Fifteen minutes before Julian Reichert arrived at the scene of the crash, Angeline walked into the lab at Calf Creek. The sun’s rays touched the tips of the pink ledges on the western edge of the narrow Calf Creek valley and began their descent along the cliff to the valley floor. Martin was in the lab early, continuing the work he started the night before. The state-of-the-art lab was a model of organization and sterility and reflected the expectations that were important to both Angeline and Martin. It was a welcome environment that aligned with Angeline’s dream. Her veterinarian was at a stainless steel table, his head and shoulders stooped over, looking into a microscope.
“Morning, Martin,” Angeline said. “You sleep here last night?”
“Hi, Angeline.” Martin chuckled. “I thought about it, but these stainless steel tables aren’t very soft. You and Elliott take your morning jog already?”
“As a matter of fact, we did. It’s a great morning in the canyon.”
Angeline’s appearance never went unnoticed by Martin. Her work attire could land her a job as a model for Western wear with her Wrangler jeans over boot tops and long-sleeved plaid shirt. Her auburn hair was gathered in a ponytail that hung through the back of the baseball cap and down to the base of her slender neck. More than once, Martin had expressed his opinion that the baseball cap was discord with her Western wear. She responded by telling him that she was on the cutting edge of starting a new trend, replacing cowboy hats with baseball caps. Angeline Reichert was comfortable in her own skin and in any setting.
The relationship between Angeline and Martin Evers extended far beyond their common goal of developing a top line of beef cattle. Over the years, Martin had come to know the two sides of Angeline that few people knew. There was the hard-driving business woman whose unrelenting focus on achieving her goals made her intolerant of anyone who did not buy into her vision. She was brutal. And then there was the kind and compassionate Angeline who had endeared herself to Martin and his wife, Cheryl. She had touched their lives by leaving a livestock show in Dallas, Texas, to be by Cheryl’s side when she lost their first child. Few people knew the compassionate Angeline Reichert.
Angeline walked to the coffee maker and poured herself a half cup of black coffee with one packet of Splenda.
“You hear the news this morning?” Martin asked.
“I haven’t,” she responded as she lifted the coffee cup to her lips. “Is there something I should know?”
“Lizard and Buzzy crashed on the Devil’s Backbone last night. They’re both dead.”
“What!” Coffee spilled from the cup as Angeline jerked her head up in surprise.
“The announcement was on the radio thirty minutes ago.” “Were there any details, like how it happened?” “Not many,” Martin said. “Initial reports were that the driver was just careless and left the roadway. Not a lot of details, but both occupants of the truck and two cows were killed, but I’m beginning to think your gate is only swinging on one hinge.”