The case was too weird, too mysterious, too evil.

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A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental

Chapter 32

Angus and Skeeter had agreed to meet Inspector Padillia at a place he had always wished to try out.  He had heard of it many times.  He asked them to bring Rosendo Martinez with them, since he had been so helpful on their visit to Nuevo Laredo.  They were happy to oblige and were also happy that they would be able to eat anything off the menu without worry of indigestion, or worse.

Salado was a good forty-five miles up the road from Austin.  They all left headquarters early to go home for a shower and change before dinner.  Part of what they would be doing was very official business, and Captain Sullivan gave them his blessing.

“I have always loved this place,” Skeeter said of the rustic eatery, as they pulled into the parking area.  The Stagecoach Inn was situated in a beautiful natural area with a crystal clear stream close-by.  She remembered wading in its waters on many occasions.

Angus commented, “So do I.  My mind goes back to all the stagecoaches that stopped here and all the historical characters that stood on this exact spot of the Chisholm Trail.”

“You mean when Mexico owned this part of the country?” Rosendo asked in a rascally manner.

“Very funny.”  Angus turned around in his seat and made sure Rosendo saw him scowling.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I am starved,” Skeeter said as she preceded them down the noisy wooden walk.

They spotted Inspector Padilla seated at a table with two other officers from the Nuevo Laredo force.  He motioned them over.  It is hard to describe the waitresses as waitresses.  They are mostly middle-aged grandmotherly types, very sweet and accommodating and they speak the menu, aloud.  When one of these lovely attendants had taken their orders to the kitchen, Padilla began to get talkative.

“I think you will be happy to know we have apprehended Ortega and Guzman this past week.  I will fax you the paperwork, soon.  They are not saying anything of value.  They are in one of our most secure prisons and we have encouraged them to stay there.  We emphasized that they are wanted for murder in your country, and also emphasized that you have fingerprint evidence.”

“Great news.” Angus said.

“Rosendo boldly asked, “Have you ever heard of the character, Pulgar Doble?  We have his prints at the same scene and they are very distinctive, as you can imagine.”

“I have heard of him many times—a most slippery-eel-like fellow.  We cannot even get a real name for him.  He has wreaked havoc in Mexico.  We are determined to nab him.  I assure you we are at work on it.”

“He seems more dangerous than the other two and may have been the ring leader or even coerced the other two,” Angus added.

“Ah…this is fantastico!” Padilla exclaimed when the dish he ordered was set in front of him, steam rising off of it.  He had chosen a large Black Angus Steak, with all the famous side dishes.

Silence fell over the table as the six hungry people savored their orders.  Most had gotten the chicken fried steak, a specialty, but one had gotten the catfish and another, the prime rib.  Skeeter was getting the Strawberry Kiss for dessert.  The guys were all getting the chocolate pecan pie.

“Did you like it?”  Skeeter asked, after Padilla had cleaned his plate.  Skeeter had enjoyed her chicken-fried steak, but overall, she thought the place had gone down a notch since she last visited.

“Yes.  I think I shall stop again on the way back through.  While we are waiting for dessert, I have more to tell you.  I must apologize to you, my friends.”  Padilla lowered his voice.  “At our last meeting I was reluctant to speak of a case we had at the time in our country.  They are being called brainless body cases, and I did not wish to discuss the one we were working on.  It was too weird, too mysterious and too evil.”

Angus jumped in.  “I assume you have been informed of the wide scope of these crimes, and of recent developments.  We do believe they are crimes.”

“Yes, I have—almost sixty brainless bodies in North America, mostly missing brains, but sometimes missing other organs.”

“We had one in Austin recently,” Rosendo volunteered.

“Yes, I read that.”

Angus then said, “Skeeter, here, and I, investigated that crime, Inspector.  We are comparing brainless body cases from all over.  I wonder if it would be permissible for me to contact you when you return to Mexico, so that we can compare notes on any similarities.”

“Yes, of course.  It would be in all of our own best interests.”

*     *     *

Halfway back to Austin, Skeeter succumbed to fits of laughter in the passenger’s seat.

“What?”  Angus had to know.

“Oh, something just struck me funny.” Skeeter answered, when she had regained control of herself.

“What?”

“All of this stuff is floating around in my head, from all of our investigations.  I was just thinking.  I bet ol’ Pulgar Doble could play a mean thumb piano, if given half a chance!”

 

Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.

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