Late entry for "Flash Fiction" contest
News travels fast in Crockett, Arkansas. What the Hickman twins found, while fishing the White River was no exception. A year ago, they had stumbled upon a mastodon skull. The university bought the skull, giving the boys a little drinking money. With luck they might be looking at more pocket change; after their latest find.
“Goin’ to the river, Sheriff?” Jenkins asked as he laid three cigars on the counter.
“That’s where I’m headin’, Sam.”
The sheriff ripped a wrapper from a cigar, placed his change in his pocket and pulled out a Zippo.
“You fixin’ to go somewhere, Sam? I reckon those suitcases sittin’ by the door belong to you, don’t they?”
“That’s right, Sheriff, closin’ the store and goin’ up to Little Rock."
“Have a good trip, Sam. I best be a gittin’, see what those boys found.”
The crowd of locals gathered on the river bank stepped aside as the sheriff approached.
“What we got deputy?” the sheriff questioned as he peered over the muddy bank.
“I put the boys in my…”
“Don’t care where them boys are, Barney, what’s down below?”
“Well I….I didn’t go down there, Sheriff.”
“Damn it, Barney, sometimes I wonder why I keep you around. Do you think you can keep these people back, don’t need to be fishin’ anybody out of the river?
“I…I can do that.”
Sheriff Cook carefully worked his way down the steep embankment, circling fallen trees and rotting stumps. Three days of rain had left the slope unstable, washing away topsoil and debris.
Next to a half buried cottonwood log the sheriff found the boys’ discovery. It protruded from the muddy ground like a malformed tree…but this tree had fingernails.
Scraping away a handful of mud, the sheriff stared into the eyes of Mrs. Jenkins.
Prompt: "It protruded from the muddy ground like a malformed tree..." 350 words or less.