Bonegrinder by John Lutz

Book: Bonegrinder by John Lutz Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Lutz
Tags: Fiction, thriller
a ski-jump nose and once-black curly hair gone white and grown long about the collar to lend him a revolutionary-era countenance that he no doubt cultivated. He had narrow blue eyes, calm and vaguely mean. The mayor’s eyes were calm, Wintone often told himself, because there was little going on behind them.
    “What’re you up to, Billy?” Mayor Boemer asked with his wide and practiced smile.
    “Man came to see me,” Wintone said. “Reporter named McKenna.”
    Boemer leaned back, still smiling, and made a pink tent with his stubby fingers. “Yeah, I talked to him myself.”
    Wintone pulled a wood chair away from the wall, flipped it to face away from Mayor Boemer’s desk, then straddled it to look at the mayor, his folded arms resting on the chair back. “I’m thinkin’ maybe we oughta play down these two deaths,” he said to Boemer. “The truth’s all that’s necessary, without all this speculation an’ whistlin’ up a hollow log.”
    “I can’t agree,” Boemer said, “but there ain’t any sense even discussin’ it. The story’s already in all the big-city papers.” He reached beneath his desk and lifted several folded newspapers from the floor. “Look here, Billy.” One by one he spread the papers out before Wintone, identifying them by city. “Little Rock, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta … even Chicago. The story makes good copy an’ lots of it.”
    Wintone laid the newspapers in his lap and leafed through them. Mayor Boemer had all the pertinent columns outlined in red ink. The big-city papers were making the most of the situation. Many of the news items were full of inaccuracies and lurid descriptions, THE BIRTH OF ANOTHER GRISLY OZARK LEGEND, one paper headlined its account of the two deaths.
    “I wish it’d die down,” Wintone said, laying the stack of newspapers back on Boemer’s desk.
    “It will, Billy, but in the meantime we gotta make the most of it. Sure it’s tragic, but because we got the cloud’s no reason to turn away the silver linin’. This ain’t scarin’ people off. Tourists an’ fishermen are flockin’ down here thicker than before. There’s truth, an’ then there’s public relations. We’re damn fools if we don’t make the most of what we got dumped in our laps.”
    Wintone looked past the mayor out the window at the leaves of a tall maple, green and motionless in the still heat. He didn’t like the idea of capitalizing on the death of an eleven-year-old boy.
    Boemer’s ruddy, expansive features were flushed with the excitement of his glimpse of a prosperous future. “I think we need to construct some kind of display,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe a memorial to the Larsen boy on the spot where he died. That oughta be a future point of interest we could feature in our color brochures.” Mayor Boemer looked at Wintone with sudden sobriety. “This really is beautiful country, you know.”
    Wintone and Boemer were in accord on that. The lush, wooded hills were beautiful in a primal yet gentle way, green and alluring and mysterious; it was a beauty that cloaked the grim struggle of nature with an aura of leafy and graceful tranquility.
    And the country was a part of Wintone that he didn’t want to see changed, neither its sunny places nor its shadows. That was where he and Boemer differed.
    “Tourists an’ fishermen can be the lifeblood of the Colver area,” Mayor Boemer said earnestly. “That’s the aim we oughta be workin’ toward. Al Kingsford’s thinkin’ of openin’ up a souvenir and antique emporium downstairs in the old harness shop. I think it’s a good idea.”
    “Could be,” Wintone said, in one motion standing and gently flipping his chair to where it had been against the wall. He could see any further conversation with Mayor Boemer would be useless.
    Boemer stood also behind his desk. He seemed relieved and somewhat surprised that Wintone was leaving, as if he’d expected some sort of trouble or argument from the sheriff.

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