‘You done diggin’ dirt on me,’ said Elmer, flicking away a speck of mud from his white wash-pants, ‘I ain’t liking the way it’s goin’, that’s all.’
Rayban thought Elmer was a bit slow on the uptake. He leaned hard on his shovel. ‘There’s more to come,’ he said, peering into the hole. ‘See that big old box in there?’
‘Ain’t mine,’ said Elmer, with a less than convincing look, ‘and – arms whirling a little, tobacco-stained fingers pointing at the pile of mementos that Rayban had just dug up – ‘none of those, neither.’
‘Now that’s a right shame,’ said Rayban, wiping away a bead of sweat, ‘you telling me Doc Marten, your partner if I remember correctly, and a regular churchgoer who puts a hundred bucks into the silver tray every Sundays and at Thanksgiving, is nothing but a phony?’
Elmer was quiet, with a frown on his face.
‘Next you be telling me,’ said Rayban, with a hint of a smile, ‘Doc Marten is too occupied with his moonshine to notice your goin’-ons.’
‘Amy-Lou’s got nothing to do with it,’ said Elmer, this time him wiping away a bead of sweat, ‘You wanna wash your mouth out, mister.’
Rayban gave him a hard stare. ‘Let me remind you before I turn you in, see this star, it says I’m a US Marshal.’ He watched Elmer spit out a wad of chewed tobacco, maybe not wanting to choke out polite words.
‘Like I said, Marshal, me and Amy-Lou just neighbors,’ Elmer said, his mouth drooling, ‘hell, I even got an invite to Harvey’s barbecue last fall.’
Rayban levered himself down in to the hole, mud clinging to his boots. ‘That’s about how long her husband’s been missing. You use your shotgun, or are you shielding Amy-Lou, is what I want to know?’
Elmer looking down at him, at an advantage, said, ‘I swear by almighty God, I didn’t shoot him.’
‘Well, we’ll see,’ said Rayban, his surgical gloved hand picking away at the corner of the box, a glint of metal showing, ‘my educated guess tells me this stench is no skunk.’
‘You think you so smart.’
Rayban nodded. ‘Times nearly up, Elmer. Doc Marten figured what you doing when he sobered up, had you by your nuts. You pay him off, as well?’
‘He said it would come to this.’
‘Drop the gun,’ said Rayban, looking up. ‘Don’t make me draw on you.’
Elmer had a .38, must have been inside his wash-pants, was taking his time. Maybe thinking how easy it would be to bury the evidence. Didn’t have to sweat much, the dirt on his pants coming off nice and easy in Amy-Lou’s washer.
Rayban waited for the eyes to tell him.
The flicker was enough, even before the gun lined up.
Rayban shot him once under the heart, stepped aside as Elmer joined him. Felt for a pulse, none.
The box can wait, he said to himself. Now he would have to break the sad news to Amy-Lou. If her fingerprints were anywhere on the exposed shotgun, she’d be facing a grand jury. So would Doc Marten.
Rayban was a good listener, he should have told Elmer. Too many goin’-ons, too much moonshine, and too many loose mouths.