Buck Fever (Blanco County Mysteries)
embarrass me in front of your friend. Now, I'll leave you two alone.”
    After she left, Marlin pulled a chair up next to the bed. Nobody had been to see Trey, so Marlin told him of the events with Buck, starting with the tranquilizing and ending with the visit from Sheriff Mackey.
    “So where is Buck now?” Trey asked.
    “Let's just say the last time I saw him, he was in my yard.”
    Trey was starting to seem a little more alert. “You wanna be careful with that deer, John. He's been acting real strange lately.”
    “Tell me about it.”
    “He's one of my test deer, you know that. And I've been doing a little research, getting ready for the breeding season. You know how active the males get during the rut, but Buck has been an aberration lately. He doesn't sleep. He never quits moving. I don't think he even eats. He just keeps wandering, day and night.”
    “Maybe some of the does are already in heat,” Marlin said.
    “Believe me, even if they are, this is like nothing I've ever seen. Two solid weeks of activity. I mean, it got to the point where I was thinking it was something neurological.”
    “So you thought you'd go wandering around a pasture in the middle of the night looking like some kind of circus performer. Real clever, Trey.” Marlin felt obligated to give him a little grief.
    “You know as well as I do that I could have just walked right up to him and examined him. But I wanted to see how he was behaving in his natural habitat. Only, I got shot first,” he said sheepishly.
    “I was concerned, too,” Marlin said, “when I saw how he was acting that night at the Circle S. But by yesterday, he seemed fine. Like the same old Buck.”
    “I'll be honest with you. I'd much rather see Buck back with you or Phil instead of with Swank. Just promise me you'll be careful.”
    “You're telling me to be careful?” Marlin said, gesturing around the hospital room.
    “I'm serious, John. Just keep an eye on him. You never know what he's going to do.”
    “Relax. You don't have to worry about Phil and me.”
    Trey smiled and shook his head. “I'm not concerned about you. Just don't hurt the damn deer.”

    SUNDAY MORNING, BARNEY Weaver watched television and wished it was Monday, when his food stamps would come by mail. They always arrived on the first of the month, and Barney was anxious. His pantry was running low.
    Barney soon lost interest in the tube and decided to write in his journal instead, a practice he had begun during the Unabomber hearings. The idea of keeping a journal appealed to Barney—something about it seemed mysterious and intelligent. It also implied that he had something to say, something worth putting down on paper. So he wrote.
Sunday, October 31
    Tried to brake into Marlin's the other day. No luck. Had a minor mishap. Can't find the proof I need but I will sooner or later. Louise ain't doing me like that. If I can proove it I'll be rich and she won't have the last lauhg. She never did lauhg though. And I kind of like Marlin ever since he caught me with too many doves but didn't write me a ticket so maybe I won't hurt them. I just want my share of the money and I think that's right There's plenty to go around. My lawyer's telling me to find something that will show she was fooling around before the divorce. Have to keep trying.
    Barney was happy with the entry: concise and well-written. Someday his heirs would read the journal and realize what a wise man he was, and appreciate how he had struggled to deliver their portion of the American dream. They would respect him for his persistence in the face of adversity and admire his determination. But right now, it was time for a cold beer and some pork rinds.
    As an officer of the law, Blanco County deputy Bobby Garza was everything that his boss, Herbert Mackey, was not. Honest. Respectable. Concerned. Intelligent. He lived by a code of honor born of a family history rich in law enforcement.
    Garza was born in Marble Falls, about thirty

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