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The Dirty South - Charlie Parker Series 18 (2020) by Connolly John

The Dirty South - Charlie Parker Series 18 (2020) by Connolly John

Author:Connolly, John [Connolly, John]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


55

Tilon Ward woke early, in an unfamiliar bed. The apartment in Hot Springs to which Randall Butcher had consigned him was on the first floor of a building divided into eight units, which was two more than it could comfortably accommodate. The remaining rentals were occupied by the kind of poor white families that provided Butcher with a small but steady proportion of his income, aided by the interest on unofficial payday loans. The interest was high, but not extortionate, as Butcher was reluctant to sow excessive resentment among the masses. His people also supplied some of these tenants with narcotics when required, and Butcher owned most of the local stores that catered to their grocery needs, along with their cigarettes and alcohol. Thus, almost unnoticed, Randall Butcher had enmeshed himself in the fabric of their lives. Without him, their existences would unravel.

Tilon walked to the window and looked out on the cheerless day. Most of the east and southeast was now colored blue on the weather maps, while the temperature had dropped to the low thirties, having been close to seventy only days earlier. Still, Tilon wouldn’t have exchanged Arkansas for anywhere else in the country, or not the parts he’d seen of it. He’d spent some time in Boston when he was in his early twenties, having chased the wrong woman to the wrong place, and was convinced his health had never recovered from that single winter in the Northeast. Sometimes, at the memory of it, the tips of his toes stung, like pain in a phantom limb. No, this was the place for him, and he hoped to end his days here, but not in the service of Randall Butcher, and not with the shadow of Donna Lee Kernigan’s death hanging over him. He found himself missing her voice and touch. It could never have amounted to anything between them, or nothing more than they already had, but he’d liked Donna Lee a lot more than he had his ex-wife – and he’d married the latter.

Tilon showered under a head from which the water barely trickled, the pressure being kept deliberately to a minimum. He dressed, and ate stale bread from the kitchen cabinet. Pruitt Dix, upon dropping him at the apartment the previous night, had instructed him to sit tight, and Tilon was already growing claustrophobic. He smoked a cigarette in the weed-strewn yard, and exchanged a nod with one of his neighbors but no further greeting. His unit had the unmistakable ambience of a safe house, a place of temporary refuge, and Tilon guessed that the other tenants had learned to mind their own business where its occupants were concerned. He watched TV, and read some of the articles and stories in a pair of ancient editions of Playboy magazine, using the blade of a knife to turn the stained pages.

Shortly before nine he heard a car pull up outside. Dix had returned. He had in his possession a black sports bag, which he handed to Tilon.



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