There was much confusion when Sheppard reached the intersection of Route Two and Seville Lane. Eye witnesses all talked, with what sounded to Sheppard as gibberish, over how the dead Jed Bradshaw had just run down the dead Dallas Shaver, or how the dead Dallas Shaver had just walked into the path of the oncoming vehicle like it was a test of faith, or how both men were to blame for a lack of concentration leading to the predicament of their now soulless flesh.
The young Trooper who had given Sheppard the ticket seemed to have his hands full with all the yammering pedestrians and the blaring of his police radio beckoning him to other calls of equal urgency. The ambulance had not yet arrived on sight and the police car, with lights flashing, gave the impression of a five minute red-light special. Everything’s on sale! Everything must go!
Sheppard wanted to join the fracas and extract as much information about what had happened, but thought better of it. I'm not pressing my luck with a Trooper who thinks I’m bound for Martin City.
He had parked his car up the street in an alley between the hotel and a diner. He had tucked the gun into the front of his jeans and pulled his shirt loose over it. He walked inconspicuously across the road into a store called the Trading Post Emporium.
Behind the counter a large bear of a man, with brown skin like tanned leather and a braided ponytail down his back cutting his plaid shirt in two, stood in profile looking at the scene and pleaded with an unheard voice to please send an ambulance soon.
“Yes this is Malcolm Buck again,” the man said. “And I wouldn’t be calling if you were on the scene!” The man looked bewildered as he hung up, shaking his head at the whole mess. He tossed his cowboy hat onto the counter and rubbed his forehead. “Half an hour?” he mumbled to himself. “That’s ridiculous.”
“What’s going on?”
“An accident is all, friend.”
“In a town this size? I find that hard to believe?”
“Me too, but you can see for yourself.” Buck pointed in reference with a quick jab of his hand toward the chaos. “Two guys not paying attention. Damn shame. Although I tell ya...no forget it. It sounds stupid.”
Sheppard grabbed a local map and approached the counter, slapping the folded pages down with a thwack and extracting his wallet. “Go ahead. Don’t mind me. What do you think happened?”
“I knew both those men,” Buck said. “Good guys, both of them. They were friends for years. But If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the driver of the pickup either forgot which pedal was his break, or intentionally mowed the other man down.”
The crowd was beginning to close in around the officer. They were pawing at him as if he were some irresistible puppy in need of petting. Benjamin Triggs from the Post Office was first in line like he had kibble in his pocket. All were trying to get him to listen to their conflicting accounts of the incident. The Trooper was becoming increasingly agitated as he tried to speak on his radio and keep the small crowd at bay.
“Maybe they had some sort of falling out? You know, one guy catches the other in bed with his wife.”
“I don’t buy it. Neither were men of violence. No...” Buck trailed off, “...it’s strange.” He rang up the map, punching the keys of the cash register. “Will that be all?”
“Yes, but perhaps you could tell me where I could find the Bradley place on this map?”
“You a friend of the family?”
“You could say that.”
The people were now poking at the Trooper like he was some sort of lab experiment. He slipped into his vehicle to escape the questioning hoard and rolled up his window while those outside started to smack their palms on the glass. Above the clouds had moved in and a gentle drizzle began to fall.
Malcolm Buck kept one curious eye trained on the accident site proceedings and shook his head again. “Richard was in here yesterday didn’t say anything about visitors. Was he expecting you?”
Sheppard picked up an umbrella from a nearby rack and fiddled with the leaver, opening then collapsing the bright blue parasol into its original formation. “I’ll take this too. I’m here to see his son actually.”
Buck rang up the item. “Rabbit? Damn! I knew it!” Buck returned his full attention back to his customer. “You’re a scout for the major leagues aren’t ya?”
Sheppard felt a little awkward. “I’d rather not say,” he said.
“Which one, Colorado, San Fran, the Dodgers? I knew that kid’s speed would pay off. Let me be the first to say you’re not wasting your time with that one. Rabbit’s one super fast little kid. Should develop in to quite the athlete with the right coaching. Here let me show you the quickest way there.”
Sheppard wasn’t going to argue. If this Malcolm Buck was going to help him, so be it. Although it was a little hard to believe a scout for the majors would be here see Rabbit, a twelve year-old prodigy, especially dressed in jeans with his shirt tail hanging out and a two week growth of stubble on his face.
Malcolm started to point out the way to the Bradley house when suddenly a hollow pop cut through the air outside the shop. “What the...?” The two turned their gaze to the accident site as Benjamin Triggs fell backward onto the ground, clutching at his chest. His knees alternately rising slowly as blood bubbled out over his fingers.
The crowd began rocking the patrol car. The popping noise was followed by more and other people around the police car began to fall in a spray of maroon mist. The Trooper fired repeatedly, blowing out the windows and shooting all in his way. In a blind panic the rest of the people began to run. The Trooper stepped from the vehicle and fired in all directions in a wanton execution, cutting down all those that ran; women, man, child.