Elmore Leonard: Out of Sight

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Elmore Leonard Out of Sight
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    Out of Sight
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When Jack Foley, a career bank robber, surfaces after tunneling out of a medium-security penitentiary in Florida, he comes face to face with Karen Sisco, a beautiful federal marshal. Though the barrel of her shotgun is pointed right at his face, she doesn't shoot, and Foley's accomplice, Buddy, overpowers her and puts her in the trunk of a car. Foley gets in with her and the car takes off, the escapee seemingly home free. In the cramped darkness of the trunk, the criminal and marshal find they have much in common and by the time the car reaches its destination, the two have become infatuated with each other. After Karen manages to escape, she and Foley try to reconnect outside the confining roles of kidnapper and victim.

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Elmore Leonard

Out of Sight

for michoel and kelly


Foley had never seen a prison where you could walk right up to the fence without getting shot. He mentioned it to the guard they called Pup, making conversation: convict and guard standing in a strip of shade between the chapel and a gun tower, redbrick structures in a red-brick prison, both men looking toward the athletic field. Several hundred inmates along the fence out there were watching the game of football played without pads, both sides wearing the same correctional blue, on every play trying to pound each other into the ground.

"You know what they're doing," Foley said, "don't you? I mean besides working off their aggressions."

Pup said, "The hell you talking about?"

This was about the dumbest hack Foley had ever met in his three falls, two state time, one federal, plus a half-dozen stays in county lockups.

"They're playing in the Super Bowl," Foley said, "pretending they're out at Sun Devil Stadium next Sunday. Both sides thinking they're the Dallas Cowboys."

Pup said, "They ain't worth shit, none of 'em."

Foley turned enough to look at the guard's profile, the peak of his cap curved around his sunglasses. Tan shirt with dark-brown epaulets that matched his pants, radio and flashlight hooked to his belt; no weapon.

Foley looked at his size, head-to-head with the Pup at six-one, but from there, where Foley went pretty much straight up and down in his prison blues, the Pup had about forty pounds on him, most of it around the guard's middle, his tan shirt fitting him like skin on a sausage.

Foley turned back to the game.

He watched a shifty colored guy come out for a pass and get clotheslined going for the ball, cut down by another shifty colored guy on defense. The few white guys, bikers who had the nerve and the size, played in the line and used their fists on each other, every down. No Latins in the game. They stood along the fence watching, except for two guys doing laps side by side around the field: counterclockwise, the way inmates always circled a yard here and in every prison Foley had ever heard of.

The same two ran ten miles a day every day of the week.

Coming to this end of the field now, getting closer, breaking stride now, walking:

Jose Chirino and Luis Linares, Chino and Lulu, husband and wife, both little guys, both doing a mandatory twenty-five for murder. Walking.

They hadn't done anywhere near their ten miles. While they circled this end of the field and started up the side, past the cons watching the football game, they had Foley's full attention.

A minute or so passed before he said, "Some people are going out of here. What if I told you where and when?"

The Pup would be staring at him now, eyes half closed to slits behind his shades, the way he judged if a con was telling the truth or giving him a bunch of shit.

"Who we talking about?"

Foley said, "Nothing's free, Pup," still not looking at him.

"I get your liquor for you."

"And you make a good buck. No, what I need," Foley said, turning to look at him now, "is some peace of mind. This is the most fucked-up joint I've ever been in, take my word. Medium security and most of the cons here are violent offenders."

Pup said, "You being one of 'em."

"If I was I've slowed up. Look at those boys out there, that's a vicious breed of convict. Myself, it's not so much I'm violent as habitual, liable to pick up on the outside where I left off, so they'll keep me here till I'm an old man."

The Pup kept giving him his squint.

"So you turn fink?"

"It's okay," Foley said, "if you do it to insure your future. I give you the chance to stop a prison break, you make points, advance your career as a hack. I get peace of mind. I'd expect you to look out for me as long as you're here. Let me run my business, keep me off work details…"

The Pup was still squinting.

"How many going out?"

"I hear six."


"Looks like tonight."

"You know who they are?"

"I do, but I won't tell you just yet. Meet me in the chapel going on five-thirty, right before evening count."

Foley waited, staring back at those slitty eyes trying to read him.

"Come on, Pup, you want to be a hero or not?"

Noon dinner, Foley took his pork butts and yams down the center aisle looking for Chino among all the white T-shirts and dark hair. There he was, at a table of his little-guy countrymen eating macaroni and cheese, a dish Foley has passed on in the chow line. Jesus, eating a pile of it. The guy across from Chino giving him more, scraping macaroni from his tray on to Chino's.

The man's gaze raised to Foley, dark eyes beneath lumps of scar tissue, all he had to show for his career as a welterweight before age and killing a man put him out of business. Chino was close to fifty but in shape; Foley had watched him do thirty pull-ups on a bar without kicking his legs, trying to climb through the air.

Chino gave him a nod but didn't make room, tell any of his people at the table to get up. Lulu sat next to him with a neat tray of macaroni and Jell-O and a cup of milk they gave inmates under twenty-one years of age to build strong, healthy bodies.

Foley ate his noon dinner at a table of outlaw bikers, consV who bought half-pint bottles of rum Foley sold for three times what he paid Pup to sneak the stuff in. He sat there listening to the outlaws having fun, comparing his rum to piss and running with it, enjoying their use of the word, speculating on what land it was, dog piss, cat piss, how about alligator piss? They liked that one. Foley saw it had to be an uncommon kind of piss, said, "How about chicken piss?" and the table showed him bad teeth and the food they were chewing with grins and grunts of appreciation. Foley worked through his dinner and went outside to smoke a cigarette and wait for Chino.

Lulu tagging along when he came, Lulu cute as a bug with his girlish eyelashes and pouty way of looking at you. Chino had had to punch out many a suitor to keep Lulu for his own. He had told Foley Lulu wasn't a homosexual before entering this life, but had become one and was good at it. Confiding things like that after Foley told Chino he was the most aggressive welterweight he had ever seen fight. Saw him lose to Mau-ricio Bravo in L.A. when Foley was doing banks out there. Saw him lose to the Mexican kid, Palomino, at the Grand in Las Vegastough break, the TKO in the sixth when Chino's right eye closed and they stopped the fight. Foley said, "I never saw a fighter take as many shots as you did and keep coming back-outside of Rocky Balboa." Chino's record was 22 and 17, not good if you were the fighter, not bad if you admired him for staying with it as long as he did. Foley was the only Anglo the Cuban allowed to get close.

He had his arm around Lulu's shoulder as they approached, then let it slip down to hook his thumb in Lulu's belt, the next thing to having him on a leash.

Foley said, "Today's the day, huh? You excited?"

The man was cool, no expression.

"I told you, man, Super Bowl Sunday."

"Yeah, but I see you moved it up."

Now a glint showed in his eyes.

"Why you think is today?"

"You were out running this morning, sticking to your routine, anybody happened to notice. But you only did a couple of miles, saving yourself for the main event. Then I see you eating about ten pounds of macaroni. Carbohydrates for endurance."

"You want," Chino said, "I tole you you can come."

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