Night Bugs – published in Paean

Fiction – Night Bugs
by Thomas Hollyday
originally published in Paean

Will Jemper coming home whistling, clumping along the dirt road in the black night. Bugs and cricket chattering in the woods with their lives. Then the unmooned starlight warning with a bare glint from polished steel barrel of the double twelve shotgun, warning of Juke Terment there, his boots dead in the road, the gun muzzles pointing at Will. Neither man spoke but night rattling stopped, almost patiently to wait. There was no more whistling or moving towards as Will stood there, watching the small roundness of that steel, his eyes terrified. Then his hands up across his chest in a vaudeville of protection and the dark among the trees is wild light, roaring, the shotgun went off, both barrels, to cut his body in half.

Dust settling again with some of the dirt plastering itself into the flowing blood. The crickets rattling now and a pleasant hoot by an owl deep in the trees. Night bugs and then the sound of two brass shells ejecting into the dirt and finally the tread by a heavy man carrying a shotgun, a padding almost too soft, Juke walking back down the road, once muttering,

“That’ll teach the sonofabitch.”