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