To get caught up on the story, go to the Victor & Hugo page on The Blog Propellant
Deputy Garrett was not surprised to find the Sheriff at his desk at this relatively late hour. He pulled up a chair and watched with amusement as his boss cursed the computer.
“Having a little trouble there, Daryl?” he asked.
Sheriff Parson’s eyes were fixed on the monitor. “These damn things! Swear to f’n God, it’s takin’ me forever to get the hang of it.” He fell back in his chair and turned to look at Deputy Garrett. “Reports take so damn long on this goddamned thing.” Daryl sighed. “I miss Geraldine. Who said getting rid of secretaries was a good thing, anyway?”
“You’ll get the hang of it,” Mike Garrett smiled.
“When pigs fly,” Daryl Parson quipped. “What’s up?”
“Well, actually, glad I caught you still in. I just had an interesting run-in with Larry’s staff, Charlene and Hugo? Thought I’d pop by before heading home, see if you were here. Tell you about it.”
Daryl stood up. “T’hell with it,” and pressed the power button on the computer. Mike winced, knowing everything of whatever his boss was working on was now gone.
“Want a snort?” Daryl asked.
“Sure,” Mike shrugged.
Daryl walked over to the ancient steel cabinet in the far corner of his office where kept his jacket, hat, and his AR 15s. He pulled out a bottle of bourbon and two glasses he kept on the top shelf, and generously poured two drinks.
“So what’s the deal?”
“Like I said,” Mike said as he took his glass from his boss, “Charlene and Hugo came in to Apple Alice’s tonight and, well, when they saw me, offered to buy me dinner. Thought they’re just being friendly, ya know, after this morning and all? But they clearly had something on their minds.”
“Like what?” Daryl asked.
“Well, right off the bat, Hugo started in with questions about who we get to do forensics, and about recovering the skeleton; who we call for things like that. ‘Course, I told them it’d probably be the outfit out of Boise. But, here’s the thing: Charlene blurts out, ‘where you keeping him,’ meaning, where we keeping the skeleton.”
Daryl stared a moment at Mike. “We don’t have the skeleton.”
Mike tossed back his bourbon. “Right.” He set the glass on the desk, and continued. “I said we left him up there. Figured one more day after 125 years wouldn’t make a difference.”
“We don’t know, for a fact, it’s old Victor Samuels, Mike,” Daryl cautioned.
Mike put up his hand in apology, “I know, I know. My point is this: When I said we’d not moved the skeleton, Hugo shot her a look.”
Daryl nodded and then smiled. “’nother?” he asked, holding out his own glass.
“Nah. I should get on home.”
“So, you think, what?” Daryl continued, “they were fishing for information?”
Mike stood and sighed. “Nope. I think they went back up there today, and, if I was to hazard a guess, they didn’t see the skeleton.”
Daryl pulled on his coat, and put on his hat. He turned to Mike and asked, “Why’n hell would they go want to go back there?”
“Search me,” Mike replied.
Mike stood still as he watched his boss’s wheels turn. The Sheriff reached back into the cabinet and took out one of his guns.
Mike asked, “What you thinkin’?”
The Sheriff shrugged, “Dunno, actually. Can’t figure why’d they’d go back out there.” He looked at Mike, “You don’t think they’d be so dumb as to take something, do you?”
Mike shook his head, “You mean, they went back up there to, what, relic shop?”
“Possible,” Daryl replied. “Maybe they told Larry about it. He’s got a stake in all of this. Maybe Larry encouraged them to go back and get a bit of bone, or something.”
Mike followed Daryl out of his office and the two men walked in silence as made their way to the front of the building. They said their goodbyes to the night desk clerk, and walked out onto the parking lot. The full moon was looming large just over the horizon. It was bright enough to light up the whole block.
Mike replied, “It wasn’t Larry. He wouldn’t …I mean, yeah, he’s got a stake. Hell, I gotta stake if DNA proves my family shares Samuel’s blood. And Larry doesn’t want to see Hixon move in, which was why Hugo was up there in the first place, looking for something they could use to stop them…But, I don’t think Charlene and Hugo know anything about Larry being a Samuels. I mean, this morning, when I was relating the whole story ‘bout the feud, it was obviously news to them. Larry’s always been tight lipped about all of that. Bad for business. I mean, they didn’t even know he and I are related.”
“OK,” Daryl said. “But it still doesn’t answer why they went back, that is, if they went back.”
“Oh, they went back. More I think about it, the more I’m sure they went back. And the skeleton wasn’t there. That’s what’s got me.”
“OK, so,” Daryl said, “they went back up there today, for some reason,” Daryl paused, then continued. “We don’t know why, but let’s just set that aside for now. Maybe they were lost? Went to the wrong spot,” he conjectured.
“Honestly, Daryl, I don’t think so. I mean, Hugo lead us right up this morning, no problem. And, I noticed he made sure that marker of his was in place before we left. I don’t think that’s it.”
Daryl eyes narrowed. He turned his gaze toward the moon for a moment, and then looked up at the black night sky. He asked, “You think we ought’a take a look?”
“Couldn’t hurt,” Mike replied.
The Sheriff shifted his grip on his rifle. “Tell you what. Let’s go now.”
Mike had known his boss to sometimes do and say some strange things, but this was a reach, even for him. “Tonight? Hike up there, in the dark, like, right now?” he laughed.
“Sure. We’ll get the search equipment and them big lights we use on the river. They’re charged up, right?”
Mike hesitated. Daryl continued, “Here’s what I’m thinkin’. We can’t let the crew from Boise go up there until we check out what Hugo and Charlene told you, right?”
“They didn’t tell me anything, boss, that’s the thing. I’m just guessing.”
“OK, but, you have always had great instincts, Mike.” Daryl paused. “You tell me you think somethin’s fishy, I want to check it out. The forensic guys are coming first thing tomorrow, so tonight’s all we got. There’s a full moon and clear sky, so we’ll be able to see just fine. Call Shelly, tell her somethin’s come up. Let’s go.”
Mike paused. He couldn’t believe how perfectly this was playing out.