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Police arrest a hot-blooded Gulf War veteran with a big mouth and a propensity for trouble named Matthew Wolf, a Crow Indian. Wolf's family comes to ...
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Police arrest a hot-blooded Gulf War veteran with a big mouth and a propensity for trouble named Matthew Wolf, a Crow Indian. Wolf's family comes to private investigator Phoebe Siegel for help. But she turns them down - until the body of a young Indian man shows up virtually in her backyard. Phoebe begins an investigation that takes her from the comfort and security of her world and onto the Crow reservation where the color of her skin makes her the enemy.
Monday Brown was the ideal homicide victim: ruthless businessman, inept husband, desecrater of Native American graves. Matthew Wolf was the ideal suspect: a young Crow traditionalist who had clashed openly with Brown. When the Wolf family hands the case to Phoebe Siegel, they turn over two cultural artifacts which were part of a stash Brown had boasted about as a lure for foreign collectors and tribal traditionalists--and a restless killer.
I could hear them before I could see them. The Dodge van stopped at the end of the lane that led to my house. It was a class act, painted a deep cherry red with black and silver detailing and tinted windows all around. It was a knockout piece of vehicle and didn't belong to anyone I knew. Yet.
I walked over to the spigot on the side of the porch and turned off the water, dropped the hose I was holding, and squinted against the sun to see who was inside the van. No one was getting out, and it was making me nervous.
My house sits in an isolated area; my nearest neighbor is a good half mile away. It had been vacant for many years and had the reputation of being a hangout for beer busts and God only knew what else. Six months ago I moved in and had the cops out every weekend for the first month. Reputations are easy to earn and die hard, even for one-hundred-year-old three-story houses.
I was about to turn and walk into the house when the door on the side of the van slid back, and several Indians piled out. Two young boys and a girl bolted toward me, ran past, and disappeared into the trees to the right of the house. A tall man, over six feet, with long, traditional braids, a John Deere duck-billed cap on his head, wearing Tony Lamas, Levi's, and a pearl-buttoned western shirt, strode toward me. His hands were tucked into the pockets of his jeans, and his face, the color of earthen clay, showed no emotion as he covered the ground between us with long strides.
A brooding younger man, eighteen, maybe twenty, leaned against the van and listened with a deaf ear as a young woman chewed on him about something I couldn't make out. He reached in through an open window on the passenger side and brought out a can, lifted it to his lips, and drank. The young woman looked at me quickly, a flush of embarrassment on her face.
I didn't see the two women on either side of an old, old woman until they were almost upon me. No one said a word until the old woman was led to the stairs going up to the porch and gently sat down. The man standing a few feet from me spit chew on the ground and looked me dead in the eyes. I could hear the kids, squealing and laughing as they ran out of the woods and bounded up the stairs onto the porch. Immediately, all three were on the rail, using it as a tightrope.
I took a step toward the porch, prepared to rescue, or maim, whichever came first, one or all of them. "Hey! You could get—"
"Kyle Old Wolf is my cousin. He said we should come to you."
"Who? He said what?" I was doing one of those head turns that you see only at a tennis match, trying to give equal time to the kids and the man who was talking to me. Then the phone started ringing inside the house.
"Could you wait just a minute?" I reached the phone on the seventh or eighth ring. If I didn't sound out of breath or hysterical or both, it was a miracle of self-control.
"Phoebe," the familiar voice said bluntly. "I thought I should call."
"You're a little late, Kyle. All, and I mean all, of them are here."
He laughed. "The whole family came, huh?"
"Oh, I don't know. It could be two, maybe three families for what that's worth. What's going on?"
"Been reading the papers?"
"Only my horoscope and 'The Far Side.' "
"Have you followed the news about the woman down on Twenty-seventh Street South and Montana Avenue who reported a body that fell across the hood of her car while she was stopped at the light?"
"Who hasn't? I thought they deep-sixed that because they couldn't verify anything."
"They did. Until she gave them a positive ID on the guy and he turned up missing."
"Monday? I just saw him a month ago."
"You may have. As it stands..."
"You think it was him?"
"I don't know. But they've been holding a twenty-year-old cousin of mine, Matthew Wolf."
"You've got a lot of cousins, Kyle," I said as I turned around and looked out the door. I could hear the kids but couldn't see them. The muscles in my neck had tied themselves into little knots.
He laughed again. "A couple of hundred or so."
"I'm almost afraid to ask. What are they doing here?"
"Is one of them a big, tall guy with long hair?"
"That's Matthew's father. Is there an old woman?"
"Old, Kyle? You call that old? I'm not even sure she's alive."
"That's Matthew's great-grandmother, Anna. And you've probably got his brother and a couple of his sisters and a few nieces and nephews."
"Wait a minute. Did you say Matthew Wolf?"
"Isn't he the kid who came back from the Gulf all decorated? They had a big write-up about him in the paper. He's involved with some radical Indian group that's been working the reservations in the state. It was quite an article. Bright kid."
"One and the same."
I felt someone standing behind me and turned. My eyes widened, and my breath caught in my throat when I saw the raven-haired little girl cradling Stud in her arms. "Jesus! Kyle, hold on a minute." I stretched the phone cord toward her. "Honey, that cat hates people. He'll scratch your eyes out and peel off your cheeks."
I could hear Stud purring from where I stood. The girl said nothing as she nuzzled her face in the yellow fur that covered his twenty-five-pound body. She stroked his back as his tail switched back and forth in an upside-down arch. All I could do was shake my head as she walked around me and sat in a chair. I couldn't remember Stud ever looking so content.
I lifted the phone back to my ear and craned my neck to see what was going on outside. "Kyle, maybe you should be here."
"Can't do it, Phoebe. I just wanted to let you know what was going on."
"How does Matthew Wolf figure into all this?"
"They popped him three days ago down at the Arcade."
"Suspicion of murder."
"Let me guess. Monday Brown"
"When did they find Monday's body?"