La Brava (1983)

La Brava (1983) by Elmore Leonard

Book: La Brava (1983) by Elmore Leonard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elmore Leonard
LaBrava said, "The other thing we have in common, besides both of us being from the Windy City, we'd like to keep the Director of Internal Revenue happy. Wouldn't you say that's true?"
    Joe Stella said, "Oh, shit," and did sound tired.
    "You're familiar with form SS-8, aren't you?"
    "I don't know, there so many forms"--getting tireder by the moment--"What's SS-8?"
    LaBrava felt himself taking on an almost-forgotten role--Revenue officer, Collection Division--coming back to him like hopping on a bike. The bland expression, the tone of condescending authority: I'm being nice, but watch it.
    "You file payroll deductions, withholding, F.I.C.A.?"
    "Yeah, a course I do."
    "You never hire guards as independent contractors? Even on a part-time basis?"
    "Well, that depends what you mean..."
    "You're not aware that an SS-8 has ever been filed by a former employee or independent contractor? It's never been called to your attention to submit a reply?"
    "Wait a minute--Jesus, you know all the forms you gotta keep track of? My bookkeeper comes in once a week, payday, she's suppose to know all that. Man, I'm telling you--try and run a business today, a bonded service. First, where'm I gonna get anybody's any good'd work for four bucks an hour to begin with?... Hey, you feel like a drink?"
    "No thanks."
    "You know who I get?"
    "The cowboys."
    "I get the cowboys, I get the dropouts, I get these guys dying to pack, walk around the shopping mall in their uniform, this big fucking .38 on their hip. Only, state regulation, they're suppose to pin their license--like a driver's license in a plastic cover--on their shirt. But they do that they look like what they are, right? Mickey Mouse store cops. So they don't wear 'em and the guy from the state license division sees 'em and I get fined a hunnert bucks each and put on probation ninety days. I also, to stay in business, I gotta post bond, five grand, and I gotta have three-hundred-grand liability insurance, a hunnert grand property damage. The insurance lapses a week cause the fucking insurance guy's out at Hialeah every day and it's my fault, I'm suspended till I show cause why I oughta not get fucked over by the state of Florida where I'm helping with the employment situation. I'm not talking about the federal government you understand. You guys, IRS, you got a job to do--keep that money coming in to run the government, send guns to all the different places they need guns, defend our ass against... you know what I'm talking about. Fucking Castro's only a hunnert miles away. Nicaragua, how far's that? It isn't too far, I know."
    "Richard Nobles," LaBrava said, "he ever been arrested before?"
    Joe Stella paused. "Before what? Jesus Christ, is that who we're talking about? Richie Nobles? Jesus, you can have him."
    "You know where I can find him?"
    "I think he quit. I haven't seen him in three days. Left the car, no keys, the dumb son of a bitch. All those big good-looking assholes, I think they get hair instead of brains. What's the matter, Richie hasn't paid his taxes? I believe it."
    "What I'm curious about--guy applies for a job, you ask him if he's ever been arrested, don't you?"
    "I did I'd be in violation of your federal law, invasion of privacy. I can't ask if the guy was ever a mental patient either. I can ask him, have you ever been convicted of a felony, or have you ever committed one and didn't get caught? But I can't ask him if he's ever been arrested."
    "You did issue him a handgun."
    "They buy their own."
    "So he's got a license."
    "You apply, you want to be an armed guard, you gotta get clearance through the FBI and the State Department of Law Enforcement. The guy--it takes months--he gets his license or he gets a certified letter in the mail saying he's turned down. But they don't notify me, ever."
    "Have you seen his license?"
    "Yeah, he showed it to me."
    "Then he must be clean, uh? They checked him out."
    Joe Stella said, "You ready for a drink now?"
    LaBrava nodded. "Sounds

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