For years, the old man had worked as a flagman on the railroad in Beowawe, eventually retiring after an accident left him crippled. Still he puttered about the yard, helping where he could and enjoying the swapping of tales late into the evening by the glow of a pot-bellied stove.
Like any other town, the whistle-stop saw an uptick in fires as the cold weather set in. The fires were rarely fatal, but that changed one early morning when a blaze broke out at the rail yard, killing the nightwatchman.
Brady saw the man hobbling away from the tracks, and realized what he had been up to. He followed him to his house where he overpowered, bound, threw a noose around his neck and stood him on a rickety old chair before tightening the rope.
“You know the nightwatchman had a family? A wife and five children.”
“Yeah, but how’s I ‘spose to know he’d try and be a hero? That ain’t his job.”
“And setting fires isn’t your job.”
“So now you expect me to hang myself?”
“No, you’ll have a choice.”
Before he left the house, Brady set it on fire. The retired flagman could either jump or burn.