Prologue (Opening Scene)

By 31 August 2023No Comments

Her helpless body silhouetted the partial darkness.

Beads of early morning dew clung hungrily to the blades of grass that framed the children’s swing set in the middle of the schoolyard. The September dawn’s hue was a wash of bronzy orange as the hazy sun slowly started its rise. The town would soon come alive, but there would be no smiling on this day, and for many days to come. Soon, she would be found; then the community would mourn once again, for one of its own.

The shine of her shoulder-length, black hair briefly caught a glint off the morning light. Her limp body hung peacefully, swaying slightly with the morning air. Her pain was gone, but for her people, their pain would soon begin.

A lone pick-up truck could be seen navigating the road. It was the only road in and out of the Reserve. The girl would have known.

It stopped abruptly, a few feet away. It took the driver a minute or two, then he slowly descended the cab, never taking his eyes off the girl, moving silently toward her. His gait heavy with sorrow. He stood watching her, resigned to a too familiar scene. He then bowed his head, pulled out his cell phone and made the call.

Twenty minutes later, the investigation team arrived. The sun had fully risen now. The community was moving slowly – an anxious hush had descended – they had heard. School was closed; the children were kept at home until the area was cleared. There would time for learning, but not today. Today was for other matters.

With the area cordoned off, members of the investigation team were doing the work of processing the scene, carefully collecting anything and everything that looked like evidence. Cause of death had to be determined despite outward appearances. They worked with solemn precision, diligently using the tools of their trade, gathering samples, and placing them into evidence bags. The black body bag lay waiting.

Henry Shawanda, Police Chief of the Tribal Police Service standing with his hands on his hips, gazed pensively through steel blue eyes at the scene, and at the investigators, admiring both their dedication to the work and for the respect they showed the girl.


Henry turned. The sun fell on his 6 ft. frame just at the point where he shadowed loomed over the much shorter coroner walking towards him. He nodded, “Lawrence.”

“Aaniish naa ezhiyaayin?”, Lawrence asked.

Henry sighed, “Heavy, I feel heavy.”

“Do you know her?”

Henry nodded. “Yeah..May’s little sister…” choking up as he said the words, but quickly composed himself in a moment of awkward silence as he stared at the ground.

“I’m sorry, Henry… does May know?”

“Not yet, not over the phone.”

Lawrence continued, “How is May?”

“Troubled.” Henry paused, still staring at his little sister, said to Lawrence, “How many more times will we do this.”

“Even one more would be too many,” Lawrence answered, and walked away towards his team.

A few minutes later, Henry decided to move closer – she was on the ground now, resting in the body bag. He crouched down and studied her – she was 17 years old – they went fishing just last week. They talked about her plans for college next Fall.

“How could I help when you had no hope?” he whispered. He was already worrying about May, and what this would do to her. He sighed deeply.

Lawrence had crouched down opposite Henry now, staring at the girl’s neck. “What is it? Henry asked.”

“Not sure yet, skin’s a little dry below the ligature mark.”


“Not sure Henry, I will let you know.”

Henry nodded. As he started to rise, he noticed her left wrist. “Take a look.” He pointed to some bruising.

“Yep, I’ll let you know, Henry.”

Henry nodded again and started walking towards his vehicle – his walkie crackled…

“Chief, are you there?”

Henry lifted the walkie from his belt. “Yeah.”

“We have another body.”