Carly met her father, her uncle Max and her brothers Sam and Josh when she was half-way back to the homestead. All were carrying rifles or shotguns, which told Carly that they had heard the shot she had fired and were coming to investigate. Uncle Max was very strict about not using firearms for hunting, only for emergencies, such as fighting. “Bows for hunting, guns for killing,” Uncle Max liked to say.
The concern on her father’s face lessened somewhat when he saw that she was alive and walking. “We heard a shot,” he said.
She nodded. “Frank Anderson wanted to rape me.”
“You get him?”
She nodded again and pointed back up the trail. “He’s a few hundred yards from the river.”
Her father looked at her gravely. “Go on back home with the water. Boys, you go with her, get a couple of shovels, a pickaxe, a heavy rake and meet your uncle and me back up near the river. Don’t leave your guns home.”
Uncle Max added: “Don’t any of you say anything to anyone else. There will be consequences if you do.” When Uncle Max spoke of “consequences”, that meant anything from extra work to an ass-whipping. Carly and her brothers were ten yards down the trail when Uncle Max added: “You come back with them, Carly.”
The three were out of earshot of their father and uncle when Sam asked: “So what happened, Carly?”
Carly shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
She didn’t. It took them 20 minutes to walk home. Carly slowed them up a little as she was carrying the water. Neither one of her brothers offered to help her with the load. When they got home, Carly took the water to the tank. There, at least, Sam helped her pour the water into the tank. She had almost finished putting the yoke and jugs away when her mother came up behind her. “Carly, come help me with the baking.”
Carly shook her head. “Can’t, Mom. Dad and Uncle Max told me to go back with Josh and Sam.”
Her mother looked sharply at Carly’s face. “What happened, dear? Are you all right?”
“I’ll be fine, Mom. But you have to ask Dad.” Carly’s mom moved to hug her daughter, but Carly shook her off, muttering that she had work to do. She went to the gun room, picked up her rifle, a .30-30, made sure it was loaded, grabbed some extra shells, and slung the rifle. Josh and Sam were waiting for her in the yard. Josh handed her a rake and a shovel to carry; he and Sam had two pickaxes and two more shovels. They set off back down the trail to the river.
Uncle Max and Carly’s father, Bill, were examining the body. Max looked at the hole in Frank’s face. “Your daughter’s a pretty good shot,” he commented. “Doubt if ol’ Frank here felt a thing.” He turned Frank’s head and saw the large exit wound in the back of his head. “Nope, he probably didn’t.”
Bill was of the opinion that Frank should have suffered terribly, but he kept quiet. “How far away you think she was?’
Max looked closer at Frank’s face. “No powder marks on him, it wasn’t too close.” Max noted that there were brain and blood spatters in one direction. He stood up and moved slowly down the trail in the opposite direction, looking at the scuff marks in the dry dirt. “Looks like about here’s where she was.” He looked back at Frank’s corpse. “Fifty feet or so? Doubt if Frank would have stood still and let her take a bead on him, so she had to have shot quick. Damn fine shooting.” Max looked around. “Let’s find a spot for him.”
By the time that Carly and her brothers returned, their father and uncle had found a likely spot and had dragged Frank over to it. Uncle Max ordered Josh to go further down the trail to the rise, hide, and hotfoot it back if he saw anyone coming. Then the four of them began the work of digging the hole. It took them four hours to dig a hole five foot deep; two working, two resting and on lookout.
They were ready to toss Frank into his grave. Bill said: “You think we should strip him?”
Max thought it over. “Yeah, we can use his stuff for mending and patching. Leave him his underwear, though. And toss his hat and knife in, those are kind of distinctive.” He turned to Carly. “You do it.”
Uncle Max’s tone was no-nonsense, Carly did what she was told. She bundled up Frank’s boots and clothes in a bundle made from his shirt. Then they rolled Frank into the grave. They threw in a layer of dirt, then some heavy rocks to discourage scavengers from disinterring Frank, then they filled the grave, occasionally stopping to tamp down the dirt layers.
When they finished, the rest of the dirt was scattered about. They raked over the grave to remove marks and then threw some branches and leaf litter onto it. They also raked over the spatter from the shooting. Bill sent Sam to go find Josh and when the two returned, they all went home.
Nobody missed Frank. Nobody in the homesteads in the area ever mentioned him. His family didn't go looking for him.
It didn’t bother Carly at all. Too much bad shit had happened since the Day the Skies Burned and shooting Frank was, to her, a minor thing.