The Eagle and the Fox (A Snowy Range Mystery)
Kit Giniw (Golden Eagle) is running. From poverty, from abuse. Forced to live by his wits, the Ojibwe teen slowly succumbs to living a life of hate and lies.
Josiah Foxglove is given a second chance when he takes over his family’s spread in the shadow of the Snowy Range. A veteran of the Gulf War, he came back broken in body and spirit.
Marcus Colton buried his long-time lover and best friend three years ago. Lonely and still grieving, Marcus finds solace in keeping his business afloat but that doesn’t help him get through the long, dark nights.
Three damaged souls converge as violence wracks the small community of Centurion, WY. The town protects its own so when Kit Giniw shows up, it’s easy to place blame on the stranger. It looks open and shut, but for Josiah and Marcus the facts simply don’t add up.
Something’s rotten in Centurion, something that smacks of a hate crime…
Josiah looked around. “Slow for Saturday.”
Marcus near bit his tongue. Josiah kept to a few words… mostly howdy, how much, see ya next time. It would have been awkward, but after a bit you got to accepting what the man gave you because he had reasons, a shit ton of them, what with the scarring from the IED and the metal rods holding him upright.
It seemed odd to know the intimacies of a man’s inner workings when the man himself was an enigma, a stranger to the town he was born in, the town where his parents had their farewell service in the cleared out space in Polly’s restaurant amid the savory smells of steak on the grill arguing with stale beer and staler pretzels ground into the wide plank flooring.
Shifting from the cash register to the cluster of sacks just at the edge of the counter, Marcus said, “Hard times,” and proceeded to bag up the pitiful few items. Ten penny nails. Duct tape. Some industrial grade staples. A roll of twelve-gauge electric wire.
The wire was heavy. Josiah reached across the counter and grabbed at the edges of the sack, holding it open. The touch was incidental. Marcus hadn’t meant anything by it. It was just a casual scrape across the man’s knuckles. They both flinched. Marcus would have laughed and said oops or ’scuse me, except he’d clamped his jaw, mimicking the taller man, holding back. A tremor rattled his gut like it always seemed to when Josiah Foxglove was near. What’s with that, anyways?
Marcus asked, “Doing fence this weekend?” He wanted to kick himself. Of course the man was doing fence. That’s what you did when you made do on ninety acres of not nearly enough to support you and yours.
Josiah had shrugged. He was also standing there, at the end of the counter, holding onto the sack. Planted. Like his worn boots had somehow glued themselves to the dusty, cracked linoleum. Grown roots.
It was unseemly. And unprecedented. Marcus decided to go for broke. “You know, Josh, it’d be a hella lot cheaper to go with the single strand barbwire.”
He swallowed, remembering in a gush of oh shit that Fox Ranch ran a small herd of cutting stock and hacks for tourists to take for an hour’s spin around Sheep’s Mountain. The glint in Josiah’s eyes wavered between are you shitting me and yore a dumbass cracker. While his ears heated to boiling, he tried for a quick recovery. “You know, to keep Paulie’s herd out?” Or not.
Shut up, Colton, just shut the hell up already. “…you know, with things being tight as they…” Fuck, fuck, fuck. Bring up another sore spot, idjit.
Josiah blinked, almost in slow motion, his eyes following Marcus’ lips as the gibberish spewed out, unfiltered and uncontrolled. The front door opened and closed, the overhead bell tinkled, feet shuffled, the sound approached and receded.
Marcus choked back a thank God and meant it. Customer, serial killer, bank robber… didn’t much matter. The distraction was well-timed. He said, “Well, if there’s anything else you need,” and turned away, barely aware his hand still shared possession of the sack. At the last minute, he relinquished control and muttered, “I have to pee,” as he bolted for the safety of his office.
I post the chapters as I write them. Comments welcome.