by Hugh Wesley
Plans go awry when you read them upside down and backwards.
|Pain tore through Jeb’s heart like a hot poker and radiated like the sting of a thousand scorpions across his chest and down his arms.
He gritted his teeth, clenched his fists, wrenched his eyes closed.
Smiled, because he knew relief would come soon. But then … it didn’t.
Jeb cluthced his chest and growled when he felt the hunk of wood sticking through his shirt.
“What have you done, Howdy?”
A meek shadow eased into the full moonlight from behind the big oak. Deputy Howdy Thomas stuck his head out of the darkness..
“I wanted to surprise you, Sheriff,” Howdy said. “That’s what you told me to do, ain’t it?”
Jeb wrenched the jagged weapon from his chest and tossed it into the darkness. The coarse, oily hair on his hands glistened in the pale radiance.
“I’m surprised alright, you dimwit. What’d you stab me for?”
Howdy eased a bit closer. “Well, that’s what it said there on page twent-three of that book old Miss Wanda gave us, remember?”
The sheriff groaned. “Yeah, I remember, Howdy.” He stomped toward the deputy, and Howdy slinked back toward the tree. “You showed it to me that first day, and I told you it wouldn’t work.”
Even in the darkness, Jeb could see Howdy thinking, then the the light of realization.
“Oh, right!” the deputy said. “I was supposed to use page thirty-two, wudn’t I, Sheriff?”
Jeb rubbed his arm, tracing his fingers over the teeth marks, still red and raised after all those months. “Yeah, Howdy. Page thirty-two.”
Howdy smiled and nodded. Then frowned and scratched his head.
“Sheriff?” Howdy said.
“Yeah, Howdy?” The hunger in Jeb’s belly had made him forget about the hole in his chest.
“Well … just where do you suppose I could find a silver bullet, anyway?”