Rebecca hid in the field’s margin, between the barbed wire fence and an ancient pile of rocks overgrown with grass. Here on the old Cutbert quarter section, common starlings and grackles trailed behind the tractor, hopped in the tracks after the insects her father stirred up. The tractor crawled left and right across her view, edged closer with every turn at the ends of the field. He rode hunched over, gripped the wheel, perched high above the green box of the tractor between the immense wheels. The plow cut and turned the sod, laid out ribbons of red, and turfed up the bugs. More birds swarmed in the air, circled the equipment and the man, a soaring confusion of tight cuts and darting turns.
The wheeling birds didn’t distract Rebecca. She focused on her father. She cradled the two-two-three in her arms, a bullet in the chamber. It would have to be a head shot, but she was good at this. She swept the barrel up and centered it. Through the cheap scope she could perceive the details of his face. His mouth hung open and slack, his gaze steady on the field ahead of him, his eyes squinted against the bright magic of spring’s light. She could do it if she didn’t catch sight of those eyes. Too bad she had his blue eyes, not her momma’s soft brown eyes – she hated that.
The crosshairs claimed him; the barrel arced as slow as a telescope tracks a star as he drove across her field of fire. She aimed right in front of his ear, dead on target except for minor tractor lurches that bumped him up and down. She had waited in deep cover to let the prey circle in close. She felt ready for the kill.
As he rode downfield, she lined up on the skull behind his ear. There – but her finger wouldn’t squeeze. Her heart thudded heavy and quick, her eyes full of tears. Her finger slipped off the trigger. She squeezed her eyes shut, hard. The ringing of her pulse in her ears. The man in the khaki shirt rode across the field, oblivious to her murderous intent. Her weakness.
She had crept into the field to stop it all with death, but she couldn’t. As she gave him his ugly life back, she lowered the gun and twisted around. She wriggled under the fence and into the windbreak trees. Another time. Maybe another way.
Scott Archer Jones is currently living and working on his seventh novel in northern New Mexico, after stints in the Netherlands, Scotland and Norway plus less exotic locations. He’s worked for a power company, grocers, a lumberyard, an energy company (for a very long time), and a winery — none of these jobs were particularly successful. He has launched three books. Jupiter and Gilgamesh, a Novel of Sumeria and Texas in 2014, The Big Wheel in 2015, and A Rising Tide of People Swept Away in March 2016.