The Sheriff’s Hat

Sam looked like a porcupine he had so many arrows in his back. Spitting up blood, he stumbled down the dusty road, lurching with every step but managing to stay upright. The hardest part turned out to be making it up the porch steps. He’d get up one and then waver and stumble back. Then he’d try it again. By the time he made it to the front door, standing in a pool of his own blood, he was delirious.

“Samuel!” Martha shouted when she opened the door. He was propped against the jamb and didn’t move. Then he slipped and fell flat on the floor, several of the arrows breaking and blood splattering all over the hardwood. Daiselle arrived and knelt down beside him. She went to work yanking out the arrows, which caused blood to gush from each of the wounds.

The dog Tanner came over and licked his face, whimpering.

Some days later, the sheriff helped Daiselle fit Sam into the only pre-built coffin left. Since most of the town had been massacred, the gravediggers were gone along with the funeral home workers. It ended up being Martha, Daiselle and the sheriff who did the digging. After several hours of hard labor they had a decent-sized hole. The old sheriff rocked the casket until it slid in but tipped to one side. Muttering to himself, the sheriff dropped down into the hole to push Sam back into his coffin.

Just then the native tribesmen attacked. Arrows whizzed by Daiselle and Martha. The sheriff pulled himself up to the edge of the grave and returned fire with his pistol. He scared them off but not before he was hit with an arrow in his heart. He muttered, wheezed, and tumbled down onto the coffin.

The women left him down there, shoveling the dirt on top. They worked quickly, on the lookout for another attack. Tanner came out of the woods and began digging but they pulled the dog away.

Later that night Daiselle sat rocking on the porch, staring out into the darkness, the old rifle on her lap. Tanner arrived, carrying the sheriff’s cowboy hat in his mouth. She wrestled it from him and shook the dirt off. She put it on her head, saying quietly, “Someone has to wear the sheriff’s hat in this town.” She laughed to herself and shook her head, stroking Tanner’s fur. Then she went on staring out into the night, on the alert for the next attack.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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