The old hound-dog was still lying on the motel's office porch when Graham and Faith returned. It chuffed again and thumped its tail as Faith bent to pet it and rub its floppy ears.
"I told ya Gray, dogs like me."
Graham rolled his eyes and pulled open the office door. Darby McCoy was siting behind the front counter in an old La-Z-Boy.
"Well howdy Mister Miller, Miss Lehane. Was the food okay and is the unit alright?"
"Food was fine and the room is great Mister McCoy. You have a nice motel here. Also, ya gotta call me Faith and him Graham or Gray," Faith replied hooking a thumb at her partner.
"All right then Faith. That means th'two of ya have t'call me Darby then..."
"Deal," she answered as she hopped up to sit on the front counter.
"I'm glad ya like my place. I don't get much business, but I don't need much."
"How long have you lived here Darby?" Graham asked.
"Oh I was born here, so all m'life. My daddy built this place in the forties, right after he come back from th'war. My gran'daddy had owned a roadhouse and made shine. Pa said he wanted t'be respectable so he built this place."
"Shine? Like white lightning?"
"Please," Darby looked offended, "My family would never make that kind o'swill. We were always craftsmen. Clean copper, never fakin' th'bead...Ya want t'try some?"
Faith's eyes lit up, "Oh Darby I would never insult yer family trade."
The old man laughed, "Wait here a moment." He got up from the chair and hobbled into the back. A few minutes later he returned with a mason jar and three glasses. He set the glasses on the counter next to Faith and poured a generous dollap of a clear pungent liquid into each one. Faith picked one up, sniffed it, grinned and took a sip.
"Hot damn this is wicked good!" she said before bursting into a coughing fit.
Graham shook his head mournfully and tried his glass. After a few seconds he started smiling, "Darby, you make this?"
The old man looked smug, "Damn right I did, my grandson does the heavy work though. Moving the corn mash and such.
"Y'all have never had, nor ever will have better. I guarantee!" He took a shot from his own glass, "Yeah this batch is pretty much alright."
Graham took another sip and looked over at the old man, "I can see why you can afford to run this motel with so few guests..."
"We have enough customers to keep us goin', but I have t'admit, this," he pointed at the mason jar, "has gotten us through tough times more'an once."
"Well thanks for the taste. I do have a couple of questions about the area too," Graham continued.
"Sure. Ya lookin' fer more fishin' spots?"
"Not right now. It's just that we heard something down at the cafe that made me curious."
Faith could see Darby tense up. It was a subtle sort of tension.
"Go ahead," the old man's voice had nary a tremor.
"Well, the food was good, but the waitress..."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"She's a nasty piece of work. Bad even for a Hatfield."
"Hatfield?" Faith spoke up, "Like the Hatfields and the Mc..." her voice trailed off.
"Yup," Darby replied, "She's a Hatfield and I'm a McCoy."
"Wasn't that up in Virginia?" Graham asked.
"Th'original feud was. The one here, started in th'1930s. Same families, some folks jest moved south. Our feud ended a few years back. There ain't many of either of our families left t'be honest. So what did Sue-Ann say?"
"Well," Faith began, "I heard her call somebody named Lulu..."
"Lulu Strong. She was born a Hatfield though. Her husband's th'town constable."
"She called Lulu and gave her our descriptions. Also said that we might be talkin' to ya. Which we are I guess. That seemed kind of weird."
"Any idea why she would make that call?" Darby asked.
"Well I had a bunch of maps out...I was looking for streams."
"Can I see th'map you were lookin' at?"
"Sure," Graham pulled out the map and the aerial photos of the mortuary, "A friend of mine works for the National Weather Service. When I told him we were coming down here he slipped me a bunch of pictures of the area."
Darby looked at the picture and tensed again, "Why did ya have this picture out?"
"It was on the top of the stack," Graham replied. "I don't even know why Riley had it in the bunch." He riffled through the pictures until he found one that had more water courses visible. "I mean these are much more useful."
"What is that place anyway Darby? Some kinda abandoned factory?" Faith asked innocently.
"Somethin' like that. It's an old crematorium. Feller named Fraser owned it. He disappeared a few years ago."
"A crematorium that size in a small town like this?" Graham said. "That's a little odd."
"Fraser was cuttin' deals with big city places t'handle their...clients. He just stacked up th'bodies in th'woods or dumped 'em in th'Boggywater and kept th'money. I think that's what caught up with him. Someone didn't like what had happened to their dead folks," Darby seemed slightly nervous.
"Wow, he doesn't sound that pleasant...and, what's th'Boggywater?" Faith spoke up.
"It's a nasty swamp right next t'where th'crematorium is. Don't go near there. Fishin's terrible and it's loaded with gators and cottonmouths. Some folks even say it's cursed."
"Do you say that?" Graham asked.
"Me? Well, folks and places can be bad enough without bringin' hexes and h'aints into it...but sometimes a particular place or a particular person can make something bad, much much worse."
Graham finished his glass of moonshine, "Point taken. We'll stay away and thanks for the advice."
Darby relaxed on hearing that, "Good, you two look like a nice couple. Catch some fish and enjoy th'weather. That's my best advice."
Sliding down off the counter, Faith smiled at the old man, "You're a real sweetheart Darby!"
"Why thank ya...Lissen Faith, could ya tell m'daughter that? She never believes me."
"If I see her, sure!" the pair left the office with Faith patting the old hound as she passed.
As they walked towards their SUV, Graham looked thoughtful.
"Faith, something has happened here."
"Oh yeah. Something nasty, and not just a feud."
"I think the feud is a part of it, and so is the mortuary and the swamp...what did he call it, the Boggywater?"
"Sounds pleasant. Gray, this place is starting to give me a Sunny-D feelin'. Without the Slayer tingles though."
"I think we should check out the mortuary now. While it's still daylight I mean," the big man unlocked the SUV and opened the tailgate. Moving aside the bags in the back, he opened a secret compartment in the floor and pulled out a pistol and a shoulder holster. Wrapping them in a windbreaker he moved to the passenger's door. Faith climbed in the driver's side.
"To th'mortuary then?"
"Yes, head away first. No use letting everybody know our destination."