A Southwest Mystery
by Sandra Bolton
Abe Freeman feels alienated from his family and the culture he grew up in. After the death of his girlfriend, Sharon, the young Jewish musician leaves the East Coast and heads west, bringing little more than camping gear and the three-legged dog, Patch, Sharon had once rescued. Life takes a dramatic turn when he enters New Mexico and is arrested as a suspect in a murder case by Navajo Tribal Police Officer, Emily Etcitty. The many twists and turns of this story take the pair from the Four Corners of New Mexico to the Texas plains and southern Arizona as they search for answers and try to come to grips with a disturbing secret from their past.
Sandra Bolton has created a fast-moving suspense, sprinkled liberally with romance and a good dose of New Mexico and Navajo culture. Her characters come to life as often sympathetic, sometimes humorous, and otherwise, just plain ornery.
The chant turned to a roar that drowned out the voice of the emcee when Juanita de la Cruz came on stage with a slutty slow-walk. She wore a see-through black negligee that barely concealed the lacy low-cut bra. A black G-string and hip-high black boots completed the outfit. Juanita’s long dark hair curled provocatively over her breasts. Glitter on the teardrop tattoo at the corner of her right eye sparkled in the strobe lights as she began gyrating with the first number. She teased the crowd with a pole spin, then a pole flip, and the college kids started yelling, “Take it off.” While Abe wondered if she had to quit using the cross as a prop, a couple of guys carried a large metal one onstage and snapped it in place in front of the pole. Not your usual cross, bedecked with twinkly lights and feathers and utilized in a very provocative way, some would say sacrilegious. But, Abe had to admit, Juanita de la Cruz was something to behold.
Abe Freeman lay on his back, staring at water spot patterns on the gray ceiling. He had been arrested and placed in the holding tank of the Huerfano Community Police Substation. The reek of piss and vomit permeated the cell he shared with three other inmates, held on drunk and disorderly charges. His head throbbed from fatigue and confusion brought on by hours of interrogation from the Navajo policewoman and New Mexico State cop, as he tried without success to block the snores and grunts of the other prisoners. How could he have been so stupid as to leave his knife behind? Before Sharon’s death he had been a careful man. Abe covered his eyes with his forearm, not wanting to think, not wanting to live.
Sally stood up, put her hands on her hips, and faced Abe and Emily. “Get off your high horse, you two. I’ve probably been handling a gun longer than both of you put together. “I can shoot the short hairs off a pig’s balls blindfolded, and he won’t even squeal. Never been scared of nothing, and never will be. Now I say we start working out the details and quit whining.”
Sally’s sudden outburst silenced Emily and Abe until they looked at each other and started smiling.
“I didn’t know pig balls had short hairs,” Emily said, unable to stifle a fit of giggles.
Abe cracked up. “I’d like to see that kind of shooting.”
Sally grinned back at them and the tension broke. “Are you ready to figure this thing out?”
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