He had suffered mightily before he died. Someone wanted information. Blood Land.
May 23, 2013
A VG Serial: Blood Land
THE BODY they fished out of the river was Dirk McIntyre’s. He had suffered mightily before the killer—or killers—finished him off. There were lacerations crisscrossing the ex-cowpoke’s wide, muscular back as if he’d been whipped over and again.
“Someone was trying awful hard to get information out of that boy,” Pruett said. He had invited J.W. Hanson to meet him at the Wooden Boot.
“And you think you know what information that is?” said Hanson.
“Not exactly. But I have an idea where to start.”
“Ty didn’t react at all to the news. My client has piss in his veins.”
“Not surprising,” the sheriff said. “You’ve known him a few weeks. No one in this town would be hoping for a Hallmark moment with Ty McIntyre.”
“My guess? Ty’s been punishing himself enough on the inside. More than we can know.”
“And if you believe in Heaven and Hell, then there just might be a further reckoning,” J.W. Hanson said.
Sheriff Pruett sipped on his bourbon while Waylon Jennings warbled from the dilapidated jukebox at the Wooden Boot’s door. “As a matter of fact, I don’t believe in ‘em. I think all the reckoning we get is right here in front of us, every day.”
“I thought you quit the drink,” Hanson said.
“I did. Then I started it again.”
“Never begrudge a man the pleasures of the flesh.”
“You sure are a mouthy one.”
“It’s the lawyer in me. You know what a pack of shitbags we are.”
“That I do.”
Hanson smiled and called for another round. “My client tells me you came to see him—that it was you that wanted to tell him personally about Dirk.”
“What I wanted,” Pruett said, “is for him to come clean now that his accomplice is dead.”
“Like I said, he’s not talking. Not even to me.”
“I asked you here for a favor,” Pruett said.
“Let’s hear it.”
“I want you to ask my daughter to speak with him.”
Hanson sipped his own drink, weighing the request. “Why wouldn’t you ask her yourself?”
“Our relationship just started back on the mend. I don’t want her thinking I’m interfering.”
“But asking me to do it, that doesn’t qualify?”
“Not if she doesn’t know I asked.”
“Message received. And I’ll say yes, but for one reason only: it is in the best interest of my client to tell the whole story. If you think Wendy can convince him, then it’s worth a try.”
“Thanks,” Pruett said as the new drinks arrived. “Put this round on me.”
* * *
Deputy Baptiste walked Wendy back to the jail.
“Been a while since I seen you around here,” Baptiste said.
“I’ve sort of kept away.”
“My family is still on the reservation. All but a brother, and he died. I don’t visit home all that much.”
“Some of your family worked on our property once.”
“Many, many years ago.”
“I don’t remember them,” Wendy said. “My father told me.”
“We’re even then. I don’t remember ‘em either.”
Wendy’s uncle was sitting up on the tussled blanket of the cot, reading a Louis L’Amour paperback, an author who he stated on several occasions he did not cater to. Sheriff Pruett kept an old stack of them for the prisoners.
“Hi, Uncle Ty.”
“Darlin’,” Ty said and stood slowly, rubbing his corded back muscles. “Sorry for the mess. The accommodations leave a bundle to be desired.”
He met her at the bars and put his arms out to hug her. “Not exactly tickled for you to see me like this,” he said.
“I’ve seen you like this before.”
“Yeah. Growin’ up all those years, your father bein’ sheriff, I guess you have. Damn good to see you, girl. I owe ya a debt of thanks for findin’ me a lawyer, too.”
“You don’t owe me anything. He’s really good. And…”
“You don’t have to say more, young ‘un. I knowed the first time he talked about you that the two of you was in love.”
“What makes you think that,” Wendy said, red flushing her cheekbones as a balloon fills with air.
“Fellas git this funny look on their face when they talk about their own gal. I seen it on the professor. More’n once.”
“I’m not sure it’s love,” Wendy said.
“So you know, he took the case because he wants to help you; because he believes in you.”
“Don’t matter neither.”
“I’m sorry about Dirk,” Wendy said.
“Me, too. We weren’t brothers much anymore—wasn’t no secret how I felt about him. But that don’t mean I appreciate it when family turns on its own.”
“Did someone turn on him?”
“Family, I mean.”
“Don’t have a say on that,” Ty said.
“I came here because I think it’s important that you tell your attorney what really happened that night when Mom died.”
“Then you wasted a trip, baby girl. I’ve said all I’m gonna.”
“Sheriff Pruett will be going after the people that killed Dirk. You could help him by giving him the whole truth, Uncle Ty.”
“Dirk got his own self killed.”
“Did Pruett tell you what the killers did to him?” Wendy said.
“Found him in the river, the sheriff said. Guessin’ he drowned.”
“It was worse than that. Whoever killed him was looking for answers.”
“What did they do?”
Wendy told Ty what his brother’s body looked like when it was pulled from the river. She shared with him the gruesome specifics of Scoot’s autopsy. Ty sat back on his cot, drained of all tenaciousness.
“They whipped him,” Ty said. “Like a fucking animal those bastards whipped him.”
Wendy nodded solemnly.
“I guess there’s a reckoning due.”
“Was it Rory?” Wendy said.
“Weren’t Rory,” Ty said. “It was mother. Whatever those bastards did to Dirk, Honey McIntyre ordered it done.”
Chapters of the serial are published Monday through Saturday.
You can learn more about R. S. Guthrie’s novels on his Amazon Author’s Page.