The children were found by a farmer two months after they were declared missing. The sheriff and his deputies and the federal agents descended on the cemetery. Tents of yellowed canvas were set up to break the heat. It waved off the gravel road, carrying grasshoppers as they fled from the cruisers. Cicadas yet to die landed on sleeves, on hats. In one of the tents an old detective sat facing the back with his gun in his lap. A deputy entered the tent carrying water in a paper cup. The air inside was musty from the canvas.
What are you going to do with that?
I don’t know yet, the detective said.
Give it to me.
The detective handed the gun to him. He turned to look at the deputy. His eyes were dark, hard and pinched from years of work in the open. What do you do when anyone could wake up one morning and kill you? Kill your family?
I don’t know.
There’s about an inch between you and hell at any time, do you know that? He looked past the deputy. He said nothing more and the deputy left to get someone for him. He didn't know who.
Eric Shonkwiler's writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine, and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, and has lived and worked in every contiguous United States time zone. His first novel, Above All Men is due out in March 2014 from MG Press.