Novation Productions Presents Season 6 Episode 5
Snips And Snails And Puppy Dog Tails
The dripping sound of raindrops on leaves and dirt was interspersed with the resonance of metal moving rocks and earth. A dark figure stopped his digging movement momentarily to pull the coat tighter around himself, pulling his hat down to keep the rain out of his eyes.
The man looked down at the freshly dug hole. It was barely four feet deep and he'd already found what he was looking for. He sighed deeply, sadly, as he shook his head and pulled a tarp toward him, and placed the items from the hole onto it. When he was finished, he tied the plastic sheet reverently and placed it next to other similar parcels.
Using care, he took the tarps, one by one, back to the small pickup truck, placing them on the bed of the truck and covering them with a larger plastic sheet. The shovel was placed next to the mound in the back of the truck, secured so it wouldn't slide around before the tailgate was closed.
He stood staring at the bundles in the back of the truck, a pensive expression on his face. The solution was distasteful, but necessary. As he closed his eyes and bowed his head, the rain pattered against the plastic, sounding like the gentle cries of a mourner.
"We'll show them this time, my brothers," he said in a voice rough with emotion. "We won't be shoved to the back pages or just get a few seconds of the late night news. From now on, it's going to be the lead story and the front page of papers." He moved to the cab and got in, gunning the motor to life and taking off down the dirt road. He looked into the rear view mirror, checking for anyone following him as well as to make sure the load had not shifted. A smile creased his face. "And you, brothers, will be the reason why."
Hank Johnson nodded at the cantina operator as she handed him the steaming hot cup of coffee, then he looked at the distant construction site. Right now, it was just a giant hole in the ground, fifty feet or so deep and several hundred feet wide, situated between two buildings on a somewhat level area. When it was finished, Calverton Medical Hall of Rainier University would finally be a reality, housing medical and psychiatric schools.
He rotated his shoulders, tight from the morning workout he did before coming to the site, as he moved away from the cantina, sipping the hot liquid as he squinted at the overcast sky. It had rained the night before, making the ground barely workable. A sigh slipped from his lips as he shrugged and finished the coffee. The project was already behind schedule due to weather; he just wished the conditions would begin to work in their favor for a little while. The crew was going to have to work their collective asses off to get the job done on time and get the bonus checks, but money could work miracles.
A slap on the back broke into his reverie. Turning, he noted a fellow construction worker, about as tall as he was, but several pounds heavier, also savoring a cup of coffee.
"Hey, Jerry," Hank said and slapped Jerry Morris on the back in return. "What are you doing here on time on a Monday morning?"
"My old lady said it was time I stopped laying around the house and got back to work."
"As if you worked here," Hank grunted as they made their way to the skip loaders, earth movers and giant shovels.
Everyone knew Jerry was the local troublemaker and jokester on the crew. If there was a way to get out of work, Jerry would know it. Not that he didn't pull his weight when the need arose; he just tried to make sure the need rarely took place.
"Look who's talking," Jerry replied with a smirk. "I don't sit on some nice little pillow seat and pull levers. I'm down in the hole, working."
"Ladies! Let's get this show on the road! Time waits for no one!"
Hank looked up and saw Artie Harris, the small, stout foreman, standing by the equipment, arms crossed over his chest and a grim expression on his face. Hank could see the strain of being caught in the middle on his face. There had been complaints coming from the front office on the delays that couldn't be helped; and complaints from the workers for being forced to work so much harder on the days when they could work. No matter what, Artie couldn't catch a break.
"We're already four weeks behind because of this damned rain; I don't intend to fall further behind because of malingering," Artie continued, glaring at Jerry pointedly. "Quit dragging your asses and get to work."
Jerry waved a careless hand at Artie. "Ah, shove it, Artie."
Hank shook his head. Jerry did whatever he could to rankle the foreman. One day, he was sure it would get his friend fired.
"No, Jerry," Artie bellowed, "you get shoveling it. Now!"
"Can it, smart ass," Jerry snorted from behind Hank.
Hank shook his head as the two men continued to snip at each other. Other workers who had arrived after Hank and Jerry were slowly making their way to their respective work areas, all eyes watching the foreman and the noted troublemaker, perhaps hoping for more fireworks.
Then Artie gave Jerry a rather evil grin. "That's why I'm the foreman, Jerry. 'Cause I'm a smart ass. Now, get yours to work."
"We're on it." Hank hid a grin as he watched Jerry slowly slip into the hole, then made his way to his excavator. "Just tell the suits to loosen their ties, do their jobs and let us do ours."
Artie shook his head and moved away from the site to the trailer where he worked. Hank could see the shoulders of the foreman start to relax a little. He knew Artie knew the crew would do their best to get the job done on time, and right to collect those promised bonuses; just sometimes they had to remind the foreman.
Hank climbed into his excavator, shifted the levers and moved the giant shovel, shifting a large amount of dirt from the hole in the ground to the waiting truck. The scoop returned to the excavation, plowed into the black earth, then lifted and headed back to the truck.
"Hold it!" Jerry's voice sounded from deep within the hole, shrill and terrified. "Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Stop !"
Hank stopped working; everyone stopped.
For a brief instant Hank thought Jerry was pulling another of his well-known pranks. Looking over the dash of the cab, Hank glared at his friend, hoping his anger would be evident enough to get Jerry to admit his joke so they could get back to work.
One look at his friend's ashen, scared face changed his mind. He secured the levers and crawled from the cab. Moving closer to the edge of the hole he looked at where Jerry's trembling finger was pointing.
Hank frowned a moment at the object staring at him from the shovel, then closed his eyes, shook his head, then looked again at the shovel again. It was still there.
A skull with empty eye sockets sat on top of the pile of dirt. Looking further into the man-made chasm showed several other bones as well.
"Get Artie!" Hank bellowed at one of the other workers joining him at the edge of the hole. "Now, damn it!"
He returned his stare to the sight in the giant opening, hoping it would disappear when Artie showed up. It didn't.
"All right, what's that jokester done now?" Artie demanded hotly, glaring at Hank.
"Look!" Hank pointed at the evidence. "Just look!"
Artie's glare followed Hank's demanding finger. The color drained from his face.
"Aw…shit." Artie swore as he pulled out his cell phone. "Shit! Shit! Shit !"
"No one said there was a graveyard here!" Jerry babbled as Hank helped the trembling man from the hole. "Damn it! Didn't someone check to make sure?"
"Of course we did, you jackass," Artie snarled at the man. "And the university has been here for damn near a century. I can damn well guarantee you this ain't no damned graveyard!"
"Then what –?"
"What the hell else do you think?" Artie snapped, then turned his attention to the cell phone. "Get me some cops here…. Where? At the university! Why…? Because I have some damned bodies here, that's why! Now get me some cops!"
The damp morning did little to stop the small group of Native American students from marching in front of the Anthropology building, their placards raised and their chants breaking the silence of the morning. The protestors made sure the sign for the Native Arts Masks exhibit was easily visible by the campus news photographer who had been assigned to cover the excitement.
The exhibit had been housed by the university for nearly sixty years, since the early 1940's when the Quileute tribal council had approached the university to help save their treasures. The tribe loaned a series of masks to Rainier in exchange for funds to help the small tribe modernize its facilities. The university had been eager to help and, after several discussions and debates, a contract had been drawn up and signed. The tribe received the much needed money and the school claimed some of the best examples of mask art in the Northwest.
But to the consternation of several generations of Quileute, the contract had never included anyone from the tribe, or even another tribe, to be in charge of the exhibit. The elders had explained to the younger members that no one had the credentials needed for the position. It had satisfied one generation of the tribe, survived the protest of another, but the current group was determined to correct the perceived error.
Harry Payne, one of the most active members of latest generation of Quileute, was standing on the steps of Hargrove Hall, his arms crossed over his chest, nodding approvingly as he looked over the small protest group. It wasn't the largest, and it wasn't the loudest, numbering only forty or so protestors, but it was annoying the hell out of the administration, and that was good enough for him for the time being.
At least they were listening to him this time; when he'd tried to prove that the university was sitting on ancient Quileute lands, he had been summarily dismissed. A few of the older administrators had actually laughed at the thought of the school on Indian land.
Twenty years ago the contract for the masks had been renewed with only a nominal increase of payment to the tribe to reflect inflation but without any changes in the care of the masks in spite of the protests of the Quileute in 1980, his father among them. He was determined to succeed where his father's generation had failed with that perceived injustice.
Two other young Quileute joined the tall, slender leader on the steps. Both were sons of other protestors, and like Harry, both were interested in seeing this contract with the school changed. Mike Coe, slightly taller than Harry and more muscular, handed a placard to Harry and looked at the crowd.
"You know, twenty years ago, the attention this little protest of ours is garnering would have made it a bust," Mike snorted. "Hell, forty years ago we would have been laughed off the campus. Where are the reporters to cover the protest? Where are the cameras to telecast it to the world?"
"Times change," Harry shrugged noting the sign. "The way folks protest have changed. Used to be any sit-in, march or protest would get the public's attention and make the administration take notice. Hell, even a well-worded letter would have the administration trying to find ways to pacify the dissenter. Now, it takes that and more to get their attention and make them take notice of the protestors. We just have to change with the times. Right, Jack?" He looked over at the third young man, shorter than he by a head, but as slender.
"There's change and then there's change," Jack answered softly, frowning at his sign. "I'm not so sure about some of these sayings." He pointed to his sign: 'Rainier: Thief of Time.'
"Don't let the sayings get to you. They're supposed to get to the administration," Harry reminded him as he looked over his placard's comment: 'You stole before; never again!'
"Tell that to my grandfather," Jack returned. "Hey, trade me signs."
"Your grandfather giving you a hard time?" Mike looked at the slender man.
"Well, he does consider this to be a slap at him and his judgment. I mean, he was one of the original negotiators."
"So you tell him that it was good then, but not any more," Mike suggested. "Just like I tell my grandfather."
"How well does that work?" Jack looked back at Mike.
"About the same as with your grandfather," Mike laughed. "Difference is I don't care if Gramps approves or not."
"Difference is you're not in line to inherit his position," Jack countered.
Harry hoisted the placard to his shoulder and moved down to join the small crowd. "No, the difference is he doesn't care that he's not in line to inherit, Jack. Of course, he and his grandfather aren't as close as you and yours."
"Granddad raised me when my folks were killed," Jack said tightly. "Doesn't mean we're close."
"Doesn't mean you're not," Harry said as he started walking.
"No, I suppose it doesn't," Jack sighed.
As the two joined Harry in the march, Harry noticed the arrival of a small blond man about twice their age walking toward the hall. Harry maneuvered himself so that he was blocking the slim man's way. The man stopped walking, holding his briefcase tightly in his fist.
"Hello, Professor Grant," the young Indian said, smiling at him.
"Hello, Harry," the professor sighed.
"Ready for the meeting?"
A deeper sigh escaped the blond's lips. "I'm always ready for meetings, Harry. The question is, are you ready to listen to reason?"
"Sure." Harry grinned at the man as he stepped aside. "I'm just waiting to hear something besides the standard lies and fairy tales we've been fed."
Shaking his head, the professor walked into Hargrove Hall.
Harry checked his watch as most of his fellow protestors dropped away. Classes were beginning and while everyone wanted to support his cause, they weren't willing to sacrifice their GPA for it to succeed. Most of them were here on some sort of scholarship or other; if they didn't keep up their grades, they'd lose the scholarships and be forced back home, disgraced.
"We meet here in one hour," he said to the remaining protestors. "Bring some friends with you. We need all the voices and bodies we can get."
As he walked past the construction site for the new medical hall, he saw the workers standing around pointing at the excavation site, murmuring low and looking somewhat alarmed.
"Hey, what's up?" Harry asked one of the workers, a short, stout man, standing near by.
"Dug up some bones," the man answered perfunctorily. The scowl on his face seemed etched into his features. "Can't do anything until the cops say it ain't a crime scene. Damn it," he swore, "that's gonna set us back even more than we are. And we were finally starting to catch up with the schedule."
"Bones?" Harry looked at the man.
"Yeah, a lot of them."
"Sorry about your problems," Harry said as he moved away.
Pulling out his cell phone, Harry quickly made a call. "Mike, get everyone you can over to the construction site now! … I know they have classes, but this is important! … Trust me on this, Mike. It'll be worth it."
The blond man stopped in front of his office and stared at the lettering on it. Professor Joshua Grant. North American Indian Studies.
Shaking his head he entered it. Of course the small crowd in front of Hargrove Hall was upset. Here was a man who had no Native American blood in him and he was lecturing and teaching others, including them, about their heritage. No wonder Harry Payne and his friends didn't really want to listen to him.
He sat down heavily behind his desk and checked the notes and messages left for him by the department secretary. The administration wanted to know why the hell he was discussing the contract for the mask art now when the agreement still had two more years to run. It was a question he was beginning to ask himself as well. Granted, other deals were looked at and renegotiated before their due date, but it was rarely done for contracts such as this.
After going through the messages and separating them according to importance – his perception, not the callers' – he turned to check his planner to see what he could possibly put off and what he could not.
The meeting with Harry, of course, was one he couldn't put off. Not that he wanted to; the subject was very important to him. He'd done a lot of work making the exhibit what it was, including securing more pieces from other local tribes. To be called a thief by the young Indians on campus had hurt. He might not be Indian, but that didn't mean he had any less respect for the objects or their history.
Dr. Grant was pouring himself a cup of coffee from his small Mr. Coffee when the phone on his desk rang. Why did the damned phone always interrupt his first cup of the day?
"Yes?" he answered, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.
"The construction crew found bones on the campus, Grant," Chancellor Marie Edwards stated brusquely. "This is going to –"
"They found what?" He found himself sitting down in his chair, then leaning back and rubbing the bridge of his nose, trying to figure out why she was calling him about this.
"The foreman said they have to wait until the police clear it before they can get to work again."
"Well, that's probably true," Grant sighed as he leaned forward to rummage in a drawer for a bottle of aspirin he was sure he had stuck in there.
"And now Harry Payne is trying to say it shows the campus is built on Indian land. Is that likely?" Chancellor Edwards' words were clipped and angry.
Grant let a groan slip from his lips. The reason she was complaining to him was now evident.
"No, it's not likely. We can prove the Native American lands were not around the campus; everything we have shows they were all further north." Grant took the found aspirin bottle and opened it, popping two pills in his mouth and swallowing with a sip of coffee.
"Payne also said this could show that there was a transient camp on university land, whatever the hell that is." Chancellor Edwards' tone got chillier.
"Harry Payne said what?" Grant found himself sitting upright in the chair. What was that crazy protestor trying to do now?
"He said it was proof this campus was built on a transient campsite and could cost the university millions in reparations!"
Grant squinted at the bottle and tossed it back into the drawer. No sense in overdosing on the medication, even though it might be less painful than the headache building behind his eyes.
"Is that possible?" the chancellor demanded.
"Well," he said carefully, "anything is possible. But, I find it highly unlikely that it's a transient camp. Especially after all the research that's been done to prove to certain individuals that this was not Indian land."
"How can you be sure that it's not Indian land?" Edwards' angry voice blasted his eardrum.
"Because," Grant answered patiently, "as far back as the university has been building and excavating on this land, there has never been a single find to suggest otherwise. That's how I can be sure. If you don't believe me, check the original survey maps when the government procured the land for the university. The closest known campsite shown was miles from here."
"Well, something sure as hell as been found now!" Edwards' voice got angrier. "Check it out, damn it!"
"All right," he sighed. "I'll look into it."
"Now! Damn it!"
"I'll be at the site in five minutes," he told her.
"Make it sooner!" The slamming of the phone in his ear echoed the sharp, hot demand of her voice.
The two men walking around the park were trying not to be too conspicuous. It was, however, a losing battle.
The older-looking one had blond, thinning hair combed to cover a balding spot, which did little to help his appearance. His brown eyes darted furtively around the area, even though there were few folks in the park at this time of the morning. He straightened his plaid sports shirt and looked at the younger man with dark hair and black eyes then shook his head.
"Thought I told you to wear something that wouldn't be noticed, Homer," the older man growled. "I have a feeling that purple and green will definitely be remembered."
"Back home maybe," Homer replied, "but the salesman said it was the trend here."
"Have you seen anyone else wearing purple and green, Homer?" the blond growled.
"Well…" Homer shrugged and shook his head. "No. Not here, not yet. But maybe we're in the wrong place, Arlo."
"You think so?" Arlo snorted. "You sure you saw him walking here?"
Homer nodded. "Yeah! I mean," he went on, "I was watching him and saw him walking here three days in a row. I mean, I didn't think those kind of dogs walked in the park." He looked around the park, seeing signs of activity increasing. "You sure you want to try and grab him here? Especially with these folks around?"
Arlo took a deep breath and looked at his little brother. "Well, when we tried at the arena, we didn't get him, now did we? And they've increased security, so trying there again would be pretty stupid."
"Yeah, I suppose so," Homer agreed.
"This is our best bet to get that dog," Arlo continued. "It's the top champion Papillon from the East, more points than the West Coast champion. And that is what you wanted, right? A top champion stud?"
"More points than the West Coast champion?" Homer's eyebrows raised in amazement. "You're sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure." Arlo rolled his eyes. "Didn't you check him out?"
"And Mama thinks you inherited the brains in the family." Arlo shook his head.
"So he's got great blood lines right?"
"Of course," Arlo said patiently. "He's got magnificent blood lines."
"Mama will be so pleased," Homer sighed. "Magnificent blood lines for her puppies."
"Terrific." Arlo rolled his eyes again. "Just remember to hang onto the dog this time, okay?"
"I had a hold of the dog the last time," Homer whined.
"You didn't keep hold of the dog or we wouldn't be here, now would we?"
"It's not my fault that he tried to bite me and peed on my leg."
"Just don't let the dog bite you and don't worry if he pees on your leg," Arlo ordered. "We can get the damned pants cleaned. All little dogs pee when they get nervous or upset. Just like some people."
Homer stared in shock at his brother. "Are you implying…?"
"Who me?" Arlo blinked at his brother innocently. "Imply that you peed your pants when the security guards nearly caught us? Never. Of course that wet spot on your pants was a bit high for the dog to be peeing down your leg…."
"I did not!"
"Look, just grab the damned dog and don't get scared of it. You're bigger than he is."
"I got a better idea, Arlo." Homer stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"And that would be?"
"You grab the dog." Homer nodded. "I'll take care of the dog's walker."
Captain Simon Banks filled his coffee cup with the latest brew from his cousin. Sniffing the aroma carefully, he nodded and took a sip. Much better than the last blend his cousin had sent him. There were times when he felt like his cousin's guinea pig. This, fortunately, was not one of them.
Sitting down behind his desk he noted the tower of files that needed his signature. Obviously his men were working hard and getting cases solved. It certainly made him look good. Then he looked at the new case pile. It seemed to be as tall as the case closed pile. Someone certainly thought the Major Crime division could work miracles.
He picked up the top file and read through it. A small frown crossed his face. This didn't seem to be a Major Crime case. Since when was it a major crime to steal bodies from a graveyard?
Simon closed the folder, getting ready to send it back to where it belonged, when he caught sight of a yellow sticky note. The mayor's handwriting was unmistakable. "The Founding Fathers want this solved ASAP!"
Well, that answered that question. It became a Major Crime case when the victims were the ancestors of some of the leading families of the city. Great-great-grandsons didn't take kindly to great-great-granddad or great-great-grandmom getting disturbed.
Simon looked out the window and sighed when he remembered Ellison and Sandburg had been on stakeout the night before and so wouldn't be in until later today. This case probably couldn't wait those few hours. He could almost guarantee the mayor would be on the phone before long wanting to know a team was on the case.
Trouble was, every other team had a full plate and wouldn't appreciate another case being handed to them. And he couldn't blame them. All of the Major Crime detectives were working hard on the cases they had to get them solved in a timely manner and handed over to the DA to be prosecuted.
Simon rubbed his eyes and took another sip of the cooling coffee as he continued to consider workloads, trying to determine who was going to get the short straw.
Brian Rafe and Henri Brown entered the bullpen just then, both laughing, probably over some joke Henri had shared with his fellow detectives in the break room. In their own way, they were as different from each other as Ellison was from Sandburg. With Ellison and Sandburg, the difference was that of the conservative cop and the college student; with Rafe and Brown it was the original Odd Couple: Rafe was Felix and Brown was Oscar.
And, Simon recalled as he looked at the completed files in front of him, they had turned in the paperwork on two cases they'd recently wrapped up. And they'd done it without any fanfare or acknowledgement from the press.
Leaning back in his chair, Simon savored another swallow of the flavorful blend. Hmm. Two odd-couple teams. Perhaps it was time to let the other shine. It would certainly take the spotlight off Ellison and Sandburg and let them relax a little. Rafe and Brown were just as good; they'd just never been given the chance to be in the spotlight much.
He smiled as he made his decision. Walking to the door, he hid the grin and bellowed, "Rafe! Brown! My office! Now!"
Suzanne Tomaki walked toward the construction site. Dr. Joshua Grant was already there, staring into the giant hole in the ground. She had to admit, the man had made good time coming from Hargrove Hall. But then she recalled the phone call from a very agitated and angry chancellor to her about the problem, if the woman had given him the same sort of rant as she had given Suzanne, he might have felt his academic career depended on him being here and as soon as possible.
She moved passed the small, persistent group of chanting Indians that had previously been marching in front of Hargrove Hall and were now protesting behind the yellow plastic ribbons. She noted with some pride her small security force was keeping them from crowding too close to the tape.
She moved easily under the strip and walked toward Grant. She nodded a greeting and stared down at the people milling around. A man examining the remains looked up from his task momentarily, then nodded at the technicians to finish the job of bagging the evidence and made his way up the incline, Serena Chang right behind him.
"Suzanne Tomaki," she introduced herself to the medical examiner, "Chief of Campus Security."
"Dan Wolfe, Chief Medical Examiner," Dan introduced himself. "Serena Chang, head of Forensics."
"We met several years ago." Serena nodded at the security officer.
"Yes, the spider bite." Suzanne nodded.
"Joshua Grant, head of North American Indian Studies," Grant said stepping up to the ME and holding out a hand. "If this doesn't turn into a crime scene I have to prove it's not a Native American Indian camp."
Dan Wolfe took the hand and shook it, then turned his attention back to the hole in the ground. "So that's the reason for the crowd on the other side of the barrier."
"Yes." Professor Grant rubbed a hand through his short hair.
"So," Suzanne asked, "what have we got?"
"Well," Dan answered, "there are the bones of at least three people. Might be more and it's still too soon to say if these are just partial skeletons or not. I won't know until I lay them all out."
"Anything else?" Suzanne asked tightly. For a once quiet university, Rainier was certainly changing, and not for the better either.
"Well," Serena held up several bags of what looked like wood pieces, "these were scattered around the bones. It's hard to say, but these may be pieces of native art, maybe masks."
Suzanne watched as the body bags made their way out of the pit and toward the coroner's wagon. She noted that Grant's attention seemed split between the large black bags and the smaller evidence bags. He obviously wanted to study both.
"How old?" Suzanne asked softly.
"The bones or these?" Dan waved his hand at the bagged items.
Dan shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. "Hard to tell. They aren't fresh; that much I do know. I'll know more once I've seen them in the morgue. I'll have a forensic anthropologist check out the bones as well."
"You use anyone in particular?" Suzanne asked.
"Mark Tate, unless he's really busy."
"He's always busy," Grant snorted.
"Ah, but sometimes he's busier than others," Dan said mysteriously. "He knows how to be 'too busy' to help out if the case doesn't really interest him. The police might pay per case but this university pays his salary and he can bury himself around his lab better than I can in my morgue."
"I've heard he loves a mystery," Suzanne noted.
"I'm counting on that." Dan grinned. "Might help to move my request to the head of his list."
Suzanne frowned. "Should I call him?" she asked. "Let him know what's going on?"
Dan's grin widened as he glanced at the crowd milling around the construction site. "With all this hullabaloo, I'm betting he already knows what's going on."
"He does seem to know about things that happen here on campus. Wonder how he does it." Suzanne sighed. "I could sure use his contacts."
"Comes from being a former radical," Dan chuckled.
"Really?" Suzanne raised an eyebrow at the medical examiner. "And how would you know this?"
"Who do you think was marching next to him?" Dan laughed.
"You?!" Suzanne looked at Dan in awed amazement.
Dan grinned at her.
Suzanne shook her head. "Will wonders never cease?"
"I certainly hope not."
"Perhaps I can help you with the masks," Grant suggested. "Dating them, identifying them. That sort of thing. It could save us all some time."
Dan seemed to be studying the professor.
"He is the expert on campus," Suzanne pointed out. "You'd probably be calling on him anyway to try and identify the masks."
"And if this is a native site, and not a crime scene," Grant added, "we'll need to start looking into who the bones belong to. They'll need to be repatriated at some point."
Dan shrugged and looked at Serena. "It's up to you," he said.
"You'll be able to do more than I will," Serena stated, handing several bags to Joshua after noting which ones were being given to the professor.
Grant looked at the fragments in the bags being held by Serena, especially the larger ones. He stepped back and looked at Dan, Serena and Suzanne. "After I get them cleaned I'll be able to tell something about them. But I'll need my lab and time. Right now, I couldn't tell you anything about them; there's too much dirt."
The crime photographer climbed out of the pit. "I'd better get this muck off my shoes before I get in the car or my wife will kill me," he muttered.
"Get everything?" Dan asked the man.
"In triplicate," the photographer affirmed.
Grant looked from the fragments in his hands to the hole in the ground. "You know, if this does turn into a transient camp and not a crime scene, I'll need photos of the discovery. Do you think I could get copies? I think any crime photos will be as detailed as the ones I'd have taken if I'd have made the discovery."
The photographer shrugged after looking at Dan. "Don't see why not. Just fill out the paperwork necessary to make the officials happy."
Suzanne listened to the chanting in the background as the small protest group tried to halt the photographer's departure. She smiled with pride when two campus officers and one city uniformed officer moved the group back out of the way. Then she turned to the two men.
"You know," Suzanne said, watching the group of protestors, "we need something to appease this crowd before it gets out of hand."
"I can't lie to them." Grant shook his head.
"Neither can I," Dan added.
Suzanne frowned and pointed to the wooden pieces in the bags dangling from Grant's hand. "Can't you tell them anything about the pieces?"
"With this muck on them, I couldn't tell you if these pieces were from some art class at the turn of the century or from an Indian craftsman from the last century, or even earlier," Grant told her. "It could be a mask or it could be something abstract."
Suzanne's attention was drawn to movement near the yellow plastic ribbon. A student ducked under the tape and started toward the site. Taking a second look, Suzanne noted it was the ringleader of the protest, Harry Payne. He tried to dodge the nearest security officer unsuccessfully, winning an approving nod from the security chief as she moved to intercept him. He deftly stepped behind Harry, grabbed his right arm and twisted it behind his back. She saw the officer whisper in Harry's ear and Harry snort in response.
"What have you got, Professor?" Harry demanded, pointing at the specimen bags with his free hand.
"Possibly some mask pieces," Grant admitted.
"So what are you going to do with the relics, Prof?"
The sigh escaped the professor's lips. "Harry, there's no proof yet these are relics."
"No proof?!" Harry pulled free from the security officer's grasp but stayed put. "What do you want for proof? A hand-painted autograph?"
Suzanne noted with some dismay that he had pitched his voice so the crowd on the other side of the tape could hear him.
"It might help," Grant answered, moving to stand closer to the protestor. "Harry, right now, there is too much dirt on the specimens. There's no way to tell the age or the tribal origin of the pieces in this condition." Suzanne watched the protestor roll his eyes and Grant wait patiently until he had Harry's, and by extension the crowd's, attention, then went on in an authoritative voice. "If I've told you once, I've told you hundreds of times, dating relics takes time if it's to be done correctly."
"Even now you could take a guess at the age and tribe," Harry countered. "You just don't want to admit there's a possibility that this is a Native American site, because that would rock the administration's little world."
Suzanne pressed her lips together as Grant took a deep breath and exhaled. "First we are going to find out if these are relics or not. Then we are going to find out to whom they belong. Belonged. Only then will we know if this is a Native American site or not."
"And the bones?" Harry continued.
"Bones?" Josh asked the student.
Suzanne closed her eyes briefly in defeat. She had been hoping to keep the knowledge of the bones from the dissenters until they had more information from the medical examiner about them.
"I heard they found bones here as well."
"We don't know a thing about them," Grant admitted calmly. "So the medical examiner is going to try to find out if they are old or not. If they aren't, well, then it will be up to the police. If they are, he will try to determine if they are Native American or not. If they are, then we'll try to figure out what tribe they belonged to, if that is possible, and they will be returned to their people according to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act."
Suzanne watched the crowd absorb the information. Some seemed to be listening to the professor, but the majority seemed to be waiting for Harry to determine their next move.
"And how long is that gonna take?" Harry demanded.
"As long as it takes, Harry," Grant answered as he started back toward his office, Suzanne walking along with him. "No more. No less."
"And what about the exhibit?" Harry grabbed Grant's arm.
Suzanne watched as Grant glared at Harry, ready to render assistance as needed. Grant pulled his arm from Harry's grasp and stared at the young militant.
"I believe we have an appointment in an hour," Grant's voice was tightly controlled. "Not before then and definitely not out here."
Grant moved away from the protestor toward the distant Hargrove Hall. Suzanne moved to stop Harry from following the professor. Harry shifted his glare from the professor's back to Suzanne, who glared back at him. Then he picked up his sign and rejoined his small group in chanting.
"Protect our rights! Rainier, thief of time!"
Suzanne Tomaki sighed softly as the crowd continued to chant loudly. Glancing at the group of protestors, she was relieved it was still small and containable. They were much louder than she'd prefer, and definitely louder than the Chancellor wanted, but so far they weren't causing too much trouble. However, if the crowd got any larger, her small security force would need help to contain any trouble.
Suzanne looked at the leader, Harry, staring back at her, his glare full of anger. As she watched, he defiantly turned from her steady gaze to turn his attention to Dr. Grant. He raised his fist in the air, then turned back to the crowd, rallying them to louder heights. Suzanne pursed her lips and turned her attention to the departing professor as well. Perhaps Dr. Grant could use a little help with this meeting of his; someone who could keep the two of them from doing each other some serious harm. Suzanne pulled a small cell phone from her belt and dialed a number.
Continue on to Act 2
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