by Mike Stang
The homestead laid way the hell out on Killer Canyon Road. During the winter you could see the roof from town, a dot of red over the top of the hill surrounded by clear almond trees. Most people forgot about Buck and Sarah after Sarah died, some told stories how Buck went crazy with grief and killed himself. Some don’t know shit but Sheriff Coldburn had enough of stories; he was off to see it for himself.
The old man sat on his porch where he could see you coming. The rocker was made for comfort but Buck never let it. He sat straight ahead with cat ears and a dog’s nose. Been like that for some time, it’s okay though, Sarah shows up with coffee and biscuits in the mornings.
She never did get them biscuits right, Buck thought, and he never could drink the coffee down to the last for fear of grounds. He didn’t say anything; Old Buck took better or worse serious.
Buck knew he was dying, paybacks, he thought. He knew all the suffering by heart: eighty-eight years living, forty of it up here on this damn hill. Nothing happened at Killer Canyon Buck hadn’t seen a thousand times. Johnny, their kid, was killed up here showing off stupid stuff to a fancy girl that was none of his business. Dick Blake, the only neighbor, was dragged to jail for having some kind of sex trade going on out of his cellar. Buck chuckled at that; Sarah didn’t sleep for two weeks but time folded in on itself these days, he only thought of the coming.
The day turned cold as Buck got himself back in the house. Ever since his fall a few months past there was that sweet sleep he’d gotten use to. Tonight was different. White light filled another room. Must be Sarah up late baking, I’d better go see.
Coldburn opened the unlocked door. Buck was nowhere. He turned to leave then smelled fresh coffee. The kitchen was clean except for crumbs by the stove.
The Sheriff bent low to see.