Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 26
A shower. That’s all Myra could think about. She’d been in the woods hiking before, but never had she been bogged down in mud. She hated tracking mud into Girlfriend’s trailer as they carried Sam back to the bedroom. She was glad, however, for all the years she’d spent hauling heavy fossils and plaster casts from shelf to shelf. Sam was a big fellow, but she was able to carry his weight without much difficulty. Girlfriend, on the other hand, was having a difficult time just holding up Sam’s feet. She was in great shape and could run incredibly fast, but she did lack strength.
They dumped Sam onto the bed and Girlfriend started to undress him. Myra excused herself to the kitchen. She busied herself with looking over the two maps. She and Girlfriend had traced similar lines around the park and indeed on both maps, after some careful tracing of the lines, Myra was certain that the Doc Brenner trailer was indeed in the center of the circles. Myra got out her camera and took a picture of each map. She’d be able to do better plotting of the circle in Photoshop rather than guesswork with drawing. It’d be even better if she could find an actual photo of the area, but that wasn’t going to happen. She’d just have to make do.
She plotted out the position of the hadrosaur they’d found. She wanted to make sure that she didn’t lose track of it. She desperately wanted to go back and look at it. It pained her to be away from the body when there was so much she could learn even with a couple hours. She only lacked the proper tools. She hadn’t brought her case with her, but that didn’t have anything that could move or turn over the massive body. She’d need helicopter support for that.
Myra pulled out her cell phone. She was in a good coverage area. She thought about calling Randy, but that could wait. She’d e-mail him the photos and wait for his response. Surely he’d understand her need to stay there and look for more specimens.
“Can I get you anything?” Girlfriend asked.
Myra nearly leapt out of her skin. “Oh, no. I’m good. I think I need to go back to my hotel room.”
Girlfriend looked worn out, almost as if she hadn’t slept all night. It was possible, that with everything going on, she hadn’t. Myra had really enjoyed Girlfriend’s company and would like to stay and talk with her longer. She was so friendly and very accommodating, but with Sam asleep in the other room, she felt as if she were intruding.
Girlfriend nodded and held her arms out to hug Myra. Myra stood and hugged her.
“Thank you,” Girlfriend said.
Myra pulled back, but still held Girlfriend’s arms. “Do you have my cell phone number? I’ll be back tonight, but in case you think of anything else you might need for tonight, when we’re sitting out in the woods waiting for whatever it is we’ll be waiting for…”
“That’s very sweet of you. No, thank you. I’ll be fine. I think I need to join Sam in a nap. We didn’t have a good night last night.”
“I understand. I’ll just let myself out.”
Girlfriend nodded and returned to the bedroom. Myra passed the dog curled up on the patio floor as she left. Apparently she’d had a bad night too. Just with what she’d seen and heard, it was difficult to imagine that more people didn’t have a hard night.
Outside she looked back through the park toward Doc Brenner’s trailer. She wondered if Sam could be right. Girlfriend had expressed misgivings to his concept that Doc could have anything to do with what was happening, as the man never left his trailer and she always washed his clothes which were always pajamas. She felt sad for the man to have someone like Sam come in and start accusing him of such an atrocity.
Myra’s face went slack when she saw one of the two girls they’d talked to on top of her trailer. She had something in her hand, Myra had thought she noticed a camera of some kind, and she was pointing it toward the end of the trailer park; toward the double wide trailer at the end of the park. What was she doing that for? The girl had said she suspected Doc of something, but hadn’t elaborated. Myra wanted to go talk to her, but she didn’t want to disturb her.
She found her thoughts slipping from curiosity to jealousy. The girl was young and beautiful, but she didn’t need to be running around in a pair of tiny short shorts to flaunt her legs like that. Of course, if Myra had a body like hers, instead of a running back, she’d probably show it off as well. She couldn’t fault her for that.
Myra made her way back across the park to the Sandy Bar and her car. Detective Schneider had left. She’d have to get a hold of him later. It was only 1:00 o’clock when she pulled out of the trailer park. She plugged in her iPhone and listened to her notes on the way back to the hotel in town, but stopped them only part-way through.
She opened her cell phone and called Detective Schneider. She wanted to get back into the morgue and take some pictures of her own of the troodon head and maybe do further investigation into it. She was at home with a fossil, but this had flesh and skin and eyes. She could advance her knowledge of dinosaurs beyond the theoretical and base it on fact.
He didn’t answer. She contemplated calling Randy, but dropped the phone into the seat. She’d send him a copy of her notes and pictures. That’d be enough.
Back at the hotel, she logged into her computer and dialed into the museum network. It took forever for the slow connection to transfer the pictures, so she decided not to send the audio file. Even though it was only a few megs of MP3 file, she didn’t want to wait for an hour while it transferred. Instead she started the audio file over while she stripped and took a quick shower. It took forever to get the mud off her boots, but as she washed the mud off, she saw something out of place. Little bugs. Bugs that didn’t belong in the woods of Minnesota. In fact, the little bugs didn’t belong in any woods of the world that she knew about.
Myra slammed the drain closed on the bathtub. She couldn’t lose them. She rushed naked into the room and grabbed her case and pulled out sample jars. With her tweezers, she collected each bug and placed it into its own separate container. Myra smiled. Now she had something to take back. She couldn’t haul a dinosaur back in her car, but these little guys she sure could.
The phone in the room rang. Myra rushed to answer.
“Myra!” It was Randy. “Are you serious? Is this what I think it is?”
“Yes. It’s a fully-grown hadrosaur.”
“And why aren’t you there protecting it?”
Randy sounded agitated. “What if someone else gets there first? We can’t lose this. This could really bring in a lot of money to the museum. Don’t you understand?”
“It’s in a place where unless you’re looking for it, you’ll miss it. It’s a very difficult area to get to.”
“I don’t care where it is. You need to get to it and stay there.”
“Sam will keep an eye on it.”
“Sam, he’s the one who’s helping me at the trailer park.”
“You mean some yokel is helping you? He could be on the phone right now selling the story to the Weekly World News. Oh shit, Myra. We can’t let this one go. You need to also make sure that cop doesn’t get rid of the head.”
“Why are you still talking to me? Myra, get out there and secure these.”
“How do you expect me to move a five-ton body? I mean, be realistic.”
“No, Myra. You be realistic. We’ve lost several supporters this year. We need those to help bring funding back into the museum. I don’t care if you need to take your suitcase and camp out on top of that thing. You don’t let anyone else near it. Do I make myself clear?”
Myra took a deep breath. At least he was understanding as to why she needed to stay up in the woods and she would, after all, be in the woods that night. “I’ll be with it all night long.”
“Great. I’m going to try and figure out how to get someone up there with a truck or something.”
“A truck can’t get to where this is. You’ll need to get a helicopter.”
“Damn! Okay. That’ll take a little longer. I’ll call your cell…”
It was Myra’s turn to interrupt. “My cell doesn’t work that deep in the woods, but I’ll make sure no one else gets to it.”
“Don’t let any of those trailer park yahoos tell anyone else about this. We can’t afford for this to get out. This is a once in a lifetime shot, Myra. Once in a lifetime! Once in ten lifetimes.”
She knew that, but she didn’t like him calling Girlfriend a yahoo. He didn’t know her. He didn’t know any of them.
“I’ve got to go. I’ve got something else to attend to before I get back out there.”
Myra hung up the phone and looked at the small, wiggling specimen in the jar. She wasn’t sure what it was, possibly an ancient mayfly relative, but she had it and she’d keep that her own secret for now.
She pulled the sheets back and lay on the bed naked and enjoyed the hotel’s air conditioner. She didn’t set an alarm. She was only going to nap for a short time. She could eat at that little café when she woke up. Myra fell asleep with the small jar clutched to her chest.