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Submitted by Dave Free on 26 February 2007 - 9:38pm.

"I'm telling you we had nothing to do with it!" Jeremy's Dad was saying to Elena as Jeremy came in the door from locking Blue in the kennel.

"C'mon Dad. It was a funny joke but I want to see the bones!" Jeremy joined in the discussion.

"Jeremy and Elena listen to me. Your Mom and I were here all night sleeping, just like the two of you. We didn't do it. I wish I had thought of it, but I didn't. We don't have the dinosaur bones." Dad struggled to convince them.

"Jeremy, how many times have I told you if you don't get your dirty clothes to the laundry they won't get clean? Go get them now, I'm getting the laundry started." Jeremy's mom came through the family room carrying a basket of dirty clothes.

"Mom, where are the bones?" Jeremy replied.

"What bones?" mom asked confused.

"The bones mom. We know you and dad dug them up last night and are playing a little trick on us. Please, tell where the bones are!"

Mom, who was nearly out of the room, stopped and walked back toward the other three. She looked at her husband and then at Elena and Jeremy. "The bones are gone?" she asked.

"Funny mom," Elena replied sarcastically, "real funny. We know you guys did it."

Mom put the laundry basket down and sat down on the couch. "We didn't do it." she responded quietly. "Are they all gone?"

"Yeah! You--or somebody--dug a whole cavern out of the side of the wall to get them out. They're all gone." Elena said.

"And I was right, it is an ornithomimus." Jeremy tossed in, "The footprints match perfectly."

"There were footprints?" Mom asked.

"Somebody must have thought it would be real funny to leave dinosaur footprints." Elena answered, "They go from the cavern to the bottom of the bowl and then disappear."

"So you guys really didn't do it?" Jeremy was beginning to believe his parents and wondered if he would ever see his bones again.

"Sorry," dad said, "we didn't do it."

Jeremy sat down on the end table by the couch, pushing several magazines onto the floor in the process. He suddenly had no energy left. "Then who did it?" he asked lamely.

"There were no tire tracks?" his Dad inquired.

"None but ours." Elena confirmed.

"We better call Sheriff Brown." Mom said. "Somebody has trespassed on our property."

"I can see the headlines now," dad replied with a sigh, "Crazy Shrimp Rancher Claims Someone Stole his Bones!"

Elena giggled. Jeremy and Mom just smiled.

"We do have a picture we could show him," Elena reminded them.

"That will help, but before we get the good Sheriff Brown involved, I'd like to go out and take a look around myself." Dad stood up and headed for the door. Nobody moved to go with him. "I'll be back shortly, then we can decide if we need to call the Sheriff."

By three o'clock that afternoon the Sheriff had come, asked his questions, taken a copy of their picture and left to file his report. The next morning the story was front page news in the Lincoln County Recorder. Jeremy's dad brought a copy of it home when he returned from picking up feed at the local co-op. He put it down in the center of the table where the children were all working on their homework. "We made the news!" he said cheerfully.

The headline read: Dinosaur Bones Found and Lost.

"They left out the part about the crazy shrimp rancher," Jeremy's mom said teasing his dad. She was at the counter kneading bread dough.

"They ran out of headline space. Check the third paragraph, second line."

"Don't worry dad" Elena spoke up defensively, "nobody reads this thing."

"Did you talk to Sheriff Brown?" Jeremy asked, hoping for news about the investigation.

Dad took a cup from the cupboard and walked over to the water dispenser in the refrigerator door. "I talked to him," he replied, "but he's got nothing. He did have one of his deputies come in from the top of the wall and look for tracks up there." Dad paused to take a drink from his cup, "They found nothing. The sheriff is beginning to wonder if someone swooped down in a helicopter and scooped the bones."

"You're kidding!" Mom began rolling the dough to put into the greased bread pans.

"Nope." Dad finished off his water and put the cup in the now empty sink. "Oh, I almost forgot," he turned to Jeremy at the table. "I emailed the picture we took to the geology department over at the university last night. A Doctor Sanchez replied this morning. He said from what he could see of the skeleton it looked like it was an ornythingy--what did you call it Jee?"

"An ornithomimus!" Jeremy replied triumphantly. "I knew it!"

"Right, that's it. Anyway Dr. Sanchez said if we ever find the bones he would love to come out and see them. He said it looked like a great specimen. Also said he would keep his eyes open for the announcement of any new 'finds' that might be our bones."

"That was nice of him." Mom had finished putting the dough in the pans and covered them with a cloth on the counter to rise. Turning to the sink she picked up the empty glass and said, "Where did this come from? I just started the dishwasher!"

"Sorry," dad took the glass out of her hand, opened the dishwasher, put the cup in and shut it again before continuing. "Yeah, he seems like a really nice guy, but the message was a little strange."

"Why do you say that?"

Dad leaned back against the counter and looked at the children and his wife unsure of how much he should say. "Well, he ended it with a warning."

"What kind of warning?" mom asked with obvious concern.

"He said there is big money in dinosaur bones.”

“There’s money inside the bones?” Maddie asked incredulously.

The rest of the family laughed. “Not exactly,” dad replied, “But people pay a lot of money for the bones. I guess some kind of dinosaur skeleton was just sold in Japan for nearly a million dollars."

"No wonder somebody stole our bones." Jeremy said.

Dad nodded. "Anyway Doctor Sanchez said to be careful who we trust. Once word gets out that we've got bones on our property we're likely to have lots of visitors." Then seeing the concern on the faces of his loved ones he added, "I'm sure we've got nothing to worry about."

No one responded. Dad changed the subject, "Jeremy, are you ready to help me unload the feed?"

Jeremy shut his Math book, glad for any excuse to do something different. "Sure Dad," he said and got up from the table. He and his Dad were nearly out the door when his Mom called, "Sweetie?"

"Yes?" dad replied.

"I've got to go into Cedar today to pick up groceries and I wanted to stop by the nursery there and get some new flowers for the front planter. Two questions: do we have money and would you like to go with me?"

Dad grimaced a little at the mention of money. "Yes we have money," he said with a sigh, "and yes I'd like to go with you. Just let me get this feed unloaded and take a shower. Can you wait that long?"

"That's fine," Mom replied then turned to Jeremy. "Do you want to go, Jee?"

Jeremy thought for a moment. Cedar City was more than a two-hour drive. Every few weeks the family drove in to buy groceries and anything else they couldn't find at the local mercantile. Jeremy liked going. It usually included a trip to the fast food joint for hamburgers and fries. Sometimes they went to a movie as well, but he was dying to get back out and look for more bones. "No, I'm going to stay," he replied.

"Okay, Elena wants to stay too. We'll take Maddie with us."

The unloading of the feed didn't take long but it was hard, sweaty work unloading the fifty pound bags of shrimp feed from the back of the pickup and carrying them into the shed. Jeremy could still remember the man's face at the farm co-op the first time his Dad had asked for shrimp feed.

"You want what?" he had asked. It took his Dad a half hour to convince the man that there was such a thing as shrimp feed and another half hour and a lot of cash to get him to special order it.

"Our shrimp better start growing." dad was saying. "We can't afford too many more loads of feed, if we don't start selling the little buggars."

"Did you check the water again?" Jeremy asked as he walked past dad on the way back to get another sack of feed from the truck.

"A thousand times," dad replied when they crossed paths again. "It's perfect, they should be growing like crazy. I can't figure it out."

By eleven o'clock, Jeremy's Mom, Dad and little sister were on their way to Cedar City. Jeremy and Elena were on their four wheelers heading for the wall. Jeremy figured if there was one dinosaur, there was likely to be others. He planned to start searching along the wall to the south today. Elena had caught the dinosaur bug and was nearly as excited as Jeremy to find more bones. When they reached the bowl, Jeremy turned to the left and started driving around the edge. Glancing down into the bowl he slammed on the brakes. Elena nearly ran into him and had to swerve to miss. She turned to gripe at Jeremy for nearly killing her but said nothing as she looked where Jeremy was pointing.

"What is it?" she whispered.

"I don't know," Jeremy replied, "at first I thought it was one of those wild horses, but I don't think so..." His voice trailed off as he watched the creature graze. The wind was howling from the north today. Whatever was feeding on the lush grass in the bottom of the bowl had neither heard nor smelled them yet. It looked like it was about the size of a horse but it didn't have a flat back like a horse or a cow. It looked like a big gray hump. Its head was down grazing and its tail, or whatever was on the other end, sloped down as well.

At that moment Blue, who had been off chasing rabbits in the sagebrush, came back to see what was keeping Jeremy and Elena. The instant he saw the creature, he was after it. Barking like he'd just caught a rabbit stealing his dog food. He was a blur of white and gray fur streaking down the side of the bowl. Jeremy opened his mouth to call Blue back. The creature lifted its head. Jeremy’s eyes opened wide. No sound came out of his mouth.

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