Cold in July

Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale Read Free Book Online

Book: Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joe R. Lansdale
I’d
stayed home. He’s been asking around about me. Even went to the newspaper
morgue to read about me, saw pictures so he could identify me.”
    Price ran a hand over his face as if trying to reshape it.
“Anyone overhear you two?”
    “No.”
    “Tell me exactly what he said.”
    I did.
    “It wouldn’t have mattered if the two of you were overheard.
No real threat there. He even told you to have a nice day.”
    “It’s the way he said it.”
    “You got zip. Maybe if someone could testify that the tone
of his voice was threatening, you might have something, but not much. Besides,
you haven’t got anyone.”
    “Can I get protection for my family?”
    “Officially he hasn’t done anything.”
    “He’s an ex-con.”
    “He served his time… Look, I believe he threatened you, I
do. But it doesn’t amount to anything officially. I don’t make all the
decisions around here either. Even if I wanted to post someone to watch your
family I haven’t got a legal reason to do it. If you’re lucky, he’ll go away.
He could just be worked up over things. That’s natural. No crime in seeing the
man who killed your son. If he wanted to harm you, he could have done that at
the cemetery.”
    “It isn’t me he wants, it’s my son. An eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, a son for a son.”
    “All right, listen up tight, Mr. Dane. Unofficially, I can
give you protection for a couple of days. It might get my ass in a crack, but
I’ll do it. It’s possible the chief will pull me off of it if he finds out, but
we’ll give it a shot, even if I have to do it myself. I’ll have a car watch your
place, and we’ll check with you from time to time.”
    “You said a couple of days. That’s all you can do?”
    “Two days, Mr. Dane. That’s it.”
    “And what if he waits until the third day?”
    “He makes a real threat you can prove, we’ll move in on him.
I’ll run a check on him in the meantime, and my suggestion to you is to get
another gun, sleep light, and hope he leaves town. I think there’s a good
chance he will.”
    “I don’t find that too goddamn reassuring. You said he was
dangerous. You’re punishing me for not listening to you.”
    “That’s stupid. He is dangerous. But I can’t do a thing
unless he tries something. Innocent until proven guilty, Mr. Dane.”
    “When does this protection begin?”
    “Tonight. That’s as soon as I can arrange it. I can’t make a
big deal out of it. We’re short-manned as it is.”
    “In LaBorde?”
    “More goes on here than you think, Mr. Dane. A lot more. I
want you to describe his car. If you’re lucky, he stole it. That would be
something to hold him on, and with him being an ex-con, it would be a quick trip
back to the pen. Perhaps for good this time.”
    I didn’t know the license plate number, but I gave him a
good description of the car, for what that was worth. There must have been a
lot of old, blue Ambassadors around.
    Though I didn’t much feel like it, I shook Price’s hand and
went outside. I understood his position, but I didn’t much care for it.
    Standing there on the edge of the parking lot, I thought
about Russel and his son and tried to imagine them at home together; Ben on the
floor playing with little Freddy, or maybe sitting around in his bathrobe
Christmas morning, laughing while the boy unwrapped his presents. But these
weren’t visions I could hang onto. I could more easily imagine him teaching the
boy to beat a lock or hotwire a car.
    Then I got to thinking about what Russel had said about my
son, and I got mad again, then scared. I drove over to the day school on North
Street to get Jordan early. I planned to call Ann from there and tell her I had
him and where she could meet us.
    When I pulled into the church parking lot I saw Russel’s
Ambassador and Russel was standing over by the dumpster, smoking a cigarette.
    I parked near his car, got out, made a point of. memorizing
the license plate this time, and went over to

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