It is a movie cliché. The boy's beloved horse is maimed, probably saving the boy's life. The father tells the boy to be a man. Cut to close-up of the boy's face. Sound of gunshot off screen. The audience knows that the animal is dead and the boy will never fully recover from the trauma.
Head bad guy says to second in line, "Take him out and shoot him." Cut to faces of other hostages, maybe the wife of the potential victim. Sound of door closing, silent pause, gunshot. The audience is trying to figure out how the hero could survive such eminent peril. But survive he does and he comes back to rescue everyone.
I've been a writer for a long time. You would think I would take such things as routine.
Mother's day, sunny but cool. The park is filled with picnickers. It's my turn to walk the property and see that everything is OK. At the bridge over the spillway I am met by two junior high girls. "A deer was hit and tumbled over the guard rail. She's in those bushes thrashing around. Looks like she has a broken leg."
I made my way over to the group of women who had their eyes glued to the opposite bank of the stream.
"She's in there. She's stopped thrashing. We called 911."
I couldn't see her. She seemed to be in a patch of briars about half way down the slope between Route 1 and the stream. I didn't think the 911 operator would dispatch the state police, so I went back into the office to look up other animal control possibilities. Because we had a game warden speak at a Sisters in Crime meeting a few months ago, I knew there is only one game warden for the south east corner of Pennsylvania.
By the time we decided we didn't really know what to do, the State Police car pulled into the parking lot. I showed the driver where the deer was supposed to be. The only way for him to get to her was to go back on the highway, drive east for half a mile, make a U-turn and park on the verge of the busy highway. He then had to crawl over the hip high guard rail and climb down a steep bank, and look for her.
I was back in the office 18th century newspapers when I heard the single shot. I was truly shocked, not by the shot which I expected, but by my reaction. I had run into this in a gazillion movies.
First off, relief. He had found her and dispatched her easily. I no longer had a problem to solve. She was no longer suffering. Then I realized I felt the same way I had in all those movies.
As the afternoon wore on I kept replaying the sound of that shot in my head, in fact I still am, two days later. Silence, bang, silence. Pain, bang, the respite of death. Next I realized I had wanted to go with him to watch and ask questions about the procedure. Would he have to fill out a report because he fired his gun? How often did he run into this situation? I wanted to know if he felt as matter-of-fact as he looked or did he have a moment of regret when he pulled the trigger.
Every now and then I wondered about the driver of the car. Was he OK? He didn't stop.
The carcass now lies half way down the slope, hidden in the bushes, returning to the earth from which she came. Soon we will start to find her bones all over the property.
But I still can hear it in my head.
Silence, bang, silence.
WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Sasscer Hill on 5/18 and Carolyn Mulford on 5/25. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at email@example.com.