The Judge opened the display case and gingerly removed a 3,000 year old stick-twig figurine that had been uncovered by his men in a small cave along the Green River. It was one of the oldest artifacts ever found in the southwest. What an extraordinary work of art it was, thought the Judge, turning it slowly in his hand. Money paled to insignificance when matched against this animal effigy from the past. One day the Judge would own the finest Anasazi collection in the world. With each shipment they put together, the Judge added to his collection. Saunders and Stiles didn't know what he was up to. Once the Judge took final delivery of a load, he could sift through the assortment, take a few of the nicer pieces, and no one was the wiser. The peasants got their money, and the Judge got both money and the irreplaceable wonders of a lost age. The Judge felt power and glory flowing through him as he delicately returned the stick figure to its case.
The phone rang. He finished closing the display case.
The caller had the information. The owner of the pickup truck was named Linda Joyce. Her address was 7576 Kachina Boulevard, Flagstaff. There was also a phone number. She was not married and she had no outstanding debts or traffic tickets. The Judge smiled triumphantly. The Plan was coming together rather nicely.
He looked at his gold Rolex and saw that it was eight o'clock – time for the news. Using a remote-control switching device, he turned on the AM/FM radio and dialed the frequency of the country/western station in Kanab. Not surprisingly, the murder in Jumpup Canyon was the big story of the evening. The victim, a Paiute, had been shot to death. The body had been discovered through an anonymous tip. The police thought the murder was connected to the Friday night slaying of Charlie Tizno at the Buckskin Tavern. The police welcomed any help the public might be able to offer. Sheriff Jason Pratt was quoted as saying, "We are small-town people, good Christian people, and we're not used to this sort of terrible violence. But let me tell you this, we're gonna catch whoever's responsible for these killings, and they're gonna wish they never set foot on the Arizona Strip."
The Judge walked out onto the rear observation deck of his houseboat. A flock of high cumulus clouds moved in from the west like large wooly sheep. One cloud drifted slowly across the moon, its fluffy edges turning a burnt blue as it began to blot out the gleaming light. Lone Rock darkened gradually and a gust of wind whipped across the lake. The Judge felt a chill and walked back inside.
He took a sip of his brandy. The girl would have to go. The police probably had her in protective custody. The Judge would fax a copy of the girl's vitals to Saunders to wrap up that loose end. Saunders liked killing women. He claimed it was even better than sex.