Welcome to The Book of Bones, a weekly adventure story. If you’re just joining the story, click here for Chapter 1.
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A knock at the door roused Bones from slumber. He rolled over and cracked one eye. The digital display on the cheap motel alarm clock read 8:08. Too early after the night he’d just had. He closed his eyes and pulled the covers over his head.
The knock came again.
“I don’t need service today,” he called.
A low groan of “holy crap” escaped his lips and he sat up. “Just a minute. I’m not dressed.” He figured he didn’t need to hurry. There was no back window or other means of escape, so it’s not like the cops would be looking to knock down the door. He pulled on jeans and a t-shirt and smoothed his hair back before opening the door.
He’d expected to see Hector, the deputy whom he’d knocked unconscious the night before, but the man who stood there was a solid fellow of late middle years. He was Anglo, his neatly-combed brown hair dusted with silver. His reflective sunglasses told Bones just how bad he looked after his late-night exertion and limited sleep.
“How can I help you?”
“I’m the sheriff.” The man didn’t provide his name, but his name tag read ‘W. Craig Jameson.’ Bones didn’t need a full-night’s sleep to put the pieces together. The man was Matthew’s father. Great.
“Good to meet you.” It was a lie, but Bones wasn’t holding any cards in this situation, so he opted for courtesy.
Sheriff Jameson took off his glasses and tilted his head, inspecting Bones up and down with rheumy blue eyes. “You don’t look so good. Have a late night?”
Bones forced a laugh. “If there’s any night life here nobody told me about it. I’m just a late sleeper. I’m not at my best until lunchtime. Coffee helps, too.”
Jameson nodded. “Can I come in? I need to ask you a few questions.”
Bones stepped to the side and allowed the sheriff to come inside. The man took a seat at the small window side table and Bones took the chair opposite him.
“What’s your business in Quemadura?”
“I don’t have any. My truck broke down and I’m waiting for Manny to get the parts in to fix it.”
“Where are you headed?”
“Meeting friends in Vegas. I should have been there last night.” He grimaced at the thought of Matt and Willis partying without him. He was missing it all: drinks, casinos, and the girls.
“I understand you were out at Halcón Rock yesterday.” The sheriff arched an eyebrow.
“I went for a run and ended up at a rock formation. I guess that’s the name of it.”
“What were you doing out there?”
“Like I said, I went for a run and that’s where I ended up.” Bones pushed back from the table. “You mind if I make some coffee while we talk? I can make you a cup, too.” His thoughts were muzzy and he didn’t want to slip up and say something that could implicate him in what happened last night.
“You go ahead, I’m fine.” Jameson cleared his throat. “It seems a little strange that you would end up at Halcón Rock of all places. That’s a restricted area.”
“Not that strange,” Bones said, keeping his back to the sheriff while he busied himself with the coffee maker. “It’s public land and a nicer place to run than the highway. The rock was the only thing on the horizon, so I ran to it.”
“That’s a long way to run.”
Bones shrugged. “I didn’t have anything better to do.”
“You had an incident with my deputy while you were there.”
“If you call him telling me to leave and me complying an ‘incident’ then I guess so.” Bones hit the button to start the coffee brewing and turned to face the sheriff. “I’ve got to ask. How can that be a restricted area if it’s public land? No offense, but your deputy isn’t a fed and neither are you.”
“Is that why you went back last night?” The question came sharp and fast, but Bones had been ready for it.
“I haven’t been back. Dude told me to leave so I left.”
Jameson folded his arms. “Why don’t I believe you?”
“Probably because working in law enforcement doesn’t exactly reinforce your faith in the human race.” Bones smiled but the sheriff didn’t return it.
“Can anybody verify your whereabouts last night?”
“I don’t know anybody except Manny.” Behind him the coffee maker began to sputter and spit, and the welcome aroma of brewing coffee filled the air.
“You know Mari.”
“She gave me a ride when my car broke down. The only thing I really know about her is she’s got a boyfriend who hits her.”
Jameson flinched at that. Bones had drawn first blood.
“I’m going to be honest with you, Mister Bonebrake.”
“That’s always nice.” Bones turned and busied himself with the coffee. He normally took it black, but he added cream and sugar just to kill a little time while Jameson stared at his back.
“I did some checking on you. For some reason, I could learn almost nothing about you. Why?”
“Maybe Google is not your friend?” Bones took a sip of coffee, and locked eyes with the sheriff. He had to be careful here. If he followed his normal instincts, he might piss the guy off enough to get himself locked up on some bogus charge. Time to rein it in. “Actually, I’m ex-military and I’ve been involved a lot of sensitive stuff. I can’t say for sure, but I think the powers-that-be have erased a lot of my history.” That was half-true. A government agency had, in fact, gone to great lengths to hide much of his history, but that had been done by Tam Broderick, head of the Myrmidon Squad, for reasons of her own.
Jameson nodded. “I did learn that you have an interest in aliens.”
“Aliens, Nessie, Bigfoot, I love all that crap. Have since I was a kid.”
“So you know the legends surrounding Halcón Rock.” It wasn’t a question. When Bones merely shook his head, the sheriff continued. “Some of your UFO-crazy friends have tried to say there were alien encounters there. It’s based on an old Indian legend. Since you’re both a UFO nut and an Indian, I have trouble believing you’ve never heard about it.”
Bones took another sip of coffee to prevent himself from making a sarcastic reply. “First of all, I’m a Cherokee. Suggesting I’m related to the local native population would be like calling you Canadian. Second, if I wanted to check out Halcón Rock, I’d do it. I wouldn’t sabotage my transmission and cost myself a chunk of change when I’m supposed to be in Vegas with my friends.”
Jameson stared, letting the conversation lapse. It was a common tactic. People had a natural urge to fill silences, and patient silence often proved more effective than asking questions. Bones knew that trick, and many more. As a former Navy SEAL, he’d been trained to both to utilize and resist much more severe interrogation tactics than this. He stood there, drinking his coffee, until the sheriff relented.
Jameson stood and let out a long, slow breath.
“Mister Bonebrake, I know you went to Halcón Rock last night and you assaulted two men. And when I can prove it, I’m going to make your life very unpleasant.”
Bones merely smiled and waited for the man to see himself out. When the door closed behind Jameson, Bones let out a groan. Why did trouble always seem to find him?