• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 04
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Stay Steady

The found her body by Forkfly Bridge, folded in two on the riverbank, a dismantled easel: limbs all over the place.

“She’s Bill Nightwalk’s girl,” the sheriff said, as he flipped her like a catfish, and she turned to face him: blue eyes clear as truth, hair draped round her neck like a lady’s choker, arms and legs marked by a mutter of bruising. A whisper that ended in silence.

“Who murdered her?” they cried that night: the man from-out-of-town in the idle suit, the fat bachelor drunk in the bar, the four-eyed kid in the steaming backyard, the greasy-haired mother by the too-hot kitchen stove, the bitter pin-thin lady at the Laundromat where Betty Nightwalk came to wash her clothes; A-line skirts, nylon blouses and cotton underwear. No nonsense. Betty was a bank clerk, a plain-faced girl, Bill and Annie Nightwalk’s only child.

Sheriff was the one to tell the family. Travelled to a dirt sprung farm, twenty miles from town. A journey so dry his tongue forgot to speak. Said words like a shot dog, a burnt house, a revolution:

“Betty’s dead.”

When he left, Bill took his pitchfork. He walked out of his house into a silence that swallowed the horizon, ate everything that had ever come before.

“Stay steady,” Annie said, “stay steady.”