There was a loud crack of thunder nearby. It was very loud. I looked to the sky, and it was transparent blue; if you could see beyond it, you could see all the stars. I turned to Jeremiah, and he was
falling to the ground, his belly red and wet. It wasn’t thunder at all, but a gun shot.
He reached for his tobacco pouch. “I wish you wouldn’t do that when you’re driving,” I said. “You get it all over yourself and make a mess of your shirt.”
“I’ll be more careful,” he said, and he frowned.
I will never get all that blood out of his shirt, I thought. It was an odd thought, removed from everything, a wandering flea in my head.
“Gunth kept an old bentwood rocker on his porch,” he said. “Maybe it’s still there.”
The road was flat, shimmering heat rising already. It would be a hot day, and I was glad for the big shade tree in our yard.
A common sound, except when it is unexpected. A common sound, except when it tears a hole in your husband’s belly. A common sound, except when your legs are stone; no, not just legs, but everything. I was stone eroding from inside. Everything I knew was a single ruined thought. Too shocked to speak, or scream, or beg time to step back for a moment, to contemplate what had been done. And Jeremiah stood still for a moment, for the rest of his lifetime, his hands cradling his damaged stomach. His eyes saw nothing but whatever thoughts were left behind them. And then he fell. Collapsed in the dust, and the dust chuffed up and surrounded him, unconcerned.
And there was another shot. My legs were stone. I understood.
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