The full moon splashed across the open range and glinted in Sheriff Harvey Lutz’s eyes like a bright idea.
Lutz was a good man, but simple. The combination suited Cowslip county, and it made good cover for Deputy Erich Stilson.
“What are you thinking, Sheriff?” Stilson asked as he stepped up beside Lutz to look over the glowing landscape.
Lutz rubbed his chin. “Well, see that there?” He pointed to a clump of cowhide stuck to a barb in the fence.
“Yep,” Erich said. He was starting to feel a bit nervous.
“And that?” Lutz pointed to the full moon.
“Uh-huh .” The deputy took a step back and to the right, sliding in behind his boss. Stilson’s belly growled.
Somewhere off in the distance, a wolf howled. Stilson’s fingers and toes tingled, and his teeth ached.
Lutz lifted a finger to the sky. “And you heard that, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” Stilson replied in a low growl. He leaned in, inches from the sheriff’s neck.
Lutz turned to face his deputy. “Back off, will ya? Breathing down my neck like that!”
Stilson took a step back, surprised by the confrontation. “Sorry. Just trying to see.”
“Anyhow, this is no coincidence, Stilson. The full moon … the missing cattle … the howling. Happens every month!”
The deputy righted himself, and he could feel the coarse hair on his back prickling against his shirt. The sheriff had figured him out.
“Surely, you don’t mean …”
“Yessir,” Lutz said. “These animals are so dumb, they see the landscape all lit up like that and think they can just wander off wherever they please. Must be like a walking candy store for those wolves!”
Stilson smiled, trying to keep his lips pulled over the fangs. “Case closed! I guess that’s why you’re the sheriff, Sheriff.”