Authors: J Michael Orenduff
The Pot Thief
Billy the Kid
J. Michael Orenduff
Aakenbaaken & Kent
The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid
Copyright 2013 by J. Michael Orenduff, all rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations for use in articles and reviews.
Aakenbaaken & Kent
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of the fictional characters to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
sister Pat who explored the Lincoln County C
ourthouse and other haunts of Billy the Kid
when we were kids
And to Richard
, my brother-in-law and friend
Many of you know that the working title of this sixth book in the series was
The Pot Thief Who Studied Lew Wallace
. I changed it to
The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid
for reasons that
should be evident
in the story.
As always, I want to thank
my life-long gencon partner Lai without whom none of my work would ever be completed.
I am also grateful to
my daughter Claire and to
r editing support
Special thanks to
Mike Norman, author of the
and J. D. Books mysteries, two excellent
. By some quirk of fate, Mike was a professor in the criminal justice program at Weber State University in Utah, and I was his dean.
D. Books is a Park Ranger, and M
ike is fond of saying that his
would like to put mine in jail.
Mike has allowed me to piggyback on his research. Which makes sense because he was
t teacher and scholar, and his
decision to become a writer was a loss to the academic world.
was not an excellent researcher. I
like to think that my move from academia to mystery writing improved both areaslowd both .
Finally, I want to thank the legions of Hubie fans. The royalty checks are nice, but your letters and emails are the best reward for my writing.
“I would rather write another book than be rich.”
“Amen.” – J. Michael Orenduff
I was on a ledge
hundred feet above
violating two federal laws, one on pur
pose and the other by accident.
was afraid to approach the
a didn’t stop me from digging.
I’d been told there were ancient pots here, and I knew they would be
in the ruins,
not out on the
I’m not a professional archaeologist and I didn’t have a permit to excavate, so
the first law I was breaking
was the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA).
Because of the American Bar Association
it would be impossible today for Abe Lincoln to be a lawyer
Because of the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, it would be impossible today for
And thanks to the Archaeological Institute of America,
it’s also impossible for me
hunt for artifacts
was why I was digging under
cover of darkness.
very association of ‘professionals’
to the wishes of professional archaeologists
back in the eighties
and passed A
My name is Hubert Schuze
I’m a treasure hunter.
redefined me as a pot thief, but
care program with a price tag of
ealth Care Act’
hey aren’t exactly experts when it comes to truth in labeling.
Here’s a message for my representatives in Washington
Health care is not affordable and
archaeological resources do not need p
we should exploit them.
s what I do, and I’
m positive that’
s what the peop
le who created them would want.
fter I’m long dead,
I don’t want the p
e mouldering in the gr
ound like Joh
I want some enterprising lad like myself to dig them up, appreciate them, and make a few bucks in the
Maybe he can earn enough to see a doctor.
feel bad about the second law I wae="ond laws
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
(NAGPRA). Who other than a ghoul would violate that
But it wasn’t my fault.
I was digging in a ruin of residences.
tribes didn’t bury their dead
in their living quarters
. So you can imagine my surprise when I stuck my hand in
the hole I’
d dug and grasped another hand.
I’d been hoping for an
, not a handshake.
It gets worse.
One of the tools I use is a piece of rebar. Knowing this would make professional
bite the bristles off their
. But t
he success rate is low in treasure hu
. I can’t
waste time digging in dry holes. So I use the rebar to probe through soft soil
whether there is anyth
ing solid below the surface.
When I feel
resistance, I set the rebar aside and dig with my hands. I
on’t want to damage any potential merchandise. Usually what I find is a rock
or a root.
bumped a pot shard in the first
I dug. It wasn’t big enough to be marketable
design I’d never seen
a long graceful curve
I wanted to see if I could duplicate. I pocketed it
As I was about to start
, some sand pelted me from the
up to Geronimo to stay away from the edge, but he never listens to me. And it could just as easily have been a crow or a chipmunk.
Too bad I didn’t move after the sand hit me. For it
was in the second
my rebar’s advance through the
was impeded by the aforementioned
I had accidentally desecrated
I felt woozy.
I’d wolfed down for energy gurgled up my esophagus
I swallowed hard to keep it down.
heard an even louder gurgling.
It wasn’t my tummy rumbling. It was t
he familiar rurrer-rurrer-rurrer of the starter motor on my Bronco. Most people don’t know what a starter motor sounds like. They turn the key and hear
only the reassuring roar of the engine coming to life
They have shiny new cars.
But a thirty-two-year-old
doesn’t jump to life. Li
e its forty-something-year-old owner, it take
more time getting started than it used to.
I had left
the Bronco. And while he sometimes displays a certain canine cunning, I didn’t think he was capable of starting the thing. But couldn’t he at least
at the car thief?
It wasn’t that I minded
losing the vehicle. But the rope that had lowered me down to the ruin – and by
which I planned to ascend back to the surface – was attached to the
I was stranded in a prehistoric
hundred feet above the
below and thir
ty feet below the ground above.
Thirty feet is not that far. If it isn’t too steep, you could just walk up it. But then your enemies could come down it just as easily, which would defeat the purpose of
a cliff dwelling
Even if it were a perfectly vertical cliff, you could perhaps work y
our way up
using little rock fissures as hand and toe holds. But when the cliff is
vertical, when it slants away from the direction you want to
go, the only way up is by rope.
Like the one I had just watched disappear.
Of course there was another way out. There would be a path
cut into the
to a point where the terrain allowed a narrow switchback
up to the surface.
ncient cliff dwellers sought places with an overhang for protection and a narrow entrance path that could be easily guarded. One man can hold off an entire
if they have to approach single file. He just
rock next to the nar
art of the path and pushes them over the edge as they creep along.