A Different Blue Page 59

“Can I help you?” Her voice was a complete contrast to her appearance. It was sugary and kind, and reminded me of Betty White. I felt better almost immediately.

“I don't know if you can help me, but maybe you can direct me. I wondered if there is a policeman here with the last name of Bowles? I think he will remember me if he is. It involves a missing persons case he was in involved with about ten years ago.”

“We do have a Detective Bowles. Would you like me to see if he is on the premises?”

Bowles wasn't a terribly uncommon name, and I knew there was a chance it wasn't the same guy, but I nodded anyway. It was a start.

“Could I have your name please?”

“Blue Echohawk.” That would make it simple. If Detective Bowles didn't recognize my name, he wasn't the same officer I had known.

The woman who swallowed Betty White spoke sweetly into her headset, obviously trying to locate Detective Bowles. I looked away, taking in my surroundings. This building was much older than the police station they'd taken me to in 2001. That station had been in Las Vegas somewhere, and it had been brand new. It had smelled like paint and sawdust, which at the time had been very comforting. For me, the smell of sawdust was probably the equivalent of homemade chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven.

“Blue Echohawk?” I turned as a muscular, middle-aged man approached. He was instantly familiar, and I resisted the urge to turn and run as my heart began to pound. Would I get in trouble for not coming forward with this information sooner? Would Cheryl? A smile broke out across his face as surprise had him chuckling and reaching a hand out in greeting.

“I'll be damned. When all that stuff went down at the high school last January, I wanted to get in touch and say hello and let you know how proud I was of you, but thought maybe you would be overwhelmed with all the hype and media attention at the time.”

“I thought I saw you that day. That's why I'm here. I figured you had to be working here in Boulder City now and – I know this is a little strange – I think you might be able to help me. I'm not in trouble!” I hurried to add, and he smiled again. He seemed genuinely pleased to see me.

“I knew there couldn't be two Blue Echohawks in the world, but I admit, I still pictured you at ten years old.” He eyed my protruding stomach in surprise. “And you're going to be a mother soon, looks like!” My hand fluttered to my belly awkwardly. I nodded and reached for the hand he held toward me, shaking it firmly before I let it drop.

“Candy?” Detective Bowles directed his question to the helpful lady at the front desk. “Is room D available?”

Candy?? Oh, that poor woman. She needed a strong name to go with that strong upper lip.

Candy smiled and nodded, all the while speaking into her headset.

“Right this way.” Detective Bowles began walking. “Can I just call you Blue?”

“Sure. What do I call you?”

“Detective . . . or Andy's fine, too.”

He led me into a little room and pulled out a chair. I wondered if they used these rooms to question murderers and gang members. Strangely, I had felt a lot more nervous at Planned Parenthood.

“So talk to me. What brings you to me after all this time?” Detective Bowles crossed his bulging biceps over his chest and leaned back in his chair.

“My father's body was found three years after he disappeared. I don't know if you knew that. I was told by my social worker, and I don't know what happened on your end of things . . . what exactly the police did, if anything. I'm guessing it was documented and the case was closed at some point?” I didn't know if I was using the correct terminology. Like most people, I had watched a few cop shows. I felt a little silly trying to sound like I had any clue what I was talking about.

“I did know, actually. I'm sorry for your loss.” Detective Bowles tipped his head, knowing there was more to come.

“My . . . aunt . . .” My voice trailed off. She wasn't my aunt, but for the sake of the story I needed to keep it simple but honest. I adjusted slightly. “Uh . . . the woman who took me in told me something at that time that I don't think the police ever knew. I didn't know . . . you see.” I wasn't making any sense.

Detective Bowles just waited.

“I don't want to get her in trouble. She should have spoken up . . . but she had her reasons, I guess.”

“Do you want a lawyer?” Detective Bowles asked softly. I looked at him in confusion.

“No . . . I don't think so. I didn't commit a crime. I was a kid. It never even occurred to me that I could go to the police with what she told me. And I'm hoping that this won't be about Cheryl Sheevers or anybody else. This is about me. I'm trying to find out who my mother was.”

“If I remember right, nobody seemed to know who your mother was, correct?”

I nodded. “But after Jimmy Echohawk's body was found, Cheryl told me that he wasn't my father.”

Detective Bowles was sitting up a little straighter. I definitely had his attention. “How did she know that?”

“She told me that Jimmy stopped for the night at a truckstop in Reno. He sat down in a big booth in the restaurant to have a bite to eat, and about twenty minutes into his meal a little girl sat up across from him. She had apparently been asleep on the far side of this big round booth, and he hadn't even seen her there. He offered the little girl his french fries. She didn't cry, but she was hungry and ate everything he gave her. He ended up sitting there with her, hoping someone would claim her.” I looked up at Detective Bowles whose eyes had grown wide, jumping to the obvious conclusion.

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