Day Into Night

Day Into Night by Dave Hugelschaffer Read Free Book Online

Book: Day Into Night by Dave Hugelschaffer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dave Hugelschaffer
Tags: Mystery
    “Must be nice,” he says, glancing upslope. But he won’t bite.
    “About those remains —”
    “Yes,” he says. “You’ve got a sharp eye. Keep up the good work.”
    Then he’s walking uphill, picking his way over logging slash. I move farther downslope where there’s little chance of finding human remains, stop at the low end of the cutblock close to the standing timber. From here I have a good view of the scene. Men move slowly across the green slope, their heads bowed like an army of tourists searching for lost contact lenses. Yellow, red and blue flags sprout like timid saplings — the blue flags in a cluster close to the charred hulk of the feller-buncher. My eye follows the brown scar of the road to the treeline, then down the side of the cutblock. Someone else is standing at the bottom of the slope, watching the proceedings.
    It’s Al Brotsky, the company man who discovered this mess, and I wonder what he saw earlier this morning. I drift in his direction, pretending to search, and stop a tree length away, one boot up on a stump in the classic outdoorsman pose. Out west, you gotta give a guy plenty of room and I wait for Brotsky to take notice. He doesn’t.
    I clear my throat. “You finding much?”
    He turns, looks at me. He looks tired and dejected.
    “Hard to see anything,” I offer.
    “Yeah,” he says. “Lots of slash.”
    He looks at me a moment longer, then turns his attention up-slope. He’s the only searcher wearing the standard cutblock safety gear — orange hardhat and reflective vest. A few minutes pass and I feel as welcome as a door-to-door bible thumper on a Friday night. But he has something I want and so I gotta get his attention.
    “That must have been one hell of a bomb.”
    No response. I’m about ready to find more lively company, a tree perhaps, when Brotsky turns, gives me a Clint Eastwood look. He clearly doesn’t feel like talking but I close the distance, introduce myself and suffer through an unnecessarily painful handshake.
    “So this was your logging show?”
    “Yeah,” he says, looking upslope again. A pale scar extends downward like a fish hook from the corner of his mouth, stretching as he frowns. He takes off his hardhat, rubs a hand over short, greying hair, plops his lid back on and tugs down the brim. “We were just about done for the season,” he says, shaking his head. “And then this.”
    “I know,” I tell him. “I’ve seen this before. Up north.”
    He looks at me closer. “You with the cops?”
    “Not exactly.”
    “Search and Rescue?”
    “Something like that.”
    He nods, considering, then grins. “Insurance?”
    Something I’ve never been mistaken for but I nod. Seems harmless enough.
    “That’s quite a knife,” he says. “For an insurance salesman.”
    Back when I had the time and initiative, I used to make knives. I’m wearing one of the better ones: an eight-inch blade with an antler handle, in a beaded sheath. In the city it would probably get me arrested but out here it’s a great ice breaker.
    “Our bowie knife policy,” I tell him.
    “Sure.” The fish hook scar stretches in the other direction. “Mind if I have a look?”
    I pull it out. Brotsky hefts the knife, tests its sharpness by shaving off a few bristly arm hairs.
    “Kind of unusual,” he says. “Distinctive.”
    “Made it from an old buggy spring,” I tell him. “Good steel.”
    “Sits in the hand real nice.” He doesn’t want to let go of it. “What do you charge?”
    “I’m not selling,” I tell him. “Maybe, someday —”
    Reluctantly, he hands back the knife. He’s friendlier now, although I doubt he still thinks I’m an insurance rep. I test out our deepened relationship by asking him if he has any idea who was killed. “I’d hate to guess,” he says with a pained look. “Until we know for sure.”
    “Who’s truck is that, up there?”
    He rubs his chin, hesitant. “A guy by the name of Ronald Hess.”
    “Was he on

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