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Posted by John on Wednesday, 31 August

Rundell doubted if Sheriff Barley Lockhart was much interested in a boat theft, not with his famous nephew turning up murdered in Louisiana. Barley had caught a flight to New Orleans two days after the killing, and had not yet returned. Before leaving, the sheriff dramatically informed the Harney Sentinel that his presence had been requested to assist in the homicide investigation, but in reality the Louisiana authorities merely wanted somebody to accompany Dickies autopsied body back to Florida. Its a jurisdictional problem, Trooper Jim Tile said to the Rundell brothers. I really cant help. You can take us to see Mr. Skink, Culver said. Why You know where he lives drive out there yourself. To Ozzies ear, Jim Tiles response sounded as close to a definite no as you could get. But Culver wasnt giving up. No way, Culver said. I heard hes got a big gun, shoots at people just for the fun of it. He doesnt know me or my brother, and he might just open fire if we was to drive up unannounced. You, he knows. Even if hes crazy as they say, he wont shoot a damn police car. The low, even tone of Jim Tiles voice did not change. I told you, hes out of town. Well, lets go see. No, said Jim Tile, rising. I have to go to work. Mommas truck, Ozzie blurted. Maybe we oughta go, Culver. Annoyed, Culver glanced at his brother. What are you talking about Im worried about Mommas truck out there. Maybe we should go The truckll be fine, Culver said. I dont know, Jim Tile said, parting the Venetian blinds. Its a pretty rough neighborhood. Ozzie looked stricken. Oh, settle down, Culver said angrily. Then, to Jim Tile: You, why wont you help us I lost a twenty-thousand-dollar rig because of that bastard! Jim Tile was still looking out the window. So thats your mothers pickup Ours is in the impound, up New Orleans, Ozzie said. The red one, Jim Tile said. Yeah, Culver grunted, secretly impressed that the trooper would remember the color. Then Jim Tile said to Ozzie: What about the green one The color washed out of Ozzies cheeks. His eyelids fluttered, as if he were about to faint. What green one Culver said, slow to put it together. The one your brother was driving week before last, Jim Tile said, out on the Gilchrist. About dawn, one morning. When Ozzie hiccuped. Wasnt me. Our truck is red. You and two other guys, Jim Tile said, and the truck was green. Out-of-state tags. Finally Culver was picking up on the train of conversation. He tried to help Ozzie as best he could, even though he felt like strangling him. I remember that day, Culver improvised, watching his brothers eyes grow big. You and some boys went fishing up at the slough. I remember cause you took a couple Shakespeare plug rods out of the shop, along with some Johnson spoons and purple skirts. Ozzies lips were like chalk. His bottom jaw went up and down until finally he said, Oh, yeah. Culver said, I remember cause you didnt want to try live shiners, even though I told you to. You said there was too much heavy cover, so youd prefer dragging those damn weedless spoons. Jim Tile was buttoning his shirt. So, Ozzie, he said, You guys catch anything Sure, Ozzie said, glancing at the door, as if he were about to run. Whatd you catch Our truck is red, Ozzie Rundell said, licking his lips. His shoulders twitched and his eyes rolled up and fixed on the ceiling. His cheeks puffed out, like he was trying to fart. Pardon me Jim Tile said, bending over to tie his shoes. Thats Mommas pickup outside, Ozzie said in a very high voice. He was gone, unglued, lost in a pathetic blubbering panic. Culver shook his head disgustedly. I asked what you caught, Jim Tile said, out at Morgan Slough. Ozzie smiled and smacked his lips. One time Dickie gave me a tacklebox, he said. All right, thats enough, Culver broke in. Ozzie said Jim Tile. The day in the truck The green truck, yes. I was driving, thats all. I didnt drown nobody. Of course not, Jim Tile said. Thats it, said Culv