"Let's do it," I said.

"Give it a minute. I don't want to drive in wet clothes all the way up there."

"It's not going to let up."

"I'll finish my cigarette and we'll see. I don't like being wet. Hey, tell me on the square, Dave, is it delivering Tee Beau that bothers you, or do we have some other kind of concerns here?" The streetlight made shadows like rivulets of rain on his face.

"Have you ever been to one?" I asked.

"I never had to."

"Would you go?"

"I figure the guy sitting in that chair knew the rules."

"Would you go?"

"Yeah, I would." He turned his head and looked boldly at my face.

"It can be an expensive experience."

"But they all knew the rules. Right? You snuff somebody in the state of Louisiana, you get treated to some serious electroshock therapy."

"Tell me the name of one rich man the state's burned. Or any state, for that matter."

"Sorry. I'm not broken up about these guys. You think Jimmie Lee Boggs should have gotten life? Would you like him back around here on parole after ten and a half?"

"No, I wouldn't."

"I didn't think so. I'll tell you another thing. If that guy tries anything on me, I'll park one in his mouth. Then I'll find his mother and describe it to her on her deathbed. How's that sound?"

"I'm going in now. You want to come?"

"She's going to be waiting," he said, and grinned again.


She was. In a drenched print-cotton dress, sunfaded and colorless from repeated washings, that clung to her bony frame like wet tissue paper. Her mulatto hair looked like a tangle of gray-gold wire, her high-yellow skin as though it were spotted with brown dimes. She sat alone on a wood bench next to a holding cell, next to the elevator from which her grandson, Tee Beau Latiolais, whom she had raised by herself, would emerge in a few minutes with Jimmie Lee Boggs, both of them manacled in waist and leg chains. Her blue-green eyes were covered with cataracts, but they never left the side of my face.



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