Dec whispered, “Here comes Hiney and his tow truck.”
Sure enough, both Hiney Scrabble and Donnie Catlin pulled up in the street next to Sheriff Mac in their tow trucks straight from Catlin’s junkyard, south of town.
Dec and I flipped a coin, me calling, “Tails,” as we bet on which one of those two would be hauling which car.
“Heads,” Dec said with a smirk, flipping the coin and doing a cheat toss so I couldn’t see the way his penny landed on his outstretched arm. “I win!” he gloated. “Told you Hiney would be hooking up to the Kennedy mobile!”
“It don’t really matter,” I said, still being real quiet so Sheriff Mac down there in the street didn’t hear us. “Both cars, McGinn’s and Jon Kennedy’s, are both gonna end up at Catlin’s junkyard.”
“Think anyone’s gonna notice?” Dec asked. “Those keys are still sticking out of that trunk.”
“Betcha your dad will,” I replied. “Ain’t like Sheriff Mac not to notice something like that. I’ll bet he searches both cars before Hiney and Donnie cart them away.”
We watched big ol’ Hiney and the slight and small Donnie Catlin approach Sheriff Mac, looking to him for instructions.
Hiney, huge and brawny, dressed in his blue denim overalls, looked like a mountain man. His long red hair hung loose about his broad shoulders and a bright bushy beard covered up most of his wide face. Dec once said he saw Hiney actually lift a horse off the ground by standing under the poor beast and hefting it up on his shoulders. He was big and strong like a pro-wrestler straight from All-Star Wrestling, which came in handy in his line of work as a tow truck driver and a scrapman out at Catlin’s junkyard.
Hiney didn’t talk much, which doesn’t mean he was stupid or not too bright. It was just in his nature to speak only when he was spoken to. And like I said, during the day he was a gentle giant, quiet and rather meek, but by night, Hiney could put away too much whiskey down at Harv’s tavern. Then it was time to watch out. The gentle giant became a living terror. And although Sheriff Mac tried in earnest to walk Hiney down to jail after he caused quiet a ruckus, it usually ended in a free-for-all between Hiney and the three lawmen of our town.
Dec and I heard Donnie Catlin whistle, then loudly declared, “Holy shit, Mac, it looks like Jon Kennedy was driving around town armed with a gun, too!”
Then, wiry, dark-haired Donnie reached inside the Kennedy car and removed a pistol from the front seat.
Donnie handed it straight to Sheriff Mac.
“What in hell?” Sheriff Mac said in disbelief. “Is everyone getting so jumpy that they’re carrying guns wherever they go?”
He opened the cylinder on the .22 pistol, and studied the six-shooter, checking on the status of its six bullets. “Two of these have been fired,” Sheriff Mac said to no one in particular.
He called my dad over to talk with him, asking if he had heard any shots being fired. I think he was trying to determine if maybe Henry hadn’t killed Jonathan in self-defense. Which would have changed things considerably. Dec and I knew, though, that Jon Kennedy hadn’t so much as even drawn his pistol, let alone fired it. Which we badly wanted to tell Sheriff Mac. But we couldn’t, on account we were skipping school.
An hour later, Dec and I stealthily walked down to the Blue River west of town. It was only the only route to take if we didn’t wanted to spotted by no one. Besides, if we took the trails that ran south along the Blue, we could make it to Catlin’s junkyard two miles outside of town in a jiff.
Because by then, we were both determined to see what Ty Burke, and only Ty Burke, had seen in the trunk of the Kennedy car. Because there at the end of Sheriff Mac’s investigation, when Hiney and Donnie hauled those cars away, Sheriff Mac never noticed those keys dangling from the slot in the trunk of Kennedy’s car. It was probably because of the extra gun Donnie had found. It was on account of that pistol that Sheriff Mac found himself distracted.
Now, only Dec and I knew that Big Ty had left those keys in the trunk lid, and we just had to know what was hidden in there.
“It ain’t stealing,” Dec said as we walked down to the dock alongside the Blue River, his eyes fixed on old Mose Hadley’s motorboat tied off there. “We can just borrow it. Besides, Hawk, do you want to walk all the way out to Catlin’s? We could be there in less than an hour ifin we take Mose Hadley’s boat.”
I wanted to argue. Surely I did. Taking a boat ride by motorboat up the Blue River would be just like a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn adventure. I was all for that. But I had to play Devil’s Advocate, and ask the question, “What if we get caught?”
To which Dec heatedly replied, “Man, you worry too much, Hawk! Or should I call you Chickenhawk? Come on, it’ll be an adventure!”
Stung to anger about him calling me a chickenhawk, I snapped, “What if Mose Hadley planned to go fishing? What if while we’re cruising upriver to Catlin’s, Mose finds his boat has gone missing? Who do think he’ll go and report it to? Sheriff Mac, that’s who!”
By then, Dec and his beagle dog, Baxster, had clambered aboard the twenty-foot boat, complete with a small Captain’s Cabin built over the steering wheel and motor controls. “Brawk! Brawk! Chickenhawk!” Dec teased, smirking at me as he opened the cabin door.
My own dog, a Pit bull named Cooper, betrayed me, and followed Baxster and his daring master aboard, leaving me standing alone on the dock. I said, “Look, I know it will save us gobs of time and a long walk out to the junkyard. And I’m all for going on a grand adventure. But we get caught we’ll probably get grounded for the rest of our lives! Or maybe even sentenced by Judge Callie to the looney bin for delinquent youth! I’m risking a lot by doing this, Dec. I get sent to the state home, my brother, Richard, will kick my ass if I get put on the same ward as he’s in.”