“I had no reason to feel that way now. But I did. It was just an itching in my soul that I did not want to scratch. I felt like I had a cancer that might kill me, but as long as I remained ignorant of it, I was safe from it. The problem, however, was that Weathers knew it was there..”
By C.L. Harmon
That following morning brought with it a feeling of peace. Maybe it was the residual warm feeling I had from the kiss Sam gave me the night before and to where it might lead. I had much to tell Letters and so I stopped by his office on my way to school. He was there and his office door was open. I walked in, but he didn’t hear me. He had his head buried in some papers that were strewn across a couple of folders on his desk.
I cleared my throat and it he acknowledged me with a soft “good morning”. I noticed Dobson’s autopsy report was still on his desk as was a folder marked FBI. Letters was filing nothing away until he ended this thing it seemed.
“I went by Polk’s place this morning,” he said softly. “I was hoping to catch him before he left for work, but I was too late.” I could tell there was something wrong. “I got an early morning call to come out to Braddock’s Farm. He had 12 head of cattle dead.”
“Dead? What happened?” As I asked, he dropped his pen on the desk in a mildly annoyed manner before answering.
“I don’t know Blake. They were 12 big healthy animals at dark last night and 12 skinny shrunken beasts this morning. Four ranch hands and Braddock all swear the cows were perfectly healthy before they packed it in at 5:30 last night. Even if someone wanted to hurt those cows, there is nothing on this earth that I know of which could have done that to them.
“Why go by Polk’s? I mean what did you think he would know?” He slowly sips his coffee and then the phone rings. He places the cup on the folder labeled ‘autopsy’ and answers.
“Letters…” There is a few seconds of silence and a couple of okays before a final thank you ends the call. He rests the phone back in its cradle saying, “vet” to me as he was doing so. “The vet reports that he can’t find anything physically wrong with those cows…except of course the fact that they all lost hundreds of pounds in the span of a few hours.
“Ya know Blake, not long after all this started, back when Polk had Calvin Bledsoe tied up in his barn threatening to kill him; I remember laying in bed that night with a thought. It was the first moment that I realized that all I could do was minimize collateral damage. There was no controlling this series of events that were going to unfold right in front of me. I remembered that thought this morning as I was driving out to Polk’s place. To be honest, I was sort of relieved when I got there and Selma told me I had missed him.”
There was this look of despair and finality in his eyes as he spoke. I wished to find that spark that used to live in those green eyes before all of this, before Porter was murdered, before Polk’s henchmen, before learning that the universe was more complicated than life in a small town. There was a sense of innocence and gratitude within him back then. He was a vibrant ladies man who saw hope in mankind and people…even broken people. Now he too was broken and void of hope. He had aged years it seemed in what had been only months. This all had to end soon. Next to my father, Elden Letters was the greatest man I knew. And now, like Porter, he was being taken away.