Isolated by Trevor Scott by Trevor Scott - Read Online

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Summary

When former Reno, Nevada sheriff, Keenan Fitzpatrick, wins a free moose hunting trip to Newfoundland, Canada, he is happy to get away from his current job as a casino security officer. Shortly after arriving at the isolated hunting lodge forty miles from the nearest road, a man is shot to death. The other guests and guides immediately recruit Fitz to solve the murder. But without any technology to run background on all of the characters at the lodge, Fitz must rely only on his personal skills to uncover the killer. With six days before anyone from the outside world will learn anything is wrong at the lodge, Fitz must stop the killer before everyone is murdered.
Published: Salvo Press on
ISBN: 9781627934220
List price: $0.99
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Isolated - Trevor Scott

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camp.

1

The beauty of Newfoundland was unmistakable, especially in the fall, when the rolling hills were a mosaic of reds and yellows and shades of green. The smell in the air was death. The dead and decaying foliage, combined with the last remnants of Indian Summer, the ever-present standing water of a place that was never really dry, and the overall impression to the uninitiated visitor who had not studied the place extensively, was that of a forgotten wilderness stuck in a bygone era.

For Keenan Fitzpatrick, Fitz to all that knew him, it all started last January, when he attended the annual sportsman convention in his hometown of Reno, Nevada. He had gone there for the past dozen years to gawk at all the displays of trophy animals and to speak with outfitters from around the world. He had often considered spending the money to go on safari in Africa, or to fish the crystal clear streams of Patagonia, but his most exotic adventure prior to this year was a fishing trip on Vancouver Island a few years ago. As the sheriff of the second largest county in Nevada, it had been almost impossible for Fitz to take the time off. Something always came up. After he lost the election last November, that wasn’t a problem. Yet, he still had not shelled out the exorbitant fee for a moose hunt to Newfoundland. No, he had won this adventure in a raffle for five bucks. Everything included, from the plane ticket to the hunting license to the seven days of lodging and six days of one-on-one guiding for a trophy moose.

He had flown all day across the continent, stayed the night in the only motel in Dear Lake, Newfoundland, an outpost in a wilderness whose sole purpose seemed to be to provide a stop-over to hunters and those heading into Gros Morne National Park, a World Heritage site visited too infrequently due to its remote location. Then a representative of the outfitter had plucked Fitz and a couple other people from their rooms at dark thirty, piled all of their gear into the back of a black Suburban, and then headed south faster than the roads should have allowed, the driver smoking one cigarette after the next, saying not a single word for miles, and trying his best to keep from hitting suicidal caribou and moose crossing the road. Fitz thought their trip might be cut short by either death by moose or careening off the road like a missile. He kept looking for any sign of law enforcement, but the place was as desolate as some of the roads in eastern Nevada.

The driver was an older man, probably in his mid-fifties like Fitz, but he had heard that the age of Newfies was hard to discern, since many had lived hard lives.

So, Fitz said, how many moose have you hit so far?

The driver let out a slight smirk behind his cigarette, his weathered skin looking like it might rip apart with the effort. Only a couple. It all eats the same. The words came out it a jumble, as if one.

And you’re still alive, Fitz said. Impressive. By the way, my name is Fitz. I’d shake your hand and all that, but I think you have your hands full.

Without looking off the road, the driver let out a breath of air, along with a stream of smoke from his cigarette. You must be dat cop from Nevada. You plan on making a citizen’s arrest for speeding?

Fitz considered the man’s words and had to make sure he was hearing right. The guy spoke so fast and with such a strong accent, that the words coming out could have been a bastardized English or Irish Gaelic. Either was plausible.

No, but I’d like to kill a moose before dying.

The driver lifted his thick jaw and laughed. I know dees roads like de backa me hand. Trust me, Fritz.

Fitz.

The guy let out an incoherent breath of air, along with a stream of smoke.

What’s your name? Fitz hesitated and looked behind him at the couple sleeping. The man was at least twenty years the senior of the woman, who had probably been a trophy wife at one time. Both were dressed in clothes too nice for the wilderness. Designer jeans and Columbia jackets that might still have the tags on them.

Couple a greenhorn nimrods, the driver said, explaining the other passengers. Name’s Brody McFarland. So, Mister Keenan Fitzpatrick, I guess we might be related ways back in our history. Dis whole damn island is crawlin’ wit Irish kinfolk. Can’t swing a dead cat without hittin’ one of us.

Fitz paused to take in the words as best he could. The man had such a thick accent, it made him sound like a slurring drunk man with sub-body-temperature IQ. Having worked in law enforcement for most of his adult life, Fitz had become better than most at interpreting folks like that. But this guy was dead sober. At least Fitz hoped so, considering the speed of the vehicle on these roads.

After a while, the sun locked somewhere behind the bruised blue-green-yellow cloudy sky, the Suburban slowed and angled down a gravel road, coming to a stop at a small parking lot at the edge of a large lake. There were only a couple of permanent structures here, and Fitz could see it was a makeshift seaplane airport, with a long wooden dock leading to a couple of old seaplanes. They were both single engine de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beavers with floats built between 1947 to 1967, and these two looked to Fitz like they had been flying since the 50s. A wooden sign at the water’s edge read ‘Peter Strides Pond’ engraved with the yellow letters battered and weathered.

The couple in the back seat woke and looked around at the outdoor surroundings.

The driver said, Get your gear out. One of our guys will be here in a skosh to fly out with ya. Gotta go down to da ferry and pick up a few more hunters.

Once they got their gear out of the truck and onto the gravel, the Suburban roared out of the parking lot, flipping gravel up with its meaty tires.

Fitz glanced at the other couple who had traveled in the Suburban with him that morning. None of them had even introduced themselves in the darkness of Deer Lake. Instead the couple with him had kept to themselves in the back seat sleeping the whole way for the past three hours.

The man had a full head of wispy gray hair, and if he had once been muscular that had given way to flaccidity for some time. His nails looked freshly manicured; his watch was Swiss. With almost no visible facial hair, the man had either shaved the night before or he couldn’t grow a real beard in five days to save his life. Fitz guessed the man worked in an office. Businessman or Lawyer.

The woman, much younger than the man, wore almost no make-up. It wasn’t required in her case. Her long hair was the shade of black with streaks of blood red running through it. Her hands, unlike the man, had probably never seen a manicurist. Her nails were cut short. And she was athletic, like she actually worked for a living and had not gotten her muscles from the gym.

Fitz introduced himself as simply that, without his real given name or surname.

The woman extended her hand first with a real smile and said, Nice to meet you, Fitz. I’m Cara, and this is my husband Ed Durant.

Now the husband reached out and said, Edward. Nice to make your acquaintance.

The man’s hand felt like a wet kitten and the wife’s like a tense mountain lion ready to pounce on prey. Fitz could hear a southern accent in both of them, but mostly the husband.

What do you think of Newfoundland so far? Fitz asked.

It ain’t Texas, Cara said.

I thought I heard an accent, Fitz responded. North Texas?

Dallas, Ed explained, as if that was the only city in the great state of Texas.

A beat up Ford with a wooden bumper front and back pulled up and a man in his early thirties got out, unstrapped the trunk from its bungee cord, pulled out an old well-worn camo duffle bag and set in onto the gravel, and strapped the trunk closed again. Then he went around to the driver’s side and leaned inside, kissing the woman behind the wheel. The car pulled away and the young man watched it wistfully until it disappeared above the hill.

Fitz was a pretty good judge of character. In his job, and especially his old job in the sheriff’s department, quick and accurate judgment was a requirement. And this man was a good family man. Most macho guys would have driven the car to the drop off and then let the wife drive. Either that or the guy had lost his license with a DUI or some other moving violation.

The man stood by himself for a moment staring off at the water and the planes. His thick dark hair was cut short, probably by his wife at home, and he already had a three-day growth of gruff on his face. His clothes were old and tattered, his boots worn and dirty. Then the man slowly wandered over to the three of them, slightly favoring his right leg. Yous folks wit Corcoran Pond Outfittin’? he asked, his accent thick but slower than the driver’s had been.

Fitz extended his hand. Sure are. I’m Fitz and this is Cara and Ed Durant.

Name’s Jimmy. Jimmy Ryan.

They shook hands all around and Ed corrected his name again as Edward to this Newfie.

Yous guys drive down from Deer Lake wit dat crazy man Brody? Jimmy asked, a slight smile at the corner of his mouth.

Afraid so, Fitz said.

Lucky you. Jimmy looked the three of them up and down, assessing what he had for the week. My wife won’t let me drive wit da man.

No offense, Fitz said, but I had a really hard time understanding him.

Jimmy shook his head. Don’t feel bad. None of us can understand him neither.

The Texan man said, When do we depart?

Gazing off toward the dock and the plane, the Newfie pointed toward one of them and said, Dat one down dare. Da red and whit one. Dat’s ours. Soon as he’s done fueling up. Go ahead and git your bags down dare. He checked his watch, a scratched up Timex, and added, Gotta git movin’ soon. They’re waitin’ to be picked up on da udder end. Dey limited out on caribou and got a couple nice moose. No bear. Dat’s a lotta meat to haul out before dark.

The Texan man took that as his direction to get going. He picked up his bag and gun and walked off.

When the wife started collecting her gear, Jimmy asked, You need some help wit dat?

Cara smiled and said, No, thanks. I’m used to carrying a lot of gear. She slung a well-used pack over her shoulders, picked up her gun and headed off.

Fitz and the Newfie watched as the two Texans made their way down the dock toward the plane.

Maybe I shoulda asked da man if he needed help, Jimmy said to Fit with a broad smirk.

I hear ya. I think Cara will do just fine out here.

What you do for a livin’ Mister Fitz?

Just Fitz. Name’s Keenan Fitzpatrick. Lot easier to just say Fitz.

A good Irishman like me, Jimmy said with sincerity.

Wondering how to describe what he did now, Fitz simply said, I’m mostly retired now. Former sheriff in Nevada.

Nice. Pretty young to be retired.

Well, I lost my last election, Jimmy. So it wasn’t really by choice. I work security now for one of the casino resorts in Reno.

Never been out dat way. But I hear Reno is nice. Our boss sets up a booth there each year at the major hunting show. I’m guessing dat’show you got here.

Yeah, sort of. Should we get going?

Let them git aboard. Our guy will put dem in da back a da Beaver.

Fitz assessed the Newfie again and asked, Did you hurt your right leg?

Jimmy reached down and knocked his knuckles on his right calf. Might say so. Blew it off in Iraq years ago.

I’m sorry, Jimmy.

It’s all right. I’m used to it by now. I came back. Some of my friends didn’t.

Fitz let out a sigh and said, Well thank you for your service, Jimmy. And your sacrifice.

The Newfie scratched his growing facial hair and simply nodded as he gazed off at the lake. The sun was trying now to find an opening in the clouds, and losing the battle.

Okay, Jimmy said. Let’s go.

Rounding up their gear, the two of them made their way down the dock toward the Beaver. As they approached, a man in his 50s, about the same age as the plane, grabbed their bags and shoved them inside the Beaver. The guy had dark hair with streaks of gray to his shoulders. He was a thick man, but short, like a voyageur from the old Hudson’s Bay Company.

Their gear packed aboard, Fitz headed for a seat just behind the pilot.

You can fly up front, Jimmy said. I’ll take this seat.

The pilot started to settle into his seat and then shoved a huge pillow under his butt. He laughed as he put on his headset. He doesn’t like my flying.

Fitz climbed into the right front seat and put on his own headset.

Leaning forward, Jimmy said, It’s nothin’ personal, Christian. You know I don’t like flying.

The pilot shook his head. That’s all you did in the army.

My point exactly. Jimmy looked inadvertently at his right leg. I sure as hell don’t want dis crazy Indian killin’ me.

Fitz glanced at the pilot. I thought you might be French Canadian.

Nothin’ French about him, Fitz, Jimmy said. He’s Miawpukek First Nation Indian.

The pilot reached his hand across to Fitz. Christian Blackbear.

Just call me Fitz.

Okay. The pilot waved to a man on the dock, who quickly untied the Beaver and shoved them out into the lake.

Seconds later and the pilot had run through his mental checklist, started the engine and started his taxi down the lake. They rode the whitecaps for a good distance before the Beaver turned sharply to the right and immediately powered up. The old plane slapped at the high waves as it thrust forward into the wind, back toward the seaplane base. Just as Fitz thought they wouldn’t have enough lake left to take off, the pilot pulled back on the yoke and the Beaver grudgingly rose into the sky.

The headset was almost useless for Fitz, other than as ear plugs against the roar of the engine. As they reached cruising speed at only a couple hundred feet, he gazed out his window at the landscape below. The lush green was broken everywhere by blue water. Lakes and ponds and streams and rivers. It was like no place Fitz had ever seen. Like a picture from a fantasy novel, it didn’t seem real. Finally he could see the white of caribou below. Small herds of five or six. Nothing like he had seen on television shows of the barren ground caribou of Alaska and Quebec, where herds of thousands migrated across the tundra. It was beautiful. There was no other word for it. He glanced back and saw that Jimmy was sleeping, or at least keeping his eyes closed. He’d seen this all before a hundred times, Fitz guessed. But the Texans were equally amazed. Cara smiled and shook her head at him.

Turning back to the pilot, who seemed to be having a hard time seeing over the instruments, Fitz asked over his mic, "How far out do we