Rachelle never could understand why she had to die, but when her turn came she was a good girl and didn’t raise a fuss, just like Momma asked.
Momma and Poppa claimed her body and held the service the next morning in their parlor. Momma dressed the boys in matching blazers and ties for the occasion. The minister kept his sermon appropriately brief, and afterwards coffee and h’ordeuvres were served.
“She was so brave,” the women from the bridge club repeated to Momma. “You must be very proud.” Momma smiled her tight-lipped smile and nodded. Poppa excused himself early and went upstairs.
That night, after the lights were out and everyone went to sleep, the boys lay in their bunkbeds. Moonlight entered the window and cast long shadows past the beds and against the far wall. They both lay silently for several minutes, until the boy in the bottom bunk spoke. “You awake?”
The boy in the top bunk grunted in the affirmative.
“Do you think she was brave?”
“Rachelle. Do you think she was brave?”
The boy on top leaned over the side until he could see his brother. “I think she was stupid. To let them just kill her like that.”
The bottom brother thought for a minute before replying. “What would you do?”
“Me? I’d have a knife or gun and kill them first, before they can get me.”
“But… but… you can’t do that.” The boy in the bottom bunk, the younger, leaned up on his elbows. “If they pick you, you have to go. It’s the law.”
“Damn the law!” The top brother snapped hoarsely, and both brothers became still, worried they might have woken their parents. No sound came from down the hall, and the boys relaxed and lay back down.
The younger boy fell to sleep first. The older stared out the window, wiping his pajama sleeves across his eyes several times before drifting off. In his dreams he had a gun, and used it to kill everyone – Momma, Poppa, funeral guests, police – before running away to a place too far away for men and law to follow.
© 2016, Dave Allen. All rights reserved.
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