again. Then he went out and got in the Ramcharger and left.
He pulled in at the cafe and took the envelopes out of his shirtpocket and unfolded them and opened them and read the letters inside. He opened the phone bill and looked at the charges. There were calls to Del Rio and to Odessa.
He went in and got some change and went to the payphone and dialed the Del Rio number but there was no answer. He called the Odessa number and a woman answered and he asked for Llewelyn. The woman said he wasnt there.
I tried to reach him in Sanderson but I dont believe he’s there anymore.
There was a silence. Then the woman said: I dont know where he’s at. Who is this?
Chigurh hung up the phone and went over to the counter and sat down and ordered a cup of coffee. Has Llewelyn been in? he said.
When he pulled up in front of the garage there were two men sitting with their backs to the wall of the building eating their lunches. He went in. There was a man at the desk drinking coffee and listening to the radio. Yessir, he said.
I was looking for Llewelyn.
He aint here.
What time do you expect him?
I dont know. He aint called in or nothin so your guess is as good as mine. He leaned his head slightly. As if he’d get another look at Chigurh. Is there somethin I can help you with?
I dont think so.
Outside he stood on the broken oilstained pavement. He looked at the two men sitting at the end of the building.
Do you know where Llewelyn is?
They shook their heads. Chigurh got into the Ramcharger and pulled out and went back toward town.
The bus pulled into Del Rio in the early afternoon and Moss got his bags and climbed down. He walked down to the cab-stand and opened the rear door of the cab parked there and got in. Take me to a motel, he said.
The driver looked at him in the mirror. You got one in mind?
No. Just someplace cheap.
They drove out to a place called the Trail Motel and Moss got out with his bag and the document case and paid the driver and went into the office. A woman was sitting watching television. She got up and went around behind the desk.
Do you have a room?
I got more than one. How many nights?
I dont know.
We got a weekly rate is the reason I ask. Thirty-five dollars plus a dollar seventy-five tax. Thirty-six seventy-five.
For the week.
Yessir. For the week.
Is that your best rate?
Yessir. There’s not no discounts on the weekly rate.
Well let’s just take it one day at a time.
He got the key and walked down to the room and went in and shut the door and set the bags on the bed. He closed the curtains and stood looking out through them at the squalid little court. Dead quiet. He fastened the chain on the door and sat on the bed. He unzipped the duffel bag and took out the machinepistol and laid it on the bedspread and lay down beside it.
When he woke it was late afternoon. He lay there looking at the stained asbestos ceiling. He sat up and pulled off his boots and socks and examined the bandages on his heels. He went into the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror and he took off his shirt and examined the back of his arm. It was discolored from shoulder to elbow. He walked back into the room and sat on the bed again. He looked at the gun lying there. After a while he climbed up onto the cheap wooden desk and with the blade of his pocketknife set to unscrewing the airduct grille, putting the screws in his mouth one by one. Then he pulled the grille loose and laid it on the desk and stood on his toes and looked into the duct.
He cut a length from the Venetian blind cord at the window and tied the end of the cord to the case. Then he unlatched the case and counted out a thousand dollars and folded the money and put it in his pocket and shut the case and fastened it and fastened the straps.
He got the clothes pole out of the closet, sliding the wire hangers off onto the floor, and stood on the dresser again and pushed the case down the duct as far as he could reach. It was a tight fit. He took the pole and pushed it again until he could just reach the end of the rope. He put the grille back with its rack of dust and fastened the screws and climbed down and went into the bathroom and took a shower. When he came out he lay on the bed in his shorts and pulled the chenille spread over himself and over the submachinegun at his side. He pushed the safety off. Then he went to sleep.
When he woke it was dark. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat listening. He rose and walked to the window and pulled the curtain back slightly and looked out. Deep shadows. Silence. Nothing.
He got dressed and put the gun under the mattress with the safety still off and smoothed down the dustskirt and sat on the bed and picked up the phone and called a cab.
He had to pay the driver an extra ten dollars to take him across the bridge to Ciudad Acuña. He walked the streets, looking into the shopwindows. The evening was soft and warm and in the little alameda grackles were settling in the trees and calling to one another. He went into a boot shop and looked at the exotics — crocodile and ostrich and elephant — but the quality of the boots was nothing like the Larry Mahans that he wore. He went into a farmacia and bought a tin of bandages and sat in the park and patched his raw feet. His socks were already bloody. At the corner a cabdriver asked him if he wanted to go see the girls and Moss held up his hand for him to see the ring he wore and kept on walking.
He ate in a restaurant with white tablecloths and waiters in white jackets. He ordered a glass of red wine and a porterhouse steak. It was early and the restaurant was empty save for him. He sipped the wine and when the steak came he cut into it and chewed slowly and thought about his life.
He got back to the motel a little after ten and sat in the cab with the motor running while he counted out money for the fare. He handed the bills across the seat and he started to get out but he didnt. He sat there with his hand on the doorhandle. Drive me around to the side, he said.
The driver put the shifter in gear. What room? he said.
Just drive me around. I want to see if somebody’s here.
They drove slowly past his room. There was a gap in the curtains he was pretty sure he hadnt left there. Hard to tell. Not that hard. The cab tolled slowly past. No cars in the lot that hadnt been there. Keep going, he said.
The driver looked at him in the mirror.
Keep going, said Moss. Dont stop.
I dont want to get in some kind of a jackpot here, buddy.
Just keep going.
Why dont I let you out here and we wont argue about it.
I want you to take me to another motel.
Let’s just call it square.
Moss leaned forward and held a hundred dollar bill across the seat. You’re already in a jackpot, he said. I’m tryin to get you out of it. Now take me to a motel.
The driver took the bill and tucked it into his shirtpocket and turned out of the lot and into the street.
He spent the night at the Ramada Inn out on the highway and in the morning he went down and ate breakfast in the diningroom and read the paper. Then he just sat there.
They wouldnt be in the room when the maids came to clean it.
Checkout time is eleven oclock.
They could have found the money and left.
Except of course that there were probably at least two parties looking for him and whichever one this was it wasnt the other and the other wasnt going away either.
By the time he got up he knew that he was probably going to have to kill somebody. He just didnt know who it was.
He took a cab and went into town and went into a sporting goods store and bought a twelve gauge Winchester pump gun and a box of double ought buckshot shells. The box of shells contained almost exactly the firepower of a claymore mine. He had them wrap the gun and he left with it under his arm and walked up Pecan Street to a hardware store. There he bought a hacksaw and a flat millfile and some miscellaneous items. A pair of pliers and a pair of sidecutters. A screwdriver. Flashlight. A roll of duct tape.
He stood on the sidewalk with his purchases. Then he turned and walked back down the street.
In the sporting goods store again he asked the same clerk if he had any aluminum tentpoles. He tried to explain that he didnt care what kind of tent it was, he just needed the poles.
The clerk studied him. Whatever kind of tent it is, he said, we’d still have to special order poles for it. You need to get the manufacturer and the model number.
You sell tents, right?
We got three different models.
Which one has got the most poles in it?
Well, I guess that would be our ten foot walltent. You can stand up in it. Well, some people could stand up in it. It’s got a six foot clearance at the ridge.
Let me have one.
He brought the tent from the stockroom and laid it on the counter. It came in an orange nylon bag. Moss laid the shotgun and the bag of hardware on the counter and untied the strings and pulled the tent from the bag together with the poles and cords.
It’s all there, the clerk said.
What do I owe you.
It’s one seventy-nine plus tax.
He laid two of the hundred dollar bills on the counter. The tentpoles were in a separate bag and he pulled this out and put it with his other things. The clerk gave him his change and the receipt and Moss gathered up the shotgun and his hardware purchases together with the tentpoles and thanked him and turned and left. What about the tent? the clerk called.
In the room he unwrapped the shotgun and wedged it in an open drawer and held it and sawed the barrel off just in front of the magazine. He squared up the cut with the file and smoothed it and wiped out the muzzle of the barrel with a damp facecloth and set it aside. Then he sawed off the stock in a line that left it with a pistol grip and sat on the bed and dressed the grip smooth with the file. When he had it the way he wanted it he slid the forearm back and slid it forward again and let the hammer down with his thumb and turned it sideways and looked at it. It looked pretty good. He turned it over and opened the box of shells and fed the heavy waxed loads into the magazine one by one. He jacked the slide back and chambered a shell and lowered the hammer and then put one more round in the magazine and laid the gun across his lap. It was less than two feet long.
He called the Trail Motel and told the woman to hold his room for him. Then he shoved the gun and the shells and the tools under the mattress and went out again.
He went to Wal-Mart and bought some clothes and a small nylon zipper bag to put them in. A pair of jeans and a couple of shirts and some socks. In the afternoon he went for a long walk out along the lake, taking the cut-off gunbarrel and the stock with him in the bag. He slung the barrel out into the water as far as he could throw it and he buried the stock under a ledge of shale. There were deer moving away through the desert scrub. He heard them snort and he could see them where they came out on a ridge a hundred yards away to stand looking back at him. He sat on a gravel beach with the empty bag folded in his lap and watched the sun set. Watched the land turn blue and cold. An osprey went down the lake. Then there was just the darkness.
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