Yancy was never meant to be shot. But that’s what happened as Bill took aim at the buck, following it along as it ran.
Suddenly Yancy stood up as Bill squeezed the trigger. Tighe and Jerry raced to where the older cowboy fell.
“Oh, Lordy,” Jerry said. “I think he’s dead.”
By this time, Bill was beside himself, and panic had set in. He wasn’t sure whether he should run away or stay and help.
As Bill stood staring, Tighe gathered Yancy’s horse, and with Jerry’s help, tossed the dead man over the saddle. Frozen with fear, they helped Bill get on his horse too.
It was a long ride, arriving back at the ranch in the small hours of the following day. Quietly, Jerry entered the main house, where he was surprised to find Agnes standing in the hallway with a shotgun aimed at his chest.
“You should have called out before coming all the way inside,” she said, lowering the gun.
“You’re back early. Must’ve been successful,” Agnes added. “Let me heat some coffee up.”
“Bad news, Aggie,” Jerry blurted out, “Bill accidentally shot Yance. ‘Fraid he’s dead.”
Agnes quickly rushed to the front door. Though dark, there was enough moonlight that she could see her husband’s body draped over his favorite horse.
She gave out a blood-curdling shriek that startled everyone, including the horses. Yancy’s body slid off the horse, saddle, and all, dropping to the ground with a sickening thud as his frightened horse bucked in circles.
Jerry had to help Agnes back inside and to the couch. He fumbled to turn on the lights before stepping to the phone to call 9-1-1 and report the hunting accident.
As he finished dialing, he heard the yelling and carrying on of Bill and Tighe. They sounded as if they were in a panic.
When he turned, he saw Yancy standing in the open doorway. He had his rifle raised and aimed at Jerry.
Agnes screamed, “Yancy. What are you doing?”
“I’m about to take care of business,” he answered as he chambered a round.
“For crying out loud, Yancy, it was an accident,” Jerry said.
Jerry looked at the shotgun still leaning in the corner against the wall where the hallway and front room met. He looked back at Yancy and knew he had no chance of getting to it before he was shot.
As Yancy raised the rifle to fire and Jerry raised his arms as if to ward off the bullet, a loud blast came from outside the front door. Yancy winced, twisted, and fell to the floor.
In the dim moonlight, he could see Bill standing there, rifle in hand. A trace of smoke trailed up from the barrel.
“Let’s go,” Bill said as he turned and head to the truck, where Tighe waited behind the wheel.
“I’m sorry, Aggie,” Bill said. “We thought he was dead. Honest.”
She didn’t hear him.
Instead, she was going for the shotgun in the hallway. Jerry knew that he’d best make tracks if he wanted to live, and so he dashed out the door and dove into the back of the pickup as it bumped and bounced down the dirt road.
As buckshot from Agnes gun scattered across the right side of the truck’s bed, Jerry wondered, “Did the dispatcher hear all that?”