Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Prophet of the Sun Chapter 4

Welcome back for this next installment. For those of you just joining us who wish to catch up on backstory, here is a link to the Table of Contents.

Chapter Four

The Pharoah examined the row of statues he had commissioned, each one larger than life and elegantly carved of dark black rock. They were identical: a seated woman with a lion’s head topped with a disk. Her eyes looked serene, yet the black rock emanated ferocity -- like charcoal concealing embers underneath. Pharoah reached his hand toward a statue, not touching it. A man in a headdress quietly slipped beside him. “Over three hundred more, just like these, have been ordered.” he said “They are fine works; a glorious offering for Sekhmet.”

“Double it,” came Pharoah’s curt reply, “We must honor her lest she visit us again.” Pharoah’s belly fluttered. The stories told that Sekhmet had almost devoured all the inhabitants of Earth … and she was the expression of the wrath of Ra. The horrors unleashed upon the land could only have been expressions of her displeasure. He had to restore ma’at, the balance of harmony, to the land. It was his destiny.

The man in the headdress held his silence. Pharoah turned to face him “What else have you to show me, Amenhotep?”

Amenhotep led Pharaoh to his work table, scattered with scrolls, writing instruments, measuring tools, and inkpots. He gently moved the inkpots to the side and unrolled one great papyrus scrolls. “The plans for your great temple, my lord. See, this will be greater than the temples of your predecessors. The entrance is flanked by two colossal statues of you enthroned as king of the united kingdoms. We shall call it ‘The House of Millions of Years.’” He paused to let the flattering title sink in. “We’ll work gold all throughout the complex. Here is the sanctuary. We’ll purify the floors with silver – for here you will be worshipped in perpetuity. We will build it on the other side of the river, near the tombs of the kings.” Pharoah examined the plans and nodded “Well done… Well done, Amenhotep. You surpass my greatest expectations. How long will it take to complete.”

“I’m not sure, my lord. The master craftsmen are working on estimates for supplies – We will need timber, and our supplies are low due to the rebuilding work in the lower kingdom. The repairs there are costly, my lord.”

Pharoah’s face was a blank mask – the official face that he used when receiving dignitaries in court or in negotiating the complex agendas of his courtiers and officers. Finally he spoke “Can we ever recover our glory?”

Amenhotep nodded, “Yes, my lord, you will only be remembered for glory – glory and your dedication to the gods.” Pharoah stood unmoving. Amenhotep broke the prolonged silence, “You were tutored in the secrets just as I have been. Your great-grandfather, Thutmosis Menkheperre, erased the memory of the greatest shame the two kingdoms has ever seen – the witch Hatshepsut is remembered only by a few who must know, lest we repeat the errors of history. The past is as fluid as the future – no shame cannot be undone. By your decree, you will erase this shame.”

Pharoah had turned back to look at the statues in the middle of Amenhotep’s speech. “Hatshepsut…” he mused aloud, “Yes, you are right, we can learn from the past.” Pharaoh seemed lost in thought when a linen dressed man with a shaved head came into the room. He stood by the door quietly for a long time. Amenhotep coughed quietly. Pharoah broke from his thoughts. Amenhotep slightly inclined his head in the direction of the waiting messenger. “Come…speak” Said pharaoh in his official voice.

“My lord,” said the messenger, “Ramose is here, and he is prepared to present the reports for the day.”

“Send for him.” The messenger turned to depart, but already, the entourage had arrived. Led first by a man dressed in linen, head shaved and eyes decorated. He strode with purpose, a man accustomed to command. He was escorted by a retinue of clerks carrying scrolls, writing instruments, and papyri.

“Ramose, I read your proposal for a second Heb Sed festival – it has great merit.”

Amenhotep’s eyebrows arched slightly, a sign of great surprise for him. “My lord, it is quite unusual to have a festival of rejuvenation so soon after your last one. It is against custom.”

“’The past is fluid’, you said. Ramose has proposed an entirely different festival – an aquatic festival.” A smile flickered across Ramose’s face. “We live in times that defy custom, so let us have a second Heb Sed, even a third if must be – we must restore the confidence of the people.” Amenhotep bowed his head slightly in acceptance of Pharoah’s wishes. “Ramose, see to it that Amenhotep has a full report on our timber supplies and funds available for construction.”

Ramose gestured to one of the clerks who began to write on a scroll. “Also, search the records of Hatshepsut. I remember in my studies reading of a festival of Sekhmet – there was much drink and dancing and feasting among the people. See if we can include such celebrations as part of this aquatic Heb Sed.”

Ramose gestured to a second scribe, who left the room immediately. “My lord, such measures will be very expensive.”

Pharoah turned to his two advisors “By my decree, I will erase this shame.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Calvin awoke to the sound of the telephone. It was mid morning. “Calvin, I didn’t wake you, did I?” came the voice from the other end – Judge Hamilton, an old family friend and Federal Judge on the Atlanta circuit court.

“No, not at all” Calvin replied, with the raspy just awakened voice that made him sound like Elmer Fudd.

“Son, I just thought you needed to know this. I’m not sure what it means, but whatever it is, it’s not good.”

“OK, what is it?”

“Calvin, I was talking with your mother about your conversation with the Sheriff’s deputies. She was upset; it sounds like this Parrish fellow really was hostile toward you. I thought I’d give a call to the Sheriff just to check in. Ethically, I can’t interfere, mind you, but I thought I could reassure him about your character….” His voice dropped off.

“Thank you, sir. Was there something the matter?”

“There is no deputy Parrish nor is there a deputy Collins. There’s no investigation. This was the first that Sheriff Hollister had heard that John Carter was missing.”

     

Calvin and Judge Hamilton talked for a few minutes. Judge Hamilton reassured Calvin that he was going to talk to John’s parents. Calvin was befuddled. He drove to Biscuit Barn to get a fried chicken biscuit for breakfast. Sitting in the front seat of his car, he chewed mindlessly. His head felt light, as though the insides were filled with sticky helium that clouded his thinking. He turned the ignition and drove without aim, turning thoughts over in his brain, hiking the same paths, unable to leave worn spots that his mind had thoroughly covered. He became aware of his surroundings, realizing that on instinct, he had driven half-way to John’s house. Perhaps I can get some clarity of mind there. He continued on.

Pulling in the driveway, he saw no other cars. He got out, walked the steps, crossed the wide wooden porch, and tried the handle. Not locked. The door creaked as he opened the door. Stale air met him, begging him to throw open the windows. His fingers tingled, a slight whine rang in his ears, and his heart thumped as though he were entering a mausoleum at midnight. Try as he might, he couldn’t control his breathing. He gulped deep breaths, making more noise than he intended.

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. Nothing to be afraid of – he thought -- it’s the middle of the day. This calmed him somewhat.

A glance about the foyer showed no change. On a hunch, Calvin ascended the stairs, drawn to the upstairs library. The banister felt cool to his palm as he gently ascended up the center carpet runner. At the top of the landing he turned the corner and stood in the doorway to the library.
Books lay scattered across the room. The totem pole that had seemed so solemn before had been knocked over and cracked open to reveal a hollow chamber – fifty-dollar bills scattered all around, and a portfolio file with all the papers dumped out. The cushions of all the couches had been torn open. The desk drawers were emptied out onto the floor. The only thing untouched was the green plaster face of the leaf man, his lips pursed as though ready to bellow forth “There is no deputy Parrish”. Calvin stood still. His mouth dried. He was in way over his head.

Slowly he stooped down and gathered the scattered papers: copies of John’s passport, copies of newspaper articles from the New York World dated in the 1870s, a diagram of what looked to be a tunnel network underneath a building, a printout of an old photograph of a portly serious looking man in a suit. Underneath the papers lay a small green book, small enough to slip into a coat pocket. In gold lettering on the cover was the title “The Circle of the Green Man” and beneath these words, a small image of a man’s face emerging from leaves. Calvin looked to the plaster face on the wall. They were identical. The hair on his arms and back tingled. He’s mixed up with these nut-jobs? He’s in deep. He folded the papers inside the cover of the book and stuffed them in the back pocket of his jeans.

A car door slammed.

Calvin’s heart lurched. For one moment he stood unsure what to do. By instinct, he ducked through to the front hallway and into the guest bedroom. Struggling to control his breath, Calvin peeked through the shade of the window looking out over the front yard, taking care not to cause it to move. A nondescript maroon car had pulled up next to his. A man knelt down behind his car, while another man was coming out of the driver’s side of this new vehicle. Calvin recognized the driver as deputy-who-wasn’t-deputy Collins. The man behind his car stood up – it was Parrish, holding a wicked looking bowie knife. Calvin could see that the visible rear tire on his car was deflated. Parrish pointed two fingers toward the house; Collins reached behind his back, pulling something from what appeared to be his beltloop. He brought it around front quickly and jerked his hand back and forth once over top of it. Parrish walked in front of Calvin’s car, knife still in hand while Collins slowly moved up the steps to the front porch. A quiet Clomp….. Clomp sounded from the front porch.

Calvin pulled back from the window. He gulped air over his dry tongue…Are they looking for me? Or just back to tear up more of the house? Whatever the answer, Collins and Parrish looked to be in no mood for answering questions. Quick as he could, He went back into the upstairs hallway, plastered his back against the wall, and peered around the corner of the landing to see the entrance foyer. The front door creaked open. He saw the nose of Collins’ pistol come through the door, followed by his arm. Calvin pulled back two steps out of view. He took a quick look at the four doors behind him: the guest bedroom, John’s bedroom, the bathroom, and the library. Only one had an exit to the back stairs down to the kitchen – the library.

Calvin reached around and locked the handle of the guest bedroom from within. He quietly pulled that door shut. He did the same on John’s bedroom. All the while his ears were tuned to the slightest sound coming from the foyer. Collins’ cowboy boots made a gentle tap tap tap on the tile. He was moving slowly and deliberately down there. He hadn’t made it to the carpeted staircase. What if he doesn’t come up the stairs? – if Collins went to the kitchen and came up the back stairs, Calvin would be trapped. Calvin went back to the edge of the landing and peered down. Collins was almost immediately below him looking into the dining room. Calvin’s mind raced – out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Windsor chair and lampstand sitting in the middle of the landing. I sure hope this works.

As Collins poked his way into the dining room, Calvin picked up the Windsor chair, lifted it aloft, and hurtled it flying down at Collin’s back. He didn’t know if he hit his mark, for Calvin was back up the hallway when he heard it crash and Collins cry out with a string of expletives. Calvin heard Collins’ boots clap clapping across the tile and the first thump of him hitting the stairs. Calvin pulled the library door shut and locked it. I hope those other closed doors throw him for a second. Calvin was at the far end of the library when he heard a sound like muffled thunder once, and then a second time with a bang. Collins had just burst into one of the upstairs bedrooms. Calvin flew down the stairs to the kitchen. He searched for anything he could use to defend himself. The kitchen mocked him with it’s sterility: steel appliances, unused copper plated kettles hanging from a rack from the ceiling, the all too neat countertop, sporting a few empty flour and sugar jars and a butcher block with kitchen knives. He grabbed the big center chopping knife.

A muffled bang sounded upstairs.

Heart pounding, he took a deep breath, ready to run out the back door and take his chances with Parrish. Suddenly his eyes caught a wooden billholder and keychain rack – truck keys still hanging from the pegs.

A thunderclap came from the library upstairs, as Collins burst through the locked door.
Calvin grabbed the keys and flung open the garage door. Dashing down the steps, he knocked over a shovel. He fumbled with the keys of John Carter’s heavy pickup for a moment, panicking as he heard boots clattering down the stairs to the kitchen. He got the door open and vaulted in, slamming the key in the ignition, turning it and throwing the truck into drive all in one neat seamless motion. As he crushed his right foot down as far as he could, he heard the deafening squeal of tires. Collins appeared in the doorway and leveled his gun.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Parrish waited in the sun, unmoving. The crash from within the house set all his senses on high alert. He heard Collins cussing and smashing about the house. For a moment, he wondered if he should go in. No, that idiot’ll drive whoever’s in there straight to me. He walked to the center of the yard, eyes cutting from right to left to see if a figure came around the corner. He heard more crashes within the house. Parrish rolled his eyes. He startled when he heard a roar from the garage, followed closely by a high squeal. Before he could move, the door blew outward, splintering as an oversize mud splattered pickup truck came barreling toward him. Shots fired from inside the garage. Behind the wheel of the truck he saw the adrenaline crazed face of the driver. Poteat! Parrish dove to the side just as Calvin swerved to avoid him. He hit the ground with a hard thud, knocking the wind out of him, while the truck swerved around the parked cars to head for the main road. Within a few seconds, the truck was gone.

Collins was beside Parrish, and kneeling down to help him up. “C’mon, we can catch him.”

Parrish coughed as he stood. “No. We know that he’s got to go home. We’ll catch him there sooner or later. You drive, I’ll check in.”

“He’s not going to be happy.”

“I know, we didn’t find the diary or anything we didn’t already know. And now Poteat knows more than he ought to.”

Collins looked worried. “This is getting complicated – I wonder why they didn’t hire professionals to do this?”

Parrish burned. “They don’t need professionals!” he snapped, “I can handle this better than any of your so-called professionals.” He glowered for a moment, and then, getting hold of himself, he began to lecture: “The Green Man teaches that when your mind is cleansed, you have more insight than the unenlightened,” Collins looked like a child being chastised by a teacher. “Don’t ever forget that we’re smarter and better because we’re initiated into the mysteries of the natural rhythms of the universe.”

Collins didn’t say it, but he thought that Poteat had an easy time escaping for someone who wasn’t initiated into the mysteries of the natural rhythms of the universe. He also began to suspect that this adventure might take more vacation time than he’d allotted for. He’d have to call his secretary and get her to cancel some appointments, after he had a clearer idea of how long this would take.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Prophet of the Sun Chapter 3

Here is the long awaited chapter 3 ... sorry, the Christmas rush got in the way.

For those of you just joining us, you might want to read earlier chapters, available through the Table of Contents

Chapter 3

The interview had the sterility of all the expected questions: what they had done that night, the last time Calvin remembered seeing John. Deputy Collins asked most of the questions. He was stiff with an awkward formality, as though he was auditioning for the role without ever having prepared for the part. Parrish, meanwhile, remained quiet. Only once did his leopard-like eyes betray a hint of predatory readiness: when Calvin described the conversation about Hurlburt’s diary. Then Parrish cocked his head, and interrupted smoothly.

“What did he say he was going to do with this diary?”

Calvin shrugged. “Some kind of treasure hunting – an old lost tomb of Egypt.” A swell of guilt grew as Calvin recalled his inattention to his friend’s plans. “I really wasn’t following the story too closely.”

Parrish pursued, “Did he tell you about any plans?”

Calvin shook his head. “No, he just said that he had a few associates involved – never mentioned who they were.” Parrish’s upper lip bulged where underneath he ran his tongue over his teeth, sucking them. He sat back, again turning his attention to the rest of the room, surveying every corner. Collins resumed his monotone questioning straight from a bad 1950’s tv cop drama. After what seemed to be an eternity, Collins concluded. As the deputies stood to leave, Collins gave Calvin his business card. “If you think of anything else that might be of help, please give me a call.”

“Yessir. I certainly will.” Calvin said, ushering them to the door and opening it for them.

“Thank you for your time, Rev. Poteat.” said Collins mechanically as he turned and walked out the door, putting his hat back on in one smooth motion. Parrish looked Calvin in the eye for a moment longer than comfortable. “We’ll be in touch” he said flatly. He nodded and left.

Calvin closed the door and returned to the couch. He stared at his now closed laptop, replaying the interview in his mind. The shock of John’s disappearance only now settled in. Calvin picked up the telephone, intending to call John’s parents. Three numbers into dialing, he stopped. His shock gave way to understanding, and he closed his eyes, letting out a long slow breath in an attempt to release the grip that had encased his chest. Calvin hung up the phone, went to the kitchen, found the telephone book and searched the yellow pages, continuing to exhale long and slow to keep fear at bay. He found the number he was looking for and dialed – it rang one, two, three “Law offices of Artemus Jordan, may I help you.” Came the bored sounding voice.

“Yes, I need to speak to AC immediately – tell him that Calvin Poteat is calling.”

“Sir, he’s in a meeting. May I take a message?”

“Just tell him that Calvin Poteat is calling and that I need to speak to him immediately.” Calvin said forcefully.

“Yes sir” came the frosty reply. Calvin heard the click of being put on hold. It was no more than ten seconds that he was on hold. But all during it, Calvin bounced on his heels, as though that would make AC pick up sooner. The phone clicked again.

“Cal, good Lord, what’s so important? I’m here with another client.”

“AC – I just had two Sherriff’s deputies here in my apartment. They were asking me questions about John Carter – John has disappeared, and they didn’t say so, but I think they suspect I did something to him.”

A moment of silence. “OK – here’s what we do. I’ve got to finish this up – it’ll take me another twenty minutes. In the meantime, you come on down here and be ready to tell me everything that happened, got it?”

Calvin felt relieved “I’ll be there before you know it.”

     

Calvin sat in the office lobby of Artemus Cleanth Jordan, attorney at law, thumbing through the year-old magazines: Fish and Line, Wilderness Treks, Backwoods, Newsreport, North Carolina Legal Review. On the wood paneled wall hung two oversize prints framed with a grassmat backing – one a scene of hunters shooting at a covey of quail, dogs on point, and the quail bursting from beneath an old shrub. The other was a pair of mallards soaring over a lake at sunset. The secretary, a surly twenty something with teased bleach-blonde hair and a permanent tan, did her best job of ignoring Calvin. Her telephone buzzed. She answered, nodded, and said “You may go in now” with all the emotion of a zoo bred cat, bored in a cage.

Calvin stepped into the back office. AC was behind an elegantly styled mahogany desk. On the walls were his diplomas and photos of AC in the jungle, AC on top of a mountain, AC whitewater rafting. He stood up to greet Cal, his 6 foot 2 inches packed with a little more girth than Calvin’s shorter yet leaner body. He took Cal’s hand in his own, squeezing it with just the right pressure – firm but not bone crushing. One of the keys to AC’s success was his capacity to read people, and then lead them through instinctive body language. He could have been a gifted salesman or personal counselor, but he had opted to use his gift for reading people in the legal profession. Within a millisecond, he knew that this was no time for the customary half hour of pleasantries demanded by southern protocol.

“Cal, it’s good to see you – tell me what happened to John.”

They sat, and Calvin told his story while AC leaned back, bringing his fingertips together in a steeple just touching his lips. From time to time, AC nodded to encourage a continued flow of words. He mentally noted Calvin’s every twitch, eye movement, and tremor. He gently pressed leading questions: “Did you tell the deputies everything?” “Tell me more about what John was planning.” “What did he say about these associates?” Finally, AC brought the interview to a close: “You’ve told me everything?”

Calvin felt spent. Telling his story had relieved anxiety, but the catharsis had drained him. “Yes, everything.”

AC stood and returned behind his desk. “Sounds like just some routine questioning. Based on what you’ve told me, I can’t think of anything they’ve got against you. If they call you again, make sure to not answer any questions until I get there.” He jotted notes on a legal pad. Not taking his eyes from the paper, he continued “Strange about John though –You have no idea where he might’ve gone?”

“I’ve said before that I don’t know.” Calvin spat with desperation and frustration – he felt like cursed king Midas or that comic book heroine Rogue –his touch bringing disaster to those he loved. “I just don’t know.” He said quietly, with a faint plea for help in his voice.

AC bit the inside of his cheek, pursing his lips to one side. “Do Mr. and Mrs. Carter know yet?”

Calvin felt a blanket of failure settle upon him. “I don’t know, I meant to call them, but …. well, I didn’t.” Some friend…Some minister I’ve turned out to be.

AC nodded. “I’d better give her a call, then.” He made another note on his legal pad. “Tell you what. Let me buy you lunch – you look like you’ve been through it today. I’ll give the Carters a call and check in with them. You run on down to Biltmore village and get us a seat at that tex-mex place that just opened up there by the church. I’ll meet you there in about half an hour. OK?”

Calvin agreed. AC had always had the aura of command about him. He had felt that back in high school, when he was three years ahead of John and Cal and captain of the track team. Even now, twenty years later or so, he still breathed authority. Calvin felt that with AC looking into it, he could rest from his worry about John’s disappearance.

     

It was three days later when Calvin returned to John’s house. Deputy Parrish had called and asked to meet him there – he had a few more questions and thought that being on the property might help jog Calvin’s memory. Calvin immediately called AC and asked him to meet them there. When he arrived, he saw that AC had beaten him, and was standing on the front porch conversing with Parrish, who held in his hand a stuffed manila folder. Calvin smirked at the sight of AC’s height and power towering over the slender and small Parrish. Yet Parrish seemed ready to spring, like a mongrel dog pouncing at the neck of the bear.

Calvin swallowed what spit he had and got out of the car. Walking up to the porch, he said “AC, I see you’ve met deputy Parrish.”

AC chuckled “Yes, it turns out we know some people in common.” Parrish snorted.

“Do you mind if we go inside?” Parrish barked. AC glanced at Calvin and then back to Parrish with a grin. He gestured with an open palm. Parrish opened the door and all three went into the main foyer.

“Why don’t you tell me again what happened the last time you and Mr. Carter saw each other?” Parrish said.

“Yessir. I had driven up here to stay the night – John and I are old high school friends and we had some catching up to do. So we stayed up late into the night talking. When I woke up the next day, John was gone. I checked the garage and his truck was gone. I thought that he’d gone to buy donuts. After about an hour, I figured that he wasn’t coming back, so I left him a note and told him I’d be in touch. I called a couple of times later in the week and left messages, but no answer.”

Parrish reached into his folder and flipped through a few pages. He pulled out a page from a yellow legal pad. “Is this the note you left?”


Parrish looked it over. “What kind of epiphanies were you looking for?”

Calvin’s jaw tightened. He swallowed. AC frowned for a moment, and took the initiative to respond for Calvin: “His wife and son were killed in an auto accident about two months ago. My client came back home to recover from his tragic loss.”

The deputy looked up at AC with an unflinching face. His voice lowered just the slightest bit as he said “I’m sorry,” only moving his eyes to Calvin as he said “for your loss.”

Calvin said quietly “I called up John because I needed to talk – we’ve been friends since the fifth grade. He knows me better than anyone else – or at least longer than anyone else. For the most part, he spent most of the night listening to me talk. I guess the epiphanies I was looking for were breakthroughs in how to move on.”

Parrish bobbed his head curtly. “Would you step upstairs and show me just where you stayed?” Calvin nodded and led them upstairs. He showed them the room in which he stayed – the bed still unmade, his towel still hanging over the back of the chair. He led them down the hall into the library, giving a play by play of the evening, conveniently omitting the amount of alcohol consumed. He then walked over to the bookshelf, running his hands along the titles. A puzzled look went across his face.

“That’s funny. I thought I put it right back here.”

Parrish’s blue eyes bored down on Calvin as he said “Put what there?”

“The book …. This diary that he’d gotten hold of. He was talking about it being a kind of pirate treasure map to some kind of archeological find under a monument in New York. It sounded like a childish fantasy – in the morning as I came my way back through here, I remember picking up the diary and putting it back on the shelf right here.”

Parrish’s eyes scanned the walls, coming to rest on the face of the man emerging from the leaves. He focused on the green-painted plaster eyes, as though searching them for answers to his questions.

“Rev. Poteat – how much did you and Mr. Carter have to drink that night?”

“To drink? I….”

“We found several empty wine bottles down in the recycling bin in the kitchen.”

“well, yes we did have a lot to drink….”

“and perhaps things got a little out of hand?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

Deputy Parrish took his eyes from the leaf-man and turned them upon Poteat. He pressed on, panzer-like. “I’m not sure I mean anything. Rev. Poteat. It just seems odd that you two spent the night here by yourselves drinking heavily and then Mr. Carter is never seen from or heard from again. That’s kind of strange, don’t you think.”

“Listen, if you want affidavits from my neighbors that I was where I said I’ve been all this week, that’s fine. I haven’t been around here at all.”

“No, I reckon that would be a bit too dangerous if you had somehow disposed of Mr. Carter’s body. Likely he passed out and you piled him in his own truck and disposed of him and the truck. I just can’t figure out why.”

Calvin felt tingles over his body. A slight high pitched whine rang in his ear. He had that familiar sensation of being an observer to events going on around his own body. I’m in deep – way over my head. AC interrupted at this point “Deputy, don’t you think you’re going a bit too far?”

Parrish grinned mirthlessly back at AC. “Sorry, counselor, I’m just trying to figure out why one of the richest men in North Carolina would suddenly disappear without any word to his associates.”

A flash went off in Calvin’s mind “Associates… John said that he had a few associates involved with him in this treasure hunt scheme.”

“And did he mention any of the associates by name?” asked AC, “anyone helping him look under this obelisk? Anyone he might be staying with?”

Calvin shook his head, “No, no names. I’m sure if you could find his address book, their names might be in there. But he didn’t say anything to me.”

AC nodded. “It seems like you have all the information you need, deputy. I think you can leave my client alone and concentrate your search on the property. You can refer any more of your questions through me.” With that, AC steered Calvin downstairs and out of the house.