Welcome to The Book of Bones, a weekly adventure story. If you’re just joining the story, click here for Chapter 1.
“What the hell is going on with Manny’s truck?” Matthew glanced at his father, who gazed impassively at the tow truck pulling the battered pickup into the parking lot of Manny’s service center. The back window was shattered, but otherwise it seemed to be no more beaten up that it had been when Bonebrake had driven it out of town the previous day.
“Bonebrake had to ditch it,” Sheriff Jameson said. “I guess he had it towed back here.”
Matthew rounded on him, hands on hips. “How do you know he ditched it?”
“Settle yourself, son. We’ll talk about this in private.” Jameson turned and strode toward his patrol car.
Matthew glowered at his father’s back. The man still treated him like a kid, not just demanding but assuming complete obedience. Did he follow along meekly, or did he stand here like a contrary child? He couldn’t win. Fists clenched, he stalked over to the car and climbed in.
“I had a couple of my friends check on Bonebrake,” the sheriff said as he pulled the car out onto the road.
“Why did you do that?” Matthew pounded his fist on the dashboard. “This is my project! Mine!”
The sheriff slowly turned his head toward Matthew. That was all it took to subdue him. Though his father wore mirrored sunglasses, Matthew could feel the man’s steely eyes boring into him. No one else in his life had this effect on him, and he hated it.
“I didn’t tell them anything about your project. I just gave them the scent and they…overdid it on the pursuit.”
Matthew’s shoulders sagged. If his father’s friends found out about Halcon Rock they could ruin everything. “What happened, exactly?”
“I found out Bonebrake planned to borrow Manny’s truck. I planted a tracker on it and gave the info to my friends. I told them he was a researcher who might actually know what he was talking about, and I wanted to know if he found anything useful.”
“And did he?” Matthew held his breath, waiting for the answer.
Sheriff Jameson shrugged. “I don’t know. My intent was for them to follow him and let me know if he made a useful discovery or if he talked to anyone who might be useful. Instead, they followed him to the UNM library and tried to steal some articles he printed up off the internet.” Jameson rolled down the window, letting a blast of dry air in, and spat a wad of phlegm out onto the sun-baked asphalt. “There was a car chase, shots fired, and now Bonebrake is in the wind.”
Matthew smiled. “That should scare him off.”
Jameson slowly shook his head. “On the contrary, now he knows for sure we’ve got something big here.”
“I’ve got something big.” Matthew’s cheeks warmed as soon as he uttered the words. Why did his father bring out the worst in him?
“Now, Bonebrake’s in the wind and if I’ve got the measure of the man, he’s going to keep digging. We haven’t seen the last of him.”
Matthew considered this for a moment. “He’s got to come back for his truck sometime. When he does, we could kill him and dump his body outside of town. Just another unsolved murder.”
Jameson nodded. “Could be, but I don’t think he’ll prove that easy to kill.”
“You don’t think I can handle him?” Matthew had never killed a man before, but he’d taken down more than his share of self-styled tough guys in bars and clubs from Amarillo to Albuquerque. He was also an accomplished hunter. Taking aim and pulling a trigger was a simple matter.
Jameson didn’t take his eyes off the road. “Open that folder and read what’s inside.”
Matthew picked up the manila folder that was tucked in the crack beside his seat and opened it up. Inside were a few printouts, all regarding Bonebrake: a few arrest records from long ago; some information on his service in the Navy; including commendations and awards; and another sheet simple titled “Rumors.” The items on this list were too incredible to be taken seriously.
“Atlantis?” he read aloud. “Oak Island, the skunk ape, alien contact. You expect me to believe this crap?”
“I expect you to understand what sort of person we’re dealing with. That file paints a picture of something I’ve seldom encountered: a true believe who not only isn’t crazy, but can handle himself. We need to tread carefully around this guy.”
Matthew flipped back to the page that covered Bonebrake’s naval service. A young, short-haired version of the big Cherokee smiled back at him. He had the sudden urge to slap that roguish grin right off the man’s face. Maybe he’d get the chance.
“You have a plan?” he asked his father.
“Maybe we can turn his skills to our advantage. He has to come back for his own truck sometime. I’ve planted a tracker on it. Maybe we’ll follow along and see where he leads us.”