In fact, it seemed to her that it was only a minute or maybe just a handful of seconds later, she did not know exactly what they was saying. Yet behind her the voices had become more distinct, and the thermos had stopped being the protagonists of that scene. Of course, people always want to see. He got up flat, with the condensed breath creating a tower in front of the scene. No, he had not found anything to say a word. They expected what they knew, who knows. She handed her hand over her mouth, and contact with the roughness of the wrist brought her straight to the present moment, to the rigidity of the air in which she and the county police were stuck. How long had that impression been made? She had some idea when it had been made, and that’s because those tiny signs all together spoke to her. She had to reconstruct the whole story of the disappearance, because it was a disappearance, and she was exactly there for that reason. -And then something is there? What did not we see? How did we do that? But she turned slowly, because at that point there was not much to do. “There’s nothing you think of. There are no corpses, no clothes, no shoes. Here we have more evidence. “But Pat, who was the eldest in there, leaned over to her. And what he could see was surprising: there was absolutely nothing there. He also tried to get close to being sure of what he could not see, but she stopped him pulling him for a sleeve. “There are only traces.” His eyes wandered uncertainly in her hair, the Douglas Firs tops, the badge of her, and all the space behind that for him was incomprehensibly empty. Really, he could hardly understand how nothing could be. How did she you call them, tracks? Perhaps he hoped that she would show him, but it was not time to lecture that. To see what she could see, it took years, and with it, years folded to the ground, and then on the belly, to scrutinize a low world, made of the weight of the lives that had left their mark there. The light now was right behind them, and she turned her gaze to that partial track, whose contours had been blurred by pine needles that did not stop falling.

 “From this point you shall not pass.” His tone was peremptory, and between his teeth he had the taste of the Oregon Trail mixed with dust that the caravans that had passed through Kansas. Here, she thought, my father is watching at me. But he was not sure where his thoughts ended and the expectations of his father began. She was not sure why everything seemed to be confusing, because the woods were dense and because there was always that chaotic possibility that she was not up. He passed the No-Trespassing Zone ribbon, and delimited the spot where he found the track. The county police passed her a thermos. It was clear from that moment on, the case, whatever it was – suicide, disappearance, kidnapping – was his, and they became part of the audience, along with those who would take the papers the next morning. The wind had in the meantime stood up, and returned fragments of radio conversations, the first successes inherent in that case, which had as the Black Hills file name. BH. They were also the initials of the man she was looking for, only if she did not yet hear her utterly pronouncing her name. She had only a partial track, and she could not dare to pronounce the full name. She removed the take the camera off the bag, and made several shots of the track: sideways, in front, from behind and from above. Anyone would say that she was not actually shooting anything precise, that they were empty – she did not remember how to say it, but that sentence could satisfy her needs. When she has finished, she started drawing on a notebook what the track had returned, before the underground, and then the pine needles, swallowed it. – Should I warn someone? – BJ was eager to see, to get ahead of all. – No need, now I’m calling the GQ. – What followed was a passage of detailed information, which only covered what Lorna had seen. We have a compression that supposes a boot, about 10 inches, with a slight rotation to the right and down the slope. I ask for permission to follow the tracks. – Received Lorna. Proceed as well but alone. Get the county police out of your area. That voice was as tight as the mouth of Robert Mitchum when he was finishing the shooting of Cape Fear. It was also the only voice she had to relate to at that time. It was raw to know that that voice assumed that she would find tracks.

[All Rights to Kyt Walken, 2017]