Sheriff Roy Jones looked at the carnage that was left. The placed looked like a war zone, but the truth was it wasn't nearly as bad as it first looked. Only one vehicle was involved, the other two was staged for the show.
Damn, why did it have to happen here, he thought. He was more used to chasing chicken thieves or drunks then someone that could hold up and crack an armored car.
Roy had grown up in Pinecrest, and as soon as he finished high school he went into the Marines. All he wanted to do at seventeen was to get out of this two bit town and he wanted to see some action.
It wasn't long till he started seeing some action in the Middle East and in Africa. At 38, he retired and returned home as fast as he could.
He ran for sheriff when old man Pike had a heart attack and was removed from the post for health reasons, and now he was starting on his second career.
Old Sheriff Pike had been a throwback to the old days of small town red neck sheriffs and when Roy was elected he had been too ill to attend the inauguration of Pinecrest's first Native American-Hispanic sheriff. Well, this wasn't entirely true his mother was Mexican and his father was half Navaho and white. But the word was that Sheriff Pike and some of his cronies had gone out fishing in Lost Lake.
It wouldn't be long till the federal boys got down here and took over. He knew that he was in over his head yet it galled him to no end to have somebody from back east coming here and taking over.
"Sheriff," one of his deputies said as he got out of the car, a call just came into headquarters, an FBI agent is on the way down from the state capital, they should be here soon and we need to mark out a place for the helicopter to set down."
"Take your car about a quarter mile down the road and nail down some yellow tape then bring the agent here," Roy said.
There wasn't much else for him to do, even though he didn't like it, this was a federal case. Sure if this was one of those TV cop shows he would have taken off after the bad guys, but that's not the way things are done in real life.
The helicopter came over and circled a few times before heading out toward the landing area. Roy watched as the machine moved in circles, very good he thought, they are getting a lay of the land. Ten minutes later the deputy returned. Roy first saw the leg step out of the door long, bare, brown, and wearing a skirt.
Roy looked at the features of the woman. She herself looked to be of mixed blood; African, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asia, or Native American mix he couldn't tell. But whatever she sure got the best features of each of them as the curves of her body made obvious. He guessed her to be five foot six and a hundred and fifteen pounds with a set of thirty-eight specials. She walked over to him and placed her hand out and said, "Sheriff, I'm special agent Tia Rodriguez."
Roy took her hand and was amazed by her strong yet soft hand. "Good to meet you," he said. "Before you take over this case, is there anything I can do for you?" he asked.
"Sheriff," she said, "I believe it is always better to work with the local authorizes then against them and I hope you will stay on. After all you do know the local area better then I do."
She didn't act like the other federal agents that he had met, in fact Roy was beginning to like her for more than just her looks. Which was saying a lot.
"Sure, I'll be happy to assist you agent," he said.
"Good, and the name is Tia," she said. "Now if you don't mind can you walk me through what happened?" she asked.
"Roy," he answered her. "Well, it is simple, yet ingenious," Roy began. "First the robbers staged a wreck and you can see that they did use stage blood to get the car to stop."
"Uh, why didn't they just call it in?" asked Tia.
"Because whoever it was that set this up picked the right spot. This area is a dead area, the surrounding hills will block any signals so they couldn't call out," explained Roy. "Since they must have felt that they couldn't just leave them laying in the road, they stopped to help. That's when they must have been ambushed. Since they weren't due in for another hour whoever staged this had an hour to blow the car and leave before anyone would start to look for them. Since no one lives within miles of here it's hard to say which way they went or what they were in."
"What's that way?" asked Tia as she pointed toward the open plains. "From the helicopter I saw what looks to be tracks that end about a half mile from here."
"Tracks?" Roy asked. "There must be twenty or thirty miles of nothing. Of course they could have either headed toward the hills to hide out or the fishing camps or even gone back toward the roads."
"Roy, why don't we leave your people here to clean up the scene and we can take the coptor and follow their trail?" Tia asked.
This sounded good to him, he wouldn't mind spending some time with this woman. He had one of his man drive them to the landing site, while the others finished up at the crime scene.
Once at the helicopter Roy looked around and notice that they were alone. "Where is the pilot?" he asked.
"Aw, you disappoint me Roy," Tia said with a mischief pout on her face. "I flew in here alone."
"I'm sorry, no offense meant, is the FBI requiring their people to be pilots now?" he asked trying to change the topic somewhat.
She gave a small laugh showing off her white teeth and said, "no, I come from a family of law enforcers, my father was a pilot in Nam before becoming a cop he taught me to fly."
"Oh, was your father in the FBI?" Roy asked.
"No, dad was a sheriff in a small town. He tried to join when he got out of the service, but back then old J. Edgar wouldn't allow someone in who had a mixed kid even if he wasn't married to her mother." Tia answered him.
"And now the mixed kid is herself in," Roy stated.
"Right," said Tia with a smile. Once the ship was running she said, "jump in and lets go find some bad guys."
Roy was no stranger to flying and he saw that Tia knew what she was doing. It wasn't long before they saw the tracks and was heading toward the desert.
They had followed the trail for several miles. Who ever had made them had taken a strange path, first heading toward the hills, then toward the fishing camp, back toward the hills, then the road.
"They must have driven fifty miles and only come some fifteen miles," said Tia. "Do you think that they were lost?"
"Could be," said Roy, "or else they wanted to lead anyone that was following them on a wild goose chase."
"What's that?" asked Tia pointing toward an old shack.
In the old days that was a way station for the wranglers to bunk out in," Roy answered. "No tracks going toward it and it doesn't look as if has been used in years."
Again the tracks headed toward the hills they now seem to be going straight for several miles, and both of them were thinking that this was the way the robbers had been truly heading all along when the first signs of trouble started. The helicopter first sputtered then started to shake.
"I better sit down and have a look," Tia said.
Once on the ground it didn't take long to see the problem. A small hole had punctured the fuel tanks.
"Damn, I didn't hear a thing," Roy said.
"Dad use to say that there were many peaceful missions, but when they got back in they looked like Swiss cheese. Seems as if the rotors drowns out any long shots and sounds of the bullets striking the sides of the ship," Tia said. "Well, we are out of fuel and it will be getting dark soon. What do you think we should do?" Tia asked Roy.
"Well it gets cold fast out here at night, I think we should get what we can carry and head toward that way station," he answered her.
There wasn't much to carry outside of what they had brought with them. A first aid kit and a rifle Tia had placed in the machine before leaving. Roy had the foresight to bring a water bottle and his own gun and ammo in his pack.
Now it was a couple of miles hike back to the cabin. It was still warm as they started off and Tia seemed to be leading the way. Roy had no objection to this as he was enjoying the way her butt moved. What is it about some cultures having the women walk behind the men, he wondered? After all it was much nicer view with them in front.
Both of them were careful but they neither saw nor heard anything. Once they got to the cabin Roy checked it out and found that it was clear. Inside there wasn't much, a few old ratty blankets, an old potbelly stove some dried chips, a couple of old tin cups, and an old cooking pot.
"Well we can get a fire going to help us stay warm and I can get some cactus to roast or may even get a rabbit for supper," Roy said.
"I'll get the fire going," said Tia.
The sun had just set when Roy returned. He had brought back enough for supper and breakfast as well as some to eat on the trail the next day. For most people this land was barren, but it was full of food, if you knew where to look. As he got close to the cabin he could see and smell the smoke and it would be good to get inside since the air was quickly getting chilled.
"Smells nice," Roy said as he stepped in. "Where did you get coffee from?"
Tia gave that little laugh and answered him, "it's not coffee, it is something I learned to make from my grandmother, she was poor but knew what was good and she would roast some seeds and bark and make a pot of coffee. There is also some honey I found."
.... There is more of this story ...