The Canadian years, 84, rangers and registers

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Saturday 21 February 20:39

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Rangers and registers

The rangers post was a kind of large log cabin with a barrier over the track. The gate was open. Next to the car park was a place where a helicopter could land. We parked the old American and walked to the entrance. The cabin was in fact a modern office inside. ‘Can we speak to the ranger’ I asked a lady behind the counter who was filling in paperwork? ‘He's just on the phone, what is it about?’ ‘About my brother,’ I said, he died here yesterday, died in this area’. ‘Oh’, she said, and she looked at my sister with her swollen eyes and she looked at me again, ‘please accept my sympathy’, and yes people do, it would happen more often these days, after a while you hear the condolences and you say automatically, thank you.

She walked into an office and immediately came back with the ranger. Who walked to the counter and expressed his sincerest sympathy. ‘Follow me here,’ he said, and led the way to his office.’ I'm happy to talk to you,’ he said, ‘you do not mind if I ask the first assistant to come and join us, as a witness?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘we have nothing to hide, we have come with questions.’ ‘Whatever you want to know,’ the ranger said. ‘What happened’, my sister asked? ‘You don’t know,’ asked the ranger surprised? ‘I would like to hear it from you’, my sister replied. ‘Someone has been slain in my area, yesterday,’ said the ranger. He intentionally did not use the word accident or killed. ‘How did that happen,’ asked my sister?

I would like to know that as well,’ the man said.’ You father, ‘I suppose, we nodded, ‘came here with a pickup and a body’ ‘What do you want to know,’ the man asked me. ‘I would like to see yesterdays  hunting registry,’ I said, ‘is it public?’ ‘I want to know who were here yesterday hunting.’ ‘That's easy,’ said the ranger, ‘I can answer that immediately, your brother and father and no one else. But I can show you the registry.’ ‘That is not necessary,’ I said, ‘I do not doubt your word.’ The ranger said, it will come up in the courtcase, but you can see it now if you want.’ ‘More questions, ‘cause I have got some questions as well, he asked? I said ‘yes, could you enter the area without using this dirt road outside?’ ‘No’, said the man, ‘that is impossible. You always come past my post and then after half a kilometer begins the hunting ground and the area covered by the registry. The road dead-ends’ ‘Why can not you come in the area,’ I asked, ‘just for the record, imagine that I would have a jeep?’ ‘Because the road is the lowest point in a valley and the slopes on both sides of the mountains are dotted with forests and fens and lakes.’’ It is clear to me’, I said. ‘I have no more questions for now I’d like to listen to you.’

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‘I just phoned to ask for an inquest, you know what that is.’ We both shook our heads. ‘Ok,’ he said, ‘I will explain it in short. This area is my jurisdiction, I'm the highest police authority here. There was someone slain in my area, I want to determine what led to the death and who is responsible. I may use a coroner, you know what that is?’ Again we had to shake no.’ A doctor attached to the court, which has performed in the case of your brother, last night an autopsy. A jury will be assembled  from people who live in this area, people with esteem. In about two weeks your father will be summoned, the jury is then complete. An inquest shall for example, determine suicide, a death by accident, a natural death or murder.

The suspect or defendant can not defend herself and has no right to a lawyer. We may summon any witness every day, anyone that we want, family, colleagues, a neighbor, a pastor or priest of your church. An inquest is allowed only if a death has occurred by violence or under suspicious or special circumstances.’ ‘How old are you boy,’ asked the ranger? ‘I’ve just become seventeen sir’, I replied. ‘Then you can’t provide any evidence, but I may ask you to answer questions in the hall when I feel the need to, even though they have no legal force.’ Your sister, I will definitely summon. After the inquest, the jury will reach a verdict, that might be; manslaughter or murder, it will be referred to a court for criminal processes, and then the defendant may seek a defense. We want the truth. Obviously the outcome of an inquest is weighty in a criminal case that might follow.

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‘Exactly,’ said my sister, ‘that's clear.’ ‘In two weeks you will hear the same things as now, but in public, so if you want to know something else?’ ‘You think it was no accident,’I asked ‘and therefore you ordered an inquest’. ‘Young man,’ said the ranger, ‘let me answer it this way. A stray bullet hits someone, what is the probability that apart from all trees, branches and stones it would precisely hit your brother’. ‘Those chances exist,’ I said. ‘Then we will reduce the chance a bit,’said the ranger. ‘Your brother is now being hit by a stray bullet in his back’ ‘In his back, he was really shot in the back,’ I asked and I thought about my nightmare. The ranger nodded. ‘It could still be,’ I said.’ In the heart region,’ said the ranger now. ‘Phew,’ I said, ‘the chance is minimal, but is present.’ ‘From near by,’ the ranger said, ‘do not be alarmed, this is what you’ll hear in about two weeks as well.’ A stray bullet from near by, is it likely a stray bullet from nearby?’ ‘Very unlikely,’ I said, ‘why do you think it was near by?’ ‘Bullets follow a straight path and do not follow the surface over which they travel. Your brother was shot off the road, which is flat ground and if the shot had come from one of the mutual slopes, than the impact angle in the body had been different. The bullet, however, travelled straight through the body.’

He picked up a large envelope, A4 format.’ I do not know if you want to see it either, or if you want to keep a memory of your brother as he was. These photos have been developed here, they were taken yesterday evening by our photographer to support the work of the physician.’ ‘I want to see them,’ I said, and my sister said the same. ‘I do not give them out of your hands but you can see them up close. Is this your brother?’ There was a photo from the envelope with my brother lying on one side with a small hole in the left shoulder. ‘Here the bullet came in,’ said the ranger. ‘The second pictures is less pleasant, I must say, the shoulder is blown away in the front part and fragments of the bullet came  in his lung and heart the region.’ I felt sick but I could not detach my eyes from the picture. ‘The coroner, our doctor doesn’t understand something and I personally don’t either.’ He pushed the pictures back in the envelope.

‘That is,’ I asked?’ Something that we are going to ask about two weeks from your father. Your brother bled to death and, according to the coroner lived another one a half hour, but still debilitating and that while our station just 10 minutes away from the scene of the crime.’ ‘which is determined by how much blood has been pumped by the heart. you understand me boy? The cargo area of ​​the pickup was bloodier than justifies a ride of 10 minutes. Is there anything you want to tell me?’ We were badly shaken look out for us.’Let me illustrate even better, probabilities, young man, that is what we are talking about?’ I could only nod. ‘What is the probability that you are, under the same conditions, hit twice by a stray bullet, now a little lower?’ ‘None,’ I said. ‘That is what I think as well,’ said the ranger grimly ‘and therefore it did not happen.’ ‘I do not understand you, I can not follow you said’ my sister and I said, ‘but I understand you.’

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‘If he was shot deliberately,’ the shooter, I formulated carefully, could not shoot a second time, because it would not be an accident anymore.’ ‘We are working with dogs, come along, and you as well,’ said the ranger to his assistant. We got into his Land Rover and after 10 minutes we came to a part that was closed off with stakes and ribbons.’ After yesterday,’ said the ranger’ we have closed the area for two days, so nothing has been disturbed here. Men with leashed dogs walked back and forth. This is the place where you father's half-ton pickup was,’ he said, ‘we have made plaster casts of the track. Here he has been parked because the weight on the track has made a deeper impact. And here’ and he walked away from the track ... and I went dizzy, I saw the stone and slightly higher a small tree. .. ‘Was your brother.’ The ground had been turned over like someone in pain had clawed through it, on the left side of the tumult is blood. So at the time of the shot he was with his back to the pickup. But here he has not died. Your father left all kinds of tracks entering the woods and up and down hills. Watch the dogs who still trace and those tangled tracks. Is that logical?’ ‘No,’ I said,’ I do not understand it. I can not place it.’ ‘Neither can we,’ said the man,’ look at the landscape, to the rise of the hills on either side and tell me where that shot came from.? I nodded thoughtfully, it could only have come from the track where the pickup had been.

‘Therefore there will be an inquest’, said the ranger,’is there anything you want to tell me?’ There was something but I could not get it right in my skull, as you sometimes have when you can not remember the name of a dish. I was blocked.’I would like to help you so much,’ I said,’ but I do not know how.’ ‘How is your relationship with your father’, he asked suddenly? ‘Not good, I'm afraid. I should not say good at all.’ ‘Not good or resentful, he asked all of the sudden. ‘I hate no one’ I told him. ‘Speak freely with whoever you want about what you have seen’, the ranger said, ‘I will bring you back now.’

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Moments later, my sister and I sat silently next to each other in the car. All in all we had been a little less than an hour with the ranger in conclave. ‘Poor boy,’ said my sister suddenly. ‘He was murdered.’ I nodded ‘yes, I think so too’. ‘But who would have done that,’ my sister asked himself? I could not believe my ears but wisely decided to keep my mouth shut. ‘Why is this man telling us this all,’ she went on?’ ‘To put pressure on the case, I suppose and hear us out, that is why he had a witness, he hopes that the information reaches the perpetrator and that he  is going to make mistakes. If the offender is called to the inquest, then it might be nice if he is utterly ignorant, so that the shock with the confrontation of the facts is even more crucial. This ranger is not a stupid man.’ ‘No,’ my sister said, ‘he smells blood’. ‘Do you think dad has done it,’ she asked suddenly. ‘I do not exclude that,’ I said. And again, there was something that was on the point of breaking through but it remained hidden. ‘Then it is good if we say that we have become none the wiser,’ she decided, and we agreed to that.

San Daniel 2015

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