was doing better for himself, gettin’ somewhere far away from here.” He paused, looking at a point next to Jordan’s shoulder, his eyes glassy and ready to spill tears.
    “You said you and Micah got mixed up in some rough stuff when he was still here,” Jordan said. “What did you mean?”
    Oliver sighed. “No use keeping it a secret now, I guess. Back before the whole juvie thing, before Micah had to move up to his grandmother’s in Shreveport, we used to run jobs for this pieceof work who called himself the Artificer. Real covert type—never liked to meet in person. Micah found his ad on craigslist. I ain’t know what the hell that was, but Micah knew his way around the computer. Said we could make some real money.”
    Oliver wiped his nose on his sleeve, and Sabrina took over, rubbing his shoulder as she carried on where he had left off. “What you’ve got to understand is, things got pretty desperate after Katrina. My family was lucky, all told, but this shop was under six feet of water. Ollie’s family was going to go bankrupt.”
    “I robbed graves for this fucker,” Oliver spat out, clenching his jaw. “Micah knew all the lingo in these ads, but I didn’t really get it until we got our marching orders. ‘Lawn cleanup.’ Wasn’t no lawn cleanup.” He gave a dark laugh. “But, yeah, I was desperate. Micah said it would be no big deal—get the valuables, drop them off somewhere, pick up a check the next week. Trust me, it was one fat check, or I wouldn’t have stooped to that level.”
    “For what it’s worth,” Dan said, “it didn’t seem like Micah was proud of his life down here when I met him, either.”
    Oliver waved his sympathy away. “Stealing a few necklaces was bad, yeah, but then we were told to take bones. That’s . . . that’s when I wanted to stop. But Micah, I tell ya, once that boy got an idea in his head, he just didn’t quit. He was good at it. He kept saying we were ‘trading up.’ Fat lot of good all that trading up did him in the end.”
    He paused and shook his head, resting his palms on his knees and leaning into them. “I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t take nobody’s bones. I took the jewelry, but not the other stuff. The Artificer stiffed me on the check, and I never heard from that guyagain—until the graves. That’s right. They didn’t just take my dad’s valuables. They took his bones, Dan. My granddaddy’s, too. It’s that Artificer, I’m telling you. People like that are evil, and ain’t no price high enough for me to mess with what’s just plain damn evil .”
    Dan stared at Oliver and Sabrina, stumped on what to say in the face of such a story. It was Abby who finally broke the silence, gesturing back and forth between the boys as if brokering a peace treaty.
    “Maybe the messages will stop now, at least,” she said. “You said the messages told you to find Dan specifically. Well, maybe this meeting was the whole point. Maybe someone just wanted you to know what happened to your friend, and someone wanted Dan to know the full backstory. To understand what made Micah into the person we knew. You two have met now, and it’s all kind of cosmically satisfying, right?”
    Now it’s all settled, case closed, and we can go back to enjoying our trip, please, her tone seemed to imply.
    “You keep sayin’ ‘someone,’” Oliver said. “But from where I’m standin’, it seems pretty clear that the messages are from Micah. He’s the one who needed us to find each other, not ‘someone.’”
    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jordan said. Dan didn’t respond, even though there was a small part of him that was ready to accept what Oliver was saying. All the pieces fit.
    “Okay, don’t believe me,” Oliver finally said. “But I still don’t think we have the full story. Maybe if I got to know you, ya know? Maybe show you around, help you feel welcome in this town.”
    “We’ve got my uncle for that,” Jordan replied

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