Search for the Shadowman

Search for the Shadowman by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online

Book: Search for the Shadowman by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Lowery Nixon
confidential?” Andy asked.
    “Sure.” Mr. Hammergren sat on the edge of his desk and gave his full attention to Andy. “I’m listening.”
    “It’s confidential,” Andy said, “because of my great-aunt. Because she’d get mad if people knew—I mean like people who couldn’t keep things secret.” Andy took a deep breath and told Mr. Hammergren all about Coley Joe.
    “I don’t know how, but I’m going to find out about Coley Joe and what really happened,” Andy said.
    Mr. Hammergren thought a moment. “Okay, let’s look at the facts you’ve come up with: This relativenamed Coley Joe disappeared, he was cut out of the family, and his father’s money was stolen. It wouldn’t take the police long to figure this one out.”
    “But I believe he didn’t do it, and I have to prove it. The only trouble is that I don’t know what to do next.”
    “Two heads are sometimes better than one,” Mr. Hammergren said. “This head is asking what you’d do if someone disappeared.”
    “I’d go looking for him.”
    “Where was he going when he disappeared? See if you can retrace his route.”
    Andy thought so hard he frowned. “The family was planning to move to Hermosa. The father had bought land here, and he was going to buy cattle and build a ranch house. Only he couldn’t, with the money gone.”
    “It’s possible that Coley Joe was sent ahead of his family to buy livestock and the materials for building a house so that when the rest of his family arrived they’d have a roof over their heads.”
    Andy gasped. “You mean he really might have come to Hermosa?”
    “He might.”
    Andy shook his head. “But then he would have done what his family wanted him to do. I don’t think he ever got to Hermosa.”
    “In 1879 or thereabouts, you said. Hmmmm. The logical thing for Coley Joe to do would have been to head for El Paso, which was the major city nearest toHermosa. He could have planned to buy his stock there and hire help to move the cattle to the family’s land.
    “On the other hand,” Mr. Hammergren added, “he might have kept going west after he reached El Paso, striking out on his own. To many the West Coast was a promised land.”
    “I don’t think Coley Joe took the money,” Andy said. “If there’s any possible way to find out, I will.”
    Andy was startled. “Why? Well, I like Coley Joe. I want to clear his name. It must have been awful for his family to cross him out of the family’s Bible and to pretend all these years that he didn’t exist. That’s why.”
    Mr. Hammergren smiled. “I like what you’re doing, Andy. Keep me informed. And if you want to talk about your progress or ask questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.”
    “Thanks,” Andy said.
    “One more thing,” Mr. Hammergren told him. “If you want any lunch at all, you’d better hurry. You’ve only got fifteen minutes left.”
    H eavy clouds, dark as mud, clotted the sky by the time Andy and J.J. arrived at the cemetery.
    “It’s going to rain,” J.J. said.
    “Not for a while,” Andy said. He rested his bike against the wrought-iron fence, laid his helmet in thebasket, and peeled his sweaty shirt from his back. “At least when it’s cloudy it’s not so hot.”
    “What’s that around your neck?” J.J. asked.
    Andy touched the pounded nail. In spite of the heat, it was cold next to his skin. “A horseshoe nail,” he said, and explained to J.J. what it meant.
    “Cool,” J.J. said. He led the way into the cemetery and took the path that wound through the neatly clipped, grassy area, with its flat grave markers, back over a small rise to the older part of the cemetery.
    Wide, squatty tombstones crowded next to tall, imposing ones, most of them decorated with sculpted vines and crosses carved from speckled black-and-gray granite or pitted yellow sandstone. Here and there a weathered marble angel bowed his head and spread his wings.
    In the center rose an ornate obelisk with a pointed top. It

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