Enchanted Rock White (1st Chapter)
Maurice walked into headquarters wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt that read Texas Secede over a Texas flag, and went straight back to his office. Right after going through the door, he stopped. There, sitting in a chair next to his desk, was a sultry blonde, wearing a very small pair of black panties, and a black lace bra, which for the most part just spilled out her generous feminine curves towards him. The girl’s left wrist was handcuffed to the arm of the chair. She inclined her head slightly to the right, and blonde curls spilled over her shoulder.
“I’m a flight risk.” The girl’s accent was distinctly not Texan.
Maurice stared at her for a few more seconds, then realized he was staring, and blushed. He went back out of the office to the customer service desk Gwen was working.
“There’s a naked woman in my office.”
Gwen slowly shook her head. “I don’t know where they get these people. Talk to Paul. He just stepped out to use the men’s room on the back deck.”
At that moment, Paul came into the lobby. He was wearing the full uniform of a Texas Parks and Wildlife Park Police Officer, right down to the bullet-proof vest and black leather belt, Glock .40 handgun in its holster, two extra magazines of ammunition, radio, Mace, and an empty handcuff case.
Maurice nodded towards the office where the young woman sat, and as he did so, he winced.
Gwen turned to him. “You’re on convalescent leave. You’re not supposed to be here. You just had a bullet taken out of your chest.”
“I’m going crazy. Just thought I’d see what was happen. . . . “ His sentence tapered off as he looked at the blonde again.
Paul came around behind the desk. “Disorderly conduct. Class C Misdemeanor. Got proof, too. Open and shut case.”
Maurice could see a man on the back deck talking on a cell phone, with a camera hanging on a strap around his neck. The hair sticking out from under the man’s New York Yankees baseball cap was dyed an odd shade of red.
“That guy out there. It’s in his camera, but he won’t give it to me. Says it’s protected by the First Amendment.”
Maurice walked back into the office. “First, let’s get this young lady out of the handcuffs.”
Paul shrugged, and got out his handcuff key. “She’s a flight risk.”
The girl nodded. “I’m a flight risk, officer.” She rubbed her wrist as Paul put the handcuffs back into their case.
Maurice sat down in another chair. He caught himself staring at the blonde again, and blushed. She smiled, and winked at him. Paul stood by the door.
“See? He’s blocking the door so I don’t try to escape. I’m a dangerous criminal.”
Her accent was strong; not the melodious speech of the southerner, or the twang of the westerner, but familiar to Maurice.
“OK, Paul, take it from the start. How did we end up with a naked woman in the office?”
The blonde turned to look at the other officer. “Yes, Paul, how did we end up with a naked woman in the office?”
Paul shrugged. “I was walking up the Turkey Canyon Trail. You say a PPO should know every square foot of his territory. So, I was doing that. Anyway, I got to that place you call Kissing Rocks, and there she was, naked as the day she was born, and this guy had a camera set up and was taking pictures of her.”
Maurice looked at the blonde, trying not to stare. She leaned forward slightly, and her breasts almost escaped the minimal restraint of the bra. Paul shifted nervously in the doorway.
“Ma’am, is that true?”
“Yes, that is true. However, I was just changing into another outfit. I was only naked for a few seconds. He came up on us right between shots. And then he made a big deal out of it and made us come in here.”
“Well, we do have rules about nudity in the park.”
Paul shifted again, thumbs thrust into his equipment belt. “I have proof. Well, that guy out there has proof in his camera.”
The blonde sighed. “He’s a photographer for a very well-known fashion magazine. We’re doing a shoot out here. This place came highly recommended.”
“Highly recommended?” Maurice winced again as he aggravated the still healing wound in his chest.
“Yes. My old step-dad, he told me about this place. Said it was one of the most beautiful places ever. We were doing a shoot in Austin and decided to pop over.”
“I see. Do you have some actual clothes?”
The girl sighed again. “Of course I do. They’re in the car.”
“Why aren’t you wearing them?”
“Bumblebrains here locked the keys in the car.”
It was Paul’s turn to blush. Maurice turned to look at Paul, who shrugged.
“It was an accident.”
“Well, get the slim jim, and see if you can get the car unlocked.”
Maurice turned back around to look at the girl. “You from New York?”
“What of it?”
“Your accent is familiar. We used to have a New Yorker working here, John Dooley. He talked just like that.”
“Yeah, well that’s the guy I was talking about. He’s my step-dad. Well, he used to be. I’m Monica.”
“John Dooley’s your step dad?”
“My mother was wife number two. They didn’t last long, but he was always nice to me. You’re his friend, aren’t you? You’re that famous park ranger.”
Maurice shook his head and sat down at the desk. “I’m not famous. Let me see what we can do about getting you out of here.”
A few minutes later Monica, now dressed in short shorts and a crop top, revealing almost as much of her voluptuous curves as the lacy bra and panties alone had, kissed Maurice on the cheek.
“You’re everything John said you were.”
The photographer was in their rental car with the engine running, window open, waving for her to get in.
“Got to go. Hope to see you again.”
Monica’s New York accent was at the same time charming and jarring to Maurice’s Texas ears. He smiled at her as she got in the car. Memories of the good times he and John had shared, and the excitement of the last few days, flooded his mind with disjointed images.
With the drama of the moment over, and with nothing left to do, as he was officially on leave, Maurice walked through the parking lot towards the Loop Trail. He had his head down, watching his feet on the pavement, walking carefully as not to aggravate the healing bullet wound in his chest. His gloomy mood returned. At the end of the upper parking lot, he started on the trail, through the picnic area, and down the wooden steps. Something along the trail caught his attention, but he had gone down all the steps before he stopped.
Maurice went back up the steps to the end of the picnic area. There it was, a few feet off to the left side of the trail at the top of the steps. He stared at the object, confused. His police officer training kept him from approaching closer or touching the object. He stood and stared at it.
A wooden stake, perhaps three feet long, was driven into the ground, and impaled on the top, grinning at him was a very small head with long, frazzled blond hair. Maurice knelt down to look at the head more closely.
He leaned his head to the right, and then to the left, trying to comprehend the meaning of this bizarre sight. He looked at the ground around the stake for more clues, but found none. The area was trampled by many feet, which was the usual state of this place. Maurice stood and backed up a few feet and looked around; up into the surrounding trees, around the picnic area, down the steps, out towards Sandy Creek.
The place looked as it always had, except for the tiny blonde-haired head smiling at him. The stake was milled, probably from pine, like one might buy to attach a sign saying Garage Sale. He took the bandanna out of the right rear pocket of his blue jeans and gently lifted the head from the stake, wrapped it up, and put it in his pocket. He left the stake where it was, and continued walking down the trail, toward the house with twin baby girls and a wife.
In a few minutes, Maurice reached the house, up the hill beside the group pavilion. He opened the screen door slowly, expecting the same chaos that he had left earlier, but the only sound was the clicking of the ceiling fan pull chain against its light globe. He eased the bedroom door open and saw his wife on the bed with the twin baby girls sleeping beside her. He gently closed the door, then poured himself a glass of iced tea and sat at the kitchen table.
He looked up at the sound of the bedroom door closing. Angela smiled, and held a finger to her lips.
She whispered, “shhhh. I just got them to sleep.” Maurice nodded.
Angela sat at the table and took a sip of his tea, then pointed to the bandanna laid out on the table with the doll’s head.
Maurice kept his voice low. Found it on the Loop Trail on the way back here. Stuck on top of a wooden stake driven into the ground just beside the trail. Don’t think it was there when I went by earlier.”
“What do you think it means?”
Maurice gently shook his head. “Probably nothing. Some kid bored at a family picnic.”
“Yeah. Kinda weird, though.”
Maurice nodded, and wrapped the head back up in the bandanna. He turned toward Angela.
“You’re as pretty as the day I first met you, on the trail out by Buzzard’s Roost.”
“I don’t feel pretty. I feel ragged. How do you feel?”
“Only hurts when I laugh.” Maurice laughed, then winced. “See what I mean?”
“You look a little down.”
“I’m bored. I need a challenge. Things are going to hell in the office. You’re busy with the girls. I don’t know how long I can take this doing nothing all the time. Taking naps, you know.”
“I could use a nap.” She winked at him.
“Me too.” Maurice grinned as they tiptoed to the other bedroom.
Later, sitting in the folding chair in his back yard overlooking the trail, he watched a buck and two does and a fawn grazing in the lush grass below, in the shade of tall pecan trees. Puffy white clouds drifted across a deep blue sky. The air was still, the quiet only interrupted by the whine of an occasional car on the highway. The doll head tugged at the edge of his consciousness, but he didn’t know why.