Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 13 - Part 1

Ken Jarvis loved Tuesdays. He instructed a senior-level geology course that didn't begin until eleven, giving him the morning to sleep in. The students in the class were all geology majors fully committed to the program; it was always a treat to teach people who were actually interested in the subject. Ken's second lecture period was the exact opposite of his first. The afternoon program was entry-level geology to the members of the football and basketball teams. The class was affectionately known as "Rocks for Jocks", and it was a guaranteed C for all who attended class.

Jarvis was a slight man in his late forties, with greying hair but a lean body that came from constant exercise. Ken jogged a three-mile circuit around the college every day and prided himself on his flat chest and athletic appearance.

Ken hurried home for lunch, anxious to see if the government grant he was trying for had finally been approved. He had expected to hear from the government bureaucrats by the previous Friday, and he was sure it would be there when he got home. It just had to be. The shaded street was empty of people, a typical weekday morning in a sleepy little college town. As Ken neared his home, he noticed a large man with a bushy beard and long red hair walking quickly down the sidewalk toward him. Ken flashed the vacant smile face that he used when walking by students on campus. The stranger smiled a toothy smile and waved. Ken nodded hello and turned down his front walk. He opened up the top on the black aluminum box and reached a shaky hand inside for his mail. There were only two letters in the box, both of them bills. "Shit!" How long were these government slugs going to keep stringing him along?

As he inserted his door key into the lock, he felt the hard metal barrel of a gun jabbed against his back.

"I need a little tutoring, Professor."

"You can have anything that's mine, just don't shoot. Okay?" pleaded Ken, starting to turn.

B.T. Saunders hated whiners. He planted his left knee on the man's backside and pushed him forward. "Just shut up, Teach, and get in the goddamn house. It's time for class to come to order." They entered the living room.

B.T. raised the sleek, black 9mm handgun and aimed it between the eyes of the terrified teacher. "Rule Number One, Kenny: I ask the questions, and you give the answers. You ask me one question and I'm going to put a large hole through your goddamn forehead. Got it?"

Ken nodded his head up and down as he chewed on his lower lip. "I understand."

"That's great," smiled B.T. as he scanned the contents of the living room. "I just knew you'd be a fast learner. Have a seat in that chair by the desk."

Ken had no idea what this man wanted from him, but he sensed that he was in real danger. He did not want to do anything to aggravate this psychopath.

B.T. replaced the 9mm in a leather shoulder holster, donned a pair of work gloves, and then removed a pair of fur-lined handcuffs from the back pocket of his jeans. He walked over to the seated geologist. "Put your hands behind the back of the chair."

"Look, I told you I'd give you anything you want. There's some money upstairs in my bedroom dresser."

B.T. chuckled. "I don't want any of your stinking money, Teach. Hell, if I was a robber, I wouldn't pick a college professor to rob. What do they pay you? Thirty thousand a year? Fifty? Shit, I can make that much in a month, Kenny." B.T. handcuffed the shaking professor's hands to the wooden slats on the back of the chair. He liked to use the fur-lined cuffs he had bought in a Vegas porno shop, because they left no marks on the victim's wrists. They were sort of kinky, too.

"I'll tell you whatever you want to know," said Ken as he looked nervously over his shoulder at the intruder.

"Oh, I hope so, Kenny, cause I got another rule: I can tell when a person is lying to me, so if you try and bullshit me, you're going to feel more pain than you ever thought was possible. Torture is my middle name." B.T.'s green eyes blazed with excitement and the friendly smile never left his face as he spoke. "You wouldn't even believe what a sharp pencil inserted in the ear feels like, Kenny. And, trust me, you don't want to know."

A frightened whimper escaped from the professor as B.T. picked up a freshly sharpened Number 2 pencil from the nearby desk. He twirled it in his right hand like a baton and laughed.

"Tell me about Linda Joyce."

Jarvis instantly knew what this was all about. "You're the man she saw kill the Indian!"

"Well, I see that my reputation precedes me. When did she call?"

Ken's eyes darted madly around the room, but he knew there was no way out. "This morning. She called to tell me about the murder this morning."

"How nice. What else did she have to say?"

"She said she was worried, that it had been a terrible ordeal. She said you almost caught her when she was down in the canyon."

"Yeah, I bet I did. What else did she have to say?"

"Nothing, I swear to God. We just talked about personal stuff – things that wouldn't interest you."

"Everything interests me, Kenny. And it's been my experience that whenever people start swearing to God, they're lying."

B.T. ran the pencil in ticklish circles along the edge of the professor's ear lobe. Ken tried to pull his head to the side, but wherever he moved, the pointed pencil followed.

"She said she was going back to work!"

"Did she say anything about police protection?"

"No," cried the horror-stricken teacher, "I'm pretty sure she said she was going to be alone."

"Where is she planning on working?"

Ken Jarvis was so scared that he didn't think to protect Linda. All he cared about was his own survival. "She said she would be at House Rock Valley."

B.T.'s eyes widened. "Do you mean the House Rock Valley that's just to the west of the Paria Plateau?"

Ken swallowed hard. "That's the one. It's located on the eastern edge of the Kaibab Mountain."

B.T. tossed the pencil back on the table. Now he had everything he needed from this worm. It was time to get down to serious business. The air seemed to crackle like it was electrically charged, and the smell of death came to him like a heavenly perfume. He could faintly hear the voices of the gods whispering behind his back. All eyes were now upon him. And Ken Jarvis' spirit hung in the balance.

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