“Fuck, what the hell is that?” exclaimed Mac as the flashlight beam searched the floor and picked out a lumpy blanket. Elmer moved towards it.
“Don’t touch it,” said Mac. “Fingerprints.”
Elmer pulled out a pack of surgical gloves from his jacket pocket. He threw the pack to Mac. “Put these on, buddy.”
Then they set to work. The blanket covering a shallow grave. Two bodies Mac didn’t recognize, but the bulky one resembled Coppola’s big ape. They replaced the blanket and moved on out the back. A shape spread-eagled on the ground, moaning. An animal growled, incisors shining in the moonlight, and slunk away.
“Stay there,” he told Elmer. The ground was stony and hard but Mac gingerly picked his way over. The beam played over the shape. Blood soaked pants, from groin to ankle. What was left of the face matched Elmer’s photo.
With part of his chewed dick taped inside his mouth. Eyes staring wildly, no lids. “Heb me,” he slurred. “Jus finiss it, pliss.”
Elmer saw the look on Mac’s face, as the gun was drawn. “Don’t do it Mac,” he yelled.
Mac released the safety, and tightened his finger on the trigger. Katie, his mom and dad, hundreds of grey spirits urging him on...
Then his cell phone buzzed. A long pause. Maybe it was Katie. The buzz continued, and the tension left him. He flipped open the lid. Chief Amos. He answered it. “Mackenzie.”
“Mac, the Feds are here. Return to base, now. Mac, that’s not a request, you hear me?”
Mac looked at Mason, then at Elmer. “Okay Chief, copy, we’re on our way in,” he said, switching off the phone. “Buddy, the feds are here. Chief wants us back pronto.”
Elmer had heard. “We can’t leave Mason, Mac.”
Mac hopped back to Elmer, and put on his boots. “You heard. The feds can deal with it.”
“Okay, I’ll report an anonymous call, something like hearing gunshots here. By the time the feds find this place...” He mumbled the rest.
Elmer hesitated. “That’s it?”
Mac glared at him. “I’m calling in my marker. I crossed the line for your son; now it’s payback time for my mom and dad.”
Elmer hung his head. Sniffed and nodded.
Mac put an arm around his buddy’s shoulder, leading him back to the Explorer. “The Apaches had it right. If Mason don’t choke to death on his dick, the sun will burn his eyeballs to hell.”
The bird watcher shifted uncomfortably in his new blind, and focused his binoculars on the tree and surrounding low bushes. Tender collar-bone and bruised ribs tightly bandaged. But it was a bright sunny day and he would use the money the head goon had given him to pay off Yvonne.
As far as he could make out, the men in black suits and cropped hair had cordoned off the barn. Some, in coveralls, were digging around. Plenty of activity up there; bodies being forensically examined, but he had more important things to look at. Much more important. The head was black with a yellow stripe on the crown. The back was pale grey and the under-parts were pure white, with spectacular long tail feathers. A great smile creased his face.
He had spotted his Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
Mac pinned his Medal of Valor to his father’s jacket before they took him and his mom away. The priest had done his best to comfort him, but Mac just nodded. It would be a long time.
It was a grey morning outside. Matching his pallor. Mac nodded to Jake and Anna as he exited the crematorium with Katie on his arm. Both kids wearing sharp black suits and shiny shoes. Just like models in the fashion magazines. Anna came over, gave him a tearful hug, and held his hand. “I’m so sorry about your parents Mac,” she said.
Mac nodded again, and then motioned towards Jake. He was fiddling with his neck-tie and looking puzzled.
Anna wiped her tears. “Amnesia. His doctor says he’ll make a full recovery... in time.” She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “Mason raped me.” As if it would explain things better.
Mac read the card she had palmed him. ‘Double Dee detective agency’. An exclusive address and telephone number, for the private dicks. Coppola had been generous.
“Who was that?” asked Katie as they got into the back seat of the shiny black limo.
Someone like him, who was prepared to cross the line...“Just business,” he said, giving her hand a squeeze to reassure her.
“Where to, Detective?” asked the driver. Big hairy mitts resting on the wheel.
“Take us home, Bernie,” Mac replied.