Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 5 - Part 2

Linda Joyce was Jason's only hope of getting any leads on these vicious homicides. She hadn't balked at returning to the area where the killing had taken place. She had answered Jason's questions with earnest patience, although she had obviously been through the wringer. Unfortunately, her willingness to help didn't shed much additional light on the crime. She had been so frightened by the murder that she had blocked most of the details out of her mind. Her recollection of the killer was vague, at best. He was big and bearded. She thought his hair was red, but couldn't be sure. His green eyes were the only thing she clearly remembered. Linda's description of the helicopter was even weaker. She remembered it as being large, and loud, and scary, and it might have been fairly new, too. Jason had hoped that the frightened biologist's memory might return once she got back to town, but the change in scenery hadn't made any difference.

"So, you're sure you had never seen this man before?" asked Jason again. He was tired of asking the same questions over again, so he knew Linda had to be sick of hearing them, but at that moment he just didn't have any other ideas.

Linda kneaded her hands in her lap; she was running on empty. She had nodded off several times during the drive back to town. But every time she closed her eyes, she saw the glowering eyes of the Killer looking back at her. Dwayne was there to hold onto when she jolted herself awake, but no matter how hard she tried to see the killer's face, all she could ever make out were those hunting eyes.

"Believe me, Sheriff, I would definitely remember it if I had ever seen the man in the helicopter before. I'm sorry I didn't pay closer attention – I had enough time to draw you a damn picture. But I wasn't thinking straight. I'm afraid that all I could think about was staying alive."

"Well, I think we've pretty much hashed this thing out as much as we can, Miss Joyce. You've been a giant help; I mean, without you we'd have nothing. We're just glad that you managed to hide from this lunatic. I thank God that He brought you back to us safe and sound. That's what's important here. And right now, I think we should just get you a motel room so you can clean up and get some rest. How's that sound to you?"

"Thank you, Sheriff," said Linda with a tired smile. "I feel like I'm in good hands with Dwayne and you."

"You are, ma'am," Jason nodded with deep conviction. "We'll place a round-the-clock guard on you, just in case this fella decides to come back and pay you another visit."

Dwayne shook his head as he took Linda's hand. "I don't think that'll be necessary, Jason. I'm gonna put Ms. Joyce up at my place. That way I can keep a close eye on her all the time. And that'll also free up more men to hunt this sonofabitch down."

"Sheriff, could I use your bathroom?" Linda stood up slowly.

"Why sure, ma'am." Jason rose from his chair and pointed at the office door. "Just go out and take a left. It's down at the end of the hallway, on your right. Can't miss it."

The men waited for Linda to leave before continuing their conversation.

"Seems to me you've kinda taken a personal interest in all this, Dwayne."

"That I have, Jason. I feel real bad about this whole mess and I don't want to see anything bad happen to her again."

"I can appreciate that, Dwayne," said Jason. "She's been through an awful lot. And that's why I'm wondering if maybe we shouldn't let the Sheriff's Office handle this case."

Dwayne gripped the arms of his chair and worked his jaw with nervous energy. "Listen, Jason, this crime took place on Forest Service land, that means I got jurisdiction. But to hell with jurisdiction. I've got a real bad feeling about this goddamn thing."

"I do, too, Dwayne. We've got – "

Dwayne cut him off. "A nightmare is what we've got, Jason! We've got a professional pothunter, some guy with big money. We've got a helicopter. We've got a cool killer with an arsenal of weapons which includes machine guns. We've got two dead Indians who probably was our neighbors. What we've got here, pardner, is a pack of trouble. And we're gonna need all the goddamn help we can get, brother. Count on it. My God, Jason, what the hell would bring this brand of violence to Fredonia?"

"I don't know, Dwayne. But I ain't gonna stand by for this sort of craziness happening where I live. I don't even let my children watch this kinda stuff on the television." Jason's face darkened with anger. "So you can be sure I'm gonna be on this case with everything we've got. This character has to get fuel for his chopper somewhere, and that means somebody we know has already seen his face – probably has a credit card receipt with his name on it. We need to get the word out to the people of this town that we need their help. The only problem is: we don't have a lot of info to give 'em right now. But we will, Dwayne, we will. Strangers stand out around here. And when we finally get a break– maybe out at the airport, or the hardware store, or wherever– we're gonna teach this man about what happens to murderers on the Arizona Strip. And you can damn well count on that!"

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