Chapter 13 - Questions Unanswered
"Boss?" His question is obviously burning him.
"Yes Lars and would you please stop calling me 'Boss'. I have been around long enough and that nick name is beginning to really get on my nerves." Sheriff Wheeler returns with a ting of anger in his voice.
"That man at the back of the lobby, the one that asked about big Joe?", Lars, so consumed by his thoughts dismisses Jack's comment without blinking an eye.
"Yes?" the Sheriff feeling a bit as though his time might be wasted with this inquiry.
"I too thought that Joe might be behind this killing. You know, it took about eight of us to hold him down the week before last and he even broke out of the cuffs we had on him. I have never seen anyone so damned strong as him,… or big for that matter." Lars was waiting for confirmation on his thoughts and when it didn't come he added, "I wanted to ask you earlier but figured that you might think I am an idiot for having the thought but I almost think he could tear someone apart like that."
"No,… no you are not an idiot for having that thought. In fact, big Joe had actually crossed my mind a few times." Actually it hadn't been until that one reporter had dropped that dime. It had occurred to him that whoever or whatever had done this to that hunter had to be well above average in strength. It also seemed to him that if it were a person, he or she,… definitely a he, had to have a large amount of pent up hatred to drive him to dismantle a body so thoroughly. If it were an animal, a bear, it wasn't that hungry but sure did show a particular delight in pulling apart that body. Statics show that male bears attack people much more frequently than females with cubs, but always as prey, always for food. This man was just torn apart period.
What he didn't tell Lars was that his suspicions of Joe being the actual perpetrator were near zero. Joe, probably the biggest and strongest man that he too has ever seen, though born with a bad temper and eager to put anyone offending him physically in their place, was by no means a killer. At the staggering height of nearly seven foot six and the body of a brick shit house, he had few enemies except those that he chose to pick on. The man didn't have the figure of Hulk Hogan or old Arnie but his arms were like that of a full grown oversized silver back gorilla hanging nearly to his knees, his body as square as a tank and legs the size of massive stubby tree trunks, the impression emphasized by the thick knee high homemade moccasins he is known to wear. That man has by no means the body of a basketball player and not a beautiful man. Indeed, the man reminded him of a relentlessly cold, glaring, rock solid oak tree or even a mountain.
The last time they took him in it was for public intoxication and indecent exposure for pissing on the table in front of the town tavern. The main cause,… most likely the rumored death of his mother. No one has seen her in decades, since Joe had left Michigan for California about twelve years ago to become a lumber jack as some say. He returned a couple of years ago, again because rumor has it that his ma was in bad health. They lived in the backwoods somewhere near Pennbrooke bridge of which not one person in the area could,… or would let on the where abouts of. The alleged location of his home alone might cause one to believe that he is in some way involved.
Questioning Joe's co-works from the saw mill is what had brought the possible death of his mother to light but also their conviction that Joe's hostile exterior may harbor a small soft spot. One 'friend' even went so far as to mention that Joe had saved his life one time when a log pile broke and would have crushed him if it weren't for Joe's swift kick at the first oncoming bludgeon before snatching him from harms way. "That log had to weigh a thousand pounds and he kicked it aside like it were a baseball bat.", was what the man had repeated several times in on going disbelief. Most of the others could only describe the man as "One mean son of a bitch." Regardless how belligerent that mountain might seem or considering the damage and havoc he had caused during his last arrest, he is not necessarily a killer. A man of his size and weight, surely well over five hundred pounds, would have left plenty of telltale signs at the scene of the crime, no matter how wilderness savvy he may be. To boot, the prints left in the bloody moss were that of someone of much smaller stature. There is however the chance that he might know something of what happened in the woods though and the Sheriff put it in his schedule to catch up with the man to ask some pertinent questions.
"Well, I'd almost bet my bottom dollar that he is the one." Lars comment pulled the Sheriff from his thoughts.
"Lars, I'd almost take that bet but I don't want to be responsible for taking your bottom dollar." A glance over the rim of his coffee mug showed a consternate expression on Lars face. "No more questions Lars, just go finish that list of hunters I asked for yesterday. I am sure that there are more locals out there that may have met up with most of the hunters that have been in our area this last week. Someone is bound to have talked to our guy in the body bag."
"Sheriff Wheeler, Sheriff Wheeler, there has been another mauling!", the building door is swung open with such force that nearly knocks the coat rack over. A boy enters the lobby, red faced and out of breath.
The urgency of the voice, alone the slamming open of the door was enough to make Jack stand from office chair. "What are you talking about son?", the large frame of his body filling his office door as quickly steps the counter.
"Two of 'em,… Two of them this time. Over at the high school. Daddy told me to get you because the phones were busy."