Hovering Over Walden's
by John McAuley
"...wasn't like we caught him and shot him. But I hope the flames of hell burn up through every bullet hole in him for what he did to Carl."
Earl had a way with dramatic phrases. A preachers son. And a good cop in the time we rode together after Carl got killed.
"I appreciate you driving all the way up from Atlanta to tell me in person Earl."
"No problem. Just wanted to see how you're doing." He didn't mention having the local sheriff check on me last week when I quit answering my phone. " So you still going to Walden's bar early in the day and listening to old men talk about tractors?"
"Find a girlfriend yet?"
"Thought this town was so small the only hooker's still a virgin."
"Not any more."
"Hah, that's more like your smartass old self."
When Beth asked if I was going back to work I shrugged and handed her a beer. We sat on my front porch and listened to the radio. During a commercial I stared at the solitary tree over on the west ridge. I'd told Beth that tree was my quietest partner since Carl. For the third time today an eagle swooped low over the bare branches. If eagles can carry away the souls of the dead I wish they could carry off the guilt of the living.