This is it, folks. Something happens in the paragraphs below which will change the entire course of this story. This is the first time you’ve been invited into Sheriff Boyd’s head, and this is the last time you’ll be there. But it will be enough, I think.
A War Between States Part 29:
Sheriff Robert Boyd sat in his patrol car and gazed out across the field of cotton next to him. He was parked on a dirt road that ran perpendicular to the Cauley Highway. A stand of thinning loblolly pines hid him from view, and he watched the road in front of him, waiting for the speeding teenager or teacher he knew would come flying down the paved road any minute. They always sped down this road on their way to the high school. They always got faster the later it got.
The morning light came in through the windshield and would have shined in his eyes, except for his mirrored shades. Thank God for mirrored shades.
As he sat and stared at the cotton, with its buds still closed against the late August heat — he thought about a few things. He thought about Soames’ encounter with the Granger woman. She was trying to open a bar right here on this highway, and although he agreed with Soames that such a thing was bad, he simply couldn’t agree with how Soames had gone about dealing with her. Still, what was done was done.
It was only a matter of time, though, before Soames’s enthusiasm got them both into hot water. Boyd was sure of it.
He thought again about his own encounter with Bill Wells back in July. Thinking about it, he didn’t approve of how he’d handled that situation. And the spite, the disgust, in Wells’s voice had bothered Boyd more than his slack, expressionless face had showed.
Thank God for mirrored shades.
It was a bit of a blow, listening to Wells’s rant. Especially after being so blatantly shut out of the GBI’s raid on Coach Williams’s Underground. He’d called the state police’s offices in Atlanta the next day. They’d stonewalled him.
That made him furious. But it also made him sad — sad that to them, he was only a podunk backwoods sheriff with droopy drawers who didn’t deserve to know about things that were happening in his own jurisdiction.
And now over a month had passed. Williams was out on bail, along with his little helpers. Boyd had seen Jamal Jenkins, Elgin Blalock, and the Green boy around town. No sign of Williams, though. But Boyd figured — he hoped — that the GBI sons of bitches knew where the man was.
The sheriff scowled at the fields of cotton and gripped the steering wheel tight. His wedding band glinted in the morning sun.
And then Terminius Green’s infamous white Mustang buzzed by him on the Cauley Highway. The top was down and two black men sat in the front seats.
Boyd checked the radar gun. It read 57 MPH.
“Dammit,” he muttered. Two miles over the speed limit wasn’t enough for him to pull anyone over - not even Terminius Green.
But then something compelled him to start his car and shift into gear. He felt suspicious for some reason. And his suspicion didn’t come from the oddity of those two being awake so early. It didn’t come from the oddity that the Green boy wasn’t speeding. It didn’t even come from knowing who it was driving down the road in the early morning light.
These things didn’t even occur to him. It did briefly occur to him that he might be following Green’s car because the drivers were black — but he shook his head and dismissed the thought. A backwoods sheriff, maybe, but he wasn’t Soames.
He just knew that it was important for him to follow Green. At a distance.
He followed them for ten miles, until they turned off a little side road just past the lot Tamara Granger had purchased. A sign at the intersection read County Maintained 51. He’d been to visit Tamara earlier that morning, had given her some paperwork that she demanded (and that might turn into the pot which boiled the hot water for Soames and him to get in). He noticed again how Tamara’s contractors had already cleared the most of the trees from her lot and had begun erecting a long, low building under the sparse shadows of the giant oak which she hadn’t had cut down. The building - the bar - would be finished soon.
There had been workers out earlier, but no one was out there at the moment - no one that he could see. And no one was coming down the highway in either direction. He was alone out here — the backwoods sheriff and two probable felons. Boyd thought about calling in, but decided to wait until he saw where Green was going.
A couple of miles down County Maintained 51, he saw that Green had pulled up to a white trailer parked up the hill from the access road. No one was in the Mustang anymore.
“Must be in the trailer,” Boyd said to the trees and the red dirt all around him.
He pulled to the side of the road and radioed in. “Boyd to Home Base One,” he said. “Sonny, you there?”
Sonny Doswell’s bright, tinny voice crackled back at Boyd. “Hey, Sheriff. I read ya’. How can I help you?” Sonny’s unbridled enthusiasm was unsettling.
God, but that boy needed to get laid, Boyd thought.
“Sonny, who owns the white trailer on County Maintained 51? It’s about two and a half miles from the Cauley turn-off.”
“Dunno, Sheriff. Lemme ask Jessie.”
Boyd nodded. If anybody knew, Jessie Hays, his office’s obsessive-compulsive records-keeper, would know.
“Sheriff?” Sonny’s voice cracked like a fourteen-year-old’s.
“Uh. Eh. ‘Scuse me. If that trailer’s the same one Jess thinks it is, it belongs to Kay Williams.”
“Kay Williams? Coach Jeb Williams’ wife?”
“Ex-wife, Sheriff. But that’s the one.”
Boyd squinted at the building in front of him. Both it and the Mustang seemed to glow in the sunlight. Opalescent haloes surrounded them.
“Sonny, send Barry out this way, wouldja?” Boyd said.
“Sure, Sheriff. What’s going on? Should I call them GBI fellas?”
Boyd scowled again, and Sonny Doswell must have sensed the scowl through the radio.
“I gotcha, sheriff,” he said nervously. “I’m on it.”
Boyd nodded again and let the radio intercom drop from his hand onto the seat beside him. Then he put his car back in gear and began to creep toward the trailer.
He edged onto the upward sloping driveway. He could hear the crunch of rocks and clay under his tires. He debated about turning on his flashers, but decided against it — after all, this could only be a “friendly” visit. He had no proof that the people in the trailer were doing anything wrong.
For a moment the sun rippled across his windshield, blinding him, but then it moved out of his eyes and he could see, although his vision had little yellow sunspots playing across it.
Through the sunspots he could see that in the instant he had been blinded, someone had thrown open the door to the trailer. That someone, a dark figure against the darker interior of the building, stood in the doorway, pointing a rifle at him.
There was a sound, sharp and distinct in the morning air, and then Sheriff Robert Boyd watched his windshield crack. A spider web of shattered glass started at a point just in front of him and spread outward, its growing branches and strands glinting and shimmering in the morning sun.
He was caught at the center of that web. And even as he thought that very thought, he felt the spider’s sting on his neck.
- Sheriff Boyd - Dennis Maguire
- Narrator/Sonny Doswell - Will Kenyon