Quicksilver Messenger Pt. 02


Chapter 3

Steve followed the Sheriff to his car, the Sheriff opened the back door and ushered him into the car. He saw the cage between the front and backseat with the handles removed from the back doors. He started to get a little nervous about this trip and the Sheriff. Steve was beginning to wonder what he had gotten himself into. So he thought he would try to find out what was going on and get a little information at the same time.

He hadn’t blinked about doing the right thing and taking care of the injured woman. Now he was worried it somehow, he was being setup or railroaded. The Sheriff was acting as if he was guilty of doing something to the gorgeous woman in the middle of the road. The phrase; ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ kept rattling around in his head. He knew he hadn’t done anything and his innocence would prevail. Still he needed more information.

“You said the woman’s name was April. Do you know her, does she live around here, how do you know her?” Steve asked.

The Sheriff glanced in the mirror and in a gruff voice tinged with much irritation said, “You can turn off the innocent charm bud, I’m not buying.”

Steve closed his mouth with and audible click of his teeth. He was beginning to think that silence was the better part of valor in this case and hopefully he would find out what was going on later. However, Steve was beginning to regret doing the right thing and bringing the girl to the hospital. The drive to the police station took about three minutes, but what a long three minutes it was.

Steve started gazing out the windows and noticed the sky was bright from the stars. He never remembered seeing the stars so bright before. There was no haze, just bright sharp points in the sky. The stars were so bright that you see shadows from the buildings and the surrounding mountains. As usually happen when he saw some strikingly beautiful sights, he was wishing he had his camera with him and would like to be out shooting some night photos. The starkness of the landscape and the harshness of the stars would make for some terrific black-and-white photos.

The Sheriff pulled into a parking space in front of a generic government building that could have been a Post Office or a million other government buildings. There were brick facades on either side of glass doors leading to a generic counter behind the glass. The only thing to identify the building as the Sheriff’s office was the county logo painted on the glass doors. Above logo was a sign that said ‘Sheriff Brewster County’. As the sheriff parked the car a nice looking black and chrome pickup truck came screaming around the corner and slid to a stop next to the Sheriff’s car.

A man bailed out of the pickup and came towards the Sheriff’s car like black thunderclouds sweeping across the Texas plains. He was a distinguished looking man with a shimmering head of silver hair, but he seemed to be carrying around his own thundercloud on his face. Steve could swear the sky darkened when he drove up. His body language said he was looking for someone to pummel into the ground, and his eyes were fixed on Steve.

Steve’s nervous feeling began to intensify into a full-blown panic. He had at first thought the Sheriff only wanted the details of where and how he found April. Now he was beginning to think people were looking at him as the reason she was in the hospital.

Fortunately, the Sheriff quickly jumped out of the Squad car and set himself like a mountain between them. The man tried to get around the Sheriff, but the man mountain kept moving between them. As Steve watched, he was stunned as the Sheriff grabbed the man by his lapels, held him and began talking to him in a low voice. Steve couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the man began to calm down even though his eyes kept flicking between the Sheriff and Steve.

After a few minutes the Sheriff let go of the man, began to smooth his jacket and guide him back to his pickup. The silvered haired man kept shooting daggers at Steve with his eyes, but eventually he got into his pickup. He gave Steve one last look of hatred before the Sheriff closed the pickup door. The silver haired man started his black and chrome pickup and drove off the direction they had come from.

The Sheriff came over, opened the back door for Steve, helped him out of the car and began to steer him to the Sheriff’s office. He had his hand around Steve’s arm in a grip that was firm and unbreakable, but not crushing his arm. As they made their way towards the jail the Sheriff muttered, “Word travels fast round here.”

With anxiety in his voice Steve queried, “Who was that?”

The Sheriff tensed, but didn’t say anything. Steve could tell he was grappling with the answer as they walked up the steps to the Sheriff’s office. As he opened the door and ushered him into the office, he muttered something Steve couldn’t make out.

“What did you say?” He queried.

“I said, he is the father of the girl you kidnapped,” The Sheriff görükle escort muttered.

Steve flinched in his grasp and came to a screeching stop. The Sheriff tightened his grasp and started to drag Steve towards the Sheriff’s office.

“Kidnapped!!” Steve screamed. “What in the Hell are you talking about. I found her on the road and brought her to the Hospital.”

Steve’s mind was reeling as the Sheriff continued to drag him towards his office. “Why would I bring someone I kidnapped to the hospital then wait around for the Sheriff to show up?”

“Stupid I guess.” He answered as he jerked Steve into his office and towards a chair. “Most criminals are stupid, why should you be an exception.” He continued. “Before you get your panties in a wad let me get some information and listen for a minute.”

Steve sat heavily or the Sheriff could have thrown him in the chair next to his desk; either way he wound up in the chair. As Steve was figuring out what to do, he thought it couldn’t hurt to listen to the Sheriff, so he nodded. Also, at this point Steve didn’t have much of a choice. Sheriff sat heavily in his chair behind the desk and he looked tired and weary. He shook his head stiffened his spine and began his grilling of this hardened, criminal kidnapper.

“First, what’s your name?”

“Steve McKinny.”

“Let me see your driver’s license.”

Steve pulled out his old worn cowhide wallet, slid the license out of the plastic sleeve and handed the license to the Sheriff.

“This address correct?” He asked.

“Yes, for the time being.” Steve responded.

The Sheriff looked up quickly ready to pounce on the smartass he thought Steve was.

So he quickly added, “I’m on my way to California for a yearlong contract position.”

Now the Sheriff had a puzzled look on his face with his facial expressions telling him to explain.

“I’m a self-employed Professional Engineer. I just finished a long job in Corpus Christi and now I am heading to Orange County, California for my next job.”

“So, this address on Rod Field Road in Corpus Christi is ….?”

“My house … that I am renting out while I am gone.” Steve added.

The Sheriff leaned back into his chair, but still looked like his was ready to pounce on him if he made the wrong move. The Sheriff was so rigid in his chair he looked like he was in pain, but his eyes were boring into Steve searching for lies or weakness. He casually leaned forward and said, “This is not the way to California, son.”

“I know, but I haven’t been to the Big Bend area since I was 8 and I thought it was time to visit again. I have to be in California in a week so I pulled of I-10, headed down to Alpine and thought I would photograph some of the mountains. I’m also an amateur photographer,” Steve added.

“Okay, but I need to get your whole story, front to back and back to front, or we will be here a while.”

“Okay, but first should I get a lawyer?” Even though Steve did not know a soul in Alpine he still inquired. “Second, who was the guy outside and why did I supposedly kidnap his daughter?”

“Look, I need to ask the questions for a while. As for the lawyer it’s up to you, but you are not a suspect … yet” Then the Sheriff’s shoulders slumped and he added, “If you check out, I’ll let you know what is going on. Okay tell me how you came to find April.”

“Well, I left Corpus Christi around noon yesterday and thought I would take a leisurely trip to California and photograph much of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Since I don’t have to be in California for a week I stopped in San Antonio. I spent several hours on the River Walk, had an early dinner and then about 7 O’clock left to drive to the Big Bend area.”

The Sheriff raised his eyebrows and gave him a quizzical look. This was the look that says hurry and finish before I beat it out of you, but he probed, “You must not know how to drive that hot car of yours. It only takes me 5 hours to get to San Antonio.”

“As I said earlier, I am an amateur photographer. I stop a lot to take photos of areas I find interesting or artistic.” Steve responded.

“I left Interstate 10 and came down Highway 67. About twelve miles before the Highway 90 intersection I found April in the middle of the road, I put her in the car and brought her to the hospital.”

The Sheriff leaned forward and scowled at Steve. He pondered, “Do you have anyone who can confirm any of this?”

The look on his face told him that if he couldn’t prove where he had been, he had a reservation in the gray bar hotel. “I have several ways to prove it. First, I can give you the names of the friends that saw me off yesterday morning. Second, I have credit card receipts from the San Antonio Costco, River Walk restaurant and my last gas receipt from Fort Stockton.”

The Sheriff tensed, sat forward, held out his hand and said, “Give!”

Steve started digging through his pockets. He pulled the San Antonio bursa escort bayan Costco gas receipt, the Texaco gas receipt from Fort Stockton and the receipt of the San Antonio River Walk boat tour. He couldn’t find the restaurant receipt and must have left it in the car. Steve said so to the Sheriff.

The Sheriff leaned back started going through the receipts. As he started to look through the receipts, Steve could see tight muscles in his face relax. The relaxation traveled down his shoulders, then his back and finally he leaned back in the chair.

As he dropped his hands in his lap, he raised his head and his brown eyes softened. “Okay, I will still need the names of the people in Corpus Christi that saw you off, but you’re not off the hook yet. You’re either a witness or a participant in whatever is going on here and I will need you to stay around for a couple of days as well.”

“No problem Sheriff, like I said I planned on several days here anyway. If you can take me to my car I have all my friends’ names and phone numbers in my Blackberry” Steve offered.

“Okay, we will go back get that in a little while. First, I need a formal statement, so you to write down everything you told me and sign it.” Then the Sheriff handed him a pad of paper and a pen.

As he started to write the Sheriff spoke up again, “I also need your Social Security Number, a set of your fingerprints and your photograph. I will need you to take me to where you found April when you’re finished.”

“Sheriff, I know you have to cover all your bases so I will be glad to give you that information and take you to where I found April.”

As Steve continued to write the Sheriff stood up and starred out the window with his hands behind his back. Watching him Steve realized that he was standing at ‘Parade Rest’. As he looked at him his time in the Corp at Texas A&M University came back to him. The Sheriff obviously had a military background. “Marines?” He queried.

The Sheriff turned around with a surprised look on his face and with reverence said, “Semper Fi, Twenty years in. Came back here to do what I could for Mom and Dad, and then stayed.”

“Sheriff, who was the guy outside” Steve finally mustered up the courage to ask.

“The man outside was Ed Hunt and his daughter April Hunt went missing yesterday. Being the richest man in these parts, he assumed it was a kidnapping, while I was in wait and see mode. But he owns Hunt Oil, most of the Wind generators you passed on the Edwards Plateau and a ranch that covers of the next couple of counties.”

Okay, Steve bolted upright for a second, because he had just finished a consulting job for the Hunt Oil refinery on the Corpus Christi ship channel. He debated on whether to tell that to the Sheriff and decided it would be worse if he hid it. He cleared his throat and said, “Sheriff, my last consulting job in Corpus Christi was for Hunt Oil Refinery.”

The Sheriff tensed and turned to look at him. The Sheriff could tell that Mr. McKinny was trying to be honest and had told him this out of full disclosure. The kid seemed to be everything he claimed and he rather liked him.

The tense atmosphere was starting to mellow out. The Sheriff and Steve looked at each other for a minute and a little bonding took place. Then they both looked away at the same time and the Sheriff picked up the phone and started calling people. Steve went back to write his statement.

About the time he finished writing his statement and signing it, a rumpled, long-haired man looking to be in his early thirties showed up. As he swaggered into the room wearing clothes that looked like he slept in them, he was carrying a couple of large aluminum cases. Steve had seen enough crime stuff on TV to know that this was a Crime Scene Tech and he was getting ready to photograph and fingerprint him.

As Steve sat there, the CSI tech plopped the aluminum case down his case with an audible thump. He puffed a group of papers into the air and they fluttered around the room. One of them was the statement Steve had just finished. The CSI tech looked angry, bored or sleepy or maybe all three and didn’t care about the mess he just made.

He turned slowly and gave Steve the “ask-me-if-I-give-a-shit” look. When Steve didn’t respond, he went back to his case. He opened it up and took out some ink pads and sectioned off cards. Then with utter contempt in his posture, he then cleared a section off the Sheriffs desk with a sweep of his hand. Most of the papers hit the floor with a big thump, but a couple of papers floated back and forth as if they were attached to a swing until they hit the carpet.

He then turned to look at Steve daring him to say something. When he didn’t move or say anything he turned back to the desk with a satisfied smug look on his face and began to layout his fingerprint cards. Steve shook his head; okay he had his temper tantrum, now maybe we can get on with business. However, then again Steve bursa escort couldn’t help but mess with him a little bit after that tantrum:

“Don’t you have any of the new digital fingerprint equipment?” Steve innocently asked, knowing that being behind the times would set off any techie.

Sure, enough he whirled around and knocked his ink pad off the desk. “Don’t you give me any of your lip before I had my first cup of coffee. Now we can do this the easy way or hard way. Please choose the hard way.” He added in a low rumbling voice laced with a fair amount of venom.

Steve wasn’t worried about anything physical with this guy; after all he outweighed him by at least 70 pounds. The guy was nothing but skin and bone in a hell of a lot of attitude. Steve threw up his hands in mock surrender and responded. “Just curious about how far the high-tech gadgets have reached.”

He started to calm and even got a wistful look on his face just a little before he answered, “We have computers and scanners. We use those to do what they do in the big cities, with a single gadget. We just don’t have the big budget they have.” He added with regret in his voice.

He picked up the ink pad, grabbed Steve’s right hand and began rolling each of his fingers through the ink then on the finger print card. He was finishing his left hand when the Sheriff came back into the room.

“Where is the statement?” The Sheriff asked.

Since both Steve’s hands were full of ink he nodded towards the floor and said. “Down there.”

The Sheriff immediately whipped his head around to scowl at the Tech and Steve felt the Tech clamp down on his wrist at the same time. There was a lot of hostility between these two. Without saying a word, the anger, stubbornness, reprimand and apology were all passed through the looks that passed between the Sheriff and the Tech.

The Sheriff slowly turned back to the paper on the floor and picked up the statement. He began to read it as he straightened up and added “You need to sign it and then we will go see where you found April.”

Again Steve felt the Techs hands clamp down on his wrist. His voice went up an Octave as he said “You are the person that kidnapped April?”

The Sheriff laid his hand on the Tech’s shoulder and said, “Relax Will, he is the one that found her and he is not a suspect … yet.”

Then Will finally let go of his wrist and handed him some moist towelettes to clean his hands. Will packed up his tools and gathered all his fingerprint stuff and began to leave. As he was almost to the door he turned and said, “You better not have laid a hand on her or you’ll wish you had never been born.”

He then turned to the Sheriff and said. “I will scan the fingerprints and get them into IFAS … ASAP.”

As he walked off the Sheriff turned to Steve and said. “There is a bathroom over there to wash up.”

Steve turned to look at the Sheriff then in a soft tone, innocently asked, “Sheriff, what’s the deal with April? It seems like everyone that knows her has strong feelings for her.”

The Sheriff pondered a moment then answered. “April is the closest thing to royalty we have around here. She was the homecoming queen at the high school and university, represented us in the Miss Texas pageant. She was valedictorian in High school and graduating Magna Cum Laude in Pre-Med. So, she is brilliant as well. She has done modeling and commercials for businesses in the area, but unlike several other beautiful girls in the area she stayed here instead of running off to Dallas, New York or LA.”

“Many people hate her because she has everything, beauty, grace, wealth and she has a quick sharp mind. I’ve known her since she was in grade school and her father is excessively protective of her. That also means she has few friends and even fewer boyfriends. Lots of people in the area would do anything for her and some even think they love her. Will is one of the latter.”

“Oh!” Steve responded as he began the walk to the bathroom.

While in the bathroom Steve stared in the mirror and began to shake his head. “What kind of a cowpie have you stepped into Steve?” He muttered to himself.

The Sheriff was waiting for him when he came out of the bathroom and they quickly moseyed to the Sheriff’s car. This time the Sheriff opened the front door for Steve and he began to relax for the first time since he pulled into Alpine.

As they drove out of town, the stars were beginning to fade in the oncoming dawn. It was almost 5am and the sun still had a way to go before it was up, but the horizon was starting to lighten. As they drove out highway 90 and turned onto highway 67 Steve watched the sky lighten. The stars faded behind a curtain of oranges, reds and yellows in the upcoming dawn.

The mesquite trees and scrub brush began to turn from dark menacing shapes into shadows of stunted brush. The brush and trees were all withered by the hard existence in the West Texas Mountains. This was a hard place to live and it took a lot of grit eke out an existence, even for the plants. Steve was again struck by the beauty and character of the rugged landscape. As the light began to reveal more and more shadows, the landscape turned harsh and unforgiving, yet beautiful in its own way.

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