Pappy’s Legacy

Fulbertin came down the staircase, one hand on the bannister, one hand pressed tightly against a gaping chest wound. I’ve been shot, Margaret, he told his sister. She’d been reclining on the couch in a nightgown and now set her plate of breakfast eggs on the cushion beside her. Then she turned toward the kitchen. He’s finally done got himself shot, Mama! she belted out. Fulbertin leaned against the newel post and his whole body sagged.

Mama came to the doorway in her apron, rolling pin in one hand. Blood dripped from Fulbertin’s chest to the hardwood floor. We need the police, he said in a weak voice. Police? exclaimed Mama. What has police ever done for us?

Nothin’ but put our sweet ol’ Pappy behind bars! said Margaret.

No, we ain’t callin’ no police! We ain’t goin’ through all that again! said Mama.

Fulbertin slipped off the post and lurched toward Mama. She knocked him in the head with the rolling pin and he hit the floor. Pappy would have wanted it that way, she said. When you wake up, honey, you’ll understand.

Just then a tall figure appeared at the top of the staircase. His eyes were inset and feline beneath a black homburg. His mustache was thin and sharp. In his gloved hand was a Colt .45. I suggest you bury him in the backyard, he said. Where no one will see.

We only bury dead people around here Mister, Mama said. And Fulbertin ain’t dead. He’s restin’ ‘til he comes back round to his senses. There was a terrific blast and the tall man tumbled headfirst over the bannister. He landed in a bloody heap at the foot of the stairs. Mama looked down and saw Fulbertin on his side clutching a smoking Smith & Wesson. Fulbertin then crumpled forward, the gun dropping from his bloody hand. A cocker spaniel tore in from the kitchen and hopped onto the couch to eat the remaining eggs off Margaret’s plate. Mamma glared at Margaret.

It ain’t my dog, said Margaret. It’s Petey’s dog.


Later that night they dragged the bodies out into the back. Margaret went rooting through the closet for a shovel. Mama came downstairs. We gonna need more lime, she said. There’s another one up there.


The next morning was Sunday. Margaret and Mama sat at the picnic table on the back patio. They were dressed for church and each had a plate of bacon and eggs in front of them. They ate in silence, gazing out at the three fresh mounds of dirt in the backyard. Occasionally Margaret tossed a piece of bacon down to the dog. Time for church, Mama said, pushing her half-eaten breakfast away. Yes, it certainly is, Margaret said.

They got up from their chairs. After they’d moved into the house the spaniel jumped from a bench onto the table. He looked up for a minute when he heard the car pull out of the gravel driveway, then lowered his head and licked their plates clean.



Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *