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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HARDBOILED CORNER: JOE HANNIBAL ~ GOSHEN HOLE!

HARDBOILED CORNER: JOE HANNIBAL ~ GOSHEN HOLE!

WAYNE DUNDEE

JOE HANNIBAL IS BACK! WAYNE D. DUNDEE'S SIGNATURE PI IS OFF AND RUNNING IN HIS SEVENTH INVESTIGATION . . .
GOSHEN HOLE . . .

She’d always been a wild one—a tramp or runaround, she would've been called back in the day. But my pal, B.U. Gorcey, didn’t see it back when he married her and probably would've punched anybody if they’d tried to tell him. When you fall for a gal as hard as he did for Linda, you’re blind to a lot of things.

The marriage turned out to be a train wreck. B.U. was busting his ass to make a name for himself on the rodeo circuit. And while he was chasing around the country getting his innards pounded and his brains scrambled trying to stay on bulls and bucking broncs, Linda was doing her own share of hard riding—on every stud who passed through town.

"So why, then, after all that, do you still care anything about her?" I asked him.

He lifted his eyes and probed into mine. "I’m not saying I care for her. Those feelings are long gone. Dead. But all the same ... she’s still my daughter’s mother." That daughter, Patty, was the only decent thing to come out of the whole mess. Somehow, she managed to grow up pretty damned fine in spite of the rest of it.

"It would sadden me," he continued, "if anything bad happened to her."

"Do you think something bad has happened to her?"

"Patty’s got herself worked up to thinkin’ something might have. Reckon she’s got me feelin’ edgy about it, too. Linda’s always had this wild streak, especially when it comes to men. God knows how many different ones since the divorce." Bitterness cutting into his voice, he added, "Not to mention how many before ... but what I’m gettin' at is, some of the guys she takes up with are pretty bad actors. Rough, ornery types. In recent years, she seems to be drawn more and more to that kind. The kind who wouldn’t hesitate to drag her into the middle of some kind of nastiness or danger right along with themselves."

"Something nasty, dangerous ... and possibly illegal?"

He met my eyes again. "Anything’s possible."

"How long has she been missing?"

"About a week. Since sometime over last weekend, near as we can figure. Patty lives and works in Fort Collins, Colorado. Linda’s up in Cheyenne. They talk on the phone, get together for holidays, sometimes shoppin' or to go to a movie. Like that."

B.U. lit another cigarette. "They spent part of the past Labor Day weekend together. It was the last time Patty saw her, although they did speak on the phone a few times afterwards. But when Patty tried callin' her ma last week she got no answer or call-back and then the same thing when she tried two or three more times. By last Saturday, Patty was worried enough to drive up to Cheyenne. But she couldn't find hide nor hair of her ma. Not at home, not at any of her usual haunts. None of her friends or neighbors could remember seeing her or hearing from her since sometime in the middle of the week. At that joint where Linda works, Patty found out she'd put in her hours the previous Thursday night, had Friday and Saturday off, was scheduled again for Sunday. But when Sunday rolled around Linda was a no-show and never bothered to call in. Same thing on Monday. Linda ain't showin' up at work and ain't showin' up nowhere else either."

"Maybe she’s off on some kind of getaway with a new boyfriend."

"Wouldn’t be the first time for that. But not without leavin' some kind of word so Patty wouldn’t get worried," B.U. said. "Patty’s met you. She’s heard me talk about you, about you bein' a private eye and all."

"Used to be a private eye," I said.

"You still got a license, don't you? So. Whatya think, hoss?" he said.

It really wasn’t something that required a lot of contemplation. "I think," I said, "that I’ll need a few more details out of you and then a little while to button up some things around here. Once those are taken care of, I figure I can probably make Cheyenne yet this evening...."

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