By nine o'clock, the bar vibrated with an energy of its own making. Less than a mile from the border of Utah, a dry state, the Buckskin was the only bar within a hundred miles. As the bartender promised, the place was jammed to the rafters with Mormons out on the prowl.
By now, the killer was sharing his booth with some local boys who worked for the lumber mill run by Kaibab Industries. The three babbled about tits and asses while they pounded beers and sang along with the music. The killer smiled and nodded, his eyes never straying too far from the door.
The little cow bell attached to the front door announced Charlie "Bird Singing" Tizno, the Indian weaving unsteadily into the bar.
The killer eyed his prey with an analytical curiosity. He noticed, for instance, a bulge in Charlie's pants pocket that was probably his truck keys. Charlie had come in alone, which meant he had driven himself to the bar; there would be no friends to deal with. The man wasn't armed. And he was already half-lit. The killer smiled as he took a swig on the fresh beer that his newfound friends had just ordered for him. Things were definitely looking up.
During the Cactus Rose Band's first set, the killer danced with a tired young divorcee who was a secretary at the lumber mill. The killer enjoyed getting out on the dance floor; it had been a long time since he had last gone dancing, too damn long. But he never lost sight of Charlie, who was draped over the bar in a heated conversation with some fellow Paiutes.
When the band took their break, the killer thanked his dance partner and headed for the bar to get a cold beer. Everybody else on the dance floor had the same idea; even the longest bar in Arizona was not long enough to handle all the parched dancers who stood three deep. A place at the bar right next to Charlie and his Indian pals opened up and the killer sat down with a smile, waiting patiently for the bartender to come around. He had plenty of time to kill.
Charlie was making a loud speech about money. He had just bought a round of drinks for his buddies. Shot glasses of whiskey and Miller Lites were aligned in front of each Indian. He spoke in the short, guttural cadence of the Paiute, and the alcohol made it sound like gibberish to the killer. All he could make out was that Charlie-boy had his hooks into some scheme that was going to make him lots of money so he could buy all the white man's toys.
"Sony T.V," spit the drunken Indian. "Chevy Blazer. I buy 'em all. You know?" He convulsed with laughter and coughing.
The other Indians nodded with indifference as they chased their whiskey with beers, like men accustomed to losing on a daily basis. Sure, they knew all right.
Charlie drained his shot glass and clicked his tongue three times like a mockingbird. He swigged his beer and coughed raggedly. The killer thought the man was going to vomit or die of a heart attack.
"Those old 'Sazi pots and baskets will help me die a rich man," Charlie bragged between nasty fits of coughing.
One of the Paiutes, an older man in his sixties with leathery skin, shook his head sadly. "Not good. You mess with the dead, and the dead will make you one of their own. You know you shouldn't steal that shit, Charlie. It ain't yours to take. They weren't our people. The Anasazi, they have magic bigger than ours or the white man's. The white man uses you as a shield to protect him from the power of the Ancient Ones. He's a fool, and you're a bigger fool. And in return, the white man throws you some money, like a bone, and tells you he'll make you rich someday. That's a lie, Charlie, a white man's crazy lie. And when the dead come lookin' for what you've taken from them, you'll wish you were dead, old friend, deader than dog shit."
The old Indian suddenly turned into the face of the white man to his left. Their eyes locked for a few brief seconds, and the Indian felt the chill of the hunting wind. He nodded and the killer nodded back. It was a simple exchange, but it was enough to give the old Indian nightmares for weeks.