Day of the Dead

Lire ebook Day of the Dead
Auteur: J. A. Jance

Day of the Dead
 
    Prologue
    NOVEMBER 2, 1970
    It was Monday, so Benny Gutierrez was fighting a hangover—a serious hangover. He had gone to the dance at Crow Hang on Friday and then spent all of Saturday and Sunday timed-out with some of his buddies over at the Three Points Trading Post just east of the Papago Reservation boundary. Now, as he halfheartedly dragged the plastic trash bag along Highway 86 west of Sells, what he wanted in the worst way was a hit of fortified wine—the drink everyone on the reservation called Big Red. But he’d settle for a beer.
    First, though, Benny had to make it through the day. He had to work. That was the deal he’d made with Robert and Doreen, his brother and sister-in-law, after Esther had kicked him out. If he’d work, Robert and Doreen would give him a place to stay—a bed, anyway—and that beat sleeping on the ground. In the summer the ground wasn’t bad. Even when he and Esther had still been together, he’d slept outside a time or two—in his truck sometimes, or else on the ground. But the credit union had repossessed his pickup, and Esther had sent him down the road. Now, in early November, it was way too cold to sleep outside at night, even in a truck.
    Benny didn’t rush. There was no reason to hurry. The Tribal Work Experience Program didn’t pay enough to make working hard worthwhile. When one bag was full, he dragged that one over to the pile he was gradually accumulating. Across the highway, Alvin Narcho’s pile was growing at about the same sedate pace. If the two men were racing, it was a very slow race. And since Alvin had been out behind Three Points Trading Post all Sunday afternoon right along with Benny, he probably wasn’t in any better shape than Benny was.
    The sun was high in the sky when Benny spotted the cooler. A big blue-and-white Coleman ice chest—a relatively new one, from the looks of it—lay hidden just inside the yawning opening to a culvert that ran under the highway. As soon as he saw it, Benny was sure he knew what had happened. It had probably blown out of the back of a pickup driven by some Anglo returning from a trip to Rocky Point in Old Mexico. There was always a chance that the cooler would be full of once frozen but now rotting fish, but if Benny was lucky—really lucky—maybe there’d be beer in the cooler as well. Warm beer was better than no beer.
    Dropping his bag, Benny scrambled down the edge of the wash. Despite his big belly, he moved with surprising speed and agility. He needed to beat Alvin to the prize. If there were two beers, Benny might be willing to share. But if there was only one? Too bad for Alvin.
    Panting, Benny grabbed the handle. The cooler was surprisingly heavy. Grunting with effort, Benny pulled it out of the culvert and off to one side so it would be out of Alvin’s line of vision once he reached the far end of the culvert. Only when the ice chest was safely concealed from Alvin’s view did Benny reach down to unfasten the lid. As soon

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