The Night Killer - By Beverly Connor

Chapter 1

The gray sky grew darker as Diane watched. The storm was coming fast. She tried not to show her unease as she listened to Roy Barre going on about his grandfather’s collection of Indian arrowheads that he was loaning to the museum. The two of them stood beside the museum’s SUV, the four-wheel-drive vehicle she had driven to his mountain home. Diane had the driver’s-side door open, key in hand, ready to get in when he wound down, or at least paused in his narrative.

“So, you going to put a plaque up on the wall with Granddaddy’s name?” Barre said. “He’d like that. He picked up arrowheads from the time he was a little boy. Found a lot of them in the creek bed. That big, pretty one I showed you of red flint—he was crossing the creek, looked down, and there it was, big as life right there with the river rocks.”

Diane had heard the story several times already.

“Yes,” she said, “there will be a plaque. Our archaeologist, Jonas Briggs, will oversee the display.”

Roy Barre was a tall, rounded, cheerful man in his mid-fifties with a ruddy face, graying beard, and brown hair down to his collar. In his overalls and plaid shirt, he didn’t look as though he owned most of the mountain and the one next to it. Even with the oncoming storm, had she consented, he would at this moment be showing her the property and the crisscross of creeks where his grandfather had found his arrowheads.

“Granddaddy didn’t dig for them, even when he was a little boy—he knowed that was wrong. You know, some people look for Indian burials and dig up the bones looking for pottery and nice arrowheads. Granddaddy didn’t do that. No, he didn’t bother anybody’s resting place. He just picked up arrowheads he found on the ground or in the creek. A lot of them was in the creek, washed from somewhere. He never knew from where. He just eyed the creek bottom and, sure enough, he’d always find something. He sure found some pretty ones. Yes, he did.”

The trees whipped back and forth and the wind picked up with a roar.

“Roy, you let that woman go. I swear, you’ve told her the same stories three times already. A storm’s coming and she needs to get off the mountain.”

Holding her sweater close around her, Ozella Barre, Roy’s wife, came down the long concrete steps leading from her house on the side of the hill.

“Listen to that wind,” she said. “Lord, it sounds like a train, don’t it?”

“Mama’s right, Miss Fallon, you need to be getting down the mountain before the rain comes. The roads can get pretty bad up here.”

“Thank you for your hospitality and the loan of your grandfather’s collection,” said Diane. “I’m sure our archaeologist will be calling you to ask you to tell him your stories again. I hope you don’t mind.”

Mrs. Barre laughed out loud and leaned against her husband. “How many times would he like to hear them?”

“You know how to get back to the main road?” asked Roy.

“I believe so,” said Diane, smiling. She got in the car before Roy commenced another story, and started the engine. She waved good-bye to them and eased down the long, winding gravel drive just as the first drops of rain began to fall.

Diane was the director of the RiverTrail Museum of Natural History, a small, well-respected museum in Rosewood, Georgia. She was also director of Rosewood’s crime lab, housed in the museum, and a forensic anthropologist. It was in her capacity as museum director that she was in the mountains of North Georgia, arranging the loan of the substantial arrowhead collection. Jonas Briggs, the museum’s archaeologist, was interested in the collection mainly because LeFette Barre, Roy’s grandfather, had kept a diary of sorts describing his hunting trips, including drawings of the arrowheads he found and where he found them—more or less. Jonas wanted to map the projectile points—as he called them—especially the several Clovis points in the collection. Unfortunately he was away, or it would be him, instead of her, up here in the North Georgia mountains trying to dodge the coming storm.

The mountain roads weren’t paved, and they were marked by ruts and gullies. She should have left earlier. The storm brought the darkness too soon, and despite what she said, she was just a little uncertain she could retrace her steps back to the main road. She looked down at the passenger seat for the directions.