Bewildering Stories

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Made It Way Up

Part 24: Bernard

by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

Made It Way Up began in issue 89.
Part 23 appeared in issue 98.


“Now, son. It ain’t that big a deal. You can drive yuhself down, if it’ll make you feel better.”

I was sitting on the couch and, since there were no other chairs in the room, the sheriff was sitting next to me. He was pressing himself deep into the corner, twisted around so he could tell himself he looked me square in the eye. He came pretty close.

“He assaulted me first, sheriff.”

“Well, be that as it may, he also filed charges first.” I didn’t respond. He was letting his gaze drift around my living room. I could see his distaste for undusted corners, hanging rafters, dark wood, slapdash molding, bare light bulbs. He didn’t make any effort to mask the expressions on his face. No weight at the corner of his mouth to keep the smiles down, or fish hook muscles to keep a grin in place. His eyes settled on my face and I could see he didn’t believe me, about any of it. Not that I was just rearranging the hay bales in my barn. Not that the chief had threatened Essa with a lawsuit. Not that I had built this house with my own two hands. Not that it wasn’t a trouble to make up a pot.

Seems like a lot to lie about in just twenty minutes. But lies are easy enough to tell and don’t come back on you if your audience is lazy. Sheriff Tomkins looked like he just wanted to get me back to town so he could make his poker game on time.

“Let me talk to my wife for a few minutes?”

“Sure thing, podnur.” He didn’t believe that, either. We went outside and across the drive.

I knocked three times, waited, then three times more. I tried the handle; it was locked and cold. I turned to the sheriff and shrugged. He shrugged back, along with,

“Ain’t you got a key?”

I cupped my hands against wood of the door and yelled into them, Make sure Kelly’s all right, and, I’ll be back.

“Maybe she’s takin a quick nap. Oh, no, you can sit up front here.” I had pulled open one of the rear prisoner doors. “Seems awful funny, you all being up here without a vehicle. You got a farm down in that valley there?”

It was starting to be fun. “Sure do. Work it myself, along with my daughter’s help where she can.”

“Well good,” said Sheriff Tomkins. The radio came on when he twisted the ignition. The reception was pretty bad this far out from the towers. Through a half haze of static, Nick Drake sang about things he knows, and the sheriff sang along.

Proceed to part 25.

Copyright © 2004 by Ian Donnell Arbuckle

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