"How much did he get?"
"No more'n thirty dollars," Carlos said. He took his time thinking about what happened right after, starting with Emmett Long looking at his ice cream cone. Carlos saw it as personal, something between him and the famous bank robber, so he skipped over it, telling Bud Maddox:
"I put the money on the counter for him, mostly singles. I look up"
"Junior Harjo walks in," Bud Maddox said, "a robbery in progress."
"Yes sir, but Junior doesn't know it. Emmett Long's at the counter with his back to him. Jim Ray Monks is over at the soda fountain getting into the ice cream. Neither of them had their guns out, so I doubt Junior saw it as a robbery. But Mr. Deering sees Junior and calls out he's got his mother's medicine. Then says for all of us to hear, 'She tells me they got you raiding Indian stills, looking for moonshine.' He said something about Junior setting a jar aside for him and that's all I heard. Now the guns are coming out, Emmett Long's Colt from inside his suit . . . I guess all he had to see was Junior's badge and his sidearm, that was enough, Emmett Long shot him. He'd know with that Colt one round would do the job, but he stepped up and shot Junior again, lying on the floor."
There was a silence.
"I'm trying to recall," Bud Maddox said, "how many Emmett Long's killed. I believe six, half of 'em police officers."
"Seven," Carlos said, "you count the bank hostage had to stand on his running board. Fell off and broke her neck?"
"I just read the report on that one," Bud Maddox said. "Was a Dodge Touring, same as Black Jack Pershing's staff car over in France."
"They drove away from the drugstore in a Packard," Carlos said, and gave Bud Maddox the number on the license plate.
Here was the part Carlos saw as personal and had skipped over, beginning with Emmett Long looking at his ice cream cone.
Then asking, "What is that, peach?" Carlos said it was and Emmett Long reached out his hand saying, "Lemme have a bite there," and took the cone to hold it away from him as it was starting to drip. He bent over to lick it a couple of times before putting his mouth around a big bite he took from the top dip. He said, "Mmmmm, that's good," with a trace of peach ice cream along the edge of his mustache. Emmett Long stared at Carlos then like he was studying his features and began licking the cone again. He said, "Carlos, huh?" cocking his head to one side. "You got the dark hair, but you don't look like any Carlos I ever seen.What's your other name?"
"Carlos Huntington Webster, that's all of 'em."
"It's a lot of name for a boy," Emmett Long said.
"So you're part greaser on your mama's side, huh? What's she, Mex?"
Carlos hesitated before saying, "Cuban. I was named for her dad."
"Cuban's the same as Mex," Emmett Long said. "You got greaser blood in you, boy, even if it don't show much. You come off lucky there." He licked the cone again, holding it with the tips of his fingers, the little finger sticking out in a dainty kind of way.
Carlos, fifteen years old but as tall as this man with the ice cream on his mustache, wanted to call him a dirty name and hit him in the face as hard as he could, then go over the counter and bulldog him to the floor the way he'd put a bull calf down to brand and cut off its balls. Fifteen years old but he wasn't stupid. He held on while his heart beat against his chest. He felt the need to stand up to this man, saying finally, "My dad was a marine on the battleship Maine when she was blown up in Havana Harbor, February fifteenth, 1898. He survived, was picked up in the water and thrown in a Spanish prison as a spy. Then when he escaped he fought the dons on the side of the insurrectionists, the rebels. He fought them again and was wounded at Guantánamo, with Huntington's Marines in that war in Cuba where he met my mother, Graciaplena Santos."
The foregoing is excerpted from The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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