James stood waiting for the old Indian to say something, hoping for something like an invite, but he could see that wasn’t coming. “Sir…”
“Bob, I said to call me Bob.”
“OK, Bob. I’d like to ask you about someone who possibly got lost out here on your people’s land.”
Bob stood still and quiet.
“Could we sit.” James hated feeling like he was standing in the middle of a deserted mining town in a Western facing down an enemy. Sitting would feel better.
Bob started to walk away and James hesitated. Bob turned back to James and gave him a look. James followed Bob around the back of the place out of the sun, under a trellis. James was sure their was name for this trellis that white people didn’t know.
Bob sat down on a stump big enough for anyone’s wide rearend. James matched him and sat on one a good and respectful distance away. Obviously Bob wouldn’t be asking the questions.
“I had a father out here. I should say I had a father and I believe he vanished out on this land. Down close to the border.”
Bob looked directly at James and didn’t move.
“I’m guessing you, all of you, can see anyone who’s crossing the land and might even know where you find bones from time to time.”
The silence of the desert filled in around James when he stopped talking. He could hear his heart and that made him jumpy.
“I’m hoping someone might know of a man, maybe a dead man out here ten years ago. A guy who looked like me. Tall, kind of redheaded.”
“Now what would he be doing on our land?” Only Bob’s mouth moved.
“Nothing good, I gotta be honest. Nothing good at all. But he probably was doing surveillance, set up, not the actual moving of the stuff. My guess.”
“Bob. My father, and I’m here asking you because I can’t get it out of my head how he died. I am here because it might be respectful that someone knows how he came to end.”
The wind blew at the tips of Bob’s long gray hair.
James looked down at the red earth and took a breath, licked his lips. This was gonna take more patience than he’d figured.