Chapter 4 – Big City Problems

Boyd Crowder was not a stupid man, some might hear his heavy accent or see his multiple tattoos and think other things of him, but at his core Boyd knew himself as an intellectual. That came with advantages in his life, being better spoken and better read than many in his line of work helped to keep him out of most of the troubles that plagued his peers. On the other hand it also came with many pitfalls and troubles all its own, usually when his hot blooded Harlan raised nature clashed with what his overly stimulated mind was telling him was right. Just as it was doing right now. 

Boyd was sitting in his truck not even a block from the steps of the building that held his dearly beloved and everything in him wanted to step out and storm the gates snapping and snarling at everyone in his path. He knew that Raylan had no charges filed against him because there were no charges to file, that meant he was being held hostage by the law. This was a tactic employed by these men of law and supposed order meant to rouse emotions and lead to folly and the toppling of everything he had spent a lifetime or more building. However, he knew that going in there without all the information he could muster would only lead to more troubles not less, so here he sat running everything through his mind again and again. Now was not the time for anger and spite, now was the time for cooler heads and strategy, when he found out the name of the coward that pointed Raylan out to the law men of this great state then it would be time to allow his baser nature to take hold and reign supreme. 

Taking out his cellphone, a burner he’d purchased some years back and kept for just such an occasion as this he called the one man in his organization who at the moment held the keys to his plan. Information was key and he would arm himself with everything there was to be found before he burned this place to ashes and dust.

“Hello?” The voice on the other end was wary but not hostile, he was used to answering to numbers he didn’t know. A professional hazard in their shared line of work.

“Jimmy, I need to know everything you got about this whole business with Raylan. I’m outside the building now and don’t care to walk in blind.”

Jimmy Tolan was not a man of great brains but he was loyal to a fault. So when Boyd had suggested that he pursue better prospects by getting a job in Lexington at the courthouse he had jumped in with both feet. He was a security guard who could move around with impunity and he had just enough charm that people tended to unload their burdens onto him, giving him access to much appreciated information that he then passed along to old friends who remained in touch over the years.

“Sorry boss, I ain’t got much yet, all I know is whoever’s talking it’s a woman. They’re keeping her locked up tight. The only ones allowed in the room with her is the Marshall’s and the lawyers. The whole hallway’s out of bounds if you ain’t got a reason to be here. Guarded by cops not guards.” So they were keeping things closed off, that was smart of them.

“Then how do you know she is a she?” 

“The court stenographer they have in there recording things to keep it all legal and shit was in the cafeteria bitching about how this chick won’t stop staring at her and creeping her out with her backwoods ways.”

“Court stenographer?” He might have just found the knick in their security, all with one phone call.

“Yes sir, woman name of Winona Hawkins. She and I are friendly enough what with the occasional meet and greet in the halls that it don’t seem weird me being near to her when she takes her breaks and needs a friendly ear.”

“You keep near to her, try to get something a bit more concrete than just the gender of our mysterious traitor. If you can’t get anything by the end of the day it might just come to pass that someone might need to pay her a visit at her home this evening.” If it came to that he would be going himself he couldn’t trust it to someone like Devil or Red and most of his more competent people were otherwise engaged cleaning up anything the cops might try to raid next. An ounce of prevention and all that.

“Yes sir.”

“Stay out of trouble Jimmy.” Hanging up he stared at the building in front of him again. He had a solid plan to gain all the info he needed, he just needed to be patient. Bearding the lion in its den could wait. Starting his truck he slowly pulled out and headed towards an associate in the area who would be able to tell him everything worth knowing about this Winona woman. He had plans to make.

Art was beyond done with this whole mess, it seemed like there weren’t any right steps to take anymore. If you were following the letter of the law you were being too cautious, if you stepped a toe out of the line you were being too reckless. There was no winning and he just wanted it all out of his office now. They were interrogating a battered woman, arresting people without actually arresting them, and tiptoeing around each other like a bunch of scared children thinking the boogeyman was coming for them all. The specter of Boyd Crowder was making fools of them all, none so much as AUSA Vasquez and he was dragging the rest of them down with him.

“You didn’t ask her anything about Givens or Crowder?” This man had a one track mind and while that could be good for career advancement it was more likely to get them all in a heap of trouble in this whole mess.

“That’s not what I said. I said I didn’t ask her anything about their current activities. I let her tell me more about them from her past. How they met, when they got together, how they interacted with one another, things like that.” He and Tim had let the woman ramble for well over an hour, the dreamy look on her face every time she talked about Givens enough to make them both uncomfortable. 

“Why would you do that? We only have so long before we have to start moving on the information she gives us and you wasted multiple hours asking irrelevant questions of the witness. If I didn’t know any better I would think you didn’t want us to catch Boyd Crowder.”

Art’s vision began to bleed red at the accusation. He’d been a lawman since well before this little bastard had even known what a lawyer was and he was standing here in his office calling him dirty. Of all the nerve.

“Now you wait just a minute, are you saying you think I’m dirty? You think I took a bribe from Crowder and now I’m slow walking this case? Is that what you’re saying?” He looked about ready to double down and openly accuse him of something before his own words caught up with the sludge he called a brain and he froze. Panic was written all over his face, for once he was starting to think if only a little and only after he already put his foot in his mouth.

“No.” Vasquez at least had the decency to avert his eyes staring out the window of his office like he could travel back in time and undo his latest faux pas. Shame was slow in coming with this man but by the end of this case he might just get used to the taste of it at the back of his throat with how many missteps he’s been making.

“Good cause if you were saying that I might just have to put in a request that you have your head examined. You’re jumping at shadows David and it’s not helping anyone least of all you.” If he kept insulting everyone else and jumping the gun soon he would find himself run out of not just Lexington but Kentucky entirely with his head hung down in shame. No one could stay in this place without at least a few friends at their back.

“I just think–”

“No you don’t, you haven’t been thinking since this whole mess started you’ve been reacting and living in the fantasy land in your head where the case is already done and dusted and you got all the accolades for doing the impossible. I let her tell me those things because I could see the regret already mounting for her over Givens. She hates her husband and by extension she hates the Crowder clan as a whole and taking them down probably wouldn’t have cost her much sleep at night but Givens is different. Now I know more about Raylan Givens than I did after running him through every system. I know his weak points because she told them to me while thinking she was telling me something else so now I might actually get somewhere when I talk to him again.” Lord knows they would need every advantage they could get, they sure didn’t have any legal avenue to get the man to talk so pushing his buttons might be all they had. As it was, if they didn’t find something to charge him with soon they could all be up on kidnapping charges and Crowder was just the type of smug son of a bitch to do something like that.

“What weak points?”

“Well now I know he had an abusive father and a mother that died young, she didn’t say it but it sounds like suicide after one too many smacks from the husband something our witness can relate too a bit too hard these days. The mother had a sister who from what I can tell was a mix between mother and aunt but who shacked up with the old man before the sister was even cold, and that’s gotta sting at least a little. I know that he has a quick temper and a heavy hand but he never once raised so much as his voice to a woman after watching his father beat on his mother all his life. I know Ava Crowder sees this man as the epitome of what a husband should be and she’s had a crush on him for years, something that had to be obvious since they’re basically married to a pair of brothers and are in each other’s company day in and day out.” There was more than enough there to provoke a reaction in most men. They just had to hope it was enough here.

“That’s good.” He thought about pointing out that he wasn’t a dog in need of validation, but it wasn’t worth the breath it would waste to say it.

“Yea it is. Now would you please unbunch your panties and let me do my job?” At this point the job was starting to lose its luster to him and probably to the rest of his division. He became a Marshall to be a hero not to “arrest” people and chase shadows. Maybe he should retire, assuming this whole mess didn’t get him fired. Or he could put in for a transfer back to Glencoe, teaching green rookies to shoot straight was less stressful than this crap.

Rachel wasn’t a superstitious woman but it was almost like you could feel something coming in the air. It might just be all this talk about Boyd Crowder and the kind of monster that he hides under his skin mixed with the knowledge that they were poking at him more than anyone had in years. Or it could be the knowing look in Givens had every time they locked eyes, almost like he knew something fundamental that they were missing. Whatever it was, it was enough to make her shiver in her seat.

“You alright there Rach?” Tim was standing behind her again staring at the door to Art’s office. They could hear shouting through the door and the last time Art and Vasquez had tied into it the two of them had been told to go find Raylan Givens so they were both a bit concerned.

“Yeah Tim, I’m good.”

“You sure?” From anyone else the question might have sounded sexist or condescending to the little woman but she and Tim were a unit and she knew what he meant. This was hard on both of them and if they didn’t watch each other’s backs no one would. So she took a deep breath and waited for the count of ten to answer so she could be sure she was telling him the truth. There were no lies about readiness between partners that way lied pain and an ugly death.

“As sure as I can get in the middle of this whole mess.”

“Yeah I hear ya there.” The end of this case couldn’t come soon enough. She might just put in for some vacation time after this, give herself some space to shake this whole thing off. Maybe she would invite Tim to do the same thing so he wouldn’t end up riding a desk while she was gone, it might leave Art a little short handed but for all she knew he could do the same thing. She wouldn’t blame him if he just retired after this mess for the sake of his blood pressure, he’d been looking a little gray after his last shouting match.

This case might just be the death of them all.

Raylan was not a man of patience and while he was trying to see the funny side of this whole thing the longer they left him alone with his own thoughts the more he was turning this entire thing over and over in his mind. Who could be the one outing them? Even in the inner circle the number of people who could have put the cops onto his trail was a small one. He moved around too much for many to pin him down and those Marshall’s had come right to him at the cabin.

Boyd knew everything but of course he was the one they were after, if they had Boyd there would be no reason for them to stick their necks out coming for him.

Red and Devil would have both been able to point the finger at him and they were dumb enough to think they could work a deal in their favor, but they also were so far removed from everything of substance that a conversation with either of them wouldn’t have lasted long enough for them to squeeze out the idea of offering him up.

Johnny knew enough to be dangerous but he also knew Boyd well enough to keep his mouth shut, they could wave a lethal injection in his face and he would stick out his arm for it rather than tread on his cousin’s toes.

Colt was too loyal, almost as militant in his love of Boyd as Jimmy was. The both of them saw Boyd as their savior and last chance in a world that was stacked against them. Not to mention they were too well trained to ever get caught without getting word out to Boyd before the arrest, they were both too paranoid about their surroundings to be taken by surprise.

This didn’t have the feel of someone trying to save their own hide, this was a grudge carried and executed. This was something no one saw coming. As far as he knew there were only three people angry enough and dumb enough to do something this suicidal.

Arlo was out since he didn’t know enough to stir this much shit up. He still thought Bo was in charge of things and that Boyd was just learning the steps for when he took over one day. Not to mention for as much of a spineless coward and low down sorry excuse for a man as Arlo was he was old school and he would never talk. He could see a way out of jail by offering up the son he hated and still pass it up just to keep what little reputation he had in Harlan. Word gets out about siding with the law over kin and his days would be numbered.

Dickie Bennett hated him enough but he had the same problem as Arlo. While Arlo would have to contend with Helen if he snitched, Dickie would be at the mercy of Mags and she was ruthless enough to kill her own son if it came down to keeping the peace and everyone including Dickie knew it. Not to mention Dickie could have given up his name but not his location, they weren’t exactly close the two of them and while Raylan always knew where to find Dickie that knowledge didn’t go both ways.

That just left one person and while he was still angry about being stuck in this room, if it was her he couldn’t hold onto that anger. She never deserved the marriage she got and if this was the way out she chose, he wished her well on her new path and hoped the Marshall’s got her gone before Boyd pieced it together. Having a grunt turn on you was one thing, but having family do it was just insulting.

Closing his eyes he tried to let his mind wander again ignoring the sting in his own heart. This path they all walked now was a rocky one with no clear way through it, but it was the one for better or worse that they had all chosen together too long ago now to ever change it.

Hearing the door open he ignored it, they had ignored him for most of the day and he wasn’t in the mood to go on indulging people when he wasn’t under arrest. If they wanted to talk to him they could call him a lawyer until then they did not exist. He was too busy grieving. 

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