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Authors: C. J. Box

Tags: #Conspiracies, #Mystery & Detective, #Environmentalists, #Wyoming, #Fiction, #Literary, #Pickett; Joe (Fictitious character), #Mystery Fiction, #Game wardens, #General, #Explosions

Savage Run

BOOK: Savage Run
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Savage Run by C.J. Box

Also by C.J. Box

OPEN SEASON

C. j. Box

Savage RUN

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication.

G. P Putnam's Sons Publishers Since 1838

a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. 375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014

Copyright 2002 by C. J. Box

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Published simultaneously in Canada

Library of Congress Cataloging-m-Publication Data

Box.CJ. Savage run I C.J. Box.

p-em.

ISBN 0-399-14887-6

1. Game wardens--Fiction 2. Environmentalists--Fiction. 3. Conspiracies--Fiction. 4. Wyoming--Fiction. I. Title.

PS3552.O87658 S38 2002 2001057872

813'.54dc21

Printed in the United States of America

13579 10 8642 This book is printed on acid-free paper. @)

BOOK DESIGN BY MI LIGAN CAVANAUGH

To Jack and Faye Box, my parents

Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for providing the opportunity to "ride along" and provide a glimpse into the day-to-day duties of a game warden. Specifically thanks to Game Warden Mark Nelson, who is a credit to his profession.

Special thanks as well to Sergeant Mitch Maxwell of the Cheyenne Police Department, who assisted with expertise on ballistics, weaponry and law enforcement procedure.

Much of the background for actual ecoterrorist groups came from Bruce Barcott's article "Stalking the Ecoterrorists: The Secret Life and Prying Times of Barry Clausen," which appeared in the October 2000 issue of Outside.

My huge thanks to design genius Don Hajicek, the creator of www.cj box. net

A wealth of appreciation for Martha Bushko, my editor extraordinaire; Ken Siman, publicist extraordinaire; and G. P Putnam's Sons for its encouragement and support. And, of course, for Andy Whelchel, my agent and fishing partner.

A place called Saddlestring does exist, but it is a tiny post office located on a historic ranch, not a real Wyoming community The fictional Saddlestring, Wyoming, is an amalgam of at least three different towns.

Savage Run

Part One.

No compromise in defense of Mother Earth. earth first!

iargdee national forest,

June 10

ON THE THIRD DAY OF THEIR HONEYMOON, infamous environmental activist Stewie Woods and his new bride, Annabel Bellotti, were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up. Until then, their marriage had been happy

They met by chance. Stewie Woods had been busy pouring bag after bag of sugar and sand into the gasoline tanks of a fleet of pickups in a newly graded parking lot that belonged to a natural gas exploration crew The crew had left for the afternoon for the bars and hotel rooms of nearby Henry's Fork. One of the crew had returned unexpectedly and caught Stewie as he was ripping the top off a bag of sugar with his teeth. The crew member pulled a 9mm semiautomatic from beneath the dashboard of his truck and fired several wild shots in Stewie's direction. Stewie dropped the bag and ran away, crashing through the timber like a bull elk.

Stewie had outrun and out juked the man with the pistol when he literally tripped over Annabel as she sunbathed nude on the grass in an orange pool of late afternoon sun, who was unaware of his approach because she was listening to Melissa Ethridge on her Walkman. She looked good, he thought, strawberry blonde hair with a two-day Rocky Mountain fire-engine tan (two hours in the sun at 8,000 feet created a sunburn like a whole day at the beach), small ripe breasts, and a trimmed vector of pubic hair.

He had gathered her up and pulled her along through the timber, where they hid together in a dry spring wash until the man with the pistol gave up and went home. She had giggled while he held her-This was real adventure, she said--and he had used the opportunity to run his hands tentatively over her naked shoulders and hips and had found out, happily that she did not object. They made their way back to where she had been sunbathing and, while she dressed, they introduced themselves. She told him she liked the idea of meeting a famous environmental outlaw in the woods while she was naked, and he appreciated that. She said she had seen his picture before, maybe in Outside magazine, and admired his looks--tall and rawboned, with round rimless glasses, a short-cropped full beard, wearing his famous red bandana on his head.

Her story was that she had been camping alone in a dome tent, taking a few days off from a freewheeling cross-continent trip that had begun with her divorce from an anal-retentive investment banker named Nathan in her hometown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She was bound, eventually for Seattle.

"I'm falling in love with your mind," he lied.

"Already?" she asked.

He encouraged her to travel with him, and they took her vehicle since the lone crew member had disabled Stewie's Subaru with three bullets into the engine block. Stewie was astonished by his good fortune. Every time he looked over at her and she smiled back, he was pole axed with exuberance.

Keeping to dirt roads, they crossed into Montana. The next afternoon, in the backseat of her SUV during a thunderstorm that rocked the car and blew shroud like sheets of ram through the mountain passes, he asked her to marry him. Given the circumstances and the supercharged atmosphere, she accepted. When the ram stopped, they drove to Ennis, Montana, and asked around about who could marry them, fast. Stewie did not want to take the chance of letting her get away She kept saying she couldn't believe she was doing this. He couldn't believe she was doing this either, and he loved her even more for it.

At the Sportsman Inn in Ennis, Montana, which was bustling with fly fishermen bound for the trout-rich waters of the Madison River, the desk clerk gave them a name and they looked up Judge Ace Cooper (Ret.) in the telephone book.

judge cooper was A tired and rotund man who wore a stained white cowboy shirt and elk horn bolo tie with his collar open. He performed the wedding ceremony in a room adjacent to his living room that was bare except for a single filing cabinet, a desk and three chairs, and two framed photographs--one of the judge and President George H. W Bush, who had once been up there fishing, and the other of the judge on a horse before the Cooper family lost their ranch in the 1980s.

The ceremony had taken eleven minutes, which was just about average for Judge Cooper, although he had once performed it in eight minutes for two American Indians.

"Do you, Allan Stewart Woods, take thee Annabeth to be your lawful wedded wife?" Judge Cooper asked, reading from the marriage application form.

"Annabel," Annabel corrected in her biting Rhode Island accent.

"I do," Stewie said. He was beside himself with pure joy

Stewie twisted the ring off his finger and placed it on hers. It was unique; handmade gold mounted with sterling silver monkey wrenches. It was also three sizes too large. The Judge studied the ring.

"Monkey wrenches?" the Judge asked.

"It's symbolic," Stewie had said.

"I'm aware of the symbolism," the Judge said darkly before finishing the passage.

Annabel and Stewie beamed at each other. Annabel said that this was, like, the wildest vacation ever. They were Mr. and Mrs. Outlaw Couple. He was now her famous outlaw, as yet untamed. She said her father would be scandalized, and her mother would have to wear dark glasses at Newport. Only her Aunt Tildie, the one with the wild streak who had corresponded with, but never met, a Texas serial killer until he died from lethal injection, would understand.

Stewie had to borrow a hundred dollars from her to pay the judge, and she signed over a traveler's check.

After the couple left in the SUV with Rhode Island plates, Judge Ace Cooper went to his lone filing cabinet and found the file with the information he needed. He pulled a single piece of paper out and read it as he dialed the telephone. While he waited for the right man to come to the telephone, he stared at the framed photo of himself on his former ranch. The ranch, north of Yellowstone Park, had been subdivided by a Bozeman real estate company into over thirty fifty-acre "ranchettes." Famous Hollywood celebrities, including the one whose early career photos he had recently seen in Penthouse, now lived there. Movies had been filmed there. There was even a crack house but it was rumored that the owner wintered in LA. The only cattle that existed were purely for visual effect, like landscaping that moved and crapped and looked good when the sun threatened to drop below the mountains.

The man he was waiting for came to the telephone.

"Stewie Woods was here," he said. "The man himself. I recognized him right off, and his ID proved it." There was a pause as the man on

the other end of the telephone asked Cooper something. "Yeah, I heard him say that just before they left. They're headed for the Bighorns in Wyoming. Somewhere near Saddlestring."

Annabel told stewie that their honeymoon was quite unlike what she had imagined a honeymoon would be, and she contrasted it with her first one with Nathan. Nathan had been about sailing boats, champagne, and Barbados. Stewie was about spiking trees in stifling heat in a national forest in Wyoming. He even asked her to carry his pack.

Neither of them noticed the late-model black Ford pickup that trailed them up the mountain road and continued on when Stewie pulled over to park. Deep into the forest, Annabel watched as Stewie removed his shirt and tied the sleeves around his waist. A heavy bag of nails hung from his tool belt and tinkled as he strode through the undergrowth. There was a sheen of sweat on his bare chest as he straddled a three-foot thick Douglas fir and drove in spikes. He was obviously well practiced, and he got into a rhythm where he could bury the six-inch spikes into the soft wood with three blows from his sledgehammer, one tap to set the spike and two heavy blows to bury it beyond the nail head in the bark.

Stewie moved from tree to tree, but didn't spike all of them. He approached each tree using the same method: The first of the spikes went in at eye level. A quarter-turn around the trunk, he pounded in another a foot lower than the first. He continued pounding in spikes, spiraling them down the trunk nearly to the grass.

"Won't it hurt the trees?" Annabel asked, as she unloaded his pack and leaned it against a tree.

"Of course not," he said, moving as he spoke across the pine needle floor to another target. "I wouldn't be doing this if it hurt the trees. You've got a lot to learn about me, Annabel."

"Why do you put so many in?" she asked.

"Good question," he said, burying a spike deep in the tree as he spoke. "It used to be we could put in four right at knee level, at the compass points, where the trees are usually cut. But the lumber companies got wise to that and told their loggers to either go higher or lower. So now we fill up a four-foot radius."

"And what will happen if they try to cut it down?"

Stewie smiled, resting for a moment. "When a chainsaw blade hits a steel spike, the blade can snap and whip back. Busts the saw teeth That can take an eye or a nose right off."

"That's horrible," she said, wincing, wondering what she was getting into.

"I've never been responsible for any injuries," Stewie said quickly looking hard at her. "The purpose isn't to hurt anyone. The purpose is to save trees. After we're finished here, I'll call the local ranger station and tell them what we've done--although I won't say exactly where or how many trees we spiked. It should be enough to keep them out of here for decades, and that's the point."

"Have you ever been caught?" she asked.

"Once," Stewie said, and his face clouded. "A forest ranger caught me by Jackson Hole. He marched me into downtown Jackson at gunpoint during tourist season. Half of the tourists in town cheered and the other half started chanting, "Hang him high! Hang him high!" I was sent to the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins for seven months."

"Now that you mention it, I think I read about that," she mused.

"You probably did. The wire services picked it up. I was interviewed on "Nightline' and '60 Minutes." Outside magazine put me on the cover. Hayden Powell, who I've known since we were kids, wrote the cover story for them, and he coined the word 'ecoterrorist."" This memory made Stewie feel bold. "There were reporters from all over the country at that trial," he said. "Even the New York Times. It was the first time most people had ever heard of One Globe, or knew I was the founder of it. After that, memberships started pouring in from all over the world."

BOOK: Savage Run
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