Carly walked down the long path that led from her family’s home to the river. She lightly carried a wooden yoke. Dangling from either end of the yoke was a woven sling. In each sling was an empty clear plastic jug with a blue top. Carly also carried a bucket with a funnel that had a screen. The well at the house was not providing a lot of water these days. It was necessay to supplement the well water with water from the river, which was a mile or so away.
It was a coldish day. Carly wore work boots, jeans and a sweatshirt. Over that was a knee-length denim coat that had been lined with flannel. A wool watch cap and gloves completed her ensemble. There was nothing stylish about it, only functional. The concept of “fashion” had disappeared years ago. Surviving was what people worried about.
She reached the river, which was sort of a glorified stream. Carly set up her equipment. Her routine was to draw a bucket of water, let it sit for a minute, pour off what was on top and then slowly pour three-quarters of what was left in the bucket through the funnel and into the jugs. The last bit of water was dumped back into the river. Then Carly would rinse out the bucket, back-wash the screen and repeat the process. It probably took her a half-hour to fill the jugs.
Carly shouldered the now heavy yoke, picked up the pail and the funnel and started back for home. She was about three hundred yards from the river, moving through a patch of woods, when she thought she heard something. She stopped and listened. She heard another noise. Carly didn’t think it was an animal.
“Who’s there,” she asked in a quiet tone.
A man wearing jeans, a flannel shirt, a denim jacket, boots and a brimmed hat stepped out from behind some trees about sixty feet away.
“Frank,” she said. It was a statement, not a greeting.
“Hi, Carly, it’s been a long time.” Frank had been a rough kid, back when the high school was still open. He looked rougher now.
Carly asked: “What do you want?” She was pretty sure she knew what he wanted.
“Well, now, I thought we might have a bit of fun, you and I.” The way Frank answered her made it clear to Carly what sort of fun he had in mind.
“Frank Anderson, I don’t have time for your foolishness.”
Frank started walking towards her. As he walked, he reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a heavy folding knife, the “commando” kind, which could be opened with one-hand and had a blade that locked open. The click was audible as he flicked it open. “Well, that just makes it even more fun for me,” he said with a look that was both predatory and anticipatory.
Carly’s right hand barely seemed to move as she apparently made a large caliber revolver appear from nowhere. Frank had time to widen his eyes in surprise as his brain registered the sight of a weapon being pointed at him and the sound of the hammer of the revolver being brought back.
The heavy lead slug from Carly’s pistol caught him low in the center of his forehead. He was dead before his knees buckled.
Carly stood stock-still, listening for any movement, any sign that Frank was not alone. She then removed the fired cartridge case, replaced it with a fresh round, re-holstered her sidearm and resumed her trip back home.
She would send her brothers to bury Frank.