put out the word on the moccasin telegraph. Even that could be dangerous.
But he had something: the police had killed an AIM member in Ethete.
VICKY DROVE ONTO the wood planks that crossed the barrow ditch. The small white house set back from the road looked deserted—curtains half drawn in the windows, a skinny black dog sniffing at the wooden stoop in front. Her cell started ringing, and she dragged it out of her bag as she guided the Jeep across the dirt yard and parked at the stoop. The dog loped off, a wild thing, like a coyote. An Indian dog, whites would say. She recognized Adam’s number on the screen and pressed the cell to her ear.
“Hi,” she said. This morning, she’d told Adam she’d be back by midafternoon. She stole a glance at her watch. Four thirty. In the rearview mirror, Aunt Rose’s old green sedan with the bent front fender was bouncing across the planks.
“Where are you?” Adam said.
“I stopped by to see Aunt Rose.”
There was a long moment of silence. “I thought we were going to take off early, go for a hike in Sinks Canyon, have a picnic.”
She was still in her lawyer clothes, the blue skirt and light blouse she’d picked out this morning. Her feet felt achy in her pumps. Vicky waved at the old woman in the sedan pulling in alongside her and told Adam that she’d be at her apartment by six.
That seemed to be acceptable, because he said, “How is she?”
Vicky got out of the Jeep, still gripping the cell. She pulled her bag across the console and the driver’s seat and slammed the door. Aunt Rose was coming around the front of the sedan, pumping both arms as if she couldn’t wait to get them around her. “She seems fine,” Vicky said.
“See you at six.” The cell cut out. Vicky was trying to stuff it back into her bag when she felt herself enclosed in Aunt Rose’s arms, pulled against her soft bosom. She had the fleeting sense of being a child again, safe in her mother’s arms. Aunt Rose was her mother’s sister, which, in the Arapaho Way, meant that she was also her mother.
“Been a while since you come by.” Aunt Rose let her go and stepped back, looking her over and leaving Vicky feeling a little wobbly, stuck somewhere between childhood and adulthood.
Finally, she said, “Better come inside. Get some iced tea. Hot enough to roast a rock out here.”
Vicky followed her up the stoop and waited while she fumbled with the knob and pushed the door open. It wasn’t locked. No one locked doors on the reservation. It wasn’t until she’d moved to Denver that Vicky had started locking her door. Even then, it had been hard to remember.
The living room was surprisingly cool. A little fan stood in one corner, the metal head moving back and forth like the head of a robot, riffling the edges of the magazine on the coffee table. Vicky could feel the cool air on her legs.
“You sit down,” Aunt Rose said, nodding toward the sofa with a star quilt folded across the top.
“Let me help…”
“Sit,” she said.
Vicky dropped onto the sofa and leaned back into the cushions. It was like coming home. The house looked the same as when she was a kid: the same worn brown sofa and wood chair with the blue cushions and the blue ottoman with the white cover. Past the doorway to the kitchen, she could see the wood table and chairs, sun flowing over the tabletop. There was the sound of running water and metal clanking against glass, comfortable sounds.
After a moment, Aunt Rose was back, carrying two glasses of iced tea. Vicky took the glass she handed her. It felt cold and moist against her palm. She waited while Aunt Rose settled herself in the blue chair, lifted her feet onto the ottoman, then let out a long sigh and took a drink of her own tea.
There were a few moments of catching up, synchronizing the rhythms of their lives: How you been? Staying busy. Sure been hot, and then Aunt Rose said, “How’s that man of yours?”
“Adam’s fine,” Vicky said.