"What were you doing there in the first place?"
She controlled her temper and answered him softly. "The cows would have gotten into the kitchen if Chocky hadn’t wired the doors shut…."
"That was months ago. I mean yesterday. What were you doing there yesterday?"
He interrupted but she finished her sentence.
" … and dragged a section of chainlink across the gateway to keep them out. There’s cow shit everywhere Sammy. They even shit in the fountain. I mean, why would a cow get into an empty fountain?"
She took a long drag from a vape pen. Her twin brother was glaring at her. It was like looking into an ugly mirror.
Chocky coughed. It was an aggressive harrumph that always made high-strung people jump. Sammy looked at him and Chocky was pointing out the window at men in uniforms walking up the driveway.
"Here they are. You two got got your stories straight yet?"
The seldom-used doorbell was answered by six barking dogs. Sadie stood and starting pacing. Sammy seemed to vanish.
Chocky kept up the conversation.
"Cows in the courtyard - just like old times! If the stories are true, they crammed every living animal and human that would fit behind the walls because anything left outside would be swept-away by raiders. Good times."
They were knocking loudly now.
"You gonna get that?"
Sadie looked surprised. It hadn’t occurred to her to answer the front door. She'd never had to. Rosa did that and in the six months since she'd had died, no one had visited.
Nobody around here cares if you tear something down but try and fix it and suddenly you’re up against all sorts of codes and concerned neighbors. Better to bulldoze and do it fast, preferably at night. That’s what Alva said anyway.
No denying parts of the old place were in bad shape. But he didn’t start with the crap trailers and crumbling outbuildings. He went straight for the old hacienda that stood in the way of his road.
He and his guys didn’t get far with that rented bulldozer and thankfully they started on the part of the building that was already falling down. A roof leak eroded a wall that collapsed.The workmen had only loaded one truck with that rubble before they found the skeletons in Alva’s closet, so to speak.
Nothing much had been done to the place since then. Sammy’s contractor was extreme in his assessment.
"The roof sucks, the well is polluted, the septic tank is caved in and the leach field needs replacing so we’ll have to tear up all that new asphalt. The heater doesn't work so the water pipes have broken again. The atrium’s got to go. The windows - thirty six of them - need replacing. There’s no foundation under two-thirds of the building and before we go digging that up, we should do some survey work since we found those bones."
Sammy cut him off, with a raised hand and pained expression.