This is the beginning of a short story I wrote for a contest.
A cage of rabbits nibbled on grass beside the prone body. Hands and arms reached out in front; toes pointed the opposite direction. The position led Amador County Detective Scott Harper to believe the body had been dragged a distance. How far, he wasn’t sure. But the perimeter of the search was endless on the Rancheria.
“Do you know what those rabbits are? They’re the rare Riparian Brush Rabbits from Caswell Park,” Floyd Dickson, Chief of the Jackson Rancheria Police Department said, pointing at the animals. “Elwin has to be the one responsible for these rabbits showing up at the housing development going in next to the Rancheria. This Forseth found out and came here. And look what happened to him.” The chief stared in the direction his two officers had escorted Elwin Drake.
The man in custody was a retired veterinarian, a Miwok elder, and one of the most vocal protestors on this thousand-acre Indian Reservation.
“Who called the body in?” Scott asked, continuing to process the body and area.
“Elwin called it in after Tommy Joe, an older gentleman who considers himself a prospector, showed up to have his donkey looked at.” The chief cursed.
“You that skeptical of the vet or of this Tommy Joe?” Scott asked, glancing at the chief.
The tribal officer had his gaze set on a woman around the age of thirty who strode their direction. Her gait was uneven, but it was closing the space between them. “Neither.”
“Don’t let anyone other than law enforcement back here,” Scott said and returned to taking photos and collecting evidence.
“That’s Elwin’s granddaughter. She works at the casino.” The chief met the woman about twenty feet from the crime scene.
Scott would have preferred the officer had met her further away, but the woman had been intent on getting close.
“What are you doing here, Dela? This is a crime scene.” Chief Dickson stopped the woman.
“I came to see if Grandfather had any luck healing a bird I brought him Tuesday.”
Scott caught a glimpse of her peering over the chief’s stout shoulder, trying to see what was going on.
“How could you lead Grandfather out of here in handcuffs? He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
“It doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters, is the fact that your grandfather has vocally protested Forseth’s housing development, and now, the man’s body is found on Elwin’s property next to stolen rare rabbits that have appeared at the building site.”
“You know Grandfather. He is too smart to leave the body here.”
Scott stood and walked over to the conversation. “So, you do believe your grandfather capable of murder?”
The woman turned her steely brown eyes on him. “No! Don’t turn my words around. I’m only pointing out my grandfather isn’t this stupid.” She pointed to the body. “How did he die?”
“I can’t tell you that. This is a crime scene. You need to go on to work.” Scott pivoted and headed back to the body. He didn’t need relatives of the possible murderer hanging around mucking things up.
He’d gone three steps when the woman said, “He was staying at the casino. I can go pull surveillance tapes and find out who came to see him.”
He spun back around. “How can you get surveillance tapes?” From her nice build and face, he presumed would be pretty if the scowl and anger in her eyes were gone, Scott had thought she worked as a waitress.
“I’m second in command for security at the casino.” Her eyes held a challenge.
Did she think he didn’t believe her? “I see.” He studied her. Would she show him all of the tapes even if her grandfather was found visiting the deceased?
“I’m going to be here another two hours.” He glanced at his watch. “I’ll meet you at the casino in three hours—at noon. We’ll have a closer time of death, and you can pull the tapes I ask for.”
The woman nodded. “That will give me time for a cat nap and a shower. Ask Vinnie at the door to call me when you get to the casino.”
The woman smiled at the chief, strode to the back of the house, and disappeared.
“She was in a bombing in Iraq. Lost her left leg,” the chief said. “Damn shame. She would have made an excellent deputy.”
Scott pulled his gaze from the retreating woman. He’d wondered about the awkward stride. Now he understood her pushing back and being adamant about her grandfather’s innocence. She believed in justice.
Continued next week….