Ty listened and scratched notes on paper. His black hat tilted below his eyes for effect, the heels of his black boots on the table. Will, also in his blacks, sat next to him, across the table from the tanner O’Malley’s wife, a lady with a white dress and large blonde curls.
“A lifeboat come down on ropes from the flyin’ ship, and the goblin pick me up and go inside.” Tears formed in Mrs. O’Malley’s eyes and she shuddered. “It took me up into the ship, and then flew away.”
“Did you see which way it went?” asked Will.
“It just disappeared in the sky,” she said.
“Thank you, Mrs. O’Malley. I think that’s good. I won’t ask you to relive what they did to you no ways.”
She nodded and thanked him.
“Now, hold on. Why?” asked Ty.
“We’ll discuss forthwith. We can git her back if we need.”
Ty escorted Mrs. O’Malley out of the Wickenburg Sheriff’s office they were using for interrogations, the sheriff none too happy with them for it, especially since they’d kicked him out.
On the bench outside sat one last man claiming to be abducted. Longish brown hair pasted with sweat to his forehead, his teeth sticking too far out up top. He looked slow enough that one kind of lawyer would remove him from a jury, and another kind would keep him.
Ty tipped his hat. “Be out in a minute, Mr. Black.” He walked back in and straddled a chair backwards, while Will rolled a cigarette. “What’s the idea ‘forthwithing’ me and lettin’ her go?”
“Ropes?” Will struck a match and lit the smoke. “You believe these off worlders use ropes to lower lifeboats?”
“She mightn’t seen ropes, but something that looked like ‘em,” said Ty.
“You make a fair point, but that weren’t all.” He set the cigarette in a saucer. “She said it disappeared into the sky. If she was in it, how’d she see it that way?”
“Right,” said Ty. “I shoulda caught that. Ready for Mr. Black?”
Ty headed for the door.
“And, Ty. Keep yer boots off the table while we’re interr’gatin’. Makes you look like an ass.”
Ty sniffed and fetched the man, sitting him across from Will and taking the spot at the end between them. Will wrinkled his nose at him, but Ty stayed put.
“Mr. Black, we’re special invest’gators of the United States government, looking into strange goings on, answerable only to the president himself.” Will glanced at Ty with a subtle smirk. “Just call us the Men in Black. You say you had an encounter of some kind? You want to elab’rate?”
Mr. Black cocked his head. “This ain’t a trick?”
Ty patted Mr. Black on the shoulder. “We’re not from the asylum, Mr. Black.”
“I reckon.” Mr. Black leaned into the table. “A long silver thing come out of the sky and perched upright in the river shallows of Chase Canyon, down where Hawley lost his dog.”
Will’s face darkened, and Ty tried to catch his eyes, wondering what bothered him.
“What were you doing there?” asked Will.
Ty took him for an odd stick, but he must be off his chump for collecting bones.
“What fer?” asked Will.
“University sent me. I’m a professor.”
Will hitched his mouth. It was a poker move he used to hide his surprise.
“All right, Mr. Black. What happened next?”
“This thing came sliding out on some kind of travois, except…no horse.”
The man barely mumbled it, which was common when things got weird in these interrogations. Ty tried to sound encouraging. “Speak up, please, Mr. Black. It’s all right.”
“The creature circled around me, then sprayed something red, smelled like mold, and I couldn’t move. It bent me over the sled and dragged me into the silver thing.”
“What did he look like?”
“Begging your pardon, sir.” Mr. Black shook his head. “It was no kind of proper creature. Big, white, round head with four eyes, some kind of beak, like an anteater. Long, long fingers like centipede legs.”
“And what did he do after taking you inside?”
Mr. Black’s head quivered on his neck. “Not rightly sure. He done things, I know, but I was out of my head for most of it.”
“It’s understandable,” said Will. “Mr. Black, we’d like to spend some time with you. Can you stick around for a few weeks for a full accounting?”
“Sure,” said Mr. Black. “Plenty of time.”
When Ty came back from escorting him out, Will chewed his nails and clicked his tongue.
“I think he’s true,” said Ty. “He described the off-worlders perfect.” Will didn’t answer. “What ails you, Will?”
“You’re right. He’s legit’mate.”
“We should get some good dope on the off-worlders from him.”
“You missed the most important part,” said Will.
“What’re you talking about, Will?”
“He didn’t describe the goblins. He described our friend from the water tower.”
“That’s what I said. He… Oh, tarnation.”
“Yep,” said Will. “The ones we thought friendly are abducting us now.”