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I Have Always Lived in the Moment

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They tell Raylan afterwards that he was dead for thirty-seven seconds.

Paramedics: your best chance of thirty-seven seconds not becoming forever.

Tim says that technically he was only mostly dead, and mostly dead is still slightly alive. The witty repartee would be more convincing if Tim could get some color back into his face.

Raylan remembers an overwhelming whiteness.

Art wants to know: Like the tunnel with the light at the end of it?

No, Raylan says, blander than that, and icier, too. Like an afterlife manufactured by IKEA.

 

Winona comes by with Olive every day. She has the grace not to say that she told him so, but he can see the marks her teeth have left in her lower lip.

Olive drags the plastic chair over to his bed and stands on it. She lays her hand out like a starfish against the bandage on his chest. Does it hurt, Daddy?

He says: How can anything hurt when you’re here?

 

There is nothing in Kentucky that Boyd doesn’t know about eventually.

He and Ava visit. They bring daisies and they don’t stay very long. What Raylan said to Olive aside, his chest hurts like a son-of-a-bitch, and these two understand that better than anyone else. They let him tap the morphine button until it maxes out his dose.

The flowers are the only ones he gets. The United States Marshals Service is not inclined towards sentimentality and Winona is not inclined to mercy.

Boyd has always been partial to both. Raylan doesn’t read much into it. Boyd has always been partial to rocket launchers, too.

 

Art picks him up when it’s time to leave the hospital. Raylan refuses to ride in the wheelchair, on account of how he wasn’t shot in the legs. Art lets him make it down to the lobby before telling him to sit down before he throws up.

There is the very real possibility he still might do the one before the other, so Raylan sits.

Art takes him out to the car.

Listen to me, Art says. You’re too old and your daughter’s too young for you to be getting shot.

I told Rachel I might be looking for a change and she squealed, huh?

Rachel, Art says primly, is a very conscientious employee. She’s also never been shot. You can see how she’s less trouble than you, you practically making yourself into a paper target and all. You were thinking Glynco?

I always think Glynco when the wind changes, it’s force of habit. But Winona’s got no interest in uprooting her life to move to Georgia and me saving my life to lose my daughter seems like a piss-poor trade.

Rachel suggested Witness Protection.

Right, Raylan says, because protecting people other people are trying to kill, that’s always a good way to dodge a bullet.

Safer than chasing after people who are trying to kill you. Which you currently do in both your working and leisure hours. Boyd Crowder really bring you a bouquet?

We’re forming an almost-died club, me and him and Ava. The initiation ceremony was a bitch, though. Anyway, Boyd only tries to kill me on special holiday-type occasions. Arbor Day, that kind of thing.

He breathes on the window like a little kid and watches it fog up with condensation. Its glossy nothingness reminds him of the thirty-seven seconds. He says that Witness Protection means a lot of traveling.

But you can stay based out of Lexington, Art says. And you avoid the longest trip of all. That undiscovered country, from which no traveler—well, you know. All that bullshit.

I don’t think it’s so undiscovered if I at least took out a brochure, flipped through the pages.

You didn’t die, Raylan, Art says. It has the air of finality, like this is his last word on the subject. You just stopped breathing for a little while.

Raylan holds his breath. The world still mostly looks the same.

 

He starts working Witness Protection, because the years he spent bucking the reasonable suggestions of his boss and coworkers are the years that led up to him getting shot in the chest.

He spends enough time on the road that he starts buying audiobooks. Suddenly, he gets more reading done in a month than he used to in a year.

As for the people, some of them he likes and some of them he doesn’t. It isn’t always whether they’re guilty or innocent. Sometimes the ones who only got caught in the crossfire are the hardest to deal with. They whine about changing their names, about changing their jobs, about not contacting their families, about how they can’t believe they just had to walk out of that restaurant or cross that street just in time to see what they saw.

Sometimes the guilty are grateful for the fresh start. Not often, but sometimes. And they keep to the rules better almost as a general policy, because when you worked for the guys who dipped snitches’ faces in hot frying oil or cut off their fingers one by one, you know exactly how much you don’t want to be found.

 

The man who shot Raylan could turn himself over to Witness Protection, if he talked enough about the Dixie Mafia. He was just a hired gun. Faceless in a craggy, aging movie star kind of way.

They don’t find him.

 

Olive says his scar is distinguished, only she pronounces it distinct-squished. She’s right, actually. That was what it felt like, at the time.

 

He still gets to Harlan on occasion. Everyone knows that he knows Boyd and everyone knows that Boyd has Harlan County in the palm of his hand.

When their paths cross—and they often cross—Raylan tells him that he’s a little disappointed.

You used to have a sense of subtlety, he says, but now everyone knows your business enough to trouble me about it.

Subtle is when everyone knows and no one can prove a thing, Boyd says. And of course, I have no idea what it is you’re referring to.

He wants to say: Tell me at least that it’s not true you’re in bed with Frankfort. Only there’s no way of saying why it would matter to him. It wouldn’t be any different than Boyd working with Arlo. Or, hell, Boyd working on his own.

There are a lot of people in the world who have tried to kill him, after all.

He smiles instead. That’s all right, Boyd. You just sit here and make your plans. Sooner or later, I’m going to find you out.

Well, I ain’t got plans for later, Raylan. You know me. I have always lived in the moment.

 

Near-death experiences are supposed to make a person change their life. Raylan supposes a lateral career move in the same institution isn’t the kind of significant spiritual change that counts. He thinks about the thirty-seven seconds more than he ever wants to admit, but he thinks more about the time Olive waved happily at him from the floor with the opened bottle of drain cleaner on her lap.

After that, it was locks on absolutely everything, and nothing dangerous even in the (locked) low cabinets or on the closet floors, and he still gets a little sick whenever he has to unclog the sink or the bath. Once he hired a plumber even though it was an easy, do-it-yourself kind of fix.

When it’s life and death, it’s the people you love that matter. Their living and their dying, not yours.

 

Art retires. It feels like the bullet felt: like he should have seen it coming.

It feels like the bullet felt in other ways, too.

They finish off Art’s office bottle between them after the party is over.

I know I’ve given you trouble, Raylan says.

Art waves him off. Trouble and heartache and indigestion. You’re still who I’m talking to right now after everyone else has gone home.

Won’t be the same without you.

I expect you to cry for me at least twice. And anytime Rachel won’t let you do something I would have.

That’ll be more than twice.

Yeah, she always was smarter than me.

Better-looking, too.

You should have seen me in my glory days, Art says.

Raylan says, I like to think I did.

 

Boyd gets shot in the arm a month later. It’s a through-and-through with no real damage done, or so he assures Raylan when Raylan next sees him. He has his arm in a sling.

You might choose a less dangerous profession, Raylan says.

And you might have brought flowers.

Didn’t know you needed them until just now, did I? I’ll have some sent, don’t worry. I hate not being even on floral arrangements.

Of course, Boyd has nothing to tell him about the drugs, or the whores, or the guns.

Strange, you not knowing anything about your own backyard. If it’s flowers you’re concerned with, I mean. Might start tending your own garden.

Rest assured, Raylan, Boyd says, I know where my responsibilities lie.

And where’s that?

Boyd just smiles.

Raylan knows he’s older now: he can’t sustain his anger the way he used to. He says, Be careful I don’t end up having to put those flowers on your grave.

Oh, I am forever careful, Boyd says.

 

Raylan sends him flowers. He sends some to Ava, too: he figures that loving Boyd Crowder is one long shot to the heart, and just as likely to leave a scar.

 

One of Raylan’s witnesses calls his daughter, a political blogger in Manhattan. She posts: Such good news today (personally) at the end of her election commentary.

Raylan gets him moved in time. When the cartel shows up, the whole task force is there. Somehow, though, Raylan is the only one to get shot. He’s wearing the vest, but he still has a bruise on his shoulder and he feels like he’s been kicked by a horse.

Tim says, You ever stop to consider that maybe you’re just not very good at your job?

From time to time it crosses my mind. You ever think you should give up on it yourself, go into some business with a desperate lack of dry commentary?

There’s a place that needs that worse than wherever you are, any given time?

Probably not, Raylan says.

 

Boyd shows up hand-in-hand with Ava.

Might break out the red carpet for the king and queen of Harlan County, Raylan says, but he kisses Ava on the cheek and shakes Boyd’s hand. Let me guess: you have information on someone who’s being a thorn in your side, not that you’ll admit to it, and you’d like to sic me on them like a pit bull you keep on a chain.

Come to mention it, Ava says, there is a woman I get at the Cut and Curl sometimes, never leaves a tip? You think you could go round, put the fear of God in her? She gets color put in, too, so it matters, you know, losing the twenty percent.

Because you two, you don’t have any money except what you make cutting hair and Boyd makes tending bar.

About that, Boyd says. You may want to sit down.

 

Boyd confesses to everything.

He gives up the Dixie Mafia to the last man (that he knows of—Raylan trusts they keep their secrets still), who turns out actually to be a woman with a stiff bouffant hairstyle and an orange fake tan. He gives up connections in Miami and Detroit. He says that it’s been hard, these last few years. When he started out, he intended to be his own man, but he found that to make real progress towards the things he wanted, he had to compromise himself piece by piece, and sell the work of his hands to higher and better-moneyed powers. Raylan doesn’t know how much of it is bullshit, but as always with Boyd, he assumes that most of it is.

What Boyd wants: Witness Protection for him and for Ava.

 

You could do me the courtesy of acting surprised, Raylan says, when I tell you I hold those particular strings for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Boyd widens his eyes and drops his jaw. It isn’t bad, so far as lies go.

We won’t be in Kentucky, though, Ava says. We won’t be a bother to you.

The two of you have been a bother to me since I don’t know when, and the United States Marshal Service, in its great wisdom, sees no reason for you to stop being one now.

He doesn’t tell Boyd to look surprised by that, and he isn’t surprised when Boyd doesn’t.

You’ll be out-of-state, he says, and you’ll have an immediate handler, but I’m going to oversee a lot about your placement and some of your day-to-day shit. It isn’t the wisest decision’s ever been made, and my boss isn’t fond of it, but apparently there’s some fear you might be shitting us, Boyd, and decide to run when it suits you. There are higher-ups who think I can keep an eye on you better than most.

That’ll mean more traveling, Ava says. Wasn’t our intention to take you away from your daughter.

I travel about all the time already, he says, although he doesn’t, and yes, they will be an inconvenience to him. He doesn’t know why he’s happy to have them all the same.

Anyway, I only have time with her alternate weekends and holidays. You do something then, you won’t have to wait for someone else to come after you, because I’ll do it myself.

 

Boyd says, And I can never do what I’ve done before?

Which for you rules out so many things.

Boyd pays no attention to sarcasm. He’s too busy looking at the mountains. Raylan wanted to put them somewhere far west or far north, where it’s either always hot or always cold, and the people know when to pry and when to mind their own business. The order first came down for a city, but Raylan can’t imagine Boyd being anything other than small and trapped in a city, though he thinks Ava might like it. There are those creatures which belong to their habitats and should not be removed. And a Boyd Crowder in a maze of skyscrapers isn’t Boyd Crowder.

Plus, he got antsy, he’d probably blow them all to shit.

The order came back a second, inarguable time: West Virginia.

Ava was the one who thanked him for it. She didn’t say Boyd and scared in the same sentence, but she didn’t have to.

Raylan doesn’t say Too close to Kentucky when he takes them out there, but he thinks it. He worries over it.

But Boyd is in love with the hills and Ava is in love with the town. It works as well as anything else.

 

Which leaves him with Boyd standing outside the little shack that’s theirs to start from. Ava’s inside, unpacking groceries and getting cable set up.

And Boyd still has his eyes on the hills.

Raylan says, It’s that much of a challenge for you, picking a new career? We got people you can talk to, they’ll give you brochures. Little posters of kittens up in trees, telling you to hang in there.

And he sighs, because Boyd’s eyes are still nowhere near him.

You’ve always been smart, Boyd, God help me for saying it. You’ll come up with something.

Boyd says, finally, I can’t ever dig coal anymore. I didn’t think of that until just now.

Raylan knows the strange, prickly miracle of that realization. He brushes his hand against Boyd’s arm. Come on, he says, let’s go inside.

 

At Olive’s birthday party, he watches a clown twist balloons into doggie shapes.

Be honest with you? he says to Winona. This would have scared the shit out of me at her age.

By which you mean it scares the shit out of you now, she says.

Well, I’m not saying that.

Winona goes to the clown and gets a brilliant orange balloon dog for Raylan. For some reason, he keeps it on his desk at work until it deflates into nothing but wrinkles.

Tim says: That’s the thing about those. They never die, they just become Shar-Peis.

Rachel pins it to the bulletin board for him, under a FOR SALE TO LOVING HOME Post-It.

 

Ava says, You asked me once if I knew what Boyd was.

Raylan says, I like the fireplace. He sits down with his back to it and feels toasted, like a marshmallow. He says, You never answered. Then again, questions the person asking the question already knows the answers to, those aren’t real questions.

Boyd, asleep on the sofa, almost stirs. Raylan is mildly fond of the sight of him conked out early and sitting up, just like a kid, and more than that, he likes the sneaking suspicion that Boyd’s back is going to play him absolute hell come morning for falling asleep that way, so he leaves the hearth to drape an afghan over Boyd and keep him warm enough that his dreams will hold him where he is.

Ava takes his spot by the fire. He finds it unfair, seeing as how he was only tending to her man, but she’s beautiful by firelight, so he doesn’t complain anymore than a raised eyebrow.

He says, I do have a real question, though.

Ava says, No better time than now to ask.

Raylan wants to know why Boyd didn’t run Harlan on his own. He hates to think it was a lack of competence: he prefers not to attribute sloppiness to someone he had so much trouble catching. He wants to know why Boyd turned himself in. He wants to know who Boyd is, which has always been a different question than what he is, or was, or will be. But it’s late on Thursday night, and he has Olive on Saturday. There are some questions it doesn’t pay to ask, just for the time it would take to answer them.

(In the mine, all those years ago, breathing through coal dust and trying hard not to be afraid of the way the darkness closed in around them like a fist, Raylan and Boyd weren’t too popular with their bosses. Too skinny, even if they were strong, and too smart, everyone said, too in love with themselves, with the dream of getting out and going elsewhere, and no time for anybody but each other. His teenaged contempt for anybody in the world that wasn’t Boyd Crowder--God, he chokes on it now. He understands how everyone hated them, and always him especially, because Boyd’s daddy owned everybody and Raylan’s daddy just owed everybody and was never especially intending to pay up, but there Raylan went all the same, thinking he was better. So it surprises Raylan not at all, now, that the shift manager tried to set them to working separate shafts, but at that time it was like a cave-in of his world.

Boyd, though, he didn’t worry at all, and told Raylan not to mind it, and on his lunch break he fished Somerset Maugham out of his tin pail and read his favorite sections to Raylan by the dirty light of the head-lamp, like Raylan was a kid who needed soothing.

Don’t fret, Raylan, Boyd said in a voice like a school-teacher’s.

Of all the things I’ve done in my life, fretting’s never been one.

But Boyd just smiled at him like he knew better, and went back to reading about artists. Raylan closed his eyes.

The next day, the shift manager read off assignments from his clipboard, and two of the fingers on his left hand were broken, laying straight against the board in their stick-and-wrapper splints. Raylan and Boyd were still digging together.

Boyd said, See? You didn’t need to go tying yourself in knots.

He squeezed Raylan’s shoulder and went down ahead of him into the dark, and Raylan didn’t know, and never did fully decide, whether it was the best or the worst thing anyone ever did for him.

It was when he knew he needed to leave Harlan for good. It decided him, the sight of those fingers closed in white, the way the man looked at Boyd and the way the man looked at him.

The God’s honest truth of it was that he didn’t want to be whatever Boyd was, he didn’t want to be Boyd Crowder’s friend, and he didn’t want to follow him down into the darkness that was always waiting for them both.

And he knew if he stayed, he would be all of those things and learn not to mind them.

He would forget the funny twisting feeling in his heart and stomach, looking at those two fingers. He would learn to think the way Boyd thought, every idea a snake on its belly going through a labyrinth, every love and loyalty one that meant pain in the end, everything too damn complicated.

At lunch that day, Boyd said, Listen to this, Raylan.

When he started to read, though, Raylan cut him off, his voice trying like a pair of scissors to be sharp enough to go between them. He said if he wanted to read, he could do it on his own, and he didn’t care what book Boyd had today or any day. He just wanted to be left alone.

Boyd looked at him, so uncomprehending that Raylan’s skin tried to crawl away from his bones.

Then the ceiling tried to fall down on them both, and Raylan ran as Boyd tugged him, as Boyd brought him choking and coughing into the light again.

Boyd poured whiskey over Raylan’s hands where the rocks had struck against his bare skin, and his eyes had no expectation of thanks or apology, as if what Raylan did or said wasn’t anything to him, not really. Raylan couldn’t live under the weight of that. He needed Boyd to be one thing or the other, to be the one who led him up or the one who led him down, and to not look at him like that, as if Raylan could cut him to pieces and Boyd would still wind gauze around his hands for him and not say a word, as if Raylan’s anger at him were something to be borne, waited out like a thunderstorm, some act of God that Boyd couldn’t hope to understand.

He needed to know that things could be simple and not full of holes where darkness could pour in like water. He needed to know that whatever ground he put his feet on would be solid. No landslides, no collapses, and no contradictions.

He kept running and didn’t come back for twenty years.)

The story that Boyd’s telling him now about everything that has happened with Harlan County and the Dixie Mafia: there’s a hole in it that Raylan can’t live with, can’t fill, and can’t let go. He keeps coming back to it like it’s a pulled tooth, worrying, fretting.

But Raylan didn’t ask when he was nineteen and he doesn’t ask now. Then he was too young to want to understand Boyd and now he’s too old: if the broken fingers never healed in his mind, the sound of Boyd’s voice in the near-dark of the mine never left him, either. He let it all get complicated, and compromised, and now there are holes in everything he has, too, but he’s afraid to rid himself of them, because the holes let in as much light as they do dark. Or at least they do on the best of days.

Besides, he has less energy now for moral judgments, for the scrutiny of Boyd Crowder’s soul. There are days when he’s not so confident in the integrity of his own.

Raylan? Ava asks.

That’s a question he can’t answer. Not if he can’t ask, Boyd? back. Or even, Ava?

He kisses her on the forehead and goes to bed.

 

That night, Raylan dreams about the IKEA.

It sells very tasteful furniture, but the lines are very long.

In the morning, Boyd takes two Advil for his back and, hearing all this, says, I think your metaphor is lacking.

How do you dream? he asks, but Boyd won’t tell him.

 

Rachel comes to him and says, The Crowders have been making some strange phone calls.

Boyd and Ava, despite being Boyd and Ava, are the least troublesome of Raylan’s witnesses. Ava’s working in a restaurant that she thinks she can make a move to buy once she has a little saved. Boyd fixes cars. They have library cards. They get on well with their neighbors, but they lie perfectly when they have to (and probably sometimes when they don’t).

Because of that, Raylan tells himself that he has more cause to be amused by this than worried.

You tap their phones?

We just record the outgoing and incoming numbers. Only before the trial.

Funny, Raylan says, I feel like maybe, since they’re my witnesses, that would be something worth me knowing about.

You’re knowing about it now.

Maybe Boyd’s got a sudden predilection for the Home Shopping Network, or Ava calls radio stations to try and win free T-shirts, playing music trivia. Whatever they are, they’re far from stupid.

They wouldn’t call family?

Pretty much all of their family’s dead, and pretty much all of them died at their hands, so I’m guessing no. What’s strange about the calls? Out-of-state?

Not Detroit, not Frankfort, not Miami, but not so far from them as I’d like.

Raylan grabs his jacket off the back of his chair. I’ll go down and check it out.

It’s Friday.

It’s not my weekend. There’s nobody going to be inconvenienced but me. I’ll sort it out, be back by Monday at the latest.

Make it Tuesday, she says. See a bluegrass concert.

You think that’s better there than here?

I’m trying to tell you to take a vacation after you make sure your witnesses aren’t going to get themselves killed, she says. The state-by-state variations in bluegrass wasn’t my point.

Should have been, Raylan said. As a Kentucky boy, I’d have to fight you over that.

 

He makes it to Boyd and Ava’s by midnight. He has a key, but letting himself into a dark house full of Crowders is nothing more than a good way to get himself shot again, and he grows less and less fond of that with age. He knocks instead.

Ava answers. She’s wearing a nightgown and a bathrobe and she doesn’t look happy to see him. Since it’s late and her hair says she was in bed already, Raylan doesn’t mind that.

It’s Boyd who asks why he’s there.

Came for the coffee and some bluegrass, Raylan says. Thought I’d stay the weekend.

The polite thing to do is to ask first.

I’m asking now, he says.

Ava sighs. I’ll put some sheets on the sofa.

 

In the morning, he shows them the latest pictures of Olive.

Well, Boyd says, she’s a sweetheart, and no mistake. She takes after you, except for the eyes.

She takes after me in all the bad ways, too. She won’t stay where you put her. I never thought I’d be the kind of parent talking about putting my kid on one of those leashes, but I’m here to tell you that they start to look appealing, gradually.

Ava says, Not to be maudlin, spoil your time, but I always do wonder if it would have been a boy or a girl I had. Either would’ve been nice.

Boyd takes her hand.

I ain’t in need of comfort, she says, but she doesn’t pull away, either. I was just saying.

It’s true that the grief in her eyes is so old and well-worn that it’s almost comfortable there. She isn’t crying. She is, really, just saying, and somehow that gives Raylan the courage to say that she would have been good at it, being a mother.

There are things you don’t do, though, she says. Choices you don’t make. If you have a kid to look after. Because all that matters is that you’re able to be there for them.

Like you’re able to be there for Olive, Boyd says.

It’s a door that’s been quietly shut. He’s willing to be on the other side of it.

There is much about the two of them that, even now, he doesn’t understand.

 

Oh, they say, the phone calls.

Wrong numbers for pizza and the movie rental place.

The numbers aren’t even close, Raylan says, and who the hell has a movie rental place anymore?

Well, it’s a small town, Raylan. And as for the numbers—well, speed dial’s given us all careless fingers. Tragedy of the modern age.

There really is a movie rental place. They have two copies of Red River and nothing with subtitles. Raylan is immediately in love. Of course, it doesn’t make the story any less bullshit.

 

He has time to figure that out, though. The older he gets, the more he finds he likes having the luxury of taking some things slow.

 

They do see some bluegrass—not as good as Kentucky, but not as bad as Raylan would have feared—and afterwards they sit out on the porch eating ice cream cones. Raylan says, I might move here myself. It’s getting to be that in Lexington you can’t get anything other than Dairy Queen.

They had a Coldstone there when we left, Ava says.

I don’t want someone to pound my ice cream on a table and put candy in it. I just want—

Old-fashioned, Boyd says. Sometimes his voice is a drawl, like now, and he sounds so much like home, or a parody of it, that Raylan doesn’t know whether his accent the rest of the time is the truth or a lie. You don’t like any change but the change you make, Raylan. That’s always been your problem.

See, Raylan says, I’m always happy to see you, because day-to-day, I work in an office full of people who just can’t define my problem for me, and then I come here and talk to you, and it all leaps into crystal clarity.

We always thought that was why you came down, Ava says.

Boyd’s ice cream is dripping down his hand, but he doesn’t even seem to mind it. All he’s intent on at the moment is Raylan. He says, If you don’t like change that you don’t make, why, then there’s an easy enough solution.

Kill myself?

Be sure that you’re the one making all the changes to your world, Boyd says. He licks vanilla ice cream off the back of his hand.

 

The headlights through the window wake him up. He rolls off the couch in an instant and is down the hall looking for Boyd and Ava. The very far away thought comes to him that if it could be the getaway and not the arrival that’s stirred him. When he opens the bedroom door, for a second he’s so spooked he sees blood on the pillowcases, but that turns out to be nothing but imagination.

They’re both up quick, wide awake, and they listen when he tells them: get under the bed. Don’t make a sound unless I come calling for you.

He smoothes the sheets and quilting down. Under the bed’s less obvious if it doesn’t look like there weren’t people sleeping there a minute before. He listens for footsteps. What he’s thinking of doing is what he shouldn’t do, but does anyway: he unstraps the ankle holster and gives it over to Boyd.

Not unless you have to, and not if it’s me, he says, and he doesn’t wait for an answer before he pulls the bed-skirt back down to the floor.

He sticks to the wall as he moves out again. There’s no back door, but there are more windows then he would like, and he has to be careful.

Then he hears a creak behind him and almost shoots Boyd in the head.

I told you to stay put.

Did you think it likely I’d listen?

Ava?

Coming along behind me with a shotgun.

Raylan recalls, specifically and in vivid detail, the part of the agreement that dictated that Boyd and Ava Crowder were not permitted to own any firearms. It doesn’t mean he’s surprised by this.

Watch yourself, then.

As you’re in front, Raylan, Boyd says, I think I’m better served by watching you.

 

In the end, no one has to be careful: their man was counting too much on the element of surprise he didn’t know he lost.

Raylan shoots him through the heart as he comes around the corner. They check, but there’s no second man, so they get the lights on.

The man on the floor with blood crusting around his lips is not a memorable man. He looks like nothing so much as a slightly gone-to-seed movie actor who never made the lead. Raylan looks at him for a long time.

When he files the report, Raylan confirms the hitman sent to kill Boyd and Ava Crowder as the same man who, four years previously, shot him in the chest and left him for dead.

 

They move Boyd and Ava to Pennsylvania. Another small Appalachian town. Ava manages a bar. Boyd does construction. Their names are Sam and Natalie.

Raylan visits when he can, and when he can’t, he makes the time.

There are no more strange phone calls from them, before or after the trial.

And Raylan doesn’t ask questions when he already knows the answers.

 

The thirty-seven seconds: he doesn’t dream of them anymore.

He dreams instead of a garden full of blood-spattered daisies, where no weeds are allowed to grow. It is passing strange to be the soil in a place such as that.