They drove down a wide dirt road that was cluttered with run-down houses, their doors wide open. Each home seemed crowded with young children, most of whom sat in the dust like unattended plants. Jason was struck by the contrast between Fredonia and Paiuteville on its doorstep. It troubled him greatly. He knew there were a million reasons for the sub-standard quality of life on the Reservation. But the bottom line was: they had no pride, not as individuals, and not as a people. The Mormons had proven that you could rise from the dirt with nothing, and end up in Zion, if you had a sense of pride. Jason wondered how the Paiutes lost their pride.
They pulled up in front of a dilapidated double-wide trailer. There was a large black satellite dish in the front yard that looked so out of place that it made Dwayne laugh. Four small children rolled in the dirt with a litter of mongrel puppies. A new Ford truck was parked only inches from the front steps. The front door of the trailer had been removed from its hinges and lay smashed on the barren ground. A blaring TV could be heard from inside the living room and a woman's voice hollered in anger. Dwayne noticed a shiny new bass boat on a trailer behind some rusty trash barrels.
"New car, new boat, new dish, looks like Charlie's been getting paid real well lately," observed Dwayne.
"Sure does," said Jason as he scanned the surroundings.
A heavyset woman in her early thirties appeared in the doorway with a baby in her arms. Her eyes were swollen and she had the look of an angry pitbull. As they neared, Jason realized that the woman's face was bruised and scratched, the victim of a recent beating. Jason felt pain at the brutal conditions of this poor woman's life.
"Cops, and more cops," screamed the Paiute mother as she shifted her baby to her other beefy shoulder. "When Charlie beat my ass, I don't see no one! Cops busy. None of their business. Then he dies and you over here like flies. I told you what I know. Charlie got what he deserved. You ought to pin a goddamn medal on the white man who killed him. I won't help you find him. And I got nothing more to say." Mrs. Tizno turned around and walked back into the house.
Joe Taylor laughed. "Maybe we should just leave it be, boys. Willie's wife ain't nearly this bad, and I've already told you everything of value that this one had to say, anyway. So screw it. Let's move on."
Jason and Dwayne looked at one another and nodded in agreement.
When they pulled up in front of the Meeks homestead, the scene was a little better. An attempt at home improvement had been made there. Five scraggly cottonwood trees had been planted around the small, cinderblock house, which had a fresh coat of turquoise paint. A large clay flowerpot full of petunias had been placed by the doorstep. There was a new Ford Bronco in the driveway.
A boy answered the door, his eyes widening in fear when he saw the uniforms and guns. "Mama, it's the police again," yelled the boy as he stepped back from the open door.
A short woman with long jet-black hair appeared. Her eyes were puffy from crying. She motioned to the men to enter.
The men took off their hats and sat down in the small living room, dark as a cave. The curtains had been drawn and there were no lights on. It took a moment for the men to adjust their eyes.
Joe Taylor took the lead. "Ruth, these men are investigating the murder of your husband and they'd like to ask you some questions, if you don't mind."
Ruth pulled a Kleenex from her pants pocket and shrugged her shoulders.