The next morning, Nicole got up expecting to remember where the arrows were at, but nothing came to her. She was disappointed. She got the laundry cart and filled it with all the bedding, linen, towels, and soaps and waited for Mr. Blackhawk to leave the room. At 8:30 AM he came out of his room. She spied him from the window in the office. He had on a brown suede shirt, with blue jeans and brown boots. His hair was straight, and he looked beautiful to her. She had never seen a man who had hair as long as his. It went straight down his back, pass his waist. It was so silky smooth, she wanted to run her fingers through it to feel the hair in her hands.
This always happened to her. A nice looking man would have a room for a few days, she’d dream about him, admire him from a distance, and wish she had the courage to meet and strike up a relationship with him, and then he left. Story of my life. She just couldn’t seem to get over her shyness and her inability to connect deeper with men.
After cleaning his room, she went to the laundry room and started the wash. Debbie came in to help her. “That Mr. Blackhawk sure is a gorgeous looking man, isn’t he?”
“I supposed.” Nicole turned and looked at her sister-in-law.
“What? You don’t think he’s good looking?”
“Yeah. He’s good looking.”
“I wonder if he’s single? You’ve been talking to him, did he indicate to you whether he was single or not?”
“No. Besides, you’re married.”
“I’m not looking at him for me, silly. I’m looking at him for you.”
“Oh. Well, I don’t know if Ronnie would ever approve of him.” Nicole stammered, unsure of where this conversation was going to lead.
“What does Ronnie have to do with it?”
“He got a little miffed at Mr. Blackhawk for questioning me about the arrows that he’s looking for.”
“Remember? A few years ago I told you about some ancient arrows I saw in a cave?”
Debbie drew her brows together. “I remember it, vaguely, I think.”
“Anyway, he says they are the Sacred Arrows, and they belong to his tribe. I’ve been trying to remember exactly where I saw them in the mountains. He was repeatedly asking me questions, and Ronnie didn’t like it.”
“Well, you could just tell Ronnie that it’s none of his beeswax.” Debbie put a hand on her hip. “He’s probably being overprotective because he thinks he’s your big brother and has to keep an eye on every man that comes here.”
“If you were to remember where the arrows are at, how does he think he’s going to get them? He’d have to wait until summer. There is no way he’d be able to get up those mountains now. Some of them are still snow covered.”
“I don’t know how he figures he’s going to get them. First, I have to remember where I saw them.”
After finishing the laundry, she went down to the creek that ran through their property near the mountains. She scooped down and put her hand in the water. It was ice cold but was clear and fresh. The creek was high this time of the year because of the snow that had melted in the mountains. She sat down to listen to the water as it cascaded through the creek. It was so relaxing and comforting. Sierra came up and sat down next to her, and she petted her on the head. She sat cross-legged and focused her mind on the pine tree that stood across the creek from her. While meditating, it came to her. She knew exactly where the arrows were. She knew which part of the mountains it was on and how to get to them. She felt so relieved and excited she couldn’t wait to see Mr. Blackhawk to tell him.
She waited all afternoon for him to return. He finally pulled into the parking space in front of his room and got out. She was ready to run up to him and tell him when another car pulled in next to his. Three young boys got out, and a woman got out of the driver’s side. She walked up and gave him a hug. Mr. Blackhawk reached down and picked up the young boy with a cast on his arm and hugged him. They disappeared into one of the rooms.
Nicole felt sick. He’s married. He has three boys. How could she possibly believe that he was single? Tears formed at the corner of her eyes and dropped down her cheeks. Disappointment etched in her heart once more. She wandered aimlessly outside and walked down to the creek again and sat on a log. After sitting there for a half hour, she heard a child’s voice and saw that Sierra was running and romping around the yard, chasing the little boy with the cast on his arm. Soon a little voice said to her. “Hi. My name is Nathan, and I have a broken arm.”
She looked up at Nathan, who looked exactly like his father. “My name is Nicole, how did you break your arm?”
“I fell down the stairs.”
“Oh my, you’re lucky you only broke your arm.”
“Yeah. Is this your dog?”
“Yes. Her name is Sierra.”
Nathan petted the dog behind his ears with his good arm.
“Can I sit next to you?”
“Sure.” Nicole scooted over so he could sit. He stuck his hand in the water.
“The water is cold.”
“Yes, it is very cold, it doesn’t get warm until summer.” Nicole looked at the boy sitting next to her and smiled. He sure was an adorable little guy.
“Aren’t you afraid of boogie monsters out here?”
“No. There’s no boogie monsters here.”
“How do you know?”
“I chased them all away.”
“How did you do that?”
“I put my hands up here by my head and wiggled my fingers and said, “Boogie monsters, I’m going to eat you alive.” She made a face.
Nathan laughed. “They don’t bother you anymore?”
“Nope. They stayed away. Plus, I have Sierra here, and she chases the boogie monsters off our land. See all those white things that look like sticks in the ground over there?”
“Those are bones that Sierra finds in the mountains. She brings them down here and places them all along our property line and dares anybody to trespass. If they do, she chases them off.”
“I like Sierra, she’s a good dog.”
“Yes, she is quite special.”
“My dad’s a lawyer. He helps put bad people in jail.”
“Really? That’s good.”
“Yep. He tries to put the bad people away so they don’t hurt anyone anymore.”
No wonder why he knows how to drill her for information. “We need lots of good people like that to help put the bad people away.”
“What have you got in your hand?”
“Gummy bears. Daddy brought some for me. Want one?”
“What flavor do you have?”
“Yum, that sounds good.”
“Here, have one.” Nathan handed Nicole a red gummy bear, and she took it and put it in her mouth.
“What other flavors do you like to eat?”
“I like the orange ones, and the yellow ones too. It’s the only candy daddy lets me eat. He says that if I keep eating them, all my teeth will rot and come out!” Nathan laughed.
Nicole laughed with him. “Well, that is true. There is a lot of sugar in the candy.” She recalled watching a show called “How It’s Made” on the Discovery channel and seen how the gummy candy was made. Sugar, sugar and more sugar.
“Nathan, come on, son, we need to get settled in for the night.” A masculine voice said from behind them. Nicole stood up and watched as Mr. Blackhawk came walking from a distance.
“Dad, did you meet Sierra? She chases bad things away.”
“Yes, I did meet Sierra.” He smiled at Nicole, she stood up and stared at him.
“Well, have a good evening, Nathan, Mr. Blackhawk.” Nicole started to leave.
“Please, call me Marcus.”
Nicole looked up at him, and he smiled at her. She nodded her head and walked back to her room with her head down, tears ran down her cheeks.
* * * *
“Let’s go, son.” Marcus placed his hand on the child’s head to lead him toward the motel. He wondered what Nathan and Nicole talked about before he arrived. He heard voices as he walked toward them and stood under the tree listening to the conversation before he interrupted. They were talking about the dog, Sierra. Nathan didn’t usually makeup to women, except his aunt, and he was surprised to see him talking so candidly with her. The minute he saw Nicole’s eyes, though, they went from tender looking to daggers when she looked at him. Was he pushing her too hard? Why the chilly reception?
“What are we gonna do, dad?”
“We’re going to go into town and grab something to eat. Then we’ll get comfy and watch a movie on television. How does that sound?”
“Yippee!” They walked back to their room. Marcus watched the lone figure walk to her room. She walked as if she was forlorn and sad.
“Dad, Chief David took us to see Chappie. That movie was cool.”
“Was Chappie a robot?”
“Yeah, he was a good one, and I want one. Can I have one, dad?”
Marcus knew this was coming. “We’ll see.” He looked down at his son. “Looks like your arm is doing better and you’re not in any pain.”
“It still hurts.”
“When was the last time you took some aspirins for it?”
“Aunt Shana gave me aspirins this morning.”
“Did you take them?”
“You’ll have to be careful not to run so much for a while. Let the arm have a chance to heal.” Telling this child not to run is tantamount to telling him to take aspirins.
* * * *
Nicole waited until she saw the group leave. They came out of their rooms and climbed into Marcus’s SUV. Why did they sleep in separate room? Why didn’t he just get a bigger room for them all for the weekend? Well, whatever. Not my concern or my business. Both rooms were seriously messy from all the snacks and toys that the kids brought with them. She was careful not to touch or move any of them. She got both rooms cleaned just before they returned. She went to the laundry room to start the wash when her brother, Ronnie, came in.
“Hey, kiddo. Can you do me a favor?”
“Can you wash these clothes? I am going with a couple of guys this afternoon, and we’re going to Sandpiper mine across the highway and do some digging.”
“Okay. Should be done in about an hour or so.”
“Great, thanks, sis.”
She smiled at her brother.
“Talked to mom and dad last night,” Ronnie said as he approached the door.
“How are they doing?”
“They are doing good. Can’t wait for us to come down and visit them. Are you sure you don’t want to go with us in August when we travel down to Arizona to see them?”
“I’m sure.” She would rather NOT have to listen to her mother carry on and on about the fact that she didn’t have a boyfriend, and was not married, and have not given her any grandchildren. She loved her mother, but every time they talked, her mother just wouldn’t get off the subject. She didn’t like the idea that she wasn’t married and didn’t have any children either, but constantly having it rubbed in her face was not exactly how she wanted to spend a summer vacation.
“You know, if it’s money, we will pay your way,” Ronnie said.
“I know. But, you know mom. I just don’t want to be constantly nagged on the fact that I’m single.”
“Yeah, she can be a bit of a drag. She is always harping on Debbie and me about having children.”
“So, when are you going to start a family?”
“Now, don’t you start.” Ronnie smiled. “That’s like my asking you, when are you going to get married.”
“The other thing is, I don’t think we should close the motel in August. It’s one of our busier times and someone should be here to run it.”
“We can hire someone to do it.”
“But, it won’t be the same. I don’t think. You know how particular I am about laundry and all the sheets and pillow cases be ironed and just right, and everything in the rooms being squeaky cleaned.”
“Yeah, Debbie says that sometimes after you guys are done cleaning, you go behind her and reclean everything that she’s done. Why do you do that?”
“I don’t know. I’m just compulsive that way, I guess. It’s nothing personal, and I don’t mean to hurt her feelings or anything. But I’ll make plans to go and visit mom and dad in October, sometime.”
“Okay. I’ll be back in a while.” Ronnie walked out the door.
It was almost evening when she went and grabbed her book and Sierra. She went to the picnic table where she sat to read, and Sierra went hunting. She thought she could get an hour in before it was too dark to read outside. Sometimes she just went to check her bones, other times she went into the woods to find more. She was never very far away, and when Nicole whistled for her, she always came back on a dead run.
No one knew how much she loved delving into romance books. It took her away from her own meager existence and allowed her to live in a fantasy that she knew she would never have in real life. She heard a playful bark from Sierra and lifted her eyes from the book. She saw Nathan running and playing with Sierra and Sierra was excited. She was jumping and running around in circles. She could hear Nathan laughing, and she saw the other two boys coming around and playing with Sierra too. This was a treat for Sierra. She didn’t normally get young children to play with her. Soon they headed to the creek to throw rocks in the water.
Nathan came up and sat down next to her. “Hi, Nicole,” he said.
“Hello there, Nathan. How are you doing this evening?”
“Okay. My arm hurts.”
“I bet it does.”
“Dad makes me take aspirins for it. But it doesn’t really work.”
“Have you told dad that it doesn’t work?”
“Well, maybe you should, so he could get you something a little stronger for the pain.”
“I don’t want anything stronger. I don’t like taking aspirins.”
“Guess that means you got to live with the pain then, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Sometimes we have to do things or take things we don’t like to feel better. I don’t like to take aspirins either, but sometimes, when I have a bad headache, I take them to make me feel better. I don’t want to spend my day in pain when I can take something that will take the pain away.”
“I’ll have daddy give me something stronger, then I won’t spend my day in pain. I went to a movie.”
“You did? What did you see?”
“We saw Chappie.”
“I heard that was a cool movie.”
“It was. I want a Chappie robot.”
Nicole smiled again. She wondered if Nathan’s parents knew what they would be buying him in the near future.
“What was the movie about?”
“Robots being cops and shooting up the bad guys.”
“Wow, I bet you enjoyed that.”
“What kind of games do you like to play, Nathan?
“I like to play card games with my dad. We play Old Maid, and he always gets stuck with the old maid.” He laughed.
“Gee, you’re a card shark, huh?”
“We play games like Sorry and stuff like that.”
“Have you ever played a card game called Uno?”
“Yes. When we have a party and there are lots of people to play.”
“Hmm, something tells me I have to sit far away from you if we ever play that game.”
“Yeah, I’ll slip you a draw four if I have too!”
Bryan came running up beside Nathan. “Look, Nathan, there’s a river over there.”
“I know. I saw it yesterday.”
“There are some deer there.”
“Really? I want to see.”
Nathan took off running to the creek with Bryan. Soon she heard a yell. It sounded painful. She turned around and saw Nathan on the ground, crying. He looked like he fell and hurt his arm that was in the cast. Nicole quickly got up and ran to him.
“What happened, honey?” She asked as she ran her hand through his hair.
“I slipped on that rock and fell. My arm hurts really bad.” He cried.
“Okay, will one you boys run to get your mom and dad and I’ll carry him to the picnic table?”
“I will.” Daniel took off on a run.
Nicole picked Nathan up and carried him to the picnic table and sat him down. He was still crying as she leaned his head gently on her breast and rocked him.
“My arm hurts so bad.” Nathan whimpered.
“I know sweetie, mommy and daddy will be here in a second.” She whispered in his hair as she hugged him.
Hello Readers! Welcome to Chapter 3 of Elkhorn In The Moonlight. I hope you are enjoying the story so far. Remember that this is in rough draft and edits will be forthcoming. Thank you for joining in and reading the story!
After meeting with Marcus, Nicole went to the laundry room and did the wash. When she was finished, She released her hair from the back of her head and let it cascade down her back. She went outside to the log she sat on at the end of the property, before going straight up the mountainside. She felt the breeze go through her hair, and she always liked that. Sierra walked beside her and laid down next to her. She crossed her legs, stretched out her arms to her knees and put her thumbs and third fingers together. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Usually, meditation clears her mind, and things come into sharper focus. She didn’t know if this would help her to remember where she saw the arrows, but it was worth a try. She visualized an image of the view of the land from a mountaintop. She then concentrated on her breathing and started to breathe deeply. She traveled through her body relaxing every muscle as she went. She counted backward from twenty, and she imagined herself standing at the top of the stair. As she counted, she imagined she stepped down one stair, until she got to zero. “I desire to improve my memory. Remove the blockage that is keeping me from remembering.” She saw the arrows in the cave. “I desire to improve my memory. Remove the blockage that is preventing me from remembering. When I get up in the morning, I will remember where the cave is. I will remember what part of Elkhorn Mountains the cave is located, and I will remember how to get there. I will return to full awareness quickly and easy.”
After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and looked around. Sierra sat next to her, looking as if she was waking up too. Sometimes, she thought when she did her meditations, the dog did it too.
“Where’s your stick, Sierra?” She reached over and petted the dog behind her ear. Sierra stood up and wagged her tail excitedly. “Go get your stick, Sierra.” Sierra took off on a run toward the mountains. Soon, she came back with a stick that was bigger than she was. Nicole laughed. “Sierra, that’s too big for you.” She snapped it in a couple of places, and then waved one of the sticks in front of the dog, and said, “Ready to go fetch?” She threw the stick into the wooded area, near the pines and Sierra took off on a dead run.
“You have her trained well,” Marcus said as he came up behind Nicole.
“Oh. Hi.” She spun around as he walked up next to her. Her heart skipped a beat as she gazed upon him. She could smell his cologne just as she did when he sat across from her at the restaurant. She didn’t know if it was the man, or the cologne, or both, that made her senses go swimming. “Yes, she loves to run after sticks, and also likes to bring home bones. She has bones lined up all across our property just before the land goes straight up into the mountains. I sometimes think she is marking her territory and creating a fence to keep the predators away.”
“How old is she?” Marcus asked.
“She’s ten years old. I got her when she was a puppy. I take her with me when I go on my hikes. She’s good at keeping wildlife at bay.”
“Do you hike by yourself or do you have someone or a group of people go with you?”
“No, I hike by myself, with my dog.”
“Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.
“Well, I guess some people would consider it dangerous. But I have my GPS and my cellphone.”
“How far do you hike?”
“It depends. Sometimes I’ll hike for the whole weekend, sometimes a part of the weekend, and some of the mountains, I drive to a specific location and hike along the trails created by the Department of Natural Resources. These mountains are big.”
“Yes, they are. Do you recall if you drove to a particular location when you went hiking and found the arrows?”
Nicole had a flashback of driving to the north side of Elkhorn Mountains on the other side of Butte Falls. She looked up and saw Marcus staring at her. She felt her face redden.
“I might have, but I’m not able to put it all together just yet.”
“You like to meditate?”
Nicole realized that he had been watching her as she meditated. “Yes. I do like to meditate, but I must confess, it is the first time I ever used meditation to try to remember something. Do Native Americans meditate?”
“Yes, we meditate, but we do it differently.”
“How do you do it?”
“Each tribe is different, but the most common way is through purifying and cleansing. We have totem meditation, and then we have the drums, then comes the music and relaxation.”
“I see. You do it as a group.”
“Yes. But we can also do it alone as well.”
“Did you remember anything after your meditation?” Marcus brought the subject back to focus.
“No, not yet.” She smiled weakly.
“So, you live here with your brother?” Marcus asked.
“Yes. My brother, Ronnie, and sister-in-law, Debbie, own this place, but I live here in the first room, and I help with cleaning the rooms and doing laundry.”
Sierra returned with the stick, and she shyly walked over and sniffed Marcus. He reached down and stroked her fur.
They walked over to the picnic table and sat down. Sierra went sniffing around the property as if she was looking to see if anyone or anything trespassed.
“You take good pictures. Are you a photographer?”
“No. I’ve always wanted to go to college and take photography but never did. I take the pictures because I enjoy doing it.”
“What kind of pictures do you like to take?”
“Mostly, birds and wildlife. I love birds. I got a few really good ones of the eagles and their eaglets.”
“Really, you’d have to be quiet to get close enough to get pictures like that.”
“I also like to take pictures of the moonlight. The view of the moon is pretty spectacular on top of the mountain at night.”
“Yes, it is.” Marcus smiled. “Do you recall what kind of evening it was when you took the pictures of the arrows?”
“Hmm, I think, it may have been daylight when I took those pictures. I don’t go into the caves at night.”
“Do you think you’d recognized the surroundings if you were to meet upon that cave?”
Nicole pulled out the pictures from her breast pocket and looked closely at them. A flashback of a scene from just outside the cave went through her mind. There were three other caves nearby. There was a dead tree with rotted roots that had wrapped around the outside entrance of the cave. The entranced into the cave was narrow, barely big enough for her to get in, but it grew in size after she entered. She also saw footprints inside the cave, which made her suspect that the arrows were there for a reason and that she was trespassing. “Um, I do recall the entrance of this particular cave, and that there were several other caves nearby.”
“What did the entrance look like?”
“There was an old, rotted tree with its roots wrapped around the cave opening. The opening was narrow, but once inside, it was a rather large cave. I was able to stand upright. I recall that I had to walk in about a hundred feet or so before I came upon the arrows leaning against the cave wall.”
“Do you recall if there was an exit or another entrance at the opposite end of the cave?”
Nicole tried hard to remember. In her mind, she went further into the cave after she saw and took pictures of the arrows. It was starting to come back to her. “What I remember, there were bats deep in the cave, but that was the only wildlife I saw. I was very much aware of my surroundings, and I was concerned that I might encounter a bear or a rattlesnake.” She recalled that she used the light on her hardhat and her flashlight. She remembered she felt her .45 caliber gun that was in the gun holster on her hip. She was constantly looking back and forth furtively. “It seemed as if the cave went on forever, and there was not another opening on the other side of it. I’d say that the cave may have been about one mile long. I still can’t remember where exactly those caves are.”
“Are there a lot of caves in the mountains?”
“Only in several places that I ever came across.”
“So that narrows it down then, to what, three locations we could look?”
“Yes, I think so.”
Debbie stepped out on the porch that was attached to the back of the house and office. “Hey, Nicole. Dinner is ready,” she hollered.
“Okay. I got to go in now.”
“If you can think of anything else, let me know. I’d like to get to these arrows and get back to Amherst as soon as possible.” Marcus’s eyes narrowed, and his smile disappeared.
“Yes, of course. I will try to remember.” Nicole got up and walked past him to the porch and entered the house. Sierra followed behind her.
* * * *
Three possible locations, several caves. One cave, in particular, had a rotted tree wrapped around the entrance. That was more information than I had earlier today. He was going to have to continue to use his lawyer technique questioning to drag the information out of her.
She seemed delicate, a bit naïve, but probably not too much if she could hike mountains and find her way around. He found himself staring at her mouth, wondering how soft it would feel if he had his lips on them. It was a bit disconcerting for him because he needed to be focused. He had to treat this situation as he would if he was working on behalf of a client, and in this case, he was acting on behalf of the Chief David Whitetail and the Cheyenne Nation. Occasionally, in the past, he would find an attractive woman, and he’d have a fling, but it’s been a while. Especially since he now has full custody of his son. He could never get involved with anyone that could not accept that he was a father, and fatherhood was a top priority for him.
He decided to go to the Bureau of Land Management tomorrow and see if he could get topographic maps of Elkhorn Mountains and inquire about caves in the mountains. He walked back to his room and took off his shirt, and his boots. He sat down at the laptop and turned his ellipsis jet pack on so he could have internet access. While waiting for it to upload, his iPhone rang. He looked, and it was Shana’s number. “Hello.”
“Daddy. Please come home.” Nathan cried into the phone.
“What’s wrong, Nathan?”
“My arm. It hurts so much.”
“Have you taken some aspirins for it?”
“Yeah. It’s not working. Please come home.” The child was pulling at his heartstrings.
“How about this, Nathan, I have Aunt Shana, Daniel, and Bryan, and you make the trip out here to Mason and spend the weekend here with me. Would you like that?”
“Yeah.” Nathan sniffed.
“Okay. Let me talk to Aunt Shana and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Hey, are you busy this weekend?”
“No, not really.”
“How about you and the boys take off Friday afternoon after school and come out here and stay with me for the weekend. I really can’t take off right now, and I think it might make Nathan feel a little better and give you some relief.”
“Ah, well. Okay, I guess we can do that.”
“Did you have something else planned?”
“No. I was just thinking of how much gas and money I had on me.”
“If you can get here, I’ll pay for everything and give you the money for gas and food.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, Marcus.”
“I know, but I want to. I’ll get you and the boys a room, and I’ll have Nathan stay with me. We’ll find some stuff to do around here.”
“Um…Okay. That sounds like it would be a nice break for all of us.”
“Did Nathan take any aspirins?”
“He did earlier, but he’s being obstinate again.”
“Okay, let me talk to him some more.” Marcus waited for Nathan to come to the phone.
“Daddy, are you coming home?”
“Not yet. But your Aunt Shana is going to bring you out to be with me this weekend. You will all be leaving tomorrow afternoon. How’s that?”
“Okay. But I still want you to come home.”
“I know, son, but I have to stay just a little longer. I have important work to get done. Now, what is this about you crying in pain but not taking any aspirins for it?”
“I don’t like to take it, daddy.”
“I know, I don’t like to take medication either, but sometimes you have to, and this is one of those times that you have to take it if you don’t want to be in any pain.”
“I’ll feel better when I’m with you.”
“You’ll be with me tomorrow afternoon, in the meantime, you let Aunt Shana take care of you and take some aspirins so you won’t be in so much pain, okay?”
“Okay,” Nathan muttered.
“I love you, son, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I love you, too, daddy. Bye.”
Marcus got up from the table and walked over to the phone located on the nightstand next to the bed. He picked up the receiver and pressed eight for the front desk.
“This is Debbie, how can I help you?”
“Hello Debbie, this is Marcus Blackhawk in room 6. I need to make a reservation for another room from tomorrow evening until Sunday night.”
“Okay, did you want a single or a double?”
“A double, please. My sister and her two boys will be occupying the room. You can add that to my credit card.”
“Okay, I have room five reserved for you. You can come and get the key anytime you’d like.”
Thanks.” Marcus hung up the phone. He went back to sit at the table and logged into his laptop. He looked out the window and saw Nicole with her dog, walking toward a cluster of pine trees near the base of the mountains. It was almost dusk, he wondered where she went and what she was doing outside in the woods at this time of day. He knew there were black bears in the mountains, as well as deer, elk, moose and mountain lions. Did she carry a sidearm? He watched her until she disappeared into the woods.
* * * *
Marcus left in the morning and headed to Butte Falls. The town was a little bigger and had a couple of restaurants to eat breakfast before he headed to Helena and the Bureau of Land Management. After breakfast, he got into his SUV and turned his Navigator on. He got to Helena and following the directions from his Navigator, he found the building downtown he was looking for. The building was old, turn of the century style and parking was screwy. He had heard the saying that Helena was a rich man’s town, and Butte was a miner’s town. He wondered if he would have been better off going to Butte. He walked into the building and looked at the sign on the wall that indicated where everything was. “BLM, first floor.” He walked up the steps from street level to the first floor and entered. The building was bustling with people coming and going. It was, after all, the county building and county courthouse as well. He walked along the corridor until he found the office he was looking for, and he walked in.
“Good morning, how can I help you?” A man behind a desk asked.
Marcus looked around the office and saw every type of map he could think of, including a huge map that took up one wall on his left. It was a map of the mountains around Helena.
Marcus smiled at the man. “I’m looking for a detailed, topographic map of Elkhorn Mountains. I’m interested in viewing the location of the caves. Is this something you can provide?”
“Yes. We can. Are you looking for caves in a particular area? There are about fifty known caves throughout Elkhorn.”
Fifty known caves? Aw hell. “I’m looking for an artifact, and I’ve been told it is in one of the caves in Elkhorn. I’m not sure where the location is. My sources say that there were only three locations for caves.”
“Well, there are only seven caves that we know of where humans can enter and stand up in. The rest of the caves are small and have a lot of wildlife living in them. I have to warn you too, that all the caves have bats in them. I know that Native Americans have a thing about bats, so I wanted to warn you of that.”
“I’m aware of that, thanks.”
“Okay, let’s see what we have here.” The man pulled up on the big screen first, a satellite view of Montana. Then he narrowed the view to Helena. He zeroed in on Elkhorn Mountains. “Did you want all of Elkhorn Mountains or just the areas where we know the larger caves are?”
Marcus thought a second. What if he only got the view of the larger caves and it was not the right place? Maybe he should get the whole mountain range and be on the safe side. “Better go with all of Elkhorn Mountains. How big will the printed maps be?”
“That was my next question. You can have them any standard size. Those on the wall over there are the standard size.” The man pointed at the right side of the room where the maps were pinned on the wall along with the prices for the prints. Of course, the smaller the size, the more we have to print, and that drives the cost up.”
“I’m not concerned about the cost. What I would like, is one big print this size.” Marcus pointed at the print on the left. “With the larger caves highlighted or somehow marked so I can see where they are, and I’d like a detailed copy of sections of the entire map in this size, and the caves highlighted also.” Marcus pointed to the size on the wall that he wanted.
“Okay, so you want one size of forty-eight by sixty, and the each area of the map broken down into eight, thirty by thirty-six sizes. This will take about an hour to print out on the Inkjet large format printer.”
An hour later, Marcus returned to the office to pick up the maps. The worker had put them in a mailing tube, and Marcus paid for the order and left. Marcus stopped at Walmart and went to the electronics section of the store. He knew that Nathan would be bringing his electronic games, and he’d been wanting a specific game. He also grabbed some healthy snacks for all three of the boys, along with bottled water and of course, gummy bears for Nathan. There was a causeway at the motel between rooms six and seven and in that area, was a pop machine, water machine, and an ice machine. He would get the ice for the water before they snuggled down for the night.
Along the way back to the motel, Marcus pulled into a rest area, took the mailing tube and walked over to the picnic table where he could spread the maps out and study them. After an hour of careful study, his iPhone rang. He looked and saw it was Shana. “Hey, Shana. Where are you?”
“I’m on 90 and just passed Bozeman.”
“Okay, you’re about an hour out. I’ll meet you at the motel.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
Marcus disconnected the call. He was anxious to see his boy. He rolled the maps back up and put them in the mailing tube and sat there for a bit. His mind drifted off to Nicole and her free-flowing blonde hair. She had a quiet, inner beauty that as far as he could tell, not many could see. She seemed shy and didn’t ask a lot of questions. He needed to be careful that he didn’t run roughshod over her while trying to jar her memory of where she’d seen the arrows. Stress may cause her to shut down. Although he found he was attracted to her, he didn’t really want to get involved with her. He sensed that she had a sheltered life and was probably a virgin. Though the idea of being her first lover held some appeal, he was not in the practice of helping virgins give up their virginity. He preferred women who were experienced, knew what they wanted, and enjoyed sex. He looked at his watch. Time to get going. He couldn’t wait to see his boy.
He maneuvered his SUV onto the highway and headed back to Mason. He pulled into the driveway at the same time Shana pulled up in her car. She didn’t even have the car in parked when the boys scrambled out of the vehicle. “Daddy, daddy!” Nathan said excitedly as he jumped out of the car. Daniel and Bryan bounced out too, and all three ran up to him and wanted hugs. He picked up Nathan and held him. “Are you doing better, son?” he asked.
“I am now, daddy,” the soft little voice answered.
Shana came around the car to Marcus and he reached over and gave her a hug.
Hello Everyone! Welcome to Chapter 2 of my draft WIP called Elkhorn In The Moonlight. Hope you enjoy!
Nicole was sitting on a log in the wooded area at the back of the property that her brother owned and was part of the motel land. Sierra was laying at her feet sleeping noisily. Her cellphone rang, and she looked to see who it was. “Hmm, the Mason Café. Do they want me to work tonight?” She picked it up. “Hello.”
“Hey, Nicole. I wanted to let you know that there was a Native American man here asking about a woman who saw the arrows. You remember you saw some arrows in the mountains a few years ago?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Well, I referred him to you. He said he was staying at the motel too.”
Nicole’s heart leaped from her chest. He’s here to see me? That man that checked in a little while ago?
“Okay, um, thanks for letting me know.” Nicole vaguely remembered the arrows, and when she had mentioned she saw them, no one knew what it was doing there or who it belonged to so she cast it out of her mind. She didn’t disturb the arrows but left them where they were. She didn’t know if the cave was an ancient ritual cave belonging to Native Americans or if the arrows were some sort of historical artifact. She did take a couple of pictures of them and knew she had the pictures hidden in her closet in her room. She got up and called Sierra. “Come on, wake up. Let’s go. We got some digging to do.” Sierra slowly got up and obediently walked alongside her master.
They got in her room, and she went to the closet. Her room was the only room that had a walk-in closet and a few other conveniences that the other rooms did not have.
She pulled out a large box that she had at the back of the closet and placed it on the bed. Inside the box, she had smaller, shoe boxes labeled with pictures and mementos in them. She loved photography, even though she never went to college to be a professional photographer. Finally, she found the shoebox marked Elkhorn in the Moonlight. The title was a bit of a misnomer because it didn’t just contain photos of Elkhorn at night, but it also included pictures she had taken when she went hiking and camping in the mountains. She named the box Elkhorn in the Moonlight because she had taken a lot of beautiful pictures of the moonlight in the mountains.
Every time she went hiking, and the big white moon rose up to greet her at night, she was mesmerized by the beauty of it. She removed the rubber band holding the box securely, and popped the lid off. She searched through all the pictures until she found what she was looking for. Three photos. The arrows were in a leather sachet, leaning against the cave wall. As she stared at the photographs, she was trying to remember exactly where she saw them. No doubt, if they are the missing arrows that Mr. Blackhawk was looking for, he will want to go there and retrieve them. She replaced the lid on the box and put the rubber band around it and placed all the shoeboxes back in the large box. She carried the large box back to the closet and put it in its space.
* * * *
Nicole finished cleaning the motel rooms and was sitting alone at the Mason Café sipping her coffee when Mr. Blackhawk walked in the restaurant. Her heart skipped a beat when she looked at him. She couldn’t help by stare at him, he was certainly a fine species. Maria walked up and greeted him. “Good morning, sir. The woman that I told you about yesterday? She’s right over there.” She pointed at Nicole, who was sitting at the back of the restaurant near the fireplace.
Marcus’s eyes followed her hand and made immediately eye contact with Nicole. “Okay, thank you.” He walked over to her table. “Hello. I’m Marcus Blackhawk. I understand you’re the person I need to talk to about something. Do you mind if I sit here with you?”
Nicole realized her mouth had dropped opened as she stared at him and she smacked her lips shut. Any other time she would have been shocked that he would have come up to her and want to sit with her, except she knew why he was there. “No, um, I don’t mind. Have a seat.”
Maria came over and asked, “What can I get you to drink?”
“Coffee, please,” Marcus answered.
She gave Nicole a knowing smile, one that appeared to be saying, yes, this is a hunk, and he wants to talk to you look.
Nicole took a sip of her coffee and noticed her hands were shaking. She felt unable to speak. The man’s face was beautiful. It was smooth, brown, angled, square nose, square jaw, deep setting brown eyes. He was dressed more casually from yesterday when he checked in. She realized she was staring at him and dropped her gaze. Her heart was thudding loudly in her chest. She had gazillion questions to ask him, but she was too shy to start a conversation.
Marcus broke the silence. “I understand that you found some old arrows.”
It took a few seconds before Nicole could find her voice and respond. “A few years ago, I was hiking in Elkhorn Mountains and came across a cave.”
Maria brought out her breakfast at that time, interrupting them. She took Marcus’s order and hurried back to the cook with his order. Nicole took a bite of her food, then continued on.
“I went into the cave, and I came upon this suede sack with four arrows in them. I took some pictures of them and left. I didn’t know if the cave belonged to someone or if there was some sort of ritual going on in the cave, so I thought it was best I leave the area.”
Marcus smiled widely, and Nicole swooned at the sight of his perfectly straight teeth. “Do you still have the pictures?”
“Um, yeah. Back in my room at the motel.”
“Would it be possible to see them?”
“Yes. I can show them to you.”
“Can you describe them to me?”
“Um, there were four of them. One white, one yellow, and two of them were reddish brown. They looked very old.”
“Can you tell me where the cave is that has these arrows?”
“I really can’t remember exactly where I saw them. I’ve traveled all through the Elkhorn Mountains, and I’m just not sure where I saw them.”
“Would looking at the pictures help you to regain your memory of their location?”
She didn’t want to admit to him that she had already pulled the pictures from the box and that she had a faint recollection of where they were at.
“Um, I don’t know. I’d have to look at them again and see if I can recall. Why are you looking for these arrows?”
“About six years ago, someone stole the Sacred Arrows from the Arrow Tipi behind the arrow keeper’s house. I’ve been charged with finding the arrows. I have learned that someone…you, actually, have seen some arrows in one of the caves here in Elkhorn Mountains. The Sacred Arrows are one white, one yellow and two of them red. They are very sacred to the Cheyenne, and we are most anxious to get them back. You have been the first lead we’ve had in a couple of years. I’d like to see the pictures that you have taken.”
“Okay. After you eat your breakfast, if you’d like. I’ll meet you at the motel office, and you can see them.”
Marcus smiled again. Maria brought his breakfast out and put the plate in front of him.
“Are you from around here?” Nicole asked, trying to think of things to talk about. She always had difficulty talking with men. She didn’t know how to manage the conversation so she could either see the man again or get him interested in her.
“I’m from Amherst. The Cheyenne Nation has a reservation there.”
“That’s about a five-hour drive from here,” Nicole commented.
“Yes, five and a half hours.” Marcus took another bite of food.
“I hope you find your arrows, Mr. Blackhawk.”
“I do too, and hopefully, quickly. I’d like to get back to Amherst.”
Nicole felt immediately sadden. She’d hoped that he would be here for a while, and she could get to know him. How she would have done this, she didn’t have the slightest idea.
“Are you from around here?” Marcus asked.
What? He wants to know about her? Her spirits were lifted. “Yes. I was born and raised here in Mason.”
“Not much of a town,” he commented.
“No. It’s not. We have one grade school, a post office, the café and saloon, a pizza place, and a couple of artisans, but we have to either go to Butte Falls, Helena or Butte for food and other things. Is Amherst a big town?”
“It’s a pretty good size town. Bigger than Butte Falls, but not as big as Butte. Do you know the history of this town?”
“Yes, this is an old miner’s town. We have several gold and silver mines here, but they had closed a few years ago when the EPA stepped in and gave them notice. The town was established by Al Mason in 1863 when he came here to mine silver and gold. It eventually grew in size as more miners came, and a company brought the miners out. They established three rail lines that went from Helena to Butte. None of the tracks are operational now, but they still have the tunnels that were dug out of the mountains.”
“Where are the mines at? I saw one on the way from the motel into town.”
“That one is called Winchester mining company, another one is up the road here called Gulch mine and there is another mine on the other side of the highway called Sandpiper mine.”
“The town looks pretty old and run down. Did the miners actually find gold and silver here in the mountains?”
“Yes. The town was quite wealthy at one time when the gold rush was going on. But after the mines shut down, and the EPA intervened, everything went south here, and most of the people here had to either find work in Butte Falls, Butte or Helena.”
Marcus finished his meal, and they got up to leave. After she had paid for her meal, she turned to him, “I’ll see you back at the motel then.”
“Yes, I’ll be there.”
She left the restaurant and headed back to her room. She was nervous and excited at the same time.
* * * *
Marcus paid for his meal and walked out of the restaurant in time to see Nicole pull out and head back to the motel. She wasn’t exactly the most beautiful by what most white men would consider beautiful. But he found beauty in women differently than white man. She had her light yellow hair pulled back in a knot at the back of her head. But you could see the tight curls. Her complexion was pale, and she had a lot of freckles on her face. Her eyelashes were the same color as her hair. She had clear, light blue eyes. Her face was oval with a long pointed nose, and she had small mauve colored lips. He noticed she didn’t wear make-up, and she dressed in what looked like old western style clothes.
He got into his SUV and drove back to the motel. He got out and walked over to the office to wait for Nicole. He walked into the office, and there were two people behind the counter. One was the woman that checked him in yesterday, and the other was a man. The man looked familiar to Marcus.
“Hello, Mr. Blackhawk. Can I help you?” The woman behind the counter asked.
“No, thank you. I’m meeting Nicole here.” Marcus smiled.
“You’re meeting Nicole?” The man that stood behind the counter asked, his brows drew together.
Just then, Nicole came into the office through the back door and walked over to where Marcus stood. Then he knew why the man looked familiar, she and the man looked like brother and sister. Same color hair and same facial features.
“Here are the pictures that I took of the arrows.” Nicole handed Marcus the pictures.
Marcus walked over to the big picture window so he could get a better view in the sunlight. He scrutinized the photographs very closely. He had to admit that she took excellent photos, even in a cave. They were as clear as day and were certainly the arrows he was looking for. The pouch they were in had the beaded insignia that identified it as the property of the Cheyenne Nation.
Marcus turned back to Nicole. “These are the arrows that I’m looking for. Can you tell me where you saw these?”
“They were in a cave.”
“I understand that, but specifically, I need to know where the cave is located so I can retrieve them.”
“I’m not sure which caves or what part of the mountains they are in. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve taken the pictures.”
“What were you doing at the time you took these pictures?”
“I was hiking.”
“How often do you hike?”
“Once a month during the summer.”
“How do you keep track of your location, where you are and how you get back here?”
“I use a GPS.”
“Did you mark this place with the GPS?”
“No. At least, I don’t think I did.”
“Hey, why are you drilling her?” The man standing behind the counter came up and asked.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drill her, I’m anxious to find these arrows she found,” Marcus said.
“Well, she said she didn’t remember where she saw them.”
“It’s okay, Ron. I can handle this.” Nicole reassured her brother.
“Well, I don’t like his tone,” Ron muttered and walked away.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Blackhawk, I don’t know what to tell you. I…I just can’t remember the exact location.”
“Okay.” Marcus' eyes narrowed. “I’ll be here for a few days. I’d appreciate it if you could focus and try to remember as much about this as you can. I’ll be glad to make it worth your while financially if that would help.”
“Um. Okay. I’ll do my best.”
Marcus held out her pictures to return to her.
“You can keep them if you’d like. They would be of more value to you than to me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Why don’t you keep them with you for the time being, and maybe you can meditate on them, and they will help jar your memory of their location. The arrows are holy relics, and my people believe they have spiritual powers. Those spiritual forces may be of help for you.”
Nicole took the pictures from him. “Okay.”
“Thank you, Nicole, for your time and help with this.” Marcus smiled at her. He turned and walked out the door.
His iPhone jingled in his pocket. It was a silly tone that his son had picked out. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked. His sister, Shana, was calling him. He swiped his finger across the screen and answered. “Hey, Shana, what’s up?”
“Hi, Marcus. I’m sorry to tell you this, but Nathan fell down the stairs this morning and broke his arm. I just got him home from the emergency room.”
Marcus walked into his room. “Is he okay?”
“Yes. He’s fine, except the broken arm and it’s painful for him. He’s been whimpering and has just been lying on the couch. I tried to call you earlier while I was en-route to the hospital, but you didn’t pick up.”
“There seem to be some dead zones here,” Marcus said. “Let me talk to him.”
“Okay, here he is.”
“Daddddy, please come home.”
“Hey, son. What happened?”
“Danny and I were racing from the bathroom to get to the door to go to school, and I tripped over his foot and fell down the stairs. My arm hurts, daddy.”
“I know, son. You should know better than to run in the house. Aunt Shana’s house is not big like ours is.”
“When will you be coming home?” Nathan’s small voice asked.
“Soon, I’ll be here for a few more days and hopefully, will be coming home soon.”
“Dad, please, come home. I hurt.”
Marcus’s heart ached for his son. Should I take off for the weekend and come back next week? “Just a few more days son, and I’ll be home.”
“Okay,” Nathan murmured. Whenever he answered resignedly, Marcus knew his son was sitting on the couch pouting. “I know you’re hurting Nathan, just be a good boy, and I’ll be home soon, and we’ll do something cool, okay?”
“Maybe Aunt Shana can give you some aspirins for the pain.”
“I don’t want no aspirins.”
“Well, okay then, you’ll have to suck it up and deal with the pain.” Marcus smiled.
“If you came home, I wouldn’t have any pain.” Nathan persisted.
“Okay, son. I’ll think about coming home for the weekend. But I have to come back here and take care of business.”
“Okay, dad.” Nathan perked up.
Marcus chuckled. “Let me talk with Aunt Shana, son.”
“Okay, dad. I love you.”
“I love you too, son.”
“What did you tell him? He seemed a bit better now.” Shana said.
“I told him I may come home for the weekend.”
“Are you able to do this?”
“I will if I have to. Did the doctor or nurse tell you to give him anything for pain?”
“Yes, some children’s aspirins, but so far, he has refused to take it. I’ll keep trying to encourage him.”
“Is he in a cast?”
“Yes. From his forearm down to his wrist. It was a clean break, and he cried when they set it. He’ll probably have some soreness and bruising on other parts of his body too. He went down a few stairs, but it doesn’t look like he’s hit his head, which is a good thing. How is the search for the Sacred Arrows going?”
“I found them. At least, I know they are here somewhere in Elkhorn Mountains.”
“Yes. A young woman here saw them in a cave, and she took pictures. The pictures are of good quality, and they are definitely the Sacred Arrows. The problem is, she can’t remember exactly where she saw them and the mountain range is big. I’m going to keep trying to help her to jar her memory. Hopefully, they are nearby.”
“It sounds like maybe you’ll be there for a while.”
“Yes. Although I did tell Nathan, I may be home for the weekend. I’ll come back if I really need to. I’m hoping the pain will let up for him, and I can stay here and get this done. After six years, I’d like to wrap this up. How did your evening go with David yesterday?”
“It was enjoyable. The boys love the movie. Of course, they all want a robot named Chappie.”
“Somehow I knew they would.” Marcus pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Let me see if I can get Nathan to take a couple of aspirins and lay down. Give me a call later today, okay?”
“Yeah, thanks for the information and helping me with him. I’ll talk to you later.” Marcus disconnected the call.
Hello Everyone! I though I'd try something a little different! Here is Chapter 1 of Elkhorn In The Moonlight. My purpose is to share with you a story I'm working on, get your opinion of it if you'd like to offer it, and interest more readers. Each week, I'll share the next chapter, so stop by often! NOTE: This is not an edited or published version and is subject to change.
“Hello, welcome to the Mason Motel. How can I help you today?” Nicole heard Debbie, her sister-in-law in the motel office say. Good, we have a customer. Two customers checked out, and now another one was checking in. The business had been slow. She had just pulled the hot sheets out of the commercial dryer and folded them, and finished ironing the pillowcases. The laundry room was just off the office and house that Debbie and Ronnie lived in.
She heard a rich, silky smooth voice respond. “I’d like a room for two weeks.”
When Nicole was finished, she walked into the office where Debbie was assigning the customer to a room. Nicole’s heart hammered hard between her ears as she gazed upon the man that stood at the counter. Oh. My. God. What a hunk. He was definitely Native American, standing at least six feet tall, long black hair, dark skin with a suede shirt on, a bolo tie and a blazer. Nicole couldn’t help but stare at him with her mouth opened. His scent quickly filled the room. He smelled of the woodland and pines.
After he had completed the form, he handed it back to Debbie.
“Okay.” Debbie looked at the form. “Mr. Blackhawk, the room is thirty-five dollars a night, and if you want internet, it’ll be forty a night.”
“I don’t need an internet connection.”
He pulled out a platinum gold credit card and handed it to her.
“Do you want to pay for this now, or when you check out?”
“I’ll pay now.”
She ran the credit card through and handed him the receipt to sign. He signed it and handed it back to her.
“I’m putting you in room six. Here’s the key. We don’t offer any amenities here at the motel, but in this pamphlet will be coupons for ten percent off at the Mason Café, up the road, and in town.” She handed him the pamphlet with the key.
“Okay, thank you.” He glanced over at Nicole for a second and nodded before he turned and walked out the door.
Nicole came and sat down next to Debbie. She put her elbow on the counter and rested her chin on it, staring out the door while fanning herself.
“Pretty damn good looking,” Deb said.
“Didn’t see a wedding ring on him. But these days, that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Wonder what he’s doing here, in this tiny old town.” Nicole mused.
“I noticed he didn’t take any pamphlets or flyers. Wonder if he knows someone and is just visiting.”
Nicole let out a sigh, and went back to the laundry room and finished the day’s wash. When she was finished, she went to her room, and she put her clean clothes away and looked around the room. Because her brother and sister-in-law owned the motel and she worked for them, she was given the biggest room, Room 1. It looked the same as the other rooms except it had a front door and a backdoor and a closet. She pulled the scrunchie off the back of her head that was holding her hair in a bun and let her hair fall down the back, and called out to Sierra.
“Come on, Sierra, let’s go outside,” Nicole called to her. Sierra, was a black and white Blue Heeler.
During the summer, once a month she got a weekend to herself. She would pack her camping gear and take her dog and go on a weekend long camping trip around Elkhorn mountains. Nothing was more breathtaking and mesmerizing to her than Elkhorn. In two months, she will be able to get back into hiking. She was counting the days away until she could go. Even though April has been unseasonably warm, it was still too soon to go hiking. The weather here in western Montana can change on a dime. She finished up her work pulled the scrunchie off the back of her head that was holding her hair in a bun and let her hair fall down the back, and walked outside with Sierra. Sierra ran into the pines and brought a bone to her.
“What have you got now, Sierra? Another bone?”
Nicole looked at the bone and shook her head. Sierra has a habit of going into the nearby mountains and dredging up bones and bringing them back to the motel as trophies. She found a stick, and picked it up and tossed it. “Come on girl, go get it.” She said to Sierra, and Sierra dropped the bone and went to fetch the stick.
* * * *
After checking in, Marcus got back into his SUV, backed out of the driveway and went down to room 6. He parked the vehicle and got out. He turned around and surveyed the area. Mason was a little town between Helena and Butte, Montana, just off Highway 45. It was nestled in the valley at fifty-six thousand feet, surrounded by the Elkhorn Mountains. He breathed in deeply, the fresh piney smell of the mountains before putting the key into the keyhole of the doorknob and turning it. He opened the door and stepped in. He looked around the room. One full-size bed neatly made, a full-size window was next to the bed. There was a dresser with a mirror and a television on the television stand. Toward the back of the room, next to the bathroom, was another large window that looked out and into the mountains, a beautiful view. There was a small table and two chairs there. He walked into the bathroom. A nice, small neatly designed bathroom, with a shower stall, sink, toilet and a guest towel holder on the wall. It also had a small window.
He walked back outside to his SUV and popped the hatch at the back of the SUV. He grabbed his suitcase and his briefcase and brought them into the room. He unpacked his suitcase and hung his clothes on the chrome channeled wall rack next to the dresser. He pulled out his laptop and plugged it in. He turned on his 4G ellipsis jet pack. While waiting for it to connect with his laptop, he pulled out his iPhone and checked for messages. He had two. One was from his six-year-old son, Nathan, and the other was from his tribal chief and best friend – David Whitetail.
Marcus called his sister to talk to his son. “Hello, Shana. How is Nathan doing?” he listened to her for a few minutes, then said, “Yeah, I’d like to talk to him.”
After a few moments, a little voice came on the line. “Hi, dad. When you’re coming home?”
“It’ll be soon, son, what are you doing?”
“I’m eating my gummy bears.”
Marcus chuckled. “Nathan, you keep eating all those gummy bears and your teeth are all gonna rot and fall out.”
“No, they won’t, Dad.” Nathan laughed. “Did you find the arrows yet?”
“No, I have not started yet, I just got here at the motel.”
“I hope you find them soon, so you can come home.”
“I do too.” Marcus could hear Nathan smacking his lips as he chewed on his gummy bears. “How many of those gummies do you have in your mouth?”
“Two or three.”
“What color are you eating this time?”
“The cherries, huh?”
“Are you behaving your Aunt Shana?”
“Yep.” Nathan continued to smack his lips. “We’re all going to a movie tonight, dad.”
“What are you going to see?”
“Hmm, a sci-fi movie, huh?”
“Yeah, that robot is cool looking, dad.”
Marcus smiled, he had visions of a toy Chappie robot in the near future for his son along with the Power Rangers, Batman, Superman, Ninja Turtles, Transformers and scores of other action figures popular in his young son’s life. Was his boy spoiled? Probably. Not many Native American children have the luxuries that Nathan had, and he planned to make sure that the boy never goes through poverty as he had when he was his age.
“Nathan, I will talk to you tonight before you go to bed and you can tell me about the movie.”
“Be a good boy and listen to your Aunt Shana.”
“I will. Bye, dad.”
“Bye, son.” Marcus disconnected the call and then punched in the number for David.
“Hey, Marcus. Are you checked into your motel room yet?” David’s voice boomed over the iPhone.
“Yes, just did. I see you called.”
“Yes, wanted to let you know, I am taking Shana, her two boys and Nathan to the movies tonight.”
“Let me guess, you’re seeing Chappie.” Marcus grinned.
“How did you know?”
“I just talked to Nathan. He’s excited. How did you manage to convince Shana to go?” Shana lost her husband in an accident last year and had been struggling with his death and raising their two boys. He was surprised to hear she agreed to go out with David.
“I kind of mentioned going to the movies in front of the boys. They got excited about it and talked her into it.”
“You’re a schemer. You know that?” Marcus chuckled.
David had been a widower for seven years. If anyone were to know what Shana was struggling with, he would.
“I just wanted to let you know that I am taking your sister out, bro. Don’t want any problems between you and me.”
“No problem. I’m glad that she’s decided to go with you, even if it means taking the boys as well.”
“Have you had any chance to find any information about the arrows?”
“No. I just got checked into the motel. As soon as I hang up from talking to you, I’m going to head into town. There’s a small café with a bar, a pizza place, and a post office. Not much else in town. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out who the person is that has information about it. I scheduled myself to be here for two weeks, but I don’t think it’ll be that long, really.”
“Good luck with that, and keep me posted.”
“Will do.” Marcus disconnected the call.
Marcus logged into his laptop, and while waiting for it to load, he looked out the window toward the mountain. Standing off to the left and leaning against a tree was a young woman with long, wavy blonde hair that reached down to her nicely shaped hips. She stood about five foot five and had a pair of tight fitting jeans on, with a blue western shirt on and a pair of rugged western boots. He couldn’t see her face, but from a distance, she looked beautiful. Soon a dog came running up to her with a stick. She grabbed the stick from the dog and threw it into the cluster of pine trees about fifty feet away. The dog took off on a dead run to fetch it. When the dog brought the stick back to her, it ran up toward the window where Marcus was looking out. He could see then that the dog was a black and white Blue Heeler. It was a beautiful dog. Mostly black, with spotted white on the back and hind legs.
Marcus turned his attention back to the laptop. He signed in at his office to check his email. He had a few messages that he forwarded to his partner for handling, and responded to his secretary who was asking if he arrived okay in Mason. He was taking a few weeks hiatus from work, and following up on some leads searching for the Sacred Arrows, that belonged to his tribe – the Cheyenne Nation. He shut down the computer, grabbed his jacket and the key to the motel. He left and headed to town. He didn’t really want to be separated from his son, but he made the promise to track these arrows down.
Marcus drove into the town of Mason and stopped at the post office. It was a small, stand-alone building with a large satellite dish next to it. When he walked in, it looked old. There were mailboxes on one side, large locked binges on the opposite side. There was a small counter with bars that separated the postmaster from the customers, and it reminded him of an old bank. He came to the counter, and the postmaster came to the other side. He looked a bit of a swashbuckling type of man with long, gray hair and sideburns.
“I need to ask you a couple of questions if you don’t mind,” Marcus said.
“Sure.” The postmaster nodded.
“I’m looking for a woman who claimed that she was in Elkhorn Mountains, and she found four ancient arrows. Do you know who this woman is?”
The postmaster hesitated and had a blank stare on his face before he spoke. “I don’t recall hearing anything like that, but I’m not from around here either. I’m from Butte, and I’m only here for half a day.”
“Do you know if there is a historical society here?”
“There is a historical society in Butte Falls, seven miles north of here, and they cover all of Basin County.”
“Okay, you say seven miles from here?”
“Yeah. The historical society is on the main road, on the left as you’re going into town. It’s in an old building. You can’t miss it.”
“Okay. Thank you.” Marcus turned and walked out.
He got into his vehicle and drove up two buildings and parked across the street from the Mason Saloon and Café. He walked into the café and looked around. The restaurant was fairly modernized as compared to the town itself. Whoever owned the place set out to make it a pleasant eating environment. It was about eighteen feet wide by forty-eight feet in length. The walls were painted in a soft lavender color. There were booths all around the perimeter of the place with table and chairs in the middle. It had an old fireplace at the rear of the restaurant that was still in use. There was a hallway that went between the bar and restaurant at the back near the fireplace. Inside the hallway were the bathrooms that were shared by the restaurant and the bar patrons. It also had a door to the side of it going into the bar near the front entrance. There were a couple of tables taken by customers, and he saw a vacant table off in a corner. He went to that table and sat down.
“Hi, welcome to the café, can I get you something to drink?” A short, Asian woman came up and handed him a menu.
“Water for me, please.”
“Okay, will be right back.”
Marcus was looking at the menu when the waitress returned with his water. “Have you decided what you’d like to eat?”
“Yes, I’d like the El Ranchero platter, please.”
“Okay, hot or mild sauce?”
“Would you like chips and salsa too?”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
He looked around at the people in the restaurant. One table had an elderly couple. They were seated toward the back of the restaurant, near the fireplace. The other table had several adults sitting there with two children.
A middle-aged couple was sitting in the center of the restaurant. The waitress talked quite a bit with them. She was talking about her garden she started in her sunroom.
“I didn’t know that peppers cross pollinate. I planted them six inches apart!”
“Yes, squash will cross-pollinate too,” the woman at the table said.
“Humans cross pollinate too,” quipped the man at the table.
Marcus had to smile at the comment.
The waitress brought the chips and salsa to his table, and Marcus used this opportunity to ask her some questions.
“Do you know of a young woman here in town, that claimed that she saw four arrows off in a cave somewhere in Elkhorn Mountains?”
The waitress stood there as if she was reflecting. “Hmm, I don’t recall anyone saying they saw any arrows in the mountains. I can ask Bill, he’s lived here all his life. If anyone knows, he would.”
“He’s the cook. I’ll be right back.” She hurried off to the kitchen.
Marcus took a chip and dipped it in the salsa and then bit into it. The waitress returned to the table.
“Bill said, and I guess now that he’s mentioned it, I kind of remember too, that the woman you are looking for who saw the arrows several years ago, her name is Nicole Lancaster. She works and lives at the Mason Motel down the road from here.”
“I know where it is. I’m staying there. You say the name is Nicole Lancaster?”
“Yes. She’s a very nice person, and occasionally, she works here at the café.”
“Thank you.” Marcus smiled at her. Fancy that. She was right there in front of him at the motel. He wondered if she was the blonde haired woman he saw with the dog or the dark haired one that registered him into the motel.
After Marcus ate his meal and paid for it, he left to head back to the motel.
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