Novation Productions Present Season Six Episode Six
Snips And Snails And Puppy Dog Tails
Blair watched as Josh Grant groaned and sat up, rubbing his back. He watched as Grant leaned back over the pieces of mask he'd been given and carefully removed another chip of dirt. Hard, painstaking work, as Blair well knew, but it would be worth it if Grant could prove something -- anything -- significantly once he was done. Blair had offered to help earlier and had been politely refused. So he was relegated to sit and watch with Sharon, and try to keep out of the man's way.
Sharon finally broke the silence. "I want to apologize…For earlier."
"I probably should be the one apologizing," Blair shrugged. "I didn't realize that Suzanne, Chief Tamaki, hadn't told you I was coming. I really wouldn't have –"
"– Taken over?" Sharon completed for the grad student.
"– Butted in," Blair corrected. "I mean, I'd have tried to clue you in on how to handle Harry differently."
"I see." Sharon suppressed the glare she wanted to shoot at Blair. "And thanks, I suppose. He is a rather – intense – young man."
"Oh yes indeed. He's very passionate about his causes."
"So I see." Sharon looked over at Grant working on the pieces. "And he does know how to play the crowd."
"One of his many talents," Blair agreed ruefully. "Unfortunately."
"You sound jealous." Sharon stared at Blair in surprise.
"Who me?" Blair looked back at her innocently. "He's a smart kid and he could do so much to help his people if he just wouldn't piss off folks so much. Something he hasn't learned yet in his PolySci classes."
"Maybe they haven't covered that subject yet," Sharon suggested.
"Or else he's just not listening because it's something he'd rather not hear," Blair countered. "Are you okay, Sharon?"
"Me?" Sharon frowned at Blair, confusion on her face.
"Well, he did call you an apple. So did Mike," Blair pointed out.
"He called you a kike," Sharon reminded him.
"Hey, if I can call him a crazy redskin, I suppose he can call me a crazy kike," Blair shrugged.
"It never bothered you?"
"Nah." Blair shook his head. He grinned at the piercing glare from Sharon. "Well, not after the first time. And not after I called him a crazy redskin. We had a real shouting match after that and got the air cleared," Blair remembered. "We learned how far we could push each other without showing disrespect to each other. And you never answered my question. You okay?"
"You mean about the apple remark?" Sharon asked. "Yes, I'm fine."
"You sure?" Blair studied her closely.
Sharon nodded. "Yes, I'm sure. I've heard it most my life. But I have to admit, it's the first time that the term really bothered me. And not because he called me an apple; because I pretty much am an apple. He called Dan Wolfe an apple. I mean…." Sharon pressed her lips together and struggled to find the right words.
"I think I understand," Blair nodded. "Dan is a lot of things, but an apple isn't one of them."
"He's a good man," Sharon stated. "And he's very much in tune with his heritage."
Blair studied her. "And you're not?"
"No." Sharon smiled at him. "And please, don't try and change me, Blair. My family was taken from the reservation a long time ago," she explained, "and never went back. I think at first they couldn't go back, and after a while, they just didn't want to. They'd changed too much."
"But –" Blair protested.
"Oh, don't get me wrong," Sharon held up a hand, cutting him off. "I've done a genealogical search and can trace my family all the way back to the reservation. But," she sighed and shook her head, "my family has become more white than Indian. I don't think I'd be comfortable back on the reservation, even for a visit. That doesn't mean I don't want good things for those who are still there and want those good things. I just want it to be done the right way."
Blair studied the woman, noting her ease with herself. "I see. And I understand."
Arlo stared at the dogs still growling at each other. Homer also watched, still looking dejected.
Homer looked over at his brother. "Arlo…he's not getting any friendlier toward Mimi."
"I can see that," Arlo snapped, wishing that Homer would quit stating the obvious. "Now tell me something I don't know."
"I still think it's your aftershave that's bothering him," Homer insisted. "Maybe even Mimi."
"Give it a rest, Homer." Arlo glared at his brother.
"It smells funny," Homer declared, "especially when mixed with your bath soap."
"Homer…." Arlo's tone was threatening.
"Well," Homer continued persistently, "dogs do have a very sharp sense of smell. You never know what those odors can do to them."
"Now I've heard everything!" Arlo threw up his hands.
"Well…" Homer looked over at his brother, shrugging.
"Just keep an eye on the dogs," Arlo ground out, "while I go get the Viagra."
Sharon turned her attention back to Grant. "So what is he doing?"
"First, he's cleaning the pieces," Blair replied. "Then, he's going to try and find out what kind of masks they are. He's going to make sure they're made from the proper cedar tree and have all the right markings to be Quileute masks. Of course, they have to be dated using carbon dating and other processes, to make sure they are old enough to be from an age when the Quileute were more numerous in the area."
Grant looked over at the two who had opted to stay with him while he worked. "So far, the only thing I've been able to determine is that they could be either Quileute or Quinault."
Blair shook his head. "That's not much help."
"I know it's not," Grant shrugged. "But I can't make up information to please them or you."
"Is there any way you can narrow it down?" Blair asked.
"Now you're sounding like Harry," Grant grunted.
"Now you're sounding insulting," Blair returned. "And lunch is nearly over and we're no closer to answering Harry's question than we were when we started."
"You know that there is no way to get any answer in less than an hour," Grant snapped. "It takes time."
Blair held up an appeasing hand. "I know, Josh. I was just hoping there'd be something which marked the masks as being made for the Tribal Store. You know, the ones they sell to tourists?"
Grant grinned sheepishly at Blair. "To perfectly honest, so was I. But these – there isn't anything that says they are one of those."
"Could they be contemporary ceremonial masks?" Sharon asked.
"Maybe," Grant sighed. "But then the question becomes -- how did they get in this condition? No one, and I mean no one, is going to destroy a ceremonial mask. Not without a damned good reason."
"Accident?" she suggested.
Blair snorted. "Must have been some accident. All tribes have specific ways, set in tradition, of disposing of damaged ceremonial objects."
"Which, since it didn't happen," Grant glanced at Blair, then at Sharon, "could seem to lend credence to Harry's speculation about this being from a transient camp for the ancient Quileute. Sudden death of the person and no one left to dispose of the mask."
"What is with Harry anyway?" Sharon frowned. "And the others."
Blair got up and paced restlessly around the room. "Short version of a very long story is that Harry is trying to get more money for his people. It's not a big tribe and they don't have much going for them."
"Wait," Sharon frowned, remembering, "weren't they the tribe trying to get a casino on their land?"
"Yes," Grant answered.
"They lost to the Quinault," Blair continued. "Something about the distance from the main roads. Of course, one of the reasons was they weren't all that eager to over-modernize the area, not that I blame them. I mean, the area is beautiful –"
"But without the revenue," Grant butted in, "they are a much poorer tribe."
"So that's one reason Harry and his friends are trying to renegotiate the contract," Sharon surmised.
"Mike and Harry, yes," Grant nodded.
"Jack's a bit harder to pin down," Blair continued. "See, his grandfather is on the council who negotiated the original agreement with the university. So anything he says against the contract could be seen as a protest against his grandfather."
"That must put him in an awkward situation," Sharon guessed.
"It does, but it also allows him see both sides of the problem," Blair replied, "and offer suggestions. Not that Harry is one to listen to suggestions not his own."
"He does seem to be a bit more reasonable than his friends," she noted.
"I imagine that his grandfather has been teaching him the fine are of compromise and negotiation," Blair said. "As well as trying to show him the reasoning behind the original contract."
Sharon shook her head. "Can't be all that easy for him."
"From what I've heard," Blair said, "he'll be taking his grandfather's place when he dies."
"And how does Jack feel about that?" she asked.
"You know," Blair looked at her, "I don't think that I've ever heard him talk about it."
Grant rubbed his eyes. "I have to agree with Harry. The money the tribe gets from the relics the university is allowed to show isn't all that great, but the university has been trying to make sure that the amount paid to the tribe is more than adequate. I mean," he continued, "the artifacts are really priceless, both historically and anthropologically."
"And if Harry is right about a section of Rainier being a transient camp," Sharon went on, "then the university would owe the tribe more money?"
"Probably," Grant shrugged. "It would depend on a few other things, but yeah, it could mean more money to the tribe. Of course, the tribe might be interested in a percentage of the tuition money – it's a pretty large amount. Or maybe less percentage for free tuition for the tribal students. Granted, not many get to college; most barely graduate high school. But it might give them a reason to finish school if they thought they'd be able to go to college without having to scrounge for money to do so, like the three of them have been having to do."
"Especially Jack," Blair noted.
"Why especially him?" Sharon wondered.
"Well, Harry and Mike have family who are trying to support them. Jack…" Blair sighed. "Jack has only his grandfather."
"I see," Sharon mused.
Homer rested his chin in his hands and stared at the dogs. The two Papillon had gone from growling at each other to pointedly ignoring each other.
"Arlo," Homer began.
"I know, I know," Arlo groaned. "They don't like each other."
"Well, they don't," Homer sniffled.
Arlo glared at the two dogs. "They don't have to like each other. They just have to react to each other's hormones. Do you two mutts hear me? React!"
"They're not reacting," Homer said needlessly. "I guess we'd better try for that other Papillon that you saw, right?" He nibbled his lower lip. "I know, he's not from back East and he don't have all the points that Midas does, but he still has good bloodlines and that's the important thing for Mama, right?"
"Yes, they're good bloodlines," Arlo said patiently. "And they're nearly as good as Midas' are."
"Of course, Mama would really rather have the litter's sire be Midas," Homer continued.
"At this point I don't care if the junkyard dog came in here and bred Mimi just so long as she got bred," Arlo snarled. "I just want the bitch bred so we can get the hell out of here and back home. So, tell me again, why did I agree to this stupid plan of yours? Why didn't we do things the right way instead of this way?"
"Well…" Homer twisted his fingers around each other, "we didn't have the money for stud fees. I mean … I figured he'd just take the pick of the litter. You know like Jessie did when his dog bred Mary Sue's. But he wanted $700 up front. And then there was a waiting period. $700 for that little dog to just … well, you know … with Mimi. And Mimi had to wait!"
Arlo shook his head. "Yeah, well, if you and Mama had looked into things, you'd have found out that champions are very expensive as sires. And why did it have to be a champion to sire this litter of pups?"
"'Cause that's what Mama wanted for her birthday. And that's what we'd promised her we'd get," Homer stated stoutly.
"No, you promised her," Arlo retorted acidly. "I had my own ideas, and the money to do it all too."
"It wasn't what Mama wanted," Homer said stubbornly. "And you should always give someone what they want for their birthday, not something you think they want."
"I offered to loan you the money to get the dog bred by a champion," Arlo said through clenched teeth.
"But we'd have to wait, and we can't wait," Homer pointed out. "Did he take the Viagra all right?"
"Damned dog puked all over my shoes when I tried to get him to take the pill." Arlo squirmed in remembrance.
"Maybe I can get him to take the pill," Homer offered. "I'm better with animals than you are."
Arlo glared at Homer. "I only had the one pill. I got it from the doc as a trial to see if it would do me any good. You know what doctor's visits run?" He shoved his face into his brother's. "Do you know how expensive the pills are? How embarrassing it is to get a prescription for them?"
Homer sighed sadly and shook his head, looking at the two dogs. "Guess we're gonna have to take Midas back and get that other dog for Mimi. Maybe he'll take a shine to her."
"You think?" Arlo snorted.
The sound of the dog's toenails moving on the cement brought both of the men's eyes from glaring at each other to watching the dogs. Mimi was sitting in a corner, her ears drooped. The strange dog, however, was making its way to the small litter box. It relieved itself by squatting discretely instead of lifting its leg against the small pole they’d provided.
Arlo squinted, then stared closely at the dog. He turned the glare to his brother. Suddenly he started slapping his younger brother around the head and shoulders.
"You dopey doofus!" Arlo shouted, not caring if he startled and scared the dogs or not. "You got Medea, not Midas!"
"Medea?" Homer dodged the blows.
"Medea!" Arlo landed one last blow to the smaller man's back. "No wonder they weren't getting along!"
"How was I s'posed to know? I mean –"
"You mean you never bothered to check!?" Arlo shrieked.
"Well, you were the one that picked him – her – up," Homer whined. "I just tackled the man."
Arlo took another swing at his brother and connected with his shoulder. "You were the one that followed that man every day from the hotel. You said he always took Midas for a walk. Midas! Not Medea!"
Homer rubbed his shoulder, sniffling. "I thought it was Midas. They do look a lot alike, after all. And I never heard him –"
"You never heard him?" Arlo loomed over his brother.
"I didn't even know he'd brought another dog here for the showing. Sheesh! Do you know how much the entry fee is?"
"Shut up!" Arlo shouted. "Just shut up and let me think. I gotta try to figure out how to fix this mess that you managed to get us into because you couldn't wait a few months."
"But it was for Mama's birthday," Homer reminded Arlo. "And we could still try and get Midas."
Arlo rubbed the back of his neck and closed his eyes, ignoring the man. "I won't kill my baby brother. I won't." He looked over at Homer. "I'll let Dad do that when he finds out what Homer's done. And had me do."
Jim walked around the Cascade Sports Arena, noting the changes that had been made to accommodate the dog show. It would be changed back when the Jags played, and again when the Orcas played.
The security officer who had met them was leading them around, explaining all the security details that had been put into place since the first attempt to steal a dog.
"And you were here when the two men tried to steal the dog?" Megan asked.
"Yes ma'am," the guard answered. "Saw them trying to open the cage and get the dog out. I noticed they weren't wearing the ribbons around their arms. So I just hollered for help. That seemed to startle them and they stopped what they were doing and ran like hell. I'm just sorry we lost them in the crowd."
"I don't think anyone could have caught them once they reached the crowd." Megan surveyed the area thoughtfully. "And you've increased security?"
The guard nodded. "As much as we can without the owners getting too upset about moving around back here. But to be perfectly honest, there's just so much our security firm can do."
"Did the two seem interested in any other breed?" Jim asked.
"No sir, not that I could tell. None of the other breeds were bothered. And," the guard added, "none of the other Papillons. Just Mr. MacDee's dog."
"I see," Megan nodded. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," the guard replied. "If you need anything…"
"We'll call," Jim promised.
Megan followed Jim around the area as the dogs were brought from cages and gated areas and taken to central areas to be brushed, fluffed and made ready for the ring.
"Good lord, and men complain about the stuff women go through for a date," Megan stared at the coiffing and grooming the dogs were undergoing. "I think these poor beasts go through much more."
"And all they get is a snack and a 'good girl' or 'good boy'," Jim pointed out. "At least you get dinner, dancing and whatever else may be offered."
"And sometimes we have to fend off the whatever else," she reminded him.
"So, are you getting the impression that our two dog snatchers were after one particular dog?"
"Yes," Megan agreed, "just one."
"Question is why," Jim mused.
"Okay, according to the information that Smith gave Burglary, Midas' Cup of Gold is the top champion Papillon. He has more points than the West Coast Champion does right now."
"That's possible," Jim concurred. "It would depend on the number of shows that Midas has won verses what the local champ has won."
"Is there any reason you can think of that someone would go after that dog?"
Jim stopped walking and rubbed his forehead. "I don't remember all that much about the Conformation side of the show, just the Obedience side. But I'd wager there are those that are making book on who would win and who wouldn't."
"Betting on a dog show?"
Jim just looked at her. "Connor, you and I both know that there are folks who would bet on just about anything,"
"All too true. But the outcome of a dog show is a bit lame." Megan frowned at Jim. "The punsters can't be making much off of it."
"Still, it's a place to go looking."
"No," Megan shook her head. "No, we are not going to check out your bookmaking snitches."
"Now that you mention it –"
"I won't stand to be groped by your snitches, Ellison," Megan warned. "And you can give Sneaks your shoes."
"Relax, Connor," Jim grinned. "You aren't Eddie's type and your shoes aren't the kind Sneaks favors."
"Ha, ha," Megan smirked. She looked around at the activity, then at Jim. "Bet this is bringing back memories, isn't it, Jimbo?"
Jimmy and Champ were waiting for their turn at the competition. He had been working closely with Champ for the last twelve weeks, skipping everything but the essentials. Still there was something missing, and he knew it. Champ seemed to know it as well. There was a nervous tension in the dog that had never been there before.
"Just do your best, boy," Jimmy whispered to the dog. "That's all you can do. You leave the rest up to me."
He heard their names called and the two went into the ring, following the routine as ordered. He thought they had made it through without a flaw until near the end. The flaw was such a minor one that he hoped the judge had missed it.
As the judge made his rounds, Jimmy held his breath. All but four were waved off. The fourth place was handed out to a young girl; the third was given to the small boy with the equally small dog.
The judge looked between Jimmy and the girl in the ring. Finally he handed out the last two ribbons.
The one in Jimmy's hand was red.
"Yeah," Jim grunted. The smile was gone from his face. "Let's see if we can see how they might have gotten into this area of the arena."
Megan shook her head and followed the tall detective around the back area of the arena. "Security looks okay."
"Not bad for a public event," Jim agreed. "There might be a few places that someone could slip in. Of course, it might have been beefed up since the attempts to get Midas."
Megan looked at the detective's pinched face. "Are you getting anything?"
Jim started to snap at Megan, then simply shrugged. "No, just a headache from the smells and all the yapping and barking."
"Are you sensing anything out of the ordinary?"
Jim rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I'm not a psychic, Connor."
"Sorry, mate," Megan shrugged. "Just trying to help."
"Well, you're not," Jim complained rubbing his head.
"What is it Sandy keeps telling you?" Megan suggested. "Dial it down?"
Jim shook his head again. "It won't help me find that scent."
Megan and Jim continued to look around. "With all this security, I can't see a way in."
"Frankly," Jim admitted, "neither can I."
"Excuse me." A different guard walked toward them. "May I see your passes to be here?"
Megan and Jim both showed their Cascade P.D. badges and the guard nodded, then continued on his way.
"That just goes to show that the security team is on the ball," Megan noted.
"With all these valuable dogs, they'd better be," Jim added. "The owners have a lot of money invested into these dogs."
"I'm betting there is still a way in here," Megan fretted.
"Yeah," Jim sighed. Megan frowned at him as he looked at her. Jim picked up his pace and continued to walk around the staging area. "And we'll find it, the old-fashioned way. Come on."
"I'm coming," Megan muttered as she trotted after him. "Just keep it under fifty for the sake of those of us who don't have quite as long a stride as you do."
Harry walked into the lab, followed by Mike and Jack.
"Well?" he asked, his smug look stating what he thought the answer should be.
Josh Grant stood up and stretched tightened back muscles. "Nothing conclusive yet, Harry. Sorry."
Harry turned to the other two and nodded his head. "What did I tell you? It's the same old song, just another verse."
"Harry," Blair shook his head, "you've always been in a hurry to prove everything."
Mike snapped back at him, "Because no matter what, no one seems to do anything about our claims!"
Josh leaned his elbows on the lab table tiredly and shook his head. "Mike, we've checked out every claim that's come to us. I've even had you and Harry and Jack on the teams to check them out."
"But amazingly," Harry retorted snidely, "you come up with nothing each and every time! Even with us on the team pointing out possibilities! Coincidence? I don't think so!"
"You sound frustrated by the fact that the evidence doesn't support your claims," Sharon said softly.
"You're damned right I'm frustrated," Harry lashed out. "This was Quileute land! Just because they were pushed back by the Salish, Quinault and the others doesn't negate that fact! It's our land and we have a right to the money that Rainier has made!"
Sharon nodded. "I understand that. And if the evidence from the construction site backs up your claims, then the university, as well as the state, will work with the tribal council toward a settlement."
"And if there is no conclusive evidence?" Jack asked.
"If there is no conclusive evidence, then there's nothing much anyone can do to make the officials change the way things are," Sharon answered sadly.
"So I guess we'd better hope that the evidence shows something, right?" Harry asked.
"I guess you'd better," she agreed.
Brown got into his car and waited for Rafe to join him. As Henri buckled up he looked over at his partner.
"That place still gets to me," he confessed. "I hate to even go there."
"If it doesn't bother Blair, why should it bother us?" Rafe asked.
"I suppose you're right. Still…" Brown shrugged. "Where is Hairboy again?"
"He's supposed to be at the stacks today," Rafe reminded Brown. "Researching who knows what."
"Stacks?" Brown looked at his partner.
"Library," he supplied.
"Boring," Brown shuddered.
"To you and me," Rafe agreed. "Not to our own brainiac."
"So let's find him and offer him a late lunch," Henri suggested, tossing his cell phone to Rafe. "Even brainiacs have to eat."
"Sounds good to me," Rafe agreed as his partner pulled into traffic.
The six were sitting by around the lab table staring at the mask pieces. The look on the faces of the five that he could see were less than encouraging, Blair noted. At least they weren't yelling at each other any more.
"We sure as hell aren't getting anything done," Jack grumbled.
"No," Blair agreed grumpily, thinking of the lost research time, "we aren't."
The cell phone in his backpack rang at that moment. Blair shrugged in apology as he recovered the phone and moved away from the table.
Dan's voice sounded in his ear. "Hello, Blair."
"Oh hi, Dan," Blair sighed with relief. Perhaps now something could be accomplished.
"I've got some news about the bones we found on campus," Dan told him.
"Finally," Blair breathed.
"But it's not good."
"So just give it to me," Blair said resignedly.
"They're old," Dan told him. "Really old. I can't find any marrow to even try to get any kind of testing."
"So how old are they?"
"I can't say for sure," Dan's voice told him. "Hell, I can't even tell if they're Indian or Caucasian. All I know for sure is that they're all male."
"Damn," Blair swore. "I was hoping for more. But thanks, Dan."
"Hey!" Dan stopped him from hanging up. "I'm not done yet!"
"But if you can't tell who they are –"
"I can't," Dan said. "So I called Mark Tate. He's going to give me a hand in trying to find out more about our bodies."
"The forensic anthropologist? I mean, Rainier’s forensic anthropologist?"
"One and the same." Dan's voice sounded chipper. "We'll know soon enough if these folks are Native American or not. Probably a bit more too. He's helped us solve more than one problematic case when skeletal remains have been found."
"I sure hope he can figure out this one," Blair replied.
"So do I," Dan agreed. "This is one case that needs resolution really fast."
"Definitely," Blair agreed as they both cut the connection.
"Well?" Harry asked eagerly.
"Nothing conclusive," Blair shrugged.
"That's not too surprising, now is it?" Mike snorted.
Blair ignored him and looked at Harry. "He can tell they're really old, but he can't tell their ethnicity."
"So they could be Quileute?" Harry asked hopefully.
Blair shook his head. "Dan won't say one way or the other."
"No, Harry." Blair stared at the student. "It would be irresponsible for him to claim them as one thing when he can't prove it. I mean, how would you feel if he said they were Quileute, and then evidence came along to prove him wrong?"
"He's got a point, Harry," Jack noted. "But there should be a way that he can prove it one way or the other."
Blair nodded. "He's asked Dr. Tate to examine them."
"Dr. Tate?" Harry's eyes widened in surprise.
"Our Dr. Tate?" Jack added.
"Who's Dr. Tate?" Sharon asked.
"He's a forensic anthropologist here at Rainier," Blair explained. "He's going take a look at our John Does. Once he's through, we'll know for sure, one way or another, if they are or aren't Native Americans. Maybe even if they are Quileute."
"And once he proves them to be Native Americans?" Harry looked at Blair, then at Josh Grant.
"If he proves them to be Native American," Grant said calmly, "we'll deal with it."
Dan was still studying the bones, checking the height of each, marveling how each was barely as tall as Blair Sandburg, when the door opened and a tall, dark man was escorted into the room. The man easily stood a head above him and a bit thinner than Dan was. While Dan wore a few ornaments depicting his tribal heritage, Mark Tate wore considerably more and with great aplomb, all hearkening back to his African roots.
Dan's dark eyes crinkled in a grin as the two men clasped each other's arms.
"Been a while since I've been here with you," Mark remarked as he looked at the bones.
"And whose fault is that?"
"What can I say?" Mark shrugged. "Work is just too good right now. But this –" He waved his hands over the bones. "I just couldn't let someone else work on them. Not if they are Native Americans and can force the university to fork over cash to the Quileute."
"You just like to see the chancellor hand over money when she doesn't want to," Dan chuckled.
"That too." Mark turned his attention to the bones. "Pity that there isn't a way to bring them to my lab. I could do a lot of tests on them."
"But then I couldn't get you here so I could treat you to a free meal," Dan shrugged.
"True," Mark nodded. "Of course, this way, I'm the only one that got of the office."
"But as soon as you finish," Dan grinned, "I intend to leave the office early and treat you to that meal I mentioned."
Mark grinned back. "Then the sooner I can give you some sort of answer, the sooner we can both get some good food."
"Now, what can you tell me about our three friends here?"
Mark pursed his lips and bent to study the bones. He walked up one side of each table, and down the other, bending so that his face was mere inches from the bones. He would occasionally touch a bone, pull out a magnifying glass and study the bone, then move on.
Finally he stood up and looked at his friend.
"Well?" Dan asked.
"Okay, they're pretty old, as you well know," Mark began. "But I don't think they're as old as some folks might think they are. I doubt if they were embalmed or even buried in a coffin. Probably they were just placed in a plain box or even directly in the ground."
"Really?" Dan picked up the glass and moved closer to the bones to study them.
"It led to more weathering of the bones, aging them, and making them seem older," Mark continued.
"Well, they were found at that construction site," Dan reminded him.
"Yeah, so I heard," Mark grinned. "I also heard it kicked up a bit a ruckus on the campus and put Edwards' panties in a wad."
"I can believe that," Dan grinned back.
"Of course, it was nothing like some of the uproars we used to get involved in," Mark added. "And Edwards' little hissy fits are nothing compared to the fits we used to give our chancellor."
Dan snickered at the memory. "Hell, these kids don't know how to stage a decent protest."
"Tell me about it." Mark shook his head. "Sometimes I just wanna get back out there and show them how to do it right."
"So," Mark leaned on a table and looked at the skeletons, "some young hotheads think these fellows are going to prove that Rainier is sitting on Indian land?"
"They hope," Dan nodded. "Unofficially, so do I."
"Well," Mark picked up the skull he was looking at and stared at the empty eye sockets, "alas, poor Yorick." He turned his gaze to Dan. "Ain't gonna happen."
"Damn," Dan swore.
"Well, not today, anyway," Mark added.
"They're not Indian?"
Mark shook his head. "Nope." He held the skull so Dan could see items as he pointed them out, then pointed to the other two skulls. "Look at the cheekbones. They're recessive. A Native American's would be more forward projecting. And look at the eye sockets." He tapped the lower edge of the area in question with a pen.
"I'm looking." Dan looked first at them, then at Mark. "Now tell me what I'm looking for."
"They aren't circular," Mark said. "If they were Native American like you, they'd be rounder. And if they were some of my brothers, they'd be more rectangular." He tapped the top of the nasal arch. "See this?" Dan nodded. "It's called a metopic suture. It's only seen in Caucasians. Not Native Americans. Not African Americans. Not Asians. Only the White Man."
"Seems pretty conclusive," Dan sighed sadly.
"Oh there's more." Mark put the skull reverently back into position, and moved down the body. "Take a look at the femur."
"Again, what am I looking for?" Dan asked.
"They're not straight like an African-American's would be and they aren't as curved as the Indians."
"So, we have three Caucasian men here." Dan looked at the bones and then at Mark.
"That's right. Three very white men."
"So how the hell did they get into the middle of Rainier University with Native American artifacts?" Dan demanded.
"Sorry, but that's a little outside my area of expertise," Mark snorted.
"Mine too," Dan agreed as he picked up the phone. "Wonder if it's out of Blair's?
Harry paced the length of the room, stopped at the blackboard, stared out the window for a few seconds then turned and paced the entire length again to the back wall. He did this several times, then changed directions, pacing alongside the blackboard to the inner wall and then back toward the windows.
Mike was sitting at a lab table, staring out the window, trying not to follow his friend's pacing in the room. Jack sat next to Mike, reading an anthropology journal. Sharon sat across from Josh, who continued to work on the mask pieces.
Blair sat behind the instructor's desk drumming his fingers on the lab top, waiting impatiently for the phone to ring.
When it did finally ring, everyone started. Harry walked hurriedly to stand by Blair's side.
"Yes?" Blair answered the phone.
Rafe's voice sounded in his ear. "Hey Sandburg. Want a free lunch?"
"Hey, Rafe." Blair shook his head at the group and walked out into the hall for more privacy. "You know there ain't no such thing. And you're a little late for lunch."
"Sorry about that." The tone was less than sorrowful. "How about food in exchange for some help on a case?"
"Well…." Blair groaned, seeing even more research time being eaten away.
"I know, you're working on something great at the library, but –"
"Actually," he admitted, "I'm not. I'm doing some work for the university and the police department."
"Without Ellison?" Rafe's voice hit a high incredulous note. "He's not going to like that."
"It's not dangerous," Blair defended himself.
"Neither was a drive to Seattle for some cookies," Rafe reminded him. "Seem to recall that turned into something totally strange."
"Do not remind me," Blair shuddered. "Okay, call when you get on campus. I'll meet you outside Hargrove Hall."
Jim had wandered to the Sporting Dogs area of the arena, looking over the animals with more than a little interest. Megan watched him while at the same time trying to find holes in the security's defenses. The men had been able to breach them once; they might do so again.
Jim suddenly stopped and straightened. He inhaled deeply, then sneezed.
"Jim?" Megan stared at him.
"This way." Jim grinned ferally, moving away from the dogs toward the entrance to the staging area.
"What?" Megan picked up her pace to keep up with the taller detective.
"I think we just caught a break." Jim sneezed again.
Then he sneezed again.
"Good." Megan handed him a handkerchief. "Maybe we can get this wrapped up before dinner."
Blair returned to the room in time to see Sharon move between the professor and Harry.
"That is a genuine Quileute mask and you damn well know it!" Harry snapped, pointing at the piece that Josh had been working on for over two hours. "You're supposed to be an expert in Northwestern Native Americans and their craft; you should be able to see that it's Quileute!"
"Damn it!" Josh snapped back. "The coloring is a shade off and the shape is not quite right."
"Gentlemen!" Sharon looked from one to the other. "Can we have a bit of civility here?"
"What's going on?" Blair demanded.
"Grant won't admit that he has some primo Quileute masks," Jack said with a shrug. "Harry's calling him on it."
"Harry's doing more than calling him on it," Mike grinned.
"Harry –" Blair began.
"Stay out of this!" Harry pointed a finger at Blair. "Grant doesn't know squat about masks! He as much as said so earlier today!"
"I said my assistant is better at masks than I am," Josh countered. "That doesn't mean I don't know anything about them!"
"Gentlemen!" Sharon's voice was sharp and cutting. "No one is proving anything except that they have large lungs and loud voices with all this shouting. Sit down, both of you!"
The ringing of Blair's cell phone drew Blair out of the fracas for a moment.
"Hey, Rafe!" Blair moved outside into the hall again. It looked like Sharon was handing the mèlée just fine at the moment.
Dan's voice sounded in his ear. "Sorry, Blair, it's only me."
"No need to be sorry," Blair replied. "I should have looked at who was calling me. I was just expecting Rafe or Brown to call."
"Doing double duty now?" Dan asked.
"Being a consultant means I do get to be consulted, right? And by more than Jim," Blair reminded the pathologist.
"I suppose so," Dan agreed. "Just don't let Brown talk you into going to Seattle again any time soon. And definitely just not the two of you. Take Ellison with you."
"Et tu, Dan?" Blair groaned. "We aren't ever gonna get to live that one down, are we?"
"Probably not," Dan chuckled. "Anyway, I wanted you to know I have that information for you."
"About the bones?" Blair asked.
"Yeah," Dan said with a sigh.
"And?" Blair prompted.
"Your three bodies aren't Native American." Dan sounded a bit disappointed to Blair.
"Is that all of them?" Blair wanted to know.
"Definitely. There were only three bodies found," Dan answered.
"Well, I never knew how many were found." Blair nibbled his lip. "And Sharon never told me."
"I don't think we told anyone how many were found," Dan said. "Neither did Grant. At the time we weren't sure if we had entire bodies or just partial bodies."
"So," Blair said, "Mark is sure? About them not being Native American?"
"Dead sure," Dan affirmed.
"Thanks, Dan," Blair sighed, leaning his head against the wall. It wasn't going to be easy telling this to Harry and his friends. "And thank Mark for me too."
"Now I have to find out who they might have been," Dan said with a groan. "That's not going to be easy."
"Good luck, Dan."
"I'll need it," he replied as he cut the connection.
Brown parked the car in the parking lot near to Hargrove Hall. Rafe handed the phone back to his partner and got out, following Brown to the steps of Hargrove Hall. Both studiously avoided looking at the fountain.
Blair stood at the top of the stairs, his hands jammed in his pockets. "So, what's up guys?" he asked.
"Someone decided to desecrate some graves in Olde Towne," Rafe told him.
"What?!" Blair stared at the two in stunned horror. "Why?"
"Good question," Brown shrugged. "No answers."
"Which graves?" Blair persisted.
Rafe shook his head. "We don't know. There were no headstones."
"That's not quite true," Brown corrected his partner. "There was one headstone, but it was so weathered we couldn't read it, and the archivist said it had never been catalogued."
"The graves were in the back of the yard," Rafe went on. "We figured, well the archivist figured, that the graves were in Olde Towne's version of Potter's Field."
Blair shook his head, closing his eyes, thinking. "I don't know that much about Olde Towne," he admitted. "Maybe there's a professor here on campus who can help…."
"Thing is," Brown went on, "some stuff was found at the site. We don't know if the perps dropped it by accident or if they were from the graves themselves."
"We thought you could help us identifying them," Rafe added.
"Hey guys, I'm good, but –" Blair began.
"Hairboy, this stuff is right up your alley," Brown assured him.
"What?" he asked.
"Some painted cedar pieces," Rafe told him. "And some shredded cedar bark. At least I think it's shredded cedar bark. You know, like the local Native Americans used to make."
Blair stared at Rafe. "Some what?"
"Some cedar pieces –" Brown began.
"I got that," Blair said impatiently. "You don't happen to have them with you, do you?"
"Everything is locked up in Evidence," Rafe said.
"Pictures, man, the pictures of the stuff." Blair glared at them edgily.
"Right here." Rafe pulled the manila envelope out of his suit pocket.
Blair all but ripped the envelope from Rafe's hands and pulled the pictures out. He studied the pictures carefully. He tapped the pictures against his hand, frowning, then looked at them again.
Finally he shook his head. "You said the graves were desecrated. How?"
"Well, desecrated might not be the right word," Rafe admitted. "Three bodies were removed from their graves –"
"Three!?" Blair stared at them in shock. "You sure about that?"
"Yes," Rafe nodded. "We're sure."
"Three shallow holes in the ground," Brown added. "Why?"
"Come on." Blair waved his hand at them and turned to re-enter the Hall.
"Why?" Brown followed the anthropologist warily.
"Because, H," Blair stopped and looked at the detective with sorrow in his dark blue eyes, "I think I have the answer to my little problem which has kept me out of the stacks all day, and the solution to your crime."
Homer gripped the squirming dog in his grasp even tighter.
"Come on, Medea," he crooned. "Just hold still and I'll get you back to your home."
Arlo snapped. "Get that – bitch – under your coat. We're trying to sneak her back in there, you know."
"I'm trying, Arlo," Homer told his older brother in a hurt tone. "She's just excited to be getting back home, that's all."
"Well, get her unexcited," Arlo growled as he watched the suppliers come and go from the back area of the arena. "Otherwise we're going to get caught."
Homer sounded worried. "If we get caught, we won't be able to get the present to Mama on time. C'mon, Medea, settle down, pretty please?"
"If we get caught, we'll go to jail," Arlo reminded his younger brother.
"So I guess we better not get caught." Homer changed his grip on the dog and whispered in her ear. "Be a good girl, Medea, okay?"
"Get ready," Arlo warned as a group of suppliers came to the entrance. "Now."
As the suppliers stopped to show their identification and have their articles searched, the brothers managed to sneak by the two guards. Once they were in the back area, Homer brought the Papillon out from under his coat and tried to act as though he belonged there.
Arlo wiggled a finger under Homer's nose. "This way to the Papillon section. Keep moving."
"So when we get there, what then, Arlo?" Homer asked, scratching the small dog under her chin.
"We're going to put her into Midas' cage, and take Midas out of here, introduce him to Mimi, get her bred, then get him back here and get the hell out of town," Arlo informed his brother tersely.
"You don't have to snap," Homer pouted.
"Just find Midas' cage and let's get on with it," Arlo snarled.
"Here," Homer pointed, eagerly, "see?"
"Okay, fine," Arlo nodded his head sharply. "Now, get her in the cage and get him out so we can get out of here."
"I'm going, I'm going." Homer put the dog on top of the cage while he fumbled with the catch on the cage. "Okay, sweetie, stay there while I get your friend out of the cage and then, you'll get to go in the cage." The door swung open, and Homer reached in, then straightened up and stared at Arlo, blinking furiously. "He's not here, Arlo."
"He what!?" Arlo managed to stop from screaming at his brother.
"He's not here, Arlo," Homer whimpered. "Now what are we gonna do?"
"Put her in the cage, damnit!" Arlo swore.
"Okay," Homer sniffled. "Mama's gonna be so disappointed."
"Forget about Mama's disappointment, right now," Arlo ground out. "We need to get us out of here, and fast."
"You be good, and quiet, here, Medea," Homer crooned to the dog as he placed her into the cage. "You're back home now."
"You finished yet?" Arlo demanded.
"Yes," Homer sighed sadly.
"Good." Arlo began walking around to the other Papillons' cages. "Come on. We'll find Mimi a daddy for her pups around here."
"I hope this time the dog likes Mimi," Homer stated simply.
"As long as it's a male, he will," Arlo snorted.
Blair led Rafe and Brown to the small meeting room where he'd left the three grad students with Josh and Sharon. As they approached, they could hear two people shouting at each other.
Blair opened the door to see Josh and Harry nose to nose, both red-faced. Sharon was sitting to one side, looking frazzled and defeated. Mike and Jack were sitting across from her; Mike was grinning as he watched the two verbal combatants land telling oral blows.
"You're missing all the fun Sandburg," Mike smiled at the police consultant.
Rafe and Brown surveyed the scene, then glanced at each other. "Remind me never to get into a fight with a brainiac," Rafe commented as he moved into the room.
"Amen, brother," Brown agreed.
Blair looked at the detectives with something between exasperation and disgust. Then he put two fingers in his mouth and let loose with a sharp, piercing whistle. It quieted the combatants almost immediately.
"Thank you." Blair shook his head. "Can't I leave you two alone for even a few minutes?"
"You bringing reinforcements now, Sandburg?" Harry asked hotly as he glared at Rafe and Brown.
Blair shook his head. "No, they're here on a different case."
"So why are they here?" Mike demanded.
"I think you know why." Blair stared at Harry pointedly.
"Can you explain it to the rest of us?" Sharon asked.
"Yes, do," Harry agreed, returning the glare on the consultant. "This ought to be good, coming from someone who needed lawyers to declare him not to be a fraud."
"That was totally uncalled for!" Sharon shot back at him.
"But true," Mike pointed out.
Sharon turned to Mike. "Only because the university and publishing company rushed things, as I recall." Her tone was cold. "The university didn't investigate when that editor made a claim. Sort of like what you want the university to do with this investigation."
"But with this investigation, they won't be making a mistake," Harry argued. "They'd be righting a wrong done to the Quileute. Can't you see that?" His eyes pleaded with the police mediator.
"No," Blair shook his head sadly. "Rushing never rights anything. It only causes more problems further down the line. Josh and I have tried to tell you that time and time again."
Mike snorted. "We've been patient for a long damn time, Teach."
"Still," Jack agreed, "we don't want to make one claim only to have it disproved by the authorities."
"The authorities are the ones who are going to prove our claim," Harry vowed.
"Not if there's nothing to prove," Blair countered.
"You think there's nothing to prove?" Jack raised a surprised eyebrow at Blair.
Blair nodded his head sadly. "Well, yeah, I think there's nothing to prove."
"Well those bodies and the masks which were unearthed will prove you wrong!" Harry promised. "And instead of a new contract, we'll be discussing reparations due the Quileute people."
"There won't be any talks about reparations, Harry," Blair told the activist.
"And why not?"
"Because the bones aren't Native American. They're Caucasian."
Jim Ellison moved through the staging area as fast as he could without knocking down anyone, forcing Megan to jog to keep up with him.
He moved back to the area of the Toy Dogs in time to see two men, still dressed in garish and hideous clothes, trying to open a cage belonging to another Papillon owner. He heard a whiny voice cajoling the dog inside with "C'mon Rufus, we're gonna take you to meet a really nice girl doggie."
"Stop!" Jim commanded. "Stay right where you are."
The men hesitated for a moment, turned, stared at Jim and Megan approaching them, then slammed the cage door shut and ran for an exit. Jim broke into a run following them, Megan hot on his heels.
The scene in the back staging area became chaotic as owners and exhibitors scampered out of the way of the four racing people. Soon security was right on their heels and converging from other areas of the arena.
Suddenly Jim took a dive and tackled the lead blond while Megan grabbed the chartreuse jacket of the dark-haired man. The blond squirmed and wriggled, trying to break the iron grip Jim applied to his arm in spite of the sneezes that continued to plague him.
Finally Jim managed to roll on top of the smaller man and place a knee in the center of his back.
"Hold still, damnit!" Jim snapped after another forceful sneeze.
He slipped the cuffs on the man's wrists, then got awkwardly to his feet, still sneezing, pulling the blond up with him. He looked over toward Megan. Her hair and pantsuit were slightly disheveled but her prisoner was also in cuffs. Jim let the security guards hold his prisoner while he moved a short distance away from the blond. His eyes were starting to water from all the sneezing.
He heard Megan read the dognappers the Miranda and conclude with, "Do you both understand these rights?"
The blond was disgusted. "Only you, Homer. I knew this would happen; I just knew it. But you couldn't be persuaded."
"I only wanted Mama to have a litter sired by a champion, Arlo," Homer whined.
Arlo rolled his eyes. "So you keep telling me."
"Fellas," Megan tried to interrupt the bickering men. "Did you understand the rights?"
"Well, it's better than that stupid idea of yours for her birthday!" Homer countered.
"What is so stupid about a night on the town?" Arlo demanded.
"'Cause it ain't what Mama wanted, that's why!"
Megan tried again. "Gentlemen –"
The two shook out of the hold that the officers had on their arms and raced toward each other. Only the cuffs that kept their arms and hands behind their backs prevented them from hitting each other with fists. They settled for slamming into each other with their shoulders and using their feet to kick each other.
Jim shook his head and moved with Megan to get between the irate brothers to stop them from hurting each other. He saw a foot whipping around in the air and avoided colliding with it, only to see it smash into Megan's thigh. Megan's eyes closed briefly with the pain, and her lips press together to keep from either screaming in pain or swearing. Jim watched as she opened her eyes, pulled back a fist and let it connect with Homer's jaw. He dropped to the sawdust-covered deck. She then turned to Arlo, fury darkening her eyes, and he wisely returned his foot to the floor.
"Good move, mate," she growled. "Now, do you two understand the rights that were read to you or not?"
Arlo frowned at his brother as Jim pulled the smaller man to his feet. "Well at least if we'd done things my way, we'd be at her birthday party. Wanna guess where we'll be instead? And what she's gonna get for her birthday? Can you?"
"I don't wanna go to jail, Arlo," Homer whimpered. "I heard what goes on in jails. I don't wanna have to do that."
"You should have thought of that a hell of a lot sooner, Homer," Arlo snapped.
"Gentlemen," Megan began again, glaring at both brothers, "and I am using that term loosely, did you understand the rights that I read to you?"
"Of course we did," Arlo snorted, treating Homer to a glare of his own. "Just some of us aren't smart enough to use them."
"Got it under control here now?" Jim asked.
"Of course!" Megan snorted. "These two blokes know better than to try anything else stupid, right?"
"Good," Jim nodded, sneezing again.
He moved away from the small crowd back to the cages and opened the one that should have held Midas. Megan followed, moving the bound culprits in front of her. The security guards stayed nearby to help in case the idiots decided to try and escape, or fight, again.
"Hello Medea," Jim said softly as he took her from the cage and held her close to his chest. "Bet there's one hell of a story you could tell if you could talk to us, right girl?" He was rewarded with a small pink tongue scratching across his jaw. "Looks like they took good care of you." Another swipe with the tongue on his jaw.
"You found her!" Andrew MacDee's voice sounded from behind him. Jim turned as MacDee and Duncan Smith trotted over to the cages. "You found Medea! Oh thank you! Thank you!"
He swept the small black and white dog out of Jim's arms into his own and buried his face into her ruff.
"Well, actually –" Jim began.
"Can it Jimbo," Megan said softly from his shoulder. "The man thinks you're a bloody hero."
"But –" Jim began again.
"Don't break his little bubble of happiness, Jimbo," Megan advised. "Just enjoy the accolades. We get few enough as it is."
"My sweet baby," MacDee continued to croon into her ruff. "Are you all right?" He moved away from the crowd toward another man, a stranger to Jim but obviously not to MacDee. "We'll just have Dr. Bell check you out. Then you'll get a treat. And then we'll go and win the Obedience show. Right girl?"
She licked his jaw and settled against his chest.
"Good work, Jimmy." Smith congratulated the detective. "I don't know how you did it, and I don't care. Just, thank you. You don't know how important this is to the local chapter."
"Oh, I can imagine," Jim said dryly. "Been a bit of a dry spell for the local chapter and shows. Everyone had to go to Tacoma, Seattle, Spokane or even Olympia to get national points for their dogs."
"Yes, unfortunately," Smith agreed. "And expensive."
"And if the national chapter is happy here, they'll come back more often, right?"
"Exactly," Smith grinned at Jim. "I knew you'd understand."
"Glad to be of service," Jim nodded. He turned to Megan. "Let's get theses guys taken care of."
Smith put a hand on Jim's arm. " Jimmy, about what happened with Champ…. I didn't…. I mean, your father didn't tell me until…. And by then…."
"It's water under the bridge, Mr. Smith," Jim replied, his tone frosty. "And it worked out for the best, for Champ. Right?"
Jimmy was sitting on the grass in the back yard near the fence, as far from the house as he could get and still be on his property, his arms around the neck of his pet, his face buried in dog's fur. There were no tears, not anymore. They'd been wrung out of him the day before. Champ continued to nuzzle the young teen, aware that there were changes coming.
"You did your best, Champ," Jimmy told the dog. "I was the one who let you down. But your best just wasn't good enough. Not for Pops anyway."
The wet tongue made its way across the teen's face.
"You just need to be a good dog, Champ; I know you'll be treated right."
William Ellison walked into the back yard followed by Denton Smith. "I'm surprised you're letting him go, Bill," Denton was saying. "He's a fine specimen and has many good years left in the ring, not to mention how good he'll be in the field with a little more training. He'll be worth a fortune as a stud."
"Unfortunately," William shook his head, "I don't have the time to work with the dog, and Jimmy will need to concentrate on his studies in the fall. And Stevie isn't interested in dogs at all, so…."
"I see your point, Bill," Denton nodded, "but still, Jimmy must be feeling –"
"He knows that this is the best thing for the dog," William answered brusquely. "Jimmy! Bring the dog here! Mr. Smith is a busy man."
Slowly Jimmy got to his feet and slipped the lead on the dog. Together, they walked slowly toward the men. Jimmy handed the lead to Denton Smith, then dropped to his knee by the dog.
"You go with Mr. Smith, Champ," Jimmy instructed with a catch in his voice, ignoring the glare his father was giving him. "You be good. I'll miss you."
Smith looked at the sorrowful boy. "I'll take good care of Champ. You can be sure of that."
He turned and walked out of the yard. Obediently, the dog followed at heel. Still he turned and looked back at his young master. Then he hopped into the station wagon and lay down in the back.
"Yes." Denton cleared his throat guiltily. "Right." He dropped his eyes momentarily, then looked back up. "He was a godsend for Kristen. She fell in love with him."
"Kristen?" Jim frowned at the man.
"My niece," Denton explained. "Her parents, my brother and sister-in-law, were killed in a car accident the month before – before your father sold Champ back to me. It crippled her as well, and killed her dog. She had just been released from the hospital and came to live with us. As you can imagine, she was really broken up about her family and her dog. She didn't want anything to do with any of the dogs at my place. Of course, they wanted to play, and she just couldn't in her wheelchair." Denton took a deep breath. "Then Champ came home. He was drawn to her almost immediately. He seemed to understand her limitations, and find a way to work and play with them. And she seemed to understand his loss as well. They were inseparable for years. For the rest of his life, actually."
"They were?" Jim canted his head.
"Yes, they were," Denton nodded. "He did things for her that no therapist could. Let her do things she didn't think she would ever be able to do again. I'm not saying he wouldn't have wanted to stay with you forever, Jimmy," Denton added, "but –"
"But I had my studies, prepping for college and there wouldn't have been much time to spend with Champ," Jim said. "That wouldn't have been fair to him. As I said, it worked out for the best for Champ."
Denton nodded. "And for Kristen."
A pair uniformed police officers arrived and consulted Jim and Megan, then took control of the prisoners. Jim and Megan started to follow them out of the staging area.
"Wait!" Andy MacDee shouted. He ran up to the two officers. "Wait! You have to stay and see the show. As my guests, of course."
"I'm sorry," Jim said politely. "We really have to go. Paperwork. You understand, I'm sure."
"Yes I do, unfortunately." MacDee shook his head. "Still, if you want to come and see the show when you're finished, just tell the people at the gate that you're my guests. I mean that."
"Thank you." Megan smiled as she elbowed Jim. "We'll remember that."
The two detectives managed to get to Jim's truck finally. Megan continued to watch him.
"You're not sneezing anymore," she commented.
"It was something that the blond, Arlo, was wearing," Jim responded. "And it sure smelled."
"So what really happened?" Megan asked as she tightened her lap belt. "With Denton Smith, I mean."
Jim shrugged. "As I said before, life happened."
"So why do I get the feeling there's more to it than that?"
"Don't have a clue, Connor." Jim started the engine.
"Well, at least we got the case solved," Megan grinned at Jim. "And without killing each other."
"That's just because the opportunity never presented itself, Connor," Jim grinned evilly at the other detective.
Megan settled back in the seat as Jim merged with traffic, "In other words, wait till next time."
"There will not be a next time," Jim growled. "Ever."
"We'll see, Jimbo," Megan grinned back, her smile as evil as his had been. "We'll see."
Jack stared at Blair in surprise. "They-they aren't? But –"
"No," Blair shook his head, "they aren't."
"But those masks are real," Mike argued. "Right?"
"Yes, as far as we can tell," Grant nodded. "I'm just not sure which tribe yet. It would have helped if the pieces had been a bit larger."
"So what were they doing with the masks then?" Mike demanded. "No White Man would be buried with Native American masks."
"I don't know," Blair shrugged. "Perhaps you do, Harry."
"Me?" Harry pointed a finger at his chest. "You think that I…?" He shook his head in disbelief. "Oh come on, Sandburg. You know me better than that. Do you really think that I'd destroy a cultural mask just to plant evidence on the grounds?"
Blair shrugged again. "Evidence has been planted, Harry. Look at how folks were fooled by the so-called Piltdown Man, supposedly a missing link between man and ape. Or look at the suspected salting of some sites around Chaco Canyon, just so some unscrupulous archeologists could keep the pilfered pottery and shards that were from federally protected lands."
"Even if the mask turns out to be Quinault or even Lummi," Harry argued, "they would still be Native American. Sandburg, Blair, you can't believe that I would…that I could destroy this beautiful artwork!"
Blair sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, it is a little hard to believe."
"And just where the hell did I supposedly get these bodies, anyway?" Harry demanded.
"It looks like they might have been stolen from Olde Towne," Rafe answered the young grad student.
"Now wait a damned minute!" Jack pointed an accusatory finger at Rafe and Brown. "Are you accusing Harry of…of digging up three bodies from Olde Towne and-and putting them in the construction site?"
"I guess we are," Brown nodded.
"The evidence does seem to support it," Rafe added.
"Well," Blair interrupted, "that's the way that the evidence was pointing."
"Was?" Rafe frowned in confusion. "Is."
"Was," Blair repeated stubbornly. "Why'd you do it, Jack?"
"Me?" Jack stared at Blair in surprise. "What makes you think that I –"
"Because," Blair said firmly, "you're the only one who said how many bodies were found at the construction site."
"So?" Jack blustered. "I mean, I must have heard the number when Ms. Hawks was telling you about the bones."
Sharon stared at Jack calmly. "I never told him how many bodies had been found. I never knew."
"Harry didn't even know," Grant added, also staring at Jack in surprise. "We left the site before Dr. Wolfe had the bodies bagged."
Mike glowered at Jack and started to advance toward the smaller Indian. "You were gonna let Harry take the blame for something you did?"
"No!" Jack protested, his eyes wide with fear. "I mean…." He ran a hand through his dark hair. "They were supposed to be Native American! I read the old papers –"
"There were Native Americans buried there," Grant acknowledged. "But they were re-interred on Quinault land ten years ago. I helped with the move."
"But," Jack shook his head. "But –"
"How could you?" Harry stalked slowly, angrily toward the student. "How could you, Jack?" His hands flexed as he continued to advance on Jack. Rafe and Brown moved to stand on either side of the student. "You know how I feel about things like that. Native American, black or white."
"How could I?" Jack asked, staring back at Harry. "How could I not?"
"Uh, before you say anything else, I should read you your rights," Brown cautioned Jack.
"My rights?" Jack laughed bitterly. "This is our land! I should be getting paid for the university using this land! I shouldn't have to be scrimping and scrounging around to find grants and loans so I can finish my degree! Those are my rights!"
"You have the right to remain silent," Brown began as Rafe pulled out a set of handcuffs.
"Yeah right," Jack snorted. "You mean like the Cigar Indian in front of the store, right? That kind of silence?"
"If you give up the right to remain silent," Brown continued, "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
"It is all the time."
"You have the right to an attorney present during questioning," Brown told him. "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you by the court."
"Oh yeah," Jack laughed. "You mean a public defender who has so damned many cases all he's gonna do is figure out a plea bargain with the DA to expedite my case. He's not gonna listen to me any more than anyone else has."
"Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?" Brown concluded.
"I understand them," Jack affirmed, his tone dark.
"Why?" Harry continued to stare at the young man. "Why would you do such a thing?"
"Why?" Jack glared at Harry. "Why do you think? To get the state to agree to your demands. To help you get what you wanted. To get some brothers back to their homeland." He looked over at Grant. "I didn't know that the NAGPRA had moved the bodies back; there was no documentation on that."
"And what about the masks?" Harry demanded, shock at what Jack had done still apparent in his voice and on his face. "Did you destroy them?"
Jack shook his head. "No; they're from my grandfather's work shed. He had pieces of old masks that didn't make the cut in his or his grandfather's eyes. He always was holding them up to me, showing me how not to make a mask. I just took them and scattered the pieces in the site after I put the bodies in the hole."
"Let's go," Rafe gently pulled his suspect toward the door.
Head down, Jack walked between Rafe and Brown to the door. He stopped and looked back at Harry. "It should have worked, Harry," Jack said softly. "I mean, who's gonna report the theft of Indian bodies? And if you'd seen the way they let the graves go – no care at all!" He gave a short, barking laugh. "Now I find out it was for one of their own. Who would have thought they'd be so uncaring about one of their own?"
Harry and Mike watched with sorrow, shock and dismay on their faces as Jack left in the custody of Rafe and Brown. Sharon and Blair watched with sadness etched on their faces.
"So now what?" Harry finally demanded, turning to stare defiantly at the group.
"Now," Blair answered, "we can discuss the contract with the Quileute elders and the Rainier trustees, the way it should be."
"You really think they're gonna listen to me and my demands?" Harry asked.
Blair shrugged. "Depends on the demands. Some of them, I have to admit aren't bad. They need a bit of polish," he added, "but the ideas behind some of them sound pretty reasonable to me."
"Really?" Grant stared at Blair. "Which ones are you thinking of?"
"Well, why not have a Native American in charge of the displays?" Blair asked Grant. "I know that eighteen years ago there wasn't a Native American qualified with a degree here. That's no longer true."
"Well…" Grant hemmed.
Blair pinned Grant with a stern expression. "Josh, you know that handling the display has been a major problem for you these past few years, especially with your added duties. You've been wanting help, begging for it in fact. Now, Harry and Mike here, they want to have a hand in taking care of their heritage. I'd say that it sounds like an answer to your problems and their demand."
"I agree. But neither has their doctorate yet," Grant pointed out.
"The key word is 'yet,'" Blair countered.
Grant nodded thoughtfully. "That's true; and I do need the help. My assistant is going to be moving on after this semester. So," he turned to the young activists, "do you two think you can work with this White Man to fix up the exhibit?"
"I can try," Mike nodded.
"I suppose," Harry added with a sigh. "But the monetary repayment to the tribe is still pretty puny."
"I don't control the monetary aspect, Harry," Grant reminded the student. "You know that."
"Yeah, but I bet they'd listen to your suggestions," Harry countered.
"They might," Grant allowed. "But I can't make any promises. After all, I have to prove to them that the money spent will be worth it to them in the long run."
"I'll help get that proof," Harry promised.
"Hey," Mike elbowed his friend, "I can give a hand there, too."
"I can use all the proof that you two can get for me," Grant smiled at them.
Sharon leaned over and whispered in Blair's ear, "Do you think we're needed here any more?"
Blair leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Probably not," he admitted. "But why don't we stick around until they finish for today? We were here for the birth of this baby; I'd like to see how the kid develops."
Sharon looked at him, then at the former adversaries, now sitting around the table, eagerly discussing ways to show how the university could afford more money to be paid out.
"You're right," she nodded, settling back in her chair. "This could be interesting."
"Very interesting indeed."
By the time Blair got home from the university, Jim had already started on supper and Libby was underfoot hoping for a handout.
"Libby, you're gonna get stepped on if you stay beside me like that, girl. What would Blair say if he came home and saw you with a squashed tail, hmm?" Jim looked down at the terrier.
"Blair would say she wouldn't be underfoot if you didn't keep giving her scraps, man," Blair said walking into the kitchen. "And don't try to deny it; she doesn't act this way when I cook," he added as Jim tried to plaster an innocent look on his face.
"So, what was the big deal at the university today, Chief? Brown and Rafe came back with a perp and said you would explain."
Jim turned back to the stove and accidentally on purpose dropped a chunk of hamburger on the floor. Libby glanced at it, then Blair and seeing Blair was walking out to the living room, she lunged for the treat.
"You remember Harry Payne?" When Jim grunted, Blair continued, "This was just his latest attempt at getting more money for his tribe. Too bad one of his cronies decided to do a little grave robbing to help Harry's cause."
"Ouch! I take it Harry didn't know?"
"Not a whisper. I wasn't sure Brown was going to get Jack out of the room before Harry or Mike lit into him." Blair walked back into the kitchen and noticed Libby licking her chops. "Just remember, man, you get her fat, and you're going to be the one taking her for a run twice a day."
After supper, where Blair noticed Jim sneaking Libby food at least twice, Blair decided to ask the burning question.
"So, I saw Megan at the station while I was filling out my report on the bodies," Blair said carefully. "She mentioned Champ." He wasn't sure how far he would be allowed to push Jim on this; his childhood was not something Jim discussed willingly.
Jim got up from his chair and walked to the balcony doors; unnoticed by Jim, Libby followed. "All I wanted was a pal to run around with; play fetch, greet me when I came home from school. Dad… wanted another prize to brag about." Jim spoke so softly Blair could barely hear what was said, though he heard the hurt in Jim's voice easily enough.
Before Blair could say anything, Libby reached up and started to lick Jim's fingers. "You know Jim, it may be a few years too late, but you do have a pal to run around with, and greet you when you get home," Blair said softly, nodding at Libby. As Jim reached down to scratch Libby's ears, Blair added, smiling now, "Of course, now that she's had so much of your chili, you're going to be doing a lot more running."
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