Send in the Clowns: The Final Chapter
I was on the front right, a cousin on the front left, my dad on the rear right, and the Elko Detective on the rear left. The biggest problem we had was that we were walking through waist high sagebrush. On the way to the body, it wasn't a problem because we were single file along the cow trails, but now we were doubled up and tied together. The next biggest problem was that we couldn't carry her down at waist level because she'd drag on the brush, so we had to lift her up and keep her at shoulder level.
Now I'm still of my youthful vigor, and my cousin, though a bit shorter and a few years older, is also in good shape, but my dad was in his mid 60's and the detective had been riding a desk for several years. Add to that the extra 40 lbs around his midsection and his bum knee, and you've got a helluva a foursome heading down the trail.
The others said she wasn't very heavy, but she was to me. I guess that just means I happened to have the majority of her on my corner. Either that or the gun... nahhh... the way she was situated in the bag, I was carrying most of the load. I mentioned it a time or two to the rest of them, every time my forearm cramped up, to be honest.
So we were walking down the trail, sometimes I'd be on it, then I'd have to shift out of it so that the others could avoid a tree or some other obstacle. Turned out to be quite a workout jumping back and forth. But we got into kind of a rhythm and then it was all going well, until my dad stepped on a round rock in the trail and started to fall down.
As he fell, he rolled up into the back of the detective's bum knee causing him to crash down in the process. When the two of them on the back end grunted and fell, they didn't let go of the loops, so that caused the two of us on the front to come to a screeching halt in midstep, then as they hit the ground the bag jerked back against our shoulders. Because of the positioning of our arms, there was no way they could give in that direction and they pulled us right back down on top of them. It was quite a circus.
Needless to say, the little sinews that were holding her bones together in a board like fashion, couldn't withstand being rolled up on by 4 guys, so after we unfolded ourselves from off the top of one another and picked the bag back up, it all rolled to the center. Now we had to keep the bag taught as well as in the air, but on the bright side, now the weight was distributed equally between the four of us, and after about a hundred yards, the rest of them had to admit that she'd gotten much heavier than she was.
Well... we finally made it back to the outfits, loaded her into the back of the Elko Detective's Bronco and then all went our seperate ways.
The final request she made in her suicide letter was that if she was found, she be cremated and her ashes spread back out on the spot where we'd found her. The Detective cremated her and then sent her ashes to the hikers who had agreed to carry her back out there so he didn't have to make the 5 hour drive. He sent them in December, so they had to keep her on their mantle until the following summer when they could get around to getting back there. (They often chuckled as guests to their house would look up there and inquire what was in the box. "Oh, that's just the dead woman we found last year..." )
He took his metal detector with him and found the bullet when they went back and that pretty much ends the strange tale. But one thing is certain, I did gain quite a story from going out that day.
And now the random observations.
A set of bones is much easier to carry when they're stiff like a board.
A stainless steel Smith and Wesson pistol isn't made entirely out of stainless steel. The trigger mechanism is made out of standard metal and rusts quite badly. We couldn't get the cylinder to drop open because it had rusted in place, and the trigger was in a fixed position.
Curiously, she'd loaded all of the chambers in the cylinder, but it only took the first one, so there were still 5 live rounds left in the gun.
Police policy wouldn't let the hiker keep the gun, even though he really wanted it as a souvenier. Even though it was non-functional, it still would have made a cool wall piece.
The entry side of the skull had a small bullet hole, but the bullet hadn't gone all the way through. Instead, fluid dynamics had taken over, and the shock wave had split the skull on the opposing side of her head. There was no exit wound, but you could see how the concussion had still split the top of her head open.
Because she was lying there face first, the majority of the front of her skull was gone. There wasn't the standard "human skull look" you see in all the movies, just from the tops of the eye sockets back.
We never saw hide nor hair of the money after the Detective left. He could have pocketed it and made Elko pick up the tab, we have no way of knowing either way. But at this point, I don't suppose it really matters. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
And one last closing thought, we should've probably ignored her last wishes and chipped in for a small headstone to be placed where we found her with her name and relevant info. If for no other reason than to let folks in the future know that someone of that name had actually existed and chose to die there.