A Nice Man


“I’ll see you in hell.”  His words, gasps really, drifted away, diluted by the humid, lifeless, Peace River night.  Then he fell limp on the floor, sitting against the wall.  Maybe so, I thought, and perhaps things will be better.  I wrapped the gun in his hand and waited. Conrado came running.

“Madam, que pasa?”

“Please, go bring the sheriff.”

“Si, si.”

“Hurry. Ahorita, por favor.”

“Si. Si.”

The sound of hooves pounding against the ground faded. When they were gone, the dead man gurgled, falling sideways.  “You’re not so tough, now,” I said.  He couldn’t hear me.

Conrado returned with the sheriff.

“Thank you Sheriff, for coming.  He must have shot himself.” I threw myself into the surprised man’s arms and wept. 

That part wasn’t planned.  The weeping, that is.  But years of love and hate can affect a person.  Especially when you suddenly realize that it’s over.  Over for good.

The sheriff separated from me and stood over the body, taking a good look.  “Did you see him do it?”

“No.  I just heard the shot.  Conrado, you can leave now.” Conrado left, which was good, because he wouldn’t be much help.  “Sheriff, I need to sit down.”

He helped me walk into the kitchen.  The Peace River Sheriff is a fine man.  Yes he is, that sheriff.  We sat down and the sheriff studied me.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I’m looking for bruises, signs of a struggle.”

“He’s been good.  We haven’t had a fight in weeks.  I can’t believe he shot himself.”  The sheriff was asking the wrong questions. I found myself crying again. 

“Why do you think he shot himself?”

“It was the freeze we had in February.  Ruined the orange crop.  Two years in a row must have been more than he could take.”

“I didn’t know it hit you that bad.”

“Oh yes.  It was bad.”

“Can I take another look at the body?”

“Can we wait a few minutes?  I can’t go back in there. Do you want me to make you some coffee?  I just can’t go back in there.”

“If that’s what you want.”

“Yes, that’s what I want.” I made the coffee and we waited while it brewed.  The kitchen had grown warm, the sun now risen for over an hour.  I could feel the air, heavy, clinging to my skin and saw the sheriff wipe his brow, then tug on his shirt. 

“I think it’s ready,” he said.

I stood next to him and leaned over to fill his cup, and noticed him peeking.  I wore it for you I wanted to say, but there was the problem of the dead body in the other room.  The kitchen was warm.  Yes, I would say it was getting warm now.

The sheriff took a drink.  Then another.  “Did he ever find out about us?” he asked.

“No.  Never.”

He took another drink. “I need to take another look at the body,” he said, then he stood up.



“I’m coming with you.”

The sheriff simply turned and started walking.  The body hadn’t moved.  Removing the pistol seemed far more difficult than I expected. I must have put it in there good. He handed it to me.

“Here.  Put this away.  I’ll get Conrado and we’ll move him outside.  Then we’ll send Conrado for the doctor and make it official.”

The doctor was a nice man, an old man, very old.  I often wondered to whom he would turn when the time came he needed help, especially since he was getting so old now.  “Is that where he done it?” the doctor asked.

“He did it in the house; we moved him outside,” the sheriff said.

The doctor leaned over and looked at the body.  “Gunshot wound to the chest, right side, not much chance at survival. You sure it was a suicide, Sheriff?” he asked.

“Yeah.  It was a suicide.  I’m sure of it.”

“You’d think that if someone was gonna shoot themselves, they’d at least aim for the heart and get it over with quick, you know?”

“Well, maybe he wasn’t thinking about that.”

“Yeah, maybe he wasn’t.  Looks to me like there’s nothing more I can do here. Guess I best be going now.”

The doctor.  What a nice man he is, that doctor.

Written by Ray Ryder   Word Count: 722