Chapter 3

  • Chapter 3

    “Chimney Rock,” Alec pointed ahead.  “Do you want to stretch your legs?”

    “Sounds like a good idea,” she said.  “There’s been the same car behind us for the last thirty miles; maybe they need to stretch their legs too.”  She pulled off the main highway to take the road leading to the landmark.

    There were only two other vehicles in the parking lot and from what Olivia could tell, the other car hadn’t taken the turn off the main road to come toward the landmark.  She got out and stretched thinking if they did much walking they should make it quick; the sun would be going down soon.

    “So you got yourself some spending money when you stopped for gas?”

    She smiled, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    “Do you want to walk up to the landmark?”  He asked.  “There’s a lot of history here.”

    Olivia’s eyes lit up, “Hey, you want to help me with an experiment?”

    “Um,” He hesitated, “Kind of depends on what type of experiment we’re talking about.”

    Olivia went to the car and fished out the box.  “Come on,” she said, “I’ll fill you in on the way up.”

    It wasn’t a long walk but it was steep.

    “I want to see what happens if Pappy isn’t there when you use the box, I know you’re supposed to return to where you began before the box stops spinning.”


    “Or…….I don’t know,” She said, “I don’t want to find out though.  I just want to know if he’s there every time you use the box and what happens when you use it somewhere else.  Can I trust you to keep it spinning without looking into it?”

    “Is this like a Ouija board game?” 

    “I don’t think so, but I can see where you’d ask that.  I think it’s just a trance, a mind trick of some kind.”

    Finally they arrived at the top and she could see where once there’d been dwellings.  Some were rectangle and two were large circles.  The cool thing was that the entire top of the mountain where it was all built was shaped like a triangle. Triangles reminded her of threefold cords and the Bible said a threefold cord is not easily broken.  The ruins of an old and abandoned society presented a good opportunity to test the box, and best of all, no one else was there at the moment.

    “Pick a circle,” Alec said.

    With the circle picked and the two of them facing one another, she gave Alec a look of reassurance and then tapped the box.  As before, it spun easily and quickly and began flashing; again she saw no reflection on its mirrored surface as it rotated.  She found herself sitting alone in the circle.  The place looked the same and yet different, newer somehow, and the sky was richer, or was it?

    She stood up and turned around to look at the mountains and saw a small child wrapped in an Indian blanket with loose black hair, white skin and blue eyes.  “Do you see me?” He asked.

    “Yes, I do.” She replied.  “Am I in a trance?  Are you real?”

    “If I were not real do you think I would be the one to know?” He asked.

    “Fair enough,” she liked him already, “What can you tell me about this place?”

    “Once people lived here, the wealthier ones and the priests, now it is abandoned and people come to visit.  Sometimes they try to get in touch with spirits, sometimes I indulge them.  Others are just curious.”

    “Are you the only one of your kind here?  Where are all the spirits of the people who used to live here?”

    He looked amused, “Places don’t collect spirits, if you were a spirit, is this the place you would choose to be?  There are so many other places where people can be found.”

    “You mean spirits are interested in people instead of other spirits or the past?”  She asked.

    “Intensely,” He replied.

    “Who are you?”

    “Some might call me the Oracle, but I’m really more of a librarian.  I function to keep the historical imprint of this place and the memory of the people.”  He said.

    “Do you know Pappy?” She ventured.

    “I’m not sure who you are talking about, but I do know you are making a quest to inquire of the council of one.”

    “What is the council of one?”

    “You call it something different but when the time is right you will understand.  You should go now, someone is coming.”

    Olivia didn’t want to go.  This child might have answers to questions she didn’t even know to ask.  Reluctantly, she moved back to the exact place where the vision, should she call it a vision, to the very place where the vision had begun and sat back down.

    The box was still spinning so she looked away.  “Put it away, quickly,” She said.

    Alec quickly put the box away and sure enough, a big man with the German shepherd topped the hill.  The dog wasn’t on a leash but seemed to know how to behave well without one.

    “Haven’t we seen you before?” Alec said as he wrapped the tissue paper around the box and closed the lid.

    “Well I’ll be damned,” the man said in a gruff voice.  “I guess you have.  Weren’t you two back a ways at the Scalded dog?”

    “I thought you were part of the scenery there,” Olivia said.

    “You thought right.  I’m the head bouncer but on my days off I like to explore.”

    “We’ll be going now,” Olivia said, “this is a really nice spot to see the landscape and do some thinking.  Hope you have a good evening.”  She hesitated as Alec seemed reluctant to move.  “Let’s go,” she said, almost in a whisper.

    “You go ahead,” Alec said, “I’ll be along shortly.”

    “The box?”  She asked.

    He handed her the box and she started down the trail.

    Once she was out of earshot Alec turned to the big man standing before him, “Tell me the truth, are you following us?”

    “Tell you what, for three hundred dollars I won’t tell her husband that she has a passenger in that little sports car.”

    “You know her husband?”

    “He was looking for someone to see her home safe so yeah, I’ve talked to him.”

    “How much did he pay you?” Alec asked.

    “That’s P.I. client privilege,” Angus said.  “Now if you pay me the three hundred I’ll be a little forgetful.”

    Alec thought about the situation, “What about the rest of the trip?”

    “I’ll be tailing you.  I won’t lie.  I don’t know your intentions but I’ve been paid to see that she gets home to her ma safely.”

    “Well since you are gonna be part of the woodwork, do you have a name?”

    “Angus, and this is Shep,” he indicated the dog.

    “Do you really think it’s ethical to be taking pay from both sides,” Alec asked.

    “Ethics don’t pay my bills and uh,” Angus gestured, “………I didn’t catch your name?”

    “Three presidents,” Alec said as he handed over three hundred dollar bills.  “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I just met the lady, but I don’t want her to have any financial trouble either.”  He headed down the path, “Keep your distance Angus, that’s all that I ask.”

    Angus watched Alec as he headed down the path toward the car.  “I don’t think I made a good first impression Shep,” He said to the shepherd beside him. 

    Angus sat down on one of the ancient wall supports facing west; it was just about time for the sun to go down.  It wouldn’t hurt, he thought, for them to think he was lackadaisical but he intended for that girl to get home safe and he hadn’t been able to figure out where the man fit in.  Still, he intended to keep the information about the man to himself, sometimes people paid good money for a service like that.  He gave it thirty minutes and then pulled up the app on his phone.  They were just now leaving, so the little dot on the map told him.


    Alec noted the Sedan in the parking lot that hadn’t been there when they arrived, “That’s the car that was behind us,” Olivia Said.

    Alec noted that the license plate number was 314 159, the same as PI.  “Clever,” he muttered.

    “What?” Olivia asked.

    “Nothing,” Alec hedged, “He’s a private investigator.”

    Once they were back on the highway headed west toward Pagosa springs, Olivia said, “What did you two talk about?”

    “I bluntly asked if he was following us, he’s pretty far out from where we first saw him.”  Alec said.

    “What did he say?”

    “He’s following us.”  Alec said.

    “Why is he following us?   Oh wait, is it Ed?”  She asked.  Then said, “Of course it is.”  Olivia looked troubled.

    “Don’t worry; I paid him not to tattle on me.”

    She looked at him, “You didn’t!”

    “Yes, I did.”

    “But that’s going to make it look even worse eventually.  Only guilty people lie.”  She was beside herself.

    “Look Olivia, since you were keeping me quiet during phone calls……..”

    “That’s different,” She interjected.  “That’s an omission.  Ed’s been lying to me so I don’t owe him any information.  Especially since I don’t plan to go back, but I can’t tell him that just yet.  I guess that explains why he took out half the money; did he say how much he was getting paid?”

    “No he didn’t.  All he said was that he was being paid to make sure you got home alright.”  Alec hesitated, “That, and that he intended to do that very thing.”

    “I guess I need to install a back seat,” She said dryly.

    Olivia grabbed her favorite album and put it in the player; Matchbox 20 took over the silence with stories of love and betrayal.  Night had fallen.