Elkhorn In The Moonlight
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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