Front door askew.
Hanging by a single rusted hinge.
Sunlight painted a narrow wedge of yellow on dusty plank flooring.
“I heard a shot but I was too scared to look,” she said. “Is Daddy in there?”
“Stay back, please.”
Standing to side of doorway.
Pistol in hand.
Sweat trickles from lower back into waistband.
“Frank. I’m here to help. You okay?”
Flies buzzing, darting in and out.
Blood spatter. Lots of it.
Tissue on ceiling.
Frank, sitting on floor.
Shotgun in lap, upright.
“Frank, you okay?”
“Is Daddy all right?”
“Go back in the house. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Hand over mouth, sobbing. “Okay.”
Squeeze through entrance.
Flashlight aimed toward ceiling. Dim light throughout.
Holster weapon. Not needed.
Friends since high school.
Twenty years, or more.
“Why, Frank? Great kids. Great wife. Nice house. Good job. Wonderful life.”
Radio crackles. “Send M.E. and paramedics. No particular order.”
A wet breath, from somewhere.
Finger twitches, slightly.
Another jerky, unbelievable breath.
“Hold on, Frank. Help’s on the way!”
Frantically grab radio.
“Tell paramedics to hurry. Victim is alive. Repeat. Victim is alive.”
Sit on floor, holding Frank’s hand.
Sirens getting closer.
“Hey, Frank, remember when we … ”