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Loophole: A Western Fiction Flash Story

“So you say you shot Elmer?” Sheriff Phil Marston leaned on the rickety fence surrounding Evie Hunter’s vegetable garden.

“Yep.” Evie stood on the other side of the fence, arms folded.

“And you admit it?”

“Well, yes, sheriff. The man has a hole in his forehead,” — she motioned to the dead man on the ground next to her — “and this here’s my rifle.” The gun stood in the dirt, barrel resting against Evie’s apron.

“Uh-huh. But you say you didn’t kill him.”

“Right.”

Marston took off his hat and rubbed a thick hand over his face. They’d been over this at least seven times.

“Evie, how in the heck can you tell me that you shot this dead man, but you didn’t kill him?”

Evie shrugged. Marston decided on a different tact.

“Alright, let’s assume I believe you. Let’s say you didn’t kill Elmer. Then who did?

“Elmer.”

“Elmer? You saying Elmer Peters committed suicide, Evie?!”

“Not exactly, Sheriff. You know how me and him was always arguing?”

Marston nodded. “You said he was stealing your potatoes.”

“He was stealing my potatoes. Anyway, you said there was nothing you could do. But you remember what you said when I had that burglar back in the fall?”

Marston’s face flushed. “Now, Evie, that don’t apply here.”

Evie pointed to one end of the fence where a hand-scratched wooden sign read, “Trespassers will be shot on sight.”

Then she pointed to the ground inside the fence, in front of Marston. He leaned way over to find a second sign. “If you can read this sign, yer trespassin’.”

“So you see, Sheriff, it was Elmer’s law-breakin’ ways that killed him.” Metal-on-metal clicking drew Marston’s eyes to Evie and the rifle pointed at his heart.

“Sure hope I don’t have no more trespassers, Sheriff.”

Published inFlash Fiction

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