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Time Enough

The cedar planks that covered the old barn were weathered and warped but still solid enough you couldn’t see through them. Just in case, Tom Leonard leaned against the rickety building.

Somewhere inside, a cow slapped her tail against the wall and moaned.

“Tell me who shot my wife, Sheriff,” Tom said.

Lou Garrett pursed his lips and shook his head. “That’s the question I been asking all over the county, Tom.”

Tom pushed himself off the barn and stood square in front of the lawman. “Do you know the answer?”

Garrett couldn’t bear the scrutiny, and his gaze slid from Tom to the north pasture. “No, Tom. I don’t … but I’ll find out. I promise you that.”

The cow groaned again, clapped a hoof. Garrett squinted.

“Say, Tom … that heifer OK?”

Tom glanced over his shoulder at the barn, twirling a sprig of hay in his mouth. “Bella? She’s just with-calf. Always gets grumpy when she’s big.”

Garrett nodded.

“When you know something, Sheriff, come back and see me, alright?”

“You have my word, Tom.”

The thought both comforted and amused Tom. It had been three months since Tom came upon Pete Haupt and Hilda there in his own barn. Took him a minute to figure out what he was seeing, and by the time he grabbed his shotgun, everything was all mixed up.

In the end, Hilda lay on the barn floor, half naked and bleeding to death, while Pete scurried out into the woods.

It had taken Tom all that time to track down Pete and for Garrett to figure out exactly nothing.

Tom slapped a hand on the sheriff’s shoulder and walked him toward his horse. Behind them, Bella keened again.

It was amazing how much a gagged and hogtied man sounded like a suffering cow.

Published inFlash Fiction

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