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Word for the Day
INCHOATE (in KOH it) adj.
Not yet clearly or completely formed;
in the early stages.
If my grandson, Little Donny, hadn't taken so long getting out
of bed this morning, I would have been at Chester's hunting blind
in time to see them haul Chester out. I've never seen a bullet hole
smack in the middle of someone's head before.
Instead, I sat in the passenger seat of Barney's white Ford pickup
truck with my twelve-gauge shotgun at my feet and a box of buckshot
in my lap. I laid on the horn until all two hundred and fifty
pounds of six-foot-four Little Donny shuffled out and stuffed himself
into the driver's seat. He was clutching a chicken salad sandwich
in one hand and tucking his shirt in with the other.
It's times like these I wish I'd learned to drive. Up until Barney
passed on, I didn't need to. He took me wherever I wanted to go.
Now I'm at the mercy of slugs, and I don't mean the bullet kind.
Little Donny is nineteen years old, and he really appreciates the
backwoods. He came to the Michigan Upper Peninsula, the U.P.,
as we call it, from his home in Milwaukee the day before yesterday
for the opening of deer-hunting season, which is today, November
fifteenth. At the first gray streak of daylight you could hear rifles
going off all over the woods, and that's when Chester got it right
between the eyes.
"I suppose I missed the whole thing," I called out the window
when we pulled up outside of Chester's blind.
My son, Blaze, leaned against his rust-bucket yellow pickup
with SHERIFF printed on the side, filling out paperwork. No one
else wasaround. Either we'd beat the ambulance or it had already
transported its patient.
"Just finishing up," he muttered, still writing in his notebook,
not noticing my disappointment. "Chester's body is at the morgue
in Escabana by now. How did you find out about it?"
"Heard it on the scanner."
Last year when Barney died, I cold-packed my dreams in a canning
jar and placed them high on a dusty shelf in my pantry. A
week after I buried him I turned sixty-six and Cora Mae bought
me a police scanner for my birthday. It sat in my closet until three
days ago when I mentioned to someone that I'm a recent widow
and Cora Mae let me have it. "Gertie Johnson, I know you loved
Barney, but it's time to start living again. Let's go over to your
house and listen to that scanner I gave you. Maybe something will
Something had popped up, and that something had popped
I jumped down from the cab and the box of buckshot fell to
"That thing better not be loaded," Blaze said, after heaving
himself off the truck and glancing at the shotgun on the floor.
"You know it's against the law to transport a loaded weapon in a
vehicle. We've been through this before."
"Of course it's not loaded," I lied, picking up the box of buckshot
and stuffing it under the seat.
Little Donny crawled out of the driver's seat, and I couldn't
help noticing a glob of mustard stuck on his chin. And I couldn't
help noticing that Blaze couldn't button the bottom of his sheriff 's
uniform shirt anymore.
I sighed, thinking of Chester's family and how they'd feel when
they heard the bad news, and for a few minutes Little Donny's
sloppiness and Blaze's escalating weight gain didn't seem important
"What happened here?" I asked.
"Nothing much to it," Blaze said, shaking his head. "Stray bullet
whomped into the blind and caught poor unlucky Chester right
between the eyes. We have at least one shooting accident every
The air was clean and crisp, and Blaze's breath steamed around
his head while he talked. I could smell cheap cologne hanging in
the air. Blaze always wore too much.
"Remember last year," he continued, "that guy in Trenary was
shot in the stomach sleeping in bed. Remember that, Little Donny?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"So you're writing this off as an accident?" I stammered, in
Blaze looked surprised that I would even suggest anything else.
"It was an accident and don't go saying anything different."
Ever since Blaze turned forty-four all he thinks about is retirement,
even though he still has a few years left if he wants a full
pension. He's already retired in his mind and that's the scary thing.
He doesn't care anymore and is just putting in his time. Maybe he
needs me to watch out for him, make him walk the straight and
narrow. Maybe I have to be tough with him.
"What if someone murdered Chester and you're letting a killer
get away with it?" I pulled off my Blue Blocker sunglasses so he
could see my glare. "I bet that's what happened, and you're too lazy
to follow through with a proper investigation."
"Ma, quit. I really hate to disappoint you, but nobody ever gets
murdered in Stonely. You've been watching too many soap operas
"I've never watched a soap opera in my life. But I have...(Continues)