Eaglefeathers told him his great-grandfather fished that stream. Since then, fish had disappeared as stars before the rising sun. Toxic algae coated the rocks, vegetation once hugging the shore reduced to ghostly branches. The water wasn't even clear, but murky with an unpleasant odor.
A short time later he spotted the wreckage up ahead. Water churned and spit around its crumpled remains as if angered by the intrusion. Fortunately, that portion of the creek was wider, the stream only a foot or so deep.
He beached the canoe, placed his hat in the bow cavity, then clipped on the tool belt he bought when he worked construction a few years before. He peered up the cliff face to where the truck first landed, then up to the roadway.
A foreign object of some sort hung among the brush, a short distance below the spur. Too straight to be natural, probably a couple yards long. Then another. And another.
Air left his lungs. Of course.
He sat there a moment as the gravity of what he was about to do settled upon him. Another deep breath, then he snapped his shirt pocket to secure his cell phone, took off his boots, rolled up his jeans, and stepped into the creek. Deeper than expected, icy water seared, then numbed his legs, joining his willfully frozen emotions as he waded toward what remained of Bryan's beloved Silverado.
The truck rested on its side, roof toward him, passenger door facing up. He made his way around to its exposed undercarriage where he used the driveshaft, then exhaust system to boost himself up. His jeans clung to his thighs, the denim's excess weight matching the truck's effect on his heart.
Decades worth of road trips and adventures pummeled his mind. Bryan loved that truck. A gift from his father when he got his master's degree. It was over ten years old, but he'd kept it in pristine condition. If he were still alive, he'd be devastated to see it like that. As Sara reminded him, his "trusty steed."
He exhaled hard.
His original intent was purely forensic, the emotional jolt unexpected. Sorrow punctured his heart like a snake's fangs pierce its prey. Tseteshestahese words for missing his brother, Náoseema'xė-hoónȯsé'ota, blared through his head, capturing the emotion better than the English word grief.
He shoved it away and concentrated on reaching the handle. He pulled himself up and knelt on the door, feet hooked over the cylindrical after-market nerf bar.
The one he'd helped install to make it easier for Sara.
The window was shattered, but still in the frame. He pulled the hammer from his belt, covered his eyes with his left arm, and smashed it, then plucked out the shards with pliers. Both tools back in place, he peered inside.
The dash, headrests, seats and deflated airbags were all blotched with dark stains. Grief assaulted him again, as chilling and relentless as the surrounding water.
He admonished himself, purposely in English. Okay, I miss him, a lot, but that's enough. Stop. Get to work.
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