Thursday I'll reveal how Dr. Gil Tailor was conceived. For now let's just say that Jack Daniels is the godfather.
Now to keep your interest up, here's Chapter Four of No More Bull.
He followed Janey to the office. When he walked in Janey was holding the phone at arm’s length and pinching her nose as if smelling a skunk.
“Mr. Oren Hansen.”
Gil felt like a fifty pound sack of feed had been dumped on his chest. Prominent in state politics and a well known authority on cattle, particularly Longhorns, Hansen owned the Holy Cross ranch where the bull that disappeared with Roscoe was raised. He was a walking example of the Napoleon complex. His pompous, pious attitude had worn on Gil like a twisted cinch. How the hell had Hansen heard already? And how did he know Gil was working here?
“You know him, I take it?” he asked Janey.”
“Oh, yeah.” She closed her eyes and slowly nodded. “Take it in Dr. Bramlett’s office.”
At Bramlett’s desk in the back office, Gil gathered his wits, breathed deeply and stroked his mustache. He set his hat, crown side down, on the desk and picked up the phone. “Dr. Tailor here.”
“Gil, my boy,” boomed the familiar voice. “I lost track of you after you left Brush. How’ve you been?”
“All right Mr. Hansen. Taking things kind of one day at a time.”
Hansen lowered his voice. “I imagine. . . Son, I never did get a chance to tell you how sorry I was about your wife. She was such a beautiful young lady and so full of life. Such a tragic accident.”
“Thanks, Mr. Hansen.” Gil didn’t know what else to say. Hansen had always been condescending and demanding to both he and his wife. The phony concern rankled.
The line was quiet. All Gil could hear was raspy breathing. Hansen had an annoying habit of executing long pauses during a phone conversation. Dr. Carter, the veterinarian Gil and his wife had worked for in Brush, had once told Gil his secret to tolerating an Oren Hansen call. Carter had gotten to where he would count the seconds filling these pauses. At fifteen he would just hang up. When Hansen called back in a huff, Carter would leave him on hold for a minute before explaining that he thought they’d lost their connection. After a few hang-ups the pauses got shorter.
Gil was tempted to start counting but then Hansen said, “I understand there has been a development concerning Black Mountain, my missing bull. What can you tell me about that?”
Now Hansen was getting down to the real purpose of the call. Gil said, “Not a whole lot. Apparently some construction guys dug my trailer out of the side of a mountain. There’s a truck too, but they haven’t uncovered it yet. The local sheriff is moving slow.”
Again the raspy breathing. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, . . one thousand eight. “Is my bull in the trailer?”
“Not sure. I heard there were bones and horns in there, but the deputy wouldn’t let me get down to the trailer to look.”
“Why the hell not?”
It somewhat surprised Gil to hear Oren cuss. The man tried hard to maintain his pious image. He hated to let his underlings hear him stoop to swearing.
Gil told Hansen, “My guess is because it’s a crime scene and he didn’t want me to disturb any evidence.”
… one thousand eleven, one thousand twelve. Gil was already on edge and these pauses were unnerving.
Hansen finally said, “Well it certainly was a crime. You know that was a hundred thousand dollar bull. He was going to be the foundation sire of a million dollar breeding program. Brown put me in trouble with my investors and placed me in a hell of a financial bind.”
Gil hated to hear Hansen laying the blame on Roscoe, but had always avoided getting crosswise with Hansen. The man had contacts all over the livestock industry. So he figured he better keep his cool, but it wasn’t easy.
“So they didn’t find Brown’s body?” Hansen asked.
“No. The deputy told me they have the CBI coming this afternoon to help them decide their next move.” He had to swallow hard before he could say, “I guess they feel that another day won’t make a difference in a case that is more than two years old.”
Gil stood and walked to the door and back as he counted, … one thousand nine, one thousand ten, one thousand eleven.
Oren cleared his throat. “I don’t think there is a body. I suspect somebody paid Brown to kill my bull and bury it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s off in Mexico some place.”
Gil’s intention to stay cool collapsed. “Dammit, Hansen, you ought to know Roscoe better than that. There’s no way he’d commit a crime. And he’d never abandon his wife and kid, no matter how much money was involved.”
Gil, put the phone to his chest and took some deep breaths before saying, “Listen, it just doesn’t make sense. That bull was worth $100,000, right?” He didn’t wait for Hansen to reply. “Without registration papers, it’s worth packer prices. Maybe a $1,000.”
Gil finally got to the question that had been bothering him since Roscoe and Black Mountain disappeared.
“Let me ask, Mister Hansen. Why would anyone want to have Black Mountain vanish? If they wanted him out of the way, they could kill him? Why have him disappear? Who benefits from that?”
The breathing was more rapid now, almost panting. … one thousand eighteen, “Yes . . . That is the question, isn’t it?”