Saturday, October 16, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 10 - Part 2

Dwayne leaned back. "Okay, Jenny, you saw the site. What did you make of it?"

Jenny referred to her notes as she spoke, the glasses used only for reading resting on the edge of her nose. "Well, this guy might be a pro when it comes to killing Indians, but he doesn't know his ass from the wall when it comes to digging a prehistoric ruin. The site looked like somebody had dropped a bomb on it. He broke as much as he probably found because he dug the site with a pick and large shovel; he ended up smashing some really nice pots in the process. He trashed a Kayenta black-on-white ceremonial vase that would have fetched at least $30,000 if he had been a little more careful. The guy's a pig."

Dwayne nodded thoughtfully. "So why do you think it was a commercial job, not some fella who just likes to pick up a few pots while he's out murdering people?"

Jenny pushed her glasses up higher on her nose. "Oh, this is definitely an industrial-strength operation. I mean, the guy left four unbroken pots at the site – they were Tusayan corrugated."

"Don't go getting technical on me, Jenny," said Dwayne. "Keep it simple. Okay?"

Jenny smiled. "Sorry, Dwayne, I sometimes forget that I'm dealing with cowboy heathens. Tusayan corrugated pottery is about as plain as it comes. The irony is, they are much older than the painted wares, which happen to be much more recent. The dealers and buyers don't want some dirty gray pot with cross-hatched ridges and a rough exterior – even if it's a thousand years older. They want the smooth stuff with all the bright, fancy designs. So professional pothunters often just leave the corrugated plain ware. That's why you can tell that this guy is a commercial pothunter. If a lone wolf had done this, they would have taken everything they found. They'd never even think about leaving an undamaged artifact behind."

"Okay, so if the killer is in the business of pothunting, how do you figure Willie Meeks fits into the picture?"

"I'd say that Willie was digging that cliff dwelling for the Anglo who killed him. There was more than one set of tracks up in the site. In fact, there were three. I don't know whether one of those belonged to Willie or not, but I'd guess yes."

"And I'd guess that the other pair belonged to Charlie Tizno. How's that grab you?"

Jenny shrugged her shoulders. "That's certainly a possibility. The tracks are hard to read because the whole overhang is now a mess from all the digging. Whoever it was, they were lazy. They just threw the dirt right over the side and down into the drainage below. I found a re-worked arrowhead from the early Archaic Period, which means it was originally made by a person who lived 2,000 years before the time of Christ."

Dwayne whistled. "I'll be damned."

"No doubt," grinned Jenny. "But the point is, these people only know pots – probably baskets, too. I didn't find anything but pieces of baskets on the site, but that doesn't mean that these guys didn't haul away some good ones before I got there."

"Wouldn't Indians do a better job than that?" asked Dwayne.

"Probably not. Paiutes are not the descendants of the Anasazi. They're different people altogether, with completely different customs. And they're not familiar with the Anasazi burial habits, any more than a good Mormon cowboy like yourself would be. The Anasazi had many contrasting ways of burying their dead – hey, I did my Masters thesis on this, so don't get me going – but there aren't fifty people in the whole damn west who are really qualified to dig a burial without causing much damage."

"Are you?" asked Dwayne.

"You bet," grinned Jenny. "I've done quite a few around Lee's Ferry and the Paria River. And every burial has a twist that makes it special. I love digging burials, but there's never any money for it– unless, of course, the government happens to build a road through one, or somebody strikes uranium underneath one."

Dwayne's face scrunched in distaste. "Yeah, well, to be honest with you, I don't think I'd care too much for digging up some poor bastard's grave."

"That's because you Mormons are more superstitious than the Navajos. The burials are where we find the things the Anasazi wanted to travel into the spirit world with. Their spirit treasures."

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