Author’s Note: It may be that I might have to commission my friend who does western art to do a painting of the type of barn I had in mind when I started this story. I can picture it, but a search through my photographs of the old family farm and the ones that came up on google didn’t quite match what I had in mind. If I were to dig up the last barn I drew, it would be laughable at best.
We’ll see. Having that picture might not be necessary. It depends on how this story continues to develop.
“Thanks, Carrie,” Carson said, accepting the glass from his sister-in-law. She gave him a smile, pushing back some of her hair, looking more like she’d been the one sorting through the barn than he did. Then again, he hadn’t made a lot of progress, spending more of his time standing out here studying it like he expected inspiration to hit him so that he’d understand what his grandfather was doing by leaving him all of this.
If his grandfather had been behind his father’s death—if his father was even dead—then maybe this was his backward way of confessing, but why wouldn’t he just have put that in the will? In a letter for them to read after he was gone?
By the way, I’m dying so now I can admit that I killed him, and I’m not sorry. I did it for my daughter and grandsons, and I’d do it again. I’m only admitting it now because by the time anyone reads this, I’ll be dead.
“Sorry. Daydreaming again. Bad habit of mine.”
“I don’t think daydreaming is the right word for what you’ve been doing,” she told him, folding her arms over her chest. She shook her head. “That didn’t look like any kind of ‘dream’ to me, more like a nightmare, and it always does when your mind starts wandering. What makes you so quick to go to the darkness, anyway?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m a born pessimist. Why not? My father took off when I was born, so that’s not a very auspicious way to start life, now is it?”
“I suppose not, but you don’t have to let it rule your life, either. Plenty of people do just fine with only one parent, and your grandfather more than made up for your father taking off. Larry and Nick, they’re angry about the whole thing, but you, you turn it into something frightening. A murder.”
“I don’t know that it had to be murder. I know it’s crazy. I know they did everything to prove that I never saw what I thought I saw. Maybe it’s just my mind’s way of coping with the fact that he’s not a part of my life. I mean, he’s been as good as dead for almost thirty years. Picturing him that way isn’t that unreasonable.” Carson took another sip of the water and then turned it around in the glass, feeling like he was stalling, but he didn’t know why he’d do that. This wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have, and he didn’t need Nick’s wife mothering him, either. He would get back to work in a minute. “It’s just being out here again. It’s been a long time since I thought about it—too much work, never the time to spare to drive out all this way—and so I haven’t been here in almost a year. Hadn’t seen Grandpa in that long, either, and now he’s gone. Grief works in strange ways.”
Carrie looked at him. “You work in strange ways, Carson.”
He grunted, setting down the water and picking up the pitchfork. He had to deal with the hay first—he was letting his uncle keep anything that was worth using—and then he could start uncovering the stuff he would need to make a decision about. The worst part would be behind the doors in the back, a closet of sorts that he didn’t think had been opened in his entire lifetime. “Anyone find the keys yet?”
“Probably have to break the lock.”
“Your uncle won’t like that.”
“So he won’t like it. I know he’s pissed about me getting everything in the barn. It was the lawyer who said I got any of the animals in here, not me, and I already told him I’d give them to him since they belong on the farm. I wouldn’t have a place for them, and I don’t have time to care for him. I told him he could have the hay, too. Didn’t make him any happier.”
It almost made Carson wonder if his uncle had secrets to hide out here, if that was why he was so upset about Carson getting all this, but he was tired of his own paranoia. He had no reason to believe that anything had happened out here. He did not need to make this situation worse by voicing any of his suspicions or even by thinking too much about them. He’d done enough to alienate his family already.
“You don’t have to do this all today, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“You’re going to try and do it anyway, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am.”