The Great Northern had left Grand Forks before the dry, yellow prairie was touched with the sun’s first light. By mid-day, the whistle was crying long and loud as the train chuffed out of the weathered Sioux Falls station, heading southbound towards Wichita across the dismal plain.
“Whatever it is,” Jim says. “It can’t be bad enough for you to want to get it through who knows what the hell past the Black Line.”
I listened to the sounds of the night. A mockingbird called through the brush, far off, maybe halfway across the lake. The cool wind rustled the tops of the trees and they whispered together. The ker-klack sound of the horses going down the trail past the lake was almost hypnotizing.
Don't get me wrong: Blackbirds is wildly violent, wickedly chaotic, like those old wooden roller-coasters that rip you this way and that, make you call a chiropractor when you wobble off.
Finally, as time begins to catch up with itself, the sound of a wailing siren pierces the distance. Only in that moment might anyone who saw what had happened at the Lucky Dragon Tea & Coffee shop have believed that help was on the way.
Toby Burnhouser was bigger than Brick, and he held my right arm down. Toby gritted his gums and breathed hard through his nose. He took his job as one of Jimmy’s henchmen a little too seriously. My right hand started to go numb as Burnhouser pushed down harder into the short-pile race-track play carpet.
I've had a few things moving around in my head for a long time. The last two months, I've been able to do some reorganizing. Call it mental spring cleaning.
The older one released the cylinder and spun it once. Then he tipped it back, emptying the six chambers of the cylinder. Then he let one shimmering, gold bullet in between his black-dirty thumb and forefinger, and loaded one chamber.
In the clearing ahead, the brush rustled and the pebbles at the edge of the stream registered the sound of hooves. As the blood in his veins turned as black as the evening shadows, he steeled himself for the shot. And for his final choice.