I ran into the house, the screen door banging behind me. I was scrubbing my hands at the kitchen sink when I saw her through the window. She was crossing the cornfield, making a beeline for the barn. The water ran red in the sink.
I didn’t go into the house. I stood on the porch waiting instead, the gun in my hand. I could see her crossing the cornfield, her straw hat bobbing up and down. My hands were red with blood. They twitched at my sides.
I didn’t leave the barn. I just stood over him, surprised. She must have run through the cornfield when she heard the shots. I saw her shadow outside the door before I saw her. It was sunny outside, dark in the barn. She didn’t say anything, just looked at me.
My ears were ringing. I couldn’t hear anything after the gunshots. Maybe he was talking to me, but how could he be talking, blood gushing out of his shoulder like that, and a hole in his forehead big as a quarter? I wanted to run into the house, but I knelt to touch him instead. There was blood all over my hands and shirt.
My ears were ringing. I dropped the gun. I didn’t touch him or even look at him. I turned and ran away from the barn, away from the house, along the edge of the cornfield toward the woods. My legs started to tremble. I was gasping for breath but I ran the best I could.
I was in the woods when I heard her calling. I still had the gun and I wondered would I have to shoot her too.
I never made it to the woods. When I heard her calling I tripped and fell. I just lay there waiting.
She was in the barn, yelling at me. “What have you done?” I lit out for the cornfield and started zigzagging across it. First one way, then the other, one way, then the other. I thought the field would never end, and that maybe I’d never get caught.
The room was cold. Table, chairs, walls, everything was gray. I twisted in my seat, and shook my head. “I didn’t do nothing, sir. I don’t know nothing.” The deputy sheriff just looked at me. I could see myself in the mirror behind him.
“His story’s got more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.” That’s what the sheriff told the reporters. It was in the newspaper. The picture was blurry and didn’t look like me at all. I don’t know where they got it.
All I remember is running into the house, the screen door banging behind me. My hands were red. I keep thinking of that old riddle, “What’s black and white and red all over?”
The gun’s wrapped in newspaper and hidden somewhere. I don’t know where. No one’s found it.
I was clear across the cornfield when I heard the shots. She was still in the barn when I got there. Her hands were bloody. “What have you done?” I yelled, but she didn’t answer.
She was waiting for me on the porch, the gun in her hand. Neither of us said a word.
“Zig Zag” first appeared in Midway Journal, 2017, as the First Place winner in “1000 Below Contest”
FEATURED IMAGE: Patricia Sandberg – “Vibrato”, 2021, acrylic and mixed media on paper. 18×24.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Jacqueline Doyle’s flash chapbook The Missing Girl is available from Black Lawrence Press. She has published flash in Wigleaf, matchbook, CRAFT, Juked, New Flash Fiction Review, and elsewhere. “Zig Zag” originally appeared in Midway Journal, where it won the “1000 Below Contest,” judged by Michael Martone. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.