A muscular Navajo in a security uniform raced toward them with a satchel, then squatted down next to the woman. He put his hand on her forehead and spoke. "It might be heat stroke. I've called an ambulance. Do you know how long she's been unconscious?"
"Not long. This just happened."
Leaphorn heard the rhythm of someone running, and Mrs. Pinto rushed toward the woman. "Oh no," she gasped. "It's my Tiffany. Oh, honey. My goodness. What happened?"
The woman's eyes opened, but she couldn't seem to focus. It took her several seconds to respond. "I don't know what happened. I just felt so weak and my head hurts." She gasped for breath.
Mrs. Pinto turned to Leaphorn. "We'll talk later."
The EMT positioned his body to give the woman some shade and ordered a skateboarder to go into the gift shop and bring back as many cold water bottles as he could carry. "Tell 'em it's an emergency."
Leaphorn walked toward his truck, noticing the flashing lights of the ambulance in the distance. A young man in a gray T-shirt, a person he'd spotted in the crowd when he came out to check on the unconscious Tiffany, was watching the excitement from the parking lot, a few yards away from Leaphorn's pickup. The man nodded to him. "What happened to that woman?"
"I'm not sure. She lost consciousnesses, but when I left she opened her eyes and said a few words." Leaphorn spoke in Navajo.
The man shook his head. "Sorry, sir, I can't understand you." Leaphorn shrugged and switched to English. "Fainted."
He climbed into his truck, started the vehicle, and heard a grinding sound. It happened every once in a while, reminding him that when he could afford it, he should have it checked. Whatever it was, it was probably expensive to fix.
Before heading home, he drove down the road to the Department of Public Safety office even though few people he knew worked there now, on the chance that one of his buddies would be in. The receptionist, a young woman with black-framed glasses and a serious expression, told him that Sam Nakai and Brodrick Manygoats were both out of the office and offered to give them a message. She wore a name tag that said "Jessica Taylor."
"Just tell them Leaphorn stopped by to give them grief." He spoke in Navajo.
The woman offered him a smile. "I will. Sir, I've heard of you. You're famous around here. I'm honored to meet you."
Leaphorn felt a twinge of pride and embarrassment. "That was a long time ago."
"People remember you, Hosteen. If I can ever help you with anything, just let me know. It would be my pleasure, sir."
"You've been here awhile, haven't you, Jessica?"
"Yes, sir. Two years. I love this job. My uncle was a policeman in Arizona. Now that we have our own Navajo academy, I'm thinking of becoming an officer myself someday."
"Was your uncle with the Highway Patrol?"
"No, sir. He worked for the BIA. He served..." Her phone rang. She looked flustered.
"Go ahead. We'll talk more next time."
As he left the building, he wondered about himself. Until a few years ago, his dealings with most civilians tended to be strictly business. Was he becoming one of those garrulous old-timers whom people dreaded encountering?
He walked out to the parking lot, noticing the breeze that had come up against his skin. He found a piece of paper stuck beneath his windshield wiper, probably an advertisement of some kind. He lifted the wiper blade to free the paper so he could dispose of it. If it was an ad, it was clever: just a simple white sheet folded in half with the message on the inside.
It wasn't an ad.
'Mrs. Pinto is not who she seems. Be careful around her. From a friend.'
He read it again. He didn't like the idea that someone was watching him, following him, and that the unknown observer obviously wanted to scare him. He put the paper in his coat pocket, next to Mrs. Pinto's letter, with a sense of unease.
He drove home, parked by the back door as usual, and entered through the kitchen. Giddi came from wherever the cat had been sleeping to investigate the intrusion. Louisa considered the cat—she called it Kitty—to be her pet, but now that it was just the two of them, he spoke to it in Navajo.
"It's been an interesting morning so far, cat. A meeting that never happened. A woman unconscious. An unknown person warning me about a bureaucrat."
The cat pranced away, tail in the air.