Excerpts for Raylan
By Elmore Leonard
Copyright © 2012
All right reserved.
Raylan 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. Khats 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 thats 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
Get dreamy, Raylan said.
Whatd 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 looking
for a plea deal. Swears Angel was taking delivery last night.
I doubt we walk in and find Angel sitting on it.
From the backseat they heard Tim Gutterson say, Hes 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 hanging
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
which they wore underneath their U.S. marshal jackets,
and watched them check their sidearms.
Raylan told the officers he didnt expect Angel would resist, but
you never knew for sure.
He said, You hear gunfire come running, all right?
One of the troopers said, You want, well bust in the door
Youre dying to, Raylan said. I thought Id 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 felons motel room without drawing his gun.
There wasnt 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 Arenass 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 Angels throat for a pulse. Hes freezing to death
but still breathing.
Behind him he heard Rachel say, Raylan, the beds full of
blood. Like he was killing 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. Hes got
like staples closing up what look like wounds. Or was he
Somebody shot him, Tim said.
I dont think so, Raylan said, staring at the two incisions
Rachel said, Thats 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 whod
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?
Youre here making a deal?
Angel hesitated. Two guys I know, growers. We have a
And you end up in the tub, Raylan said. How much you
Is none of your business.
They left the weed?
What you see, Angel said.
There isnt any here.
Angels 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, Im in pain, his
hands under the blanket feeling his stomach. What did they
take out of me?
Raylan felt his pulse again. He's hangin' in, tough little
whatever he is, Sorta Rican? I can see these growers ripping him
off, but whyd they take his kidneys?
Its like that old story, Tim said. Guy wakes up missing 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 cant live without kidneys, Tim said.
Be hard, Raylan said. Less you get on dialysis pretty
quick. What I dont see, what these pot growers are doing yanking
out peoples kidneys. They arent making it selling weed? Ive
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 isnt near as messy as dealing kidneys. What Im wondering . . .
He paused, thinking about it.
Tim said, Yeah . . . ?
Who did the surgery?
About noon, Art Mullen, Marshal in charge of the Harlan
field office, came by the motel to find Raylan still poking around
Art said, You know what youre looking for?
Techs dusted the place, Raylan said, picked up Angels
clothes, bloody dressings, surgical staples, an empty sack of Mail
Pouch, but no kidneys. Hows Angel doing?
They got him in intensive care, maintaining.
Hes gonna make it?
I think what keeps him alive, Art said, hes 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.
Didnt mention, Raylan said, they took his kidneys?
I kept making the point, Art said. Tell me who these
boys are, well 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.
Theyre always taken out the front. Only this was the latest
procedure. Smaller incision and they dont cut through any
Id like to see Angel, Raylan said, less you dont want
me to. Ive known him since that time he was brought up for selling khat.
When I was on court duty in Miami. Angel and I
got along pretty good, Raylan said. I think he believes I saved
You probably did.
So he oughta be willing to talk to me.
Hes at Cumberland Regional, Art said. Maybe theyll let
you see him, maybe not. Wherere your partners?
There wasnt anything pressing I told em go on back to
They took the SUV howre you gonna get around?
We have Angels BMW, Raylan said, dont we?
Angel was lying on his back, his eyes closed. Raylan got
down close, brushed Angels hair out of his face, caught a whiff
of hospital breath and said in a whisper, Your old court buddy
from Miamis here, Raylan Givens. Angels 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 youd of froze to
death. Thank the Lord I got there when I did.
For what, to arrest me?
Youre alive, partner, thats the main thing. Maybe a little
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
You have a brother?
I have someone better.
Smiling now. He was, and Raylan said, You know I wont
tell where youre getting this kidney, you dont 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, thas her name. Shes 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 Im better. You know, I always like a nurse.
You dont 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, thas 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 whats 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 theyre yours?
Why cant 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 dont believe I
ever heard of this one. You know the hospital called the police.
The police already talk to me. I tole them I dont know
these guys. Never saw them before.
Or know whos telling them what to do? Raylan said.
Angel stared at Raylan. I dont 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 doctors scrubbing up for surgery. Why should they be
picky, wait for a drug deal to go down? Raylan paused. He said,
You want, Ill help you out.
For what? You find product in that motel room? Man, Im
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 wont have to pay for
He watched Angel shake his head saying, You dont know
I will, you tell me who they are.
You have to go in the woods to find them.
Buddy, its 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.
Excerpted from Raylan
by Elmore Leonard
Copyright © 2012 by Elmore Leonard.
Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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