Read The Devil's Right Hand Online

Authors: J.D. Rhoades

Tags: #Romance, #Thriller, #Mystery, #north carolina, #bounty hunter, #hard boiled, #redneck noir

The Devil's Right Hand (7 page)

BOOK: The Devil's Right Hand

If I was minding my business,” Sanchez
pointed out, “I would not be here.” John Lee had no answer for

They sat in silence for a long while. Sanchez
watched the front door. It was late afternoon and the shadows were
beginning to deepen beneath the trees.

There was a sound from inside the house, a
wordless cry of pain. Then a sharp bang.

Sanchez jumped, sitting up straight in
the seat. He looked around frantically. “
?” he said. “What is happening?”

Nothing,” John Lee said, but his own
agitation robbed the words of all calming effect. He drew his
pistol from beneath the seat. He slid over to the driver’s side
door and started to open it. There was another cry, then a sound
like someone weeping. John Lee stopped, half in and half out of the
open door of the truck. A louder wail came from the house, an
unmistakable sound of pure agony and despair.

Do something!” Sanchez cried. He
reached for the door handle. John Lee swung the pistol to bear on
Sanchez. “You stay there!” he said. His voice shook, but Sanchez
heeded the message of the gun rather than the sick look on John
Lee’s face. The two men stared at each other, each straining their
ears, wanting to hear what was happening and desperately afraid of
the what the next sound would bring. The silence roared in their
ears for what seemed like hours. Another flat bang, then the faint
sound of a voice. It was pitched high and fast, with a note of
desperation. Then there were two more bangs and the silence closed
down again.

After a few minutes, Raymond came out of the
house. He was folding a torn piece of paper. He put the paper in
his jacket pocket. John Lee and Sanchez noticed the pistol was
stuck in his waistband.

John Lee slid back over to the middle of the
seat as Raymond got in. Sanchez was staring at him, eyes wide.

What happened?” John Lee

Nothin’,” Raymond said. He drew the
gun out of his waistband, laid it on the seat between himself and
John Lee. “Found out he has a sister in Fayetteville. We’ll try
there.” He patted his jacket over the pocket. “I got her

How did you get the address?” Sanchez
demanded. “What did you do?”

Raymond smiled. “I asked. Nicely. But I had
to ask a few times.” He started the truck.

Sanchez shook his head. “No. This is not
right. This is not what I agreed.” His accent had become thicker
with agitation.

Raymond put the truck back in park and looked
at Sanchez. His face was expressionless. “You want out, you can get
out here.”

Sanchez looked at the pistol on the seat. He
swallowed hard. After a few moments, he looked into Raymond’s eyes.
He saw there what would happen to him if he got out of the truck.
He shook his head again. “No. I stay.”

Raymond smiled again. “That’s
what I thought,” he said. He started the truck and drove


DeWayne leaned over the mirror with the
intense focus of the truly wasted. He stuck the rolled up twenty
into his left nostril and slowly hoovered up the first of the thick
white lines laid out on the mirror. Then he switched nostrils and
did the other one. He straightened up, threw his head back, and
howled like a dog.

God Damn it, DeWayne,” Crystal’s voice
came from the next room. “I told you to keep quiet.”

I feel good, da-da-da-da-da-da-da,”
DeWayne sang. “I knew that I would, y’all--”

Hey, James Brown,” Leonard said.
“Shove that mirror over here.” DeWayne obliged him, placing the
small bag of cocaine on the mirror. “Man,” he observed. “This is
some good shit.”

Crystal came out of the bedroom, dressed in a
plum-colored low-cut dress. Her mouth dropped open in shock at the
sight of DeWayne and Leonard demolishing her stash. Her face turned
red with anger. “What the hell do you two think--”

Easy, Crys,” Leonard said. He pulled
the fat roll of bills out of his shirt pocket and waved it at her.
“We gotcha covered,” he grinned.

She looked at the cash, suspicion and avarice
warring for possession of her face. “How much of that do you still
have left?” she demanded.

Less you know, little sister,” DeWayne
said, “the--.ahhhh--less you know.” He giggled.

More’n that in this here bag,
darlin’,” Leonard promised, holding up the money bag. “Think you
could get us some more o’this good toot?”

Yeah,” Crystal said, her eyes still
fixed on the bag. She tore her eyes away and smiled at him. “I
gotta run a couple of other errands first though.”

Ain’t you gonna be late for work?”
DeWayne said.” You been in there an hour.”

She laughed. It was a bitter, humorless
sound. “They’ll wait,” she said. “They always do.” She held out her
hand and Leonard counted off several bills into it with the
flourish of a king rewarding a favorite courtier. “We need some
more beer, too,” he said.

Crystal nodded. “I’ll be a couple
hours,” she said. She picked up her purse and walked to the door.
“For Chrissakes, try to stay quiet.” As she walked out, she pulled
a cell phone out of her purse. Leonard went to the window to watch
her go. He saw her talking on the phone as she walked to the

We oughta eat somethin’,” DeWayne
suggested. “How ‘bout we order a pizza?”

Leonard thought it over. It seemed reasonably
safe. “Yeah, all right,” he said. He picked up the phone.

And see if they’ll bring us some more
beer,” DeWayne suggested. “I don’t feel like waitin’ two hours for
Crystal to get back. I got a thirst.”

Leonard sighed. “They don’t do that,
DeWayne,” he said. “You can’t get no one to deliver beer.”

Shee-it, cuz,” DeWayne replied. “One
thing I know, people’ll do damn near anything if the money’s

Leonard picked up the phone.


Keller pulled over and parked halfway down
the block on the dead-end street. He noticed a rusted pickup truck
parked in front of the white house. The truck had not been there
when he had checked the house out before. He didn’t recognize the
truck or the license plate as any of the ones that Angela had
supplied him with as being registered to DeWayne Puryear. The truck
could have belonged to any resident of the street. Still, Keller
felt his heart quicken. There was no logic to it, he knew, but some
instinct made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. He took a
second to savor the anticipation. The takedown was just moments
away. The adrenaline began to course through him, singing in his
bloodstream. It was the reason he did the job. He reached for the
cell phone. As he picked it up, it buzzed softly. He silently
thanked the reflex that had caused him to turn the ringer off and
set the phone to “vibrate.” The sudden quivering sensation,
however, made the phone feel like some small and frightened animal
in his hands.

Keller,” he said softly into the

Where the hell have you been?”
Angela’s voice demanded. Her voice sounded strained. There was none
of the usual banter.

Sorry,” he said, still almost
whispering. “Turned the ringer off. And I had to run a few
errands.” He looked at the truck. “I need you to run a plate for

In a minute,” Angela said. “You need
to hear this. DeWayne Puryear’s parents have been

Keller tensed. “When?”

A few hours ago. Both of them, shot in
the back of the head. Execution style. It was on the

They think he did it?”

No.” her voice was shaky. “I know a
couple of people on the Sheriff’s department down there, so I made
some calls. I got a couple of details that weren’t on the news.” He
heard her take a deep breath. “They think the father had been
tortured. The fingers on his left hand were broken, like somebody
bent them back till they snapped.”

Keller winced. “Any idea why?”

There was some money stashed in a
coffee can under the sink, so that’s not what they were looking

Keller thought for a moment. “DeWayne? They
think someone else is looking for him?”

They know he’s on the run. And they
know H & H made his bond.” She took a deep breath. “The person
I talked to was real interested in where you were.”

Wait a minute,” Keller said. “They
had something to do
with this?”

They said they just wanted to talk to
you. See if you knew anything.”

I hope you told them that I wasn’t
going to commit murder over a ten percent recovery fee for a fifty
thousand dollar bond.”

They never outright accused you. There
was nothing for me to deny. Like I said, they claimed they only
wanted to talk to you.”

Damn it,” Keller said. “This I don’t
need.” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “You tell then
where I was?”

Her voice was hurt. “Of course not.” She
paused. “Keller, something’s screwy here. There’s somebody else out
there who wants to find DeWayne Puryear. Somebody willing to
torture a seventy-year old man to find out where he is and then
kill him. I want you off this job. Call the local cops and let them
handle it. It’s not worth it.”

He looked back at the pickup truck. “It is to

You just said you weren’t going to
kill someone over five grand. Now you’re telling me you want to die
for it?”

I took the job. I want to finish

What are you, the Mounties all of a
sudden? You always get your man?”

Yeah,” Keller said. “That must be

Damn it, Keller,” she said. “Call the
cops and let them handle it.”

I’m not exactly fond of the local
constabulary right now. Besides, if the cops bring him in, you
still going to pay me for it?”

There was a brief pause. “Would you take it
if I did?”


Angela made an exasperated sound that sounded
almost like a growl. “Jesus,” she said. “It’s not the money. You’ve
just got the worst case of testosterone poisoning in human history.
You ought to have your head examined, Keller, you know that?”

I tried that,” he said. “It didn’t
work. You going to run that plate for me?”

He heard her sigh, heard the
click of computer keys. “Go ahead.”

He gave her the license number. He heard the
keys clicking again, then silence as she waited. He wished she
would say something. She didn’t. Finally, she spoke.

Vehicle is a 1987 Ford Pickup
registered to one Leonard Puryear,” she said. Her voice was

DeWayne’s cousin,” Keller

Yeah. Where’s the truck?”

It’s parked at that address you gave
me. Crystal Puryear’s house."  He smiled.

She sighed. “Yeah. Jackpot.”

Maybe it’s a family reunion,” he said.
He wished she would make a joke back.

Yeah,” she said. “Except for Mom and
Dad.” There was a short pause. “Just be careful, Jack,” she

I will,” he said, but she had already
hung up.

Keller glanced over at the stubby black
shotgun nestled in the rack by the seat. Re-arming himself had not
been a problem. Fayetteville was a military-base town. There were a
hundred pawnshops where a man with a valid credit card could buy
enough guns to outfit a platoon. It had taken Keller only an hour
or so to find a weapon that suited him, a Mossberg 500 “cruiser”
model combat shotgun with a shoulder rig, no stock, and a barrel
short enough that it flirted with the edge of legality. Keller had
modified the weapon by covering the hard plastic pistol grip with a
rubberized one; other than that, the lethal little shotgun had been
good to go. Though Keller always carried a handgun, he preferred a
shotgun for takedowns. There was something about the unmistakable
sound of a pump shotgun being cocked that made even the most
hardened criminal think twice. A handgun carried more ammo and had
a faster rate of fire and reload, but Keller was going to try to
stay out of any situation where that would be a factor. “Wanted
Dead or Alive” was a concept that had long passed out of vogue.

Handcuffs and restraints had been another
problem. There were a couple of stores in town that sold police
gear, but they had gotten sticky in the last few years about
selling to people without law enforcement or government
credentials. Keller didn’t have the time or the cash to persuade
them that bail enforcement would fit the mold, despite the lack of
official standing. He had settled for stopping by a hardware store
and purchasing a roll of duct tape. Crude and messy, but effective.
He sighed. At least they hadn’t thought to pull the police scanner
out, or they hadn’t had time. The numbers pulsed fluorescent green
across the front screen of the scanner slung beneath the dash,
running rapidly through the freqs he had obtained for the local
cops. There was only the occasional squawk of static and brief
burst of clipped chatter as the various cars checked in with the
dispatcher. It was a quiet night.

He considered his options. He didn’t know for
certain if DeWayne Puryear was inside. Besides, he didn’t know the
interior layout of the sister’s house. The possible addition of
Leonard Puryear was another wild card. He decided to wait and see
if DeWayne would come out where Keller could take him in the open,
preferably alone. He leaned back in the seat and crossed his hands
over his chest. He watched the house through half-closed eyes. To a
casual observer, he would have appeared to be asleep.

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