Now there was a witness who could identify Alan and James Davis for attempted murder, and implicate Susyn as an accessory. A quick flight to Marseilles would solve that problem, except that the pair had once again failed to kill Raven and now they had two witnesses.
My death must have been planned before Susyn and I ever met.
Who was running the show? Not Susyn or Jim or Alan. Seventeen pieces of property that I knew of, and probably more that I hadn’t found, meant an organization with real leadership. Someone running that kind of an organization couldn’t move to another city for years to infiltrate Cabral, and wouldn’t fly across the Atlantic twice to make hits. There had to be at least one echelon above the players I knew, and that was what I had to uncover if I wanted a lever to pry Susyn and Alan off Raven’s back.
I called Ed Wilkes again, early, then loaded up the Pinto in the pre-dawn light. I drove to a filling station for gas and a road map, then headed a mile deeper into the city to Rusty Dixon’s shooting range. He lived in an apartment over his business. I walked up the outside stairway and rattled his door, then made sure I was in plain sight through the uncurtained window. Rusty is a bit trigger happy.
A few minutes later he came to the door dressed in ragged jeans and shower sandals. His bare chest was scar pocked and hairless. In the years I had known him, his ponytail had gotten longer, and his hairline had receded, but nothing else seemed to change or age. He had Norman Rockwell red hair and the coldest pair of eyes you would ever want to look into.
He said, “What?” in the same irritated tone I would use on a Jehovah’s Witness.
I said, “Good morning to you, too, Rusty.”
He grunted and stepped away from the door, and I followed him into the ancient kitchen. It was a relief to know that he was going to be in such a good mood. There were weeks at a time that I wouldn’t go near him. This was about as friendly as he got.
“Are you in trouble?” he asked.
“A guy tried to kill me about a week ago, and I had to fight off a small Chicano gang yesterday, but that’s about all. Nothing I can’t handle. I need some information.”
Rusty won’t talk to anyone unless he thinks they’re tough enough to chew up nails and spit out tacks. He said, “What do you want to know?”
“Tell me about pot farming on the north coast.”
Rusty’s eyes went far away and his face became very still. He was going into paranoid mode, and I couldn’t afford that, so I quickly gave him an abbreviated version of Raven’s problem. His face cleared and he became talkative. more tomorrow