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.