Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 9 - Part 1

Linda walked down the quiet streets of Fredonia, admiring the neat rows of cottages. Each one was freshly painted, the filigree trim a reminder of a time gone by. Even though Fredonia was technically in the middle of a desert, it looked more like a little piece of New England. There were elms, oaks, chestnuts, and hickory trees everywhere. Front yards were planted with marigolds, mums, and petunias. Linda wondered if there was some sort of flower-growing contest going on in town. The air smelled of lilacs and the sound of honey bees could be heard. There was a peaceful orderliness about this tiny Mormon town that she couldn't help but respect.

She remembered Dwayne's dire warning about not going back up on the mountain, and she knew he was probably right, but she had thought a lot about this problem last night and she was convinced she had come up with a reasonable solution. She would stay away from the west side of the Kaibab, where the pothunting and killing was going on, and where the killer would be looking for her. The North Kaibab mountain was a big place, well over half a million acres. If she moved her study area to the east side of the Kaibab, she was sure she would avoid running into trouble. She had originally hoped to include this flyway in her Grand Canyon study, but hadn't been sure she would have the time. Linda had intended to tell Dwayne about moving to the other side of the mountain, but when he started ordering her around, she had lost her cool. She was glad she had walked to the garage. It had helped her to organize her thoughts. And she had come to the realization that she owed Dwayne an explanation. He deserved that much.

She was informed by the silver-haired man, Arden Judd, the owner of Judd Auto, that he would not accept any payment from her– not for the tow, nor for the new distributor cap.

"We know how much you've been through, ma'am," he said as if apologizing. "And we're sorry this sort of thing had to happen to you while you were paying us a visit. I just want you to know that whoever it was you saw down there in Jumpup, he weren't no local man. Folks 'round here might have their faults – same as any place else, I guess – but there ain't a murderer in the whole bunch. Everyone comes in here and buys their gas, so I know 'em all, believe me."

To argue about paying the bill would obviously hurt the man's feelings. It was just hard to believe that a total stranger could be so generous.

"Well thank you, Mr. Judd. Everybody I've met so far in this town has been a good Samaritan like yourself."

Arden nodded. "Yes ma'am, I know for a fact that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Pratt will go out of their way to help a person in need. And they'll find this damn Indian killer, too, you mark my words. So don't you worry none, okay?"

Linda kissed the grizzled mechanic on the cheek. Arden blushed and pointed to the front lot. "We left your truck out there and she's all gassed-up and ready to go. The keys are in it."

As Linda passed the pay phone, she thought it might be a good idea to give her roommate a call, just to let her know she was alright, but she remembered that Amber worked on Wednesday mornings, so she wouldn't be home. Calling her at work was out of the question because she waitressed at Flagstaff's busiest restaurant.

Linda wanted desperately to talk to someone she knew about her terrible ordeal. She could call Ken Jarvis, her on-again, off-again boyfriend, but she wasn't sure she really wanted him involved in this matter. There was no way to predict how he might react. He was always so self-absorbed. Could he be supportive? It was time to find out.

It was immediately obvious by the tone of Ken's voice that this call had been a big mistake. He sounded like he had been interrupted from a meeting with the Pope. And his impatience didn't waver once he knew that it was Linda on the other end. Linda almost hung up the phone right then, but she stayed with it. Walking away wasn't the answer here. She gave Ken a Cliff Notes version of the murder in Jumpup Canyon.

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