“And then what?”
“He goes to jail. Susyn and Alan go to jail.”
“When? How soon do they go to jail? How certain are you of a conviction, and how long will it take to complete the trial? What about bail? What about hiring outside help from inside prison? Ed, what are we trying to do here? Make a bust, or make Raven safe?”
“Don’t get mad at me, Gunn. I didn’t cause this situation.”
“Then think, man. What is our objective here? Let’s keep that in clear focus.”
I stopped talking and drummed my fingers on the table. I had gotten loud. The problem was, I was getting mad. Not a quick, adrenaline anger that comes and goes, but the kind of mad that builds up over weeks and months until it gnaws away inside of you and makes you do violent things that are not normally in your nature. I wanted Skinny Alan right here in this room so I could take him apart with my bare hands. And I wanted this Cameron Davis that I had never met, who hid in the shadows and pulled the strings; who hired Chicano punks to wait for me at Jacks’ office and sent a henchman to burn me up in my sleep. And I wanted Susyn for lying to me and causing me to betray Raven.
And deep down I was mad at Raven for leaving me.
I fought it off. It was not useful to me now. I put that anger away, deep down in the sub-basement of my soul, where so many other angers are already stored. A day will come. But not today. Today I had to find a way to let my enemies live, so that Raven could live. It would not be satisfying, but it was necessary.
But someday, someone was going to pay. Where or when, I didn’t know, but I would not forget.
“What I propose,” I said finally, “is to leave the old man in place. If we attack his position, Raven will still be in danger. She is a witness to two attempted murders. Cameron Davis might be able to avoid prosecution for that, but Susyn and Alan can’t. We’ve got to show the old man what we have, threaten to bust him wide open, and offer to leave him in place if he calls off his dogs.”
“I don’t think he got where he is by being scared of threats.”
“No,” I said, “not a threat. A negotiation. I’ll have to show him his alternatives and convince him that leaving us alone is the only thing that benefits him. The timing is right. Harvest is in three months. If he gets busted now, even if he escapes prosecution it will cost him millions. After harvest, we could not do him nearly so much harm.”
“How do we get to him?”
“The only way – face to face. And not we. Me.”
Ed shrugged. “It might work. Assuming he is rational.”
“Yes. There’s always that.”
“But we have to tell the senator.”
“Yes. There is no other way, if you want my help. And you can’t pull this off by yourself.”
I just looked at him. “Then you’d better convince him,” I said evenly. “I’ve been lied to and betrayed, threatened with gun and knife, beat up, slashed, and firebombed. I’ll let that go, if I have to. But if I can’t protect Raven any other way, I’ll get a rifle and start hunting, and if I do that there are going to be dead Davises all over Humbolt county!” more tomorrow