She crouched to the ground slowly, with reverence you would say. That is, at that moment the real dialogue began, what she had been looking for all the previous hours. But she had to be alone, alone, quite understandably, because otherwise there would not be a chance to hear. Her Timberland boots were totally attached to the ground, and the impact was delicate. Lorna leaned forward from the right pocket a small rectangular mirror of those in use for emergency situations, and with the other hand she took off her baseball hat with the visor. She handled both, so that the right hand holding the hat would blur the midday sun that stood in the midst of the Douglas Firs, and with the left she slowly moved the mirror, looking for new tracks. She could find another sign, just a little further ahead. It was a prolonged drag of a tapered tip, presumably a cowboy boot, one of the well-made leather that was used once. The trace was unmistakable: she had tried to get off quickly and without damaging the vegetation at least until then, but then a braking (intentional or accidental, she was about to understand it from tracing the track) had led her to leave her standing examining.

If she thought about it – but thinking itself  was ridiculous, sterile, BJ would have told her, she could feel the legs of him that felt inappropriate in those tight cowboy boots. She could feel the tingling of his ankles becoming exasperated like the song of a Kukaburra on the tire tree. This was easily understood by the way he had put his feet on the floor, now weighing on one side now, on the other, despite such a terrible ground as that gigantic bed of pine needles. She could hear his ankles kicking him in the boots like the first Yukon salmon, and she liked that picture, because according to her the ankles are the whips to men. From the next track she realized that he had stopped, but he had slipped on the ground in the manner of the indigenous people, and his knees had supported this effort so hard that the ground was steeply steep, and straight ahead He ended up on the banks of the stream (some would raise him to the river, without any shadow of doubt) down there. But Lorna needed to see more, much more. She needed to do exactly his own steps: there was no question of jumping to conclusions, finding the right track, and then he, or parts of him, or nothing and everything else. Her need was part of her work. She took off from that position and started to look around, and then up, where the Douglas Firs peaks converged. Everything was remarkably immobile, even though he had seen everything. Slightly further, and he could see it sharply from there, there was something else. In some strange way the light of that day made him shine, and that glow, before drilling his sight, came to his mind. It was a long, clear trail, not entirely covered with pine needles. He was there, and shone. She approached, taking care not to cover the traces that could be there. Actually, besides the bright light, there was nothing else to be seen. She gently took the wake with the tip of his fingers, and carefully retreated. It was a long blond hair, not extremely fine and even tinted. It was a natural blonde, of those – she thought of – in the crowd, of those who make their head boldly turn. She knew that it was a man or, more precisely, that the person who was wearing tired boots and was heading toward the shore, and did not wear suitable footwear, nor was he concerned with the nearby trunks to support himself – particularly that she had noticed and that gave her a little to think, well, you see, because that man carried his hair unusually. She put the hair in one of those water repellent plastic bags and put it in his pocket, and at that precise moment she had the natural certainty that a part of that man, of whatever state she was, and of any age (which he estimated between The 35 and 45, judging by what he was able to understand from the traces) was inexorably slammed into her. It was exactly at that stage that started to think about it seriously. It did not matter how close he was or far – this one still could not understand it from the traces – she would have found it. Now, in the midst of that orderly Douglas Firs storage, in the middle of that stack torn from the rest of the civilized world, and on that slope that would have been rocky even for a mountain goat, she, who recently worked for the police County, or maybe above it, somehow, here, now she had something in her hand that would bring her directly to him.

[All Rights to Kyt Walken, 2017]

 

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