“Morning, Jeb.” Phil
Hawkins eased his way onto the stool one cheek at a time. He rubbed at his bad knee; flexed it once or
“Phil.” Jeb lifted
his cup of coffee, decaf of course, Jeb’s body not being able to handle
caffeine in the usual manner.
Phil gestured to Bitsy and turned over his coffee cup. He noticed a ring of wet in the saucer,
poured it out onto the paper placemat and watched the water stain the red you are here flag indicating their
approximate location in the southeast corner of the state of Ohio. “We need rain a awful lot.”
Jeb nodded. “We do.” Jeb never was one for the small talk.
“You hear about that windmill?”
“The one down to Daddy Sheriff’s a’ course. Ain’t all that many windmills in Medford,
Bitsy finally wound her way over to Phil’s coffee cup and
poured it full—all the way to the rim, just the way he liked it—with strong
black coffee. Caffeinated. Phil needed the jolt every morning.
“What about it?”
“They say it’s been spinnin’”
“Windmills do that, Phil.”
“We ain’t had no wind, Jeb,” Bitsy observed. “No wind.
“Dry as a popcorn fart,” Phil added and Jeb chuckled in
spite of himself. Thus encouraged, Phil
continued. “They say it’s the soul of
Daddy Sheriff, come back to atone for his sins.”
“Daddy Sheriff ain’t got no soul, Phil,” Bitsy said. She looked around. “Hush up, now. You’re giving the little ones a fright.” She nodded to a group of boys sitting in the front
booth, sipping frozen Coke through thick straws. Too early for pop, if you asked Bitsy. But no one ever did.
Phil took a sip of his coffee and cleared his throat
loudly. “Them kids ain’t a’skeered.” He looked over at the booth. “Are you boys?”
“No sir,” Jim Jenkins said.
“We ain’t afraid of nothing.”
Phil smiled. “I’m
fixing to arrange a poltergeist party down there tonight. You interested, Jeb?”
Jeb shook his head. “I
got the cows to milk.”
“You don’t milk cows after dark, Jeb. You afraid? Them boys ain’t afraid, even.”
“I’ll go,” Jim piped up.
“All of us will go, won’t we boys?”
There followed an eager chorus of general agreement.
“Even your own kid is going, Jeb. You sure you won’t go ‘long?”
Jeb sighed. “What
By nine o’clock Phil had his equipment set up: Tape
recorder. Video camera. Nikon strapped around his thick and sweaty neck. He slapped at a mosquito, rubbed its remains
on his jeans. Looked around the
field. “Now where’d them boys get to?” He asked himself. “Shoulda’ known they’d chicken out.” He shook his head, settled heavily into his
lawn chair and opened his thermos of coffee.
Despite the coffee, he must have fallen asleep. He woke with a start to the sound of
haunting. “Phil,” he heard and, upon
hearing, the hairs upon his neck stood straight up. “Phil,” the voice came again, and Phil knew,
he knew that Daddy Sheriff hisself was
“Sweet Jesus,” Phil prayed aloud, even though Phil wasn’t
one for praying. As he watched, a figure
came into view at the base of the windmill.
It was white. No that wasn’t
right. It was see-through. Phil held up his binoculars. The figure wore Daddy Sheriff’s cowboy hat;
pinned to its white body was Daddy Sheriff’s badge.
If Phil could’ve sprung to his feet, he would’ve. Instead, he hoisted himself out of his lawn
chair, knocked over his thermos of coffee and tottered to his truck, hoping he
wouldn’t wet himself before he made it there.
Phil spun out of the field and drove away in a flurry of
dust and prayers shouted to heaven.
But perhaps, had he driven a mite more slowly; perhaps, had
he had his window open, Phil would have heard Jeb’s voice settle into a low
chuckle. “Damn it, boys. We didn’t even get a chance to spin that
Labels: Studio 30+; fiction