1HORNS OF THE AVENGER

Keith Sorenson, uncomfortably sweating from the hot September sun in his rubberized all-weather camouflaged ‘jungle bunny’ suit, dismounted from his highchair like hunter’s perch overlooking the west slope of Arsenal Mound. While clumsily shedding the bulky overall, he saw a white monster that seemingly stopped, and stared at him before vanishing in the uphill undergrowth. It looked very much like a white buffalo, and a mind boggling trophy in Minnesota, or anywhere in the modern world. Sorenson, a dedicated hunter always in search of something rarer or larger than recorded in the record books, exulted in that opportunity without questioning the improbability of such a miracle find. As a contracted wildlife hunter for the state of Minnesota, Keith did not have the need of a hunting license, or bear any license restrictions. He could easily say he thought it an albino deer, and deer of any color, he was hired to shoot. By time Keith was free of the confining outer garment, his trophy prey was rustling the woodland brush that tangled all of the open space between the oaks and poplars and it appeared to be moving toward him. Keith dropped to one knee, assuming the classic kneeling position of competitive shooters. His scope focused on the patch of bare sand, where a new gravel-test ditch provided a good shoot, should the buffalo continue forward. The rustling of undergrowth stopped, and Keith could see a white blob just barely inside the brush and less than fifty yards away. Keith zeroed in and fired twice. The white mass did not move, so he fired three more times, dead on but nothing moved. Holding the gun at ready, he started toward his target; sure the high-powered shells were all on target and had blown away all chance of life in the

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beast. Ten yards away, Keith saw the white mass quiver, and then the brush exploded, and Keith was knocked down and trampled into a bloody mass. CHAPTER TWO "..and she goes, like I can't give you, like a cool grade, you know, because you don't like talk English," so I=m like, “This is like America and hey, like I speak American, you know what I’m saying, so then I goes, you don't need that Shakespeare stuff, you know. So I like tells her good, you know, so she gives me like a D minus, So how do I make like an anything college? Like, how come a D, effing minus, anyway...Right. Like she=s so friggin bright. Damned straight, she don=t know like fine. Bob Lowe wanted to say, "How charitable, her grading," but since earlier admitting that he taught English, Lowe chose to suggest, "Hey like, maybe, she thought you over-used similes". He knew her next words would be, "Like, Hey, what's a simile?" So he continued ruefully, "In Detroit inner city schools on curve grading, you would probably get an A minus.@ His seat companion babbled on but he shut her out to concentrate on why he had walked out of his classroom and embarked on this wild trip to far off Minnesota precipitated by a wildly provocative story in a Minnesota weekly newspaper that some unknown person had clipped and sent his way. Apparently, the newspaper desperately needed a competent editor, like himself, and he was certain an intriguing mystery lurked behind the story. Bob's callow seat mate, eyes closed, now feigning sleep, was probably insulted by his automatic nods and half-conscious and likely sarcastic non sequiturs. Good! He retrieved from his billfold the clipping that had triggered his sudden, and self-surprising, withdrawal

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from a hard-earned steady job as an English teacher, and read it again:

Did Dear Do-in Deer Hunter? Dynamic Powders, publicity-buffeted operator of the United States Government's Newberg Arsenal, suffered another setback in its controversial deer eradication program when, Keith Sorenson, Minnesota's only licensed bounty hunter, was found, apparently trampled to death, by his fiancée, Fay Comfrey. Fay was bringing him lunch, early Wednesday forenoon, so he would not need to pass the gauntlet of angry protestors who gathered there to protest his cruelty to animals, or demand an equal opportunity at deer eradication. Arsenal neighbors had counted and recorded his rifle shots and recognized he either was a very poor shot or was testing Dynamic’s ammunition=s killing power as he fired five times more shots than his reported deer destroyed. The herd of deer, which has grown to over threehundred, is not content to browse only the four-hundred wooded acres of the Arsenal, but are jumping, with ease to browse on neighboring gardens, over the twelve foot fence encircling the Newberg Arsenal and Arms plant. The excluded Twin city deer hunters are seething and demand to be included in fun and the final solution. They want a drawing or lottery for the hunting privilege but Dynamic Powders insists the eradicator must be one solitary hunter shooting from a fixed location and into a focused firing area to eliminate the possibility of accidentally igniting lost and stored rocket and mortar shells. On that fatal morning, jealous hunters picketed the main gate, competing for attention, with pickets from several animal rights groups. Sorenson's body, accompanied by his grieving fiancee, was hurriedly sent to the country coroner, Dr.

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Hermon Davids, who is baffled as to the cause of his death. The Coroner reportedly said it appeared, he was trampled by the tiny hooves of the very animals he sought to destroy.'
Bob Lowe posted the clipping on the bulletin board of his journalism classroom with a post-it note stating, AWho did what to who and when or where@, along with a challenge that Bob's class conduct a contest to find the best headline. Bob then set his fourth hour class to finding and correctly parsing, the two longest sentences in the column, and while his proctor readied photocopies for each student, he went, reeled-in by the sloppy writing, to the library. After a half hour’s research, Bob dismissed his class for lunch and spent the next hour freshening his ready resume and, impetuously faxing it along with a job application to Charles Grimm, Publisher of the Newberg Bullet cold Minnesota. Stressing his single status coupled with inexpensive spending habits and reasonable monetary needs, hiring him would not burden the Bullet=s budget. Bob=s resume glowingly summarized his experience at a full complement of journalism tasks, including skillful and much needed copy editing. Publisher Grimm, who proved to be impetuous as Bob Lowe, quickly recognized their mutual need. Two days later, Bob heard himself paged, and took Grimm's call during his last class hour. Grimm offered Bob a salary that finally proved him well paid as a teacher. Money is not everything to a single man with no debts and moderate tasks, so Bob accepted. Lowe’s rash resignation, confirmed Booker Washington High School Principal=s suspicion he was not fiercely committed to teaching. Brian Wilson, currently

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the troubled school=s acting Principal, accepted with alacrity, wasting only a few words in insincere protest. So here he was, on the first step of his new career as a writer, on his way to see Fay Comfrey=s tiny hooves. He folded and returned the clipping to his cash-lean billfold and sank into a reverie where he as awarded a Nobel Prize for his best-selling novel. "Fasten your seat belts for our on time arrival at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport," chanted the cheery assuring recording, snapping him out of his daydream and Bob compliantly fastened his seat belt. Belt fastened, he clumsily checked his sport coat pocket to make sure he still had his return ticket to Detroit for the following weekend. He hoped to drive back to Minnesota with his portable possessions stuffed in his one luxury, a forty-two year old Packard rescued from the Detroit Police=s >Seized Property Auction= and restored fairly well by his schools adjoining Brooks Technical High School=s auto repair students at just Aparts@ cost. That benefit was probably his only reward for three years, in the war-zone of Detroit=s inner city. He found the ticket and Bob=s mind returned again to daydreams of his future literary success as the plane bumped gently to a landing. Exiting the plane, passing the bulkhead row, he gave his full tricks-or-treats bag, previously distributed to passengers by the Halloween-Witch-costumed flight attendant, to the pretty little girl with withered legs waiting patiently for the plane to empty enough for passage of her wheel chair. "Take this now, Honey in case you don't get to spook my house tonight," he said while wondering where he would spend the night. The watching Stewardess enthusiastically impersonating a pirate if dressed by Frederics of Hollywood, smiled approvingly, and he regretted not

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having pushed harder for her telephone number, when she had helped him stow his overstuffed garment bag. Bob hoped the flight attendant had her home base in Minneapolis and that their paths might cross again. Bob was currently very much unattached, and he had already thoroughly exhausted his Detroit area dating pool. CHAPTER THREE Grimm's self-description was accurate, although just a bit flattering. Bob was easily able to pick out a burly and balding ex-football tackle whose muscles had gentled, so he did not need to see the large >PRESS PASS= Grimm was so proudly waving, apparently for everyone's recognition. Reaching out to take Grimm=s hand, Grim engulfed drew in his new employee in a bear like grasp. Grimm, like many communicators needed to bar the escape of their audience. "Have a good flight, Bob? Normally, air gets bumpy in October while reaching around to firmly take possession of Bob's over-packed two-suiter, then wheezing, "Is this it, or do we wait for baggage?" Sensing Grimm to be an impatient man, Bob was glad to reply, “I travel light and am not much for fashion, so this duffel bag and briefcase holds everything I will need, other than that overstuffed garment bag, you are so kindly carrying. It gave the stewardess a fit trying to get in the overhead," Bob said, thankful that he had not checked anything. Grimm propelled him directly out the front door to his car. Not surprisingly, it sat at the yellow painted curb, improperly parked motor running, passenger door and trunk open and waiting. “Did you get me hotel or room like I so boldly requested?" Bob said, not sure that he had requested that favor, or had just assumed, Grimm would.

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"Well, Yes, I did get a small apartment, for you to try out on the second floor of the drugstore, right next to the Bullet building. It is cheap and convenient so you do not need transportation. Fact is, we only have the two vehicles right now. My Buick, here for show and first impressions and the Jeep station wagon, you will have to share with Sue, our only child and only other full time editorial employee. She does not use it much as she pretty much editorializes and edits the news. Grew up right in the shop, learned every thing right on the job. She does not like reporting too much, as she can=t stand criticism from readers. She tells most nitpickers off and I can't afford that with only 6,000 true subscribers, and she don't make any distinction between advertisers and one time readers," Grimm confessed, and now Bob understood how the Arsenal story with the garbled syntax was picked up by the service bureaus. The offer of dinner at the Grimms was eagerly accepted, both as recognition of his new need to eat out less and his great curiosity about his new employer's family, specially, the self-educated news editor, Sue. Bob was surprised at the absence of traffic problems as they sped the thirty miles of belt line encircling the Twin Cities from the Airport on the south side to their north side Long Lake Road exit in less than half an hour, at Grimm=s dangerous seventy-five miles per hour, punctuated by much lane-swerving adventures. On a Friday and also Halloween all the other cars were moving quickly and even politely. This would take some getting used to. A short mile north of their Interstate 94 exit, Charlie slowed, to enter a driveway almost hidden from view by untrimmed hedge and dense shrubbery. "Here's home", Grimm said proudly, "Homesteaded by my greatgrandfather in 1872 and the second oldest house still on

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the lake. I have nearly eight acres of the old farmyard here, so I have no problems with neighbors but I have to fight off the developers. This is the only undeveloped property on the west side of the lake, There's Sue now!" They parked directly facing a restored Victorian house that must have modeled for Charles Adams ghostly mansions. Bob looked right and left, then straight ahead before finally spotting her. She sat on the middle of the five wide steps leading up to the broad porch that wrapped the front of the house. A large, black dog that could claim Labrador or Saint Bernard ancestry, sprawled possessively across her lap, hiding most of Sue from view. What Bob could see was beautiful. As they exited the car, Sue welcomed her father with kisses of affection, while the dog, apparently named `Down Blacky, Get Down', tried to perform the same functions with Bob. "He doesn't bite. Mentally, he is still a cuddly puppy, starved for affection, show him you like him and he will love you. You must be the new reporter?" "Oh Lord! She's so pretty and her Dad has not let her know I'll be editing her writing," Bob whispered to the dog that had its face eye to eye with his, and was not stretching. "Call off your dog, I surrender, and won't burgle your house, nor bite your dog, even to make news on a slow day", he said while daring to look her fully in the face, then, shocked her, adding, "If I had known how beautiful you were, I would have agreed to work at the Bullet with you for free". Much later, as he lay on borrowed sheets in the "trial" furnished apartment, unable to sleep, he recalled the night's dinner, with embarrassment. What a silly fool, he had been, trying to impress Sue and her father with his erudition and worldly experience. He knew he did not fool Sue=s mother Irma, who had such piercing eyes and protective paranoia about her only child, Sue. Irma

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had obviously been a beautiful girl, also, and her genes had fortunately triumphed over Charlie's, so she had probably heard every version of his corny lines while fending off hot-blooded studs wanting to bounce on her bones. Saving herself for Charlie did not seem an overly wise investment as Charlie had let his former radiance fade. Yes, Irma could read his mind and her super polite inquiries, like "Why would you want to give up teaching for a job with a small time weekly newspaper?" Bob had not told any of the Grimms of his true desire to be a novelist, afraid they would suspect his true motivations, and cancel his position at the BULLET. When she had queried why he hadn't married yet after learning he was almost thirty, he could've been more reassuring, had he not bragged, "Like the trial apartment, Charlie arranged for me, I've always been selected for trial relationships, never finding the rich, sexy, beautiful girl with enough brains to recognize what a good catch I would be." Oh yes, and he had wounded his chances of Irma ever wanting her only child interested in him with that inane gag about the dumb farm kid, recruited at Notre Dame to play tackle, especially after tailoring the story, to make it Charlie's position and alma mater. After the third cup of Irma's Coffee and home-made Irish crème, had he really said, "The reason I'm here for the first day of November, when Winter really begins, is because I heard Minnesota people never sleep alone in the winter, and I'm curious who I'll be assigned to." The few times Sue had gone to the door to hand out apples to the tricks or treaters, had he really told them he would come back to their door, tricks or treating, wearing the costume Adam wore before he ate the apple? Grimm’s homemade cordials must have been pure vodka, and coupled with his limited exposure to

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liquor because of a new teacher=s fund-deficient budget, proved Bob Lowe an easily intoxicated fool.

CHAPTER FOUR Bob woke to persistent rapping, and foggily concluded someone was hammering at the door of his new three-room apartment, and it was still dark outside. "Who is it, tricks or treats," he said hopefully, wondering which of his admirers or enemies knew where he was. It could not be any friend or anyone who knew him well. since they knew his mental function was severely impaired until the sun had risen. "Open up, I am Sue and we've got a bad one going. We probably got a chance for a "stringer" like you were talking about last night." Bob, who slept nude, not knowing how cold his bedroom would be with a window slightly open for fresh air, hurriedly dressed, stalling Sue with, "Just a second, Sue. My feet have frozen to the floor, and it will be a minute until my shivering breaks them loose. Did you bring Coffee?" Sue had providentially stopped at McDonalds bringing coffee, orange juice and egg sausage sandwiches for them both. She had his complete attention as he wolfed down his sandwich, realizing that he needed to inventory his new home's possessions and lay in some household goods and foods. Hoping this emergency would not fill the day, he asked, "So, what's new in Newberg?" "An eight year old boy, out tricks or treating right here in this neighborhood, disappeared. He was alone, but other kids said they saw him carried off by a werewolf, dripping pink saliva from his canines. Hey, the kids said canines and I am a stickler for verbatim quotes, unless I write a story with garbled syntax and Faulkner sentences

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to attract exposure on the networks", pausing briefly for air, she added, "and you bought it, didn't you?" For the first time in twenty-seven years, Bob was speechless and in love. Horrible visions of sitting in front of a television, trying to prioritize groceries or rent, with a checkbook bearing negative balances appeared in his mind. He hated women smarter than himself and he was almost sure he would be begging such a specimen to share his bed, maybe even legally. What should he say? Bob knew his mouth was hanging open and he was sure Sue knew he was speechless because she had totally bamboozled him. Sue did recognize that further conversation would have to originate from her, and tried putting Bob at ease by displaying weakness. She began with her favorite ploy of self-denigration, hoping he would not fill in the usual blanks I am so stupid, Bob, “I get used to thick skinned Jocks who don't know manipulation from boorish stimulation. Dad usually picks employees, mostly in his image, but this time I picked you. I read your piece on domesticating psychedelic mushrooms in the Michigander Literary Review and thought it a real hoot. Even used your bawdy limerick in the Bullet after a bit of expurgation and paraphrasing. Not that our readers can not handle a bit of bawdy, but I didn't want to copyright infringe if you weren't as desirable as I had hoped you'd be. I am used to getting males thinking my way if...@ Staggered by her candid babble, Bob interrupted, "How the Hell could you read anything I've done in a that pay to publish, pretentious little broadsheet with less than a thousand press run, and for God's sake, WHY?" "Look Bobby. I am an investigative reporter, and a damned good one, just waiting for discovery by big buck press. I do my digging and I know more about you than you will ever know--probably enough to have you jailed if

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you ever do a number on me, like that last Bimbo you lived with. Better be on your best, Bobby or I'll show you what a bitch only daughters can be!" Bob, flattered at her interest, wondered how much she really new about him and why. Did she suspect his real reason to work on the Bullet? How she find out anything about him in such a short time and from whom. He said, “I will soon know everything you've got on me because I spend more time listening than talking," he blathered clumsily, and then slightly recovered, "And because you talk too much, you'll be so frustrated that I don't ask, you'll spill your...@ Shushing him with her finger, standing so close he could smell her shampoo and other tantalizing and tasty but unidentified aromas. Bob, usually so quick with words, knew not what to say...or do. He was tempted to reach out and pull her even closer, but was relieved when a buzzer, apparently coming from her beeper interrupted the silent spell. Sue retrieved a black box from her shoulder hung purse and read aloud, "They=ve found the boy, he's hurt and in shock, but alive@. CHAPTER FIVE While Sue expertly, but recklessly challenged all traffic enforcement agencies, she intently concentrated, but privately, on the contents of her call on the car phone. Bob was puzzled as to why she did not just switch on the speaker. Was he not privy to all the data, or was she reluctant to share her source? And why was he suspicious? Was it jealousy of whoever was her source, or just that she had much better news connections. The call terminated Sue finally began, AOne of Sheriff Omar=s deputies, responding to reports of screams, swung through the Arsenal Gravel parking lot

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about One AM, this morning and luckily spotted the missing boy, lying mostly nude under one of the gravel trucks. He was conscious but shivering and in shock. He showed signs of sexual molestation, so the deputy wrapped him in blankets and raced for General Hospital, almost running over a dead man on the side of the driveway. Fearful, he had hit him coming in, he stopped to check as he was calling it in. Said he was a bloody mess, with all of the wounds seemingly centered in the seat of his pants. He was wearing a Werewolf costume fitting the description of the kidnapper@ ASounds a little like someone administered shotgun justice, but didn=t care enough for the kid, to stick around or call for help. Did your mole indicate any evidence of others at the scene?,@ Bob Lowe asked just a little petulantly. AMy source is a secret, not because I=m withholding from you, but to protect the squealer’s butt. Sure he likes me, but I dangle nothing. You are jealous, right? I like that. Here=s the Arsenal=s gravel pit entrance, now.@ Yellow tape stretched across the road, but Sue swerved down through the weeded ditch, somehow eluding the festooned warning. Bob saw several squad cars, an ambulance but so far, no mobile television crews and only one civilian car, a new Cadillac, probably not a newsman. First in on a big scoop and how unfortunate he was, not to have his own mobile phone and some network or news service contacts yet. What a wasted break. Sue pulled in next to the ambulance and smiling broadly at the shocked deputies, and without forfeiting that facial expression, whispered an aside, AYou schmooze Ambulance crew and see what you can suck up, I will charm and pump the deputies.@

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ASound=s good,@ Bob said but knew he didn=t feel capable or qualified, envying her brashness and selfconfidence. Play it dumb, Bob thought, and then confided, AMaybe they will appreciate humility, and confuse it with honesty,@ and Bob walked to the back of an ambulance, where a civilian, maybe Medical Examiner, was taking over, both paramedics standing back. Sidling close to the one, medic, he began his first effort at investigative reporting. CHAPTER SIX Bob was loaded with supposition and fact, and proudly returned to the Jeep, where Sue waited. Connie, no, Conrad, Senior Paramedic, Unit 38 had shared all that he knew and even some quotable guesses, willingly as soon as Bob had asked his name for the news. Now to sort out what was real and what was printable. The Ambulance was leaving with the dead perpetrator, and Channel Five=s remote transmitter van was just now, on the scene. He ventured, ASue, let=s take coffee back to my digs and compare our interviews for corroborative duplication.@ He hoped she would say no as there was still chance he could get something with his byline to some news service, assuming his phone line was alive. stories of vengeance told and sold well. Sue answered somewhat smugly, AWe should both go home, write up what we know, then read each other=s copy, taking the one with the most fact and human interest, then augment that story with supplemental bits from each other. Where our coalesced versions differ, we can just attribute to those we can quote, Okay?@ ASounds Good,@ he replied happy to pursue his own course. She sure did not sound like the bubble- head that wrote the story on deer eradication. He spoke,AToo bad

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we didn=t have a camera, cause this one seems to be grist for the checkout counter mags.@ AOh but we do, and I did,@ Sue said proudly, holding aloft a tiny camera between her thumb and index finger. The pictures I will use in the Bullet will cost a few bucks, but those I have taken by the pros that can get where we can=t. The miniatures are only for backup or sometimes, a discreet form of blackmail. Unless I develop them myself, it takes too long and too much money.@ Gloating and talking little, Sue drove an amazingly short distance from the lurid murder scene, to the urban safety of his small apartment. Bob perfunctorily embraced Sue, and then dashed up the stairs to work up his version of Crime and Punishment, Lowe style. It read: Conrad Dippley, Senior Paramedic began his special Halloween-lengthened twelve-hour stint at the Newberg Central Fire Station at noon, all Saints day prepared for any emergency. He had two dozen popcorn balls for tricks or treaters and his standard EMT emergency kit, freshly checked and replenished. Holidays, legal or just popular, usually presented more challenges than normal workdays, but in twelve years of duty with the Newberg Fire Station, Conrad had treated more victims of violent death in the area around Long Lake than any of his compatriots elsewhere in the state. Something was different in this North Minneapolis suburb. At the Fire station, helping hand out treats, Conrad had served a trio of young goblins, and took particular interest in the boy garbed as Pirate with home-made orange and green striped trousers. On his last emergency call of the evening=s shift, he was saddened to see those trousers again. They lay by the young unconscious boy, ripped off by a sick and dangerous psychopath in the parking lot of Arsenal Sand

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and Gravel. Quickly treating the boy for exposure and shock, Conrad felt sure that he had escaped the intended violation only by the intervention of an unknown mysterious rescuer who had viciously destroyed the boy=s molester, but then disappeared. The boy, uncharacteristically taken to Saint Paul General Hospital by Ramsey County deputies, rather than left in his care. The last words Conrad heard from the boy, were that a Monster came and saved him from a werewolf. Conrad switched his attention to the body of the boy=s abductor, and quickly determined not only that he was already dead but also that had died slowly and horribly from internal bleeding. Conrad’s examination was abruptly taken over with the arrival of Herbert Twinkley, Ramsey County Medical Examiner. Twinkley confirmed Conrad=s suspicions, telling Deputies on the scene that the dead man, later identified as Edgar Horneman, died from massive internal hemorrhages caused by rupture of almost all internal organs including both kidneys, large and small intestines, stomach, liver and even the lungs. No entry wound was discernable, except anally. Because bleeding was essentially internal, death was prolonged, explaining the long duration of screaming, which terminated just seconds before the first deputy arrived on the scene. The assailant must have torturously continued the attack during that time span, using a somewhat blunt instrument, forcibly impaling the victim despite his heavy denim pants, much of which were imbedded in the man=s abdominal cavity. When the Medical Examiner was appraised by Ramsey County>s Senior Investigating Deputy, Ira Blackmore, that the deadman matched the identity of a recently paroled and locally registered child molester, Police quickly focused on and positively identified as

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Horneman. Twinkley responded, AWell, he may have deserved to die, but he suffered horribly for his sins. With lacerations of all the internal organs except the heart, it looks like some vigilante deliberately arranged a lingering and torturously painful death. I sure hope you catch the bugger before he does someone who does not deserve to die.@ Deputy Blackmore had responded to a 911 call reporting screams and the sound of a trumpet or horn that emanated from somewhere on the southwest shore of Long Lake and that caller said the screaming had gone on for at least fifteen minutes before he concluded it was not Halloween revelers. Officer Blackmore reported hearing the same disturbance while he was coming down the west shore access but that it stopped moments before he turned into the Arsenal parking lot. He saw the naked, trembling boy first and only saw the dead man, wearing the werewolf getup and lying in the nearby ditch, when he opened his squad car door. Emergency medical technician Conrad Dippley will go on duty again about Suppertime, on the first day of November. He will be alert and concerned; because he remembers the words of the little rescued Pirate defining that a monster came to his rescue. If he is right, there is a vengeful vigilante on the loose in Newberg who dispenses harsh justice to wrongdoers. Who will be next?
Bob knew it could stand re-write but he wanted to get it first to the Checkout Counter Press, and it would take some heavy phone research to get the right numbers. He would start with that publisher in East Florida that he still had listed in his notebook.

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CHAPTER SEVEN Bob smugly handed over his handwritten foolscap just as he had transcribed it to the Enquirer, except for the line he had added about this being one of many examples of strange acts of a mysterious vigilante, exacting vengeance on deserving villains, in the Newberg area. That line, intended to build market for a second story, where justice bloodily triumphs. A story not yet known but one Lowe felt he could dredge out of newspaper morgues, starting first with Newberg Bullet but then, ranging far as need be.

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AA little lurid, perhaps, but I can lay it all on second person reports, credited to our hero, Dippley. Then remembering his newly discovered need for affection, added, AI hope you can read my hen scratching, Sue. I will bring my portable PC and printer when I bring my car over from Detroit this weekend. Why don=t you come along and help me drive?@ AMy, my, your libido=s back. I thought that part of you died when you brushed me off so abruptly.@ she said, adding teasingly, AI am afraid we would have trouble deciding who was driving and who was riding. After we get the small part of our paper that is not advertising set, I thought you and I could work up something to earn some bucks from for the supermarket press. I got some great shots, especially from the coroner=s office.@ Bob realized how Sue would interpret his unilateral submission and hoped the Enquirer now was so over laden with off beat material, and lose interest in a wild story about vengeance on a child molester received unsubstantiated and over the phone, so his regretted betrayal would not be revealed.

CHAPTER EIGHT They spent a pleasant Friday afternoon, Bob on his best behavior, flattering moderately and agreeing to just the right amount of Sue=s opinions. Bob tactfully indulged in some libidinous flirting and some accidental contacts that hinted at more. He was charming and on his very best behavior. Sue diligently displayed all the tools and resources of the Bullet back room, included fifty years of past editions. Both were surprised to find time had passed quickly, leaving emptiness in their belly and longing in their loins. Both began plotting satisfaction of

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their food needs. Sue was looking up the number of her favorite restaurant, looking at those where there was a due bill on advertising, long overdue, when the phone rang with a foreboding sound, that Bob instinctively recognized and instantly regretted letting Sue answer. Sue said, AIt=s the National Enquirer, wanting more on the mutilated pedophile. Take it Asshole, I=m going to dinner...alone,@ said Sue angrily on her way out the door. Bob Lowe penitently realized that again, he got just what he deserved. No wonder he was unattached, unloved and maybe unemployed. Not knowing anything better, he picked up the phone and began, ABob here, can I help you? The voice on the phone said, AWe liked your story so far, Bobby but it needs some fattening. We will stretch it up a little, here. We would not use it without pictures, except you claim you got a new twist on serial killing going there. We can generate some drawings and pictures that fit better than real, anyway. Now dig me up another killing by the same vigilante, and we will give it a big play. I have Federal Expressed you the standard package. Read it, cash the advance and sign up a few of the blank releases. We can use good off beat stuff. Oh yes, give us the Deer Hunter bit too, if you can tie them together@ Sad and alone in the editorial office, Bob set about salvaging something from the wreck of his job. He pulled open the first of the morgue files, and began a full night of research, turning his hunger pangs to an unfulfilled and goading drive. He worked through the night, pulling out and copying three more stories, which he could attribute to the mystery avenger.

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Just ready to surrender to his hunger and leave for breakfast, although not sure the Rolling Wheels Truck Stop began breakfast service before Five, Bob struck pay dirt. In last December=s first week issue, A writer calling himself, >Animal Lover=, was terribly upset because a fur trapper was illegally operating inside city limits and also on the Newberg Government Munitions Reservation and the large Arsenal Sand and Gravel grounds. Those officials had not responded to his complaints. He was even more irate because he had photographic proof, clearly showing the scoundrel bagging a mink out of season, using an illegal drown-trap. >Animal Lover= eloquently described how down-traps worked. Such traps set linked on a slanted one-way stake driven in the bottom so that any trapped and struggling animal could only go one way, and that was deeper in the water to drown before it could free itself by chewing of its snared leg. The description of that death struggle was graphic and well written. Bob read it twice enjoying the well-chosen words and taut but complete portrayal. It was graphic and emotionally moving. So descriptive, anyone who, like Bob suffered claustrophobia would empathize with the sadly tormented beast and also struggle to breathe. Bob started a third reading of the lyrical prose before realizing that the letter arrived just one week before a story was ran about the unsolved murder of an illegal fur trapper, drowned because he broke through ice entangled in weighty mink traps. Animal Lover had been a frequent writer of letters ATo the Editor@ and Bob backtracked. In a previous letter during last August he had wrangled about the bituminousmix plant operator, using dioxin-contaminated oil. That accused polluter, Headron Berkely perished the following month by supposedly falling into his cooker, late at night

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when all of his work force had left. Sue=s story on that story was free of the attention-getting syntax grammatical errors that had enticed him to Newberg.

A prominent Newberg contractor, Headron Berkely, was found trapped in one of his asphalt cookers, Sunday morning by Ramsey County Deputies who responded to a complaint from Lakeshore owners. His death was termed mysterious by Chief Deputy, Harry Langeman because the body bore many penetrating but not life threatening wounds from an unidentified object. Langeman said Berkely looked like the loser of a bullfight, even before boiling in the waste oil fired in the cooker. The lid had been closed and bolted from the outside and there were some indications that Berkely had intentionally crawled in the gigantic asphalt melting tank to escape an attacker. Someone had latched the lid and lit the burners. Langeman=s theory was supported by evidence that Berkely had scarred the inside of the lid in futile attempts to force it open. Nearby neighbors of the plant described the screams as subdued, as if emanating from a deep pit or well. Scattered around near the cooker were empty waste barrels of differing noxious chemical constituents, mostly considered dangerous and requiring expensive disposal. Analysis of the boiling oil will reveal whether it came from the unmarked barrels. Investigation is ongoing.
Tired from his all night stint, Bob Lowe cradled his head on the desk with ice cold hands and dreamed of cooking in barrels of boiling chemicals, putrefying each stifling breath. CHAPTER NINE

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Jolted awake by the smell of burning chemicals, he followed the stench to the rear door, where he discovered a very new and small fire licking at the on the corner of the tin shed where the flammable printing press wash-up chemicals were stored. On his way out, he had noticed a foam fire extinguisher on the inside of the Bullet back door, and Bob quickly put it to work. The surrounding neighborhood was empty. Bob stood sentry over the extinguished rags, and noticed an old pickup pull slowly out the Supper club parking lot a block away. The headlights were off, but as it turned toward the lake and passed under the streetlight, Bob could see by the truck was old, and covered with dirt but had once been bright yellow 1940 International. Was that the fire setter? The sound seemed familiar, but Bob could not see the license and regretted he could not follow the truck on foot. Bob would be watching for that truck. Bob returned to the Bullet and left a note humbly describing his heroics, on Sue=s desk. Hopefully, she would not believe he had set the fire in an effort to mitigate his guilt. After writing the note, he had impetuously added a postscript explaining his attempt to earn extra money so he could impress the girl he loved, was the cause of his treachery. It read well, and maybe even true. Surveying the night=s research, bob had a large bundle of local news highlighted by horrendous accounts of the past year=s mysterious and unsolved deaths in and around Newberg. For a small town, there were too many unsolved murders and most of them seemed to be somewhat justified. The pressroom crew would be coming soon, so Bob grabbed three more unstudied back issues of the Bullet, locked up and left.

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Back in his cold apartment, Bob could not sleep. Had he played his cards better, he could have invited Sue to share his lonely bedroom, but now, he would be lucky if he still had a job, not run out of town. Bundled in bed, he set about digesting the night=s accumulation of Newberg history as recorded by the Bullet. He picked up the first of the unread back issues, and saw an intriguing headline, ALocal Banker Freezes@ and the issue was but three weeks ago. People did not freeze in early October, even in Minnesota. The story bore Sue=s byline, and he read below the picture of an almost new but totally battered Cadillac. It was another story suggesting vengeance at work:

Railroad workers discovered Jonas Weatherless, a local banker missing since the surprise dismissal of his Federal indictment last Friday, dead from exposure on the Newberg Arsenal reservation. Roy Blankenship, section hand supervisor was investigating a clogged culvert under the service road that accessed the Rice Creek railroad crossing, last Monday. A bloated corpse, wedged in the 16-inch culvert, caused the blockage and resultant impounding of water. Sheriff=s deputy, Ira Gates who responded to Blankenships 911 call, told reporters that Weatherless, forcibly stripped of all clothing, apparently took refuge in the culvert as evidenced by his kneeling position with rosary beads clasped in his hands. Although October temperatures were seldom below freezing, The Medical Examiner expostulated that death was likely caused by hypothermia from the near freezing waters of the drainage ditch. Investigators found the victim=s torn clothing scattered in a sixty foot, muddied and trampled trail between the drain opening and the

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heavily damaged Cadillac owned by the deceased. Every exterior panel of the year old car was severely battered and all glass shattered. Foul play seems an inevitable conclusion, reported Sheriff
Chandler. Potential suspects could include any of the thousands of defrauded investors in Weatherless=s Sheltering Arms Corporation or reputed mobster cohorts, suspecting Jonas cooperated with authorities to gain his release.

Bob had to patch things with Sue. She was sexy, shared his love of writing, and he was apparently in love with her. He found new energy and returned to the office to retrieve more back issues of the Bullet to study back in his apartment as his presence at the paper was, at best, tenuous. He was sure he would find more stories of mysterious retribution.

CHAPTER TEN Back in his apartment, sprawled among the half read newspapers on his still unmade bed, the still remaining scent of Sue=s AForbidden Fruit@ energized his libido and an emotion he had never before experienced. What it was, he did not know. Forgetting all formalities, Bob picked up his phone, dialed number, and demanded,AIs Sue there?@

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It was Irma who smugly said,ANo, Bob. I think you=ve fumbled the ball, with her, and the Bullet.@ AI know that. But she doesn=t understand why I needed the money that story would bring.@ and then a lie came easily, AI don=t have a pot to pee in and I=m in love with Sue. I wanted to buy her a diamond ring for Christmas. I guess the game=s over and I should leave.@ During Irma=s long silence, Bob realized the easy lie was becoming truth. AActually, she=s taking a week off, and doesn=t want you to leave, at least for the week she=s gone.@ From another phone, Charles Grimm joined in. ASue is majority owner of the paper, and she wants you to stay. I had to give her majority to keep her from taking a job offered with the Chicago Tribune, a year ago. I would have fired you, had you stabbed me in the back as you did Sue. She left a letter and some things at your desk. Do not expect me to be too cordial, but our paths shouldn=t cross much.@ AThis is God=s truth, Charlie. I need the Bullet much more than it needs me, and I don=t make the same mistakes twice. I love your daughter, more than any other girl I have known. Besides, there=s a real mystery lurking here in Newberg. Maybe, even a series that could win a Pulitzer prize.@ Bob hated begging forgiveness, a new and ego shattering experience. AYours or Sue=s,@ Grim said skeptically. AIt would be my intention to make it all of ours! Do I have a free hand, editorially, the week Sue=s gone? I know I can flush out the secret avenger that=s been doing in local villains.@ ASue spelled out her terms in the letter she left at your desk.@ AHow can I reach Sue?@

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AWell, she will be staying with a friend named Kelly Kashel, in the Detroit area, while doing some research there, but do not call her, let her call you.@ Stunned, Lowe turned silent. Kelly Kashel had to be the >bimbo= Sue had accused him of mistreating. She was their mutual contact, and source of Sue=s advance information. Bob was afraid to remember girls he had mistreated or disappointed and only dimly remembered a girl named Kelly. AHow does Sue know Kelly, Mr. Grimm? @ ACollege roommates, I think. She was sort of a bubblehead. Did not understand blonde jokes, but inspired them. Sue took her under her wings, trying to help. Sue brought her here, once. Beautiful but dumb. She was not a good reflection on Waldorf College, even if she was their Tulip Queen.@ Now he remembered the former Tulip Queen, but hoped Kelly had forgotten details of their short, shared history. He ran all the way to the Bullet office, and exulted that his key still opened the front door, although his nervous and fumbling efforts almost convinced him that it was a newly changed lock. On his desk at the Bullet, Bob found an awkwardly dumped pile of electronic gear, books and notepads. Bob pushed aside the portable fax, printer, pager, a big key ring with labeled keys, miniature recorder, a very small camera, and underneath all, he found an envelope addressed to, ABobbv@. Bob tore open the envelope and read.

I knew you were a dink, when I sent you the deer slaying story, so I won=t give up on you just yet. Our mutual friend told me you were miscast as anything but a small town newspaper- man, and that your selfishness made you a lousy lover, but having great potential.

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I went to your room to give you another chance, but gave up about four in the morning. I guess I don=t want to know where you went to heal your wounded ego. I rummaged around, through your things and found the keys to your storage unit and your old Packard and took them. Boy, are you a slob. I will pack your clothes and amorous souvenirs in the old clunk and drive it back. Don=t worry. I know you love the car and I will be very careful. For two weeks, while I gather evidence and pack your stuff, run the Bullet as if it were yours, but when I get back, you change your ways or move on, unless you want to end up as dog treats.--Love Sue!
Bob tried to remember more about Kelly so could call Sue. He could use the reprieve and chase down the mystery avenger, and earn approval all the Grimms. He could smell a great story and that was most important. Then too, Sue did not consider him a complete loss, yet. Sue had gone to Detroit Ato gather evidence and impound the personal property of one Robert Lowe@ meant something. If she were holding his antique Packard hostage, it could mean she considered him of value, too. Deciding to jog back to his digs, he again saw the old International pickup, new in 1940, making it one year older than his treasured and functionally restored Packard. Parked in front of the city hall/library, the old truck was clean and pristine, obviously treasured and superbly maintained. The truck was probably stored in a dry and temperature controlled environment. It could be the same truck that he spotted after the attempted burn of the Bullet. Crossing the street, he peered in the window to check the mileage on the odometer. The angle was wrong from the side window, and his curiosity teased him to

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jump up in the back, and look through the rear window. There was nothing in the back, except two bales of hay and a grainy white cube. While he stood considering the temptation, one of the Bullet=s two back shop workers came by and when asked, told him the white cube was a salt block, cattlemen provided their stock as necessary nutritional supplement. Possibly bait for deer poachers, but legal and customary in feedlots. Bob copied down the license plate, noting that the tag was not the collector version, implying the owner might be a super careful possessor and fastidious mechanic unaware of the truck=s antique value. Were he to inquire about buying it, the owner would not be aware of his real suspicions. The Department of Motor Vehicles responded to his phony representation as a interning Aide in the Ramsey County Attorney=s office and Bob, without guilt, found the owner of the old yellow pickup to be Allen Hartmann. Further search of keyed references of Allen Hartman led him to a several personal interest stories on Hartmann. Bob found on Hartmann’s retirement as Probate Judge, with an inordinate and thus frustrated interest in criminal law and justice. The story bore Irma=s by-line and was written as if straight from somebody=s society page. He called Irma. AWho is Judge Hartmann, Irma? I read your neat story on his retirement seven years ago. Is he a friend?@ AHe was a strange bird, too. Never quite fit in Newberg society, you know. Crackpot really, but he=s lived on the family farm for ages. Scandal forced him to retire and he grows watermelons, on the long-time family farm over on the East bank of the lake.@ AIrma, How did he become a judge, as a crackpot? @

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AHe has been a long time resident, and studied law, graduating with honors at the University. He was a lousy lawyer, especially if you were guilty. He never would bargain or plead down, and never successfully defended someone guilty. I believe grateful prosecutors got him nominated as Judge of probate court, and voters elected him. In a very short time, he intruded into a sensitive criminal case, so he ended up shamed impeached. I don=t remember the details, except he is certifiable, but he is successful growing potatoes ands watermelons. He owns the nicest chunk of property there, but he won=t sell it. Penurious and happy, I think@ AThank you, Irma! I think I can make you proud of me as newspaperman and son-in-law, and that=s my goal.@ Bob hung up impolitely, anxious to make his next call. He was surprised to see Hartman still listed as Judge and having a public number. He dialed and waited. AHey Judge Hartmann, I=m glad I caught you are home. I followed your International=s antique and distinctive tire tracks, and found out who tried to burn down the Bullet.@ Dead silence followed and Bob continued, AGot you dead to rights on at least a dozen other killings, only a little justifiable. Do you want to talk about your acts of revenge?@ Finally, a response, AYou are that cocky new reporter at the Bullet, right?@ Having connected, Bob waited to score. ADo you want the real story? Come to my farm driveway, and come down to the lakeshore, past the burnt out barn. Set yourself in the outdoor toilet by the watermelon patch. If you come alone, I will come talk to you, but not face to face. Tell you anything you want to know. Tonight, no cops or witnesses, and be there by ten

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PM, sharp.@ Then the judge hung up and left the phone off the cradle. Bob began preparing for his cloak and dagger mission immediately, packing his undercover gear. He debated, finding and borrowing Sue’s mobile cell phone, but then demurred. He did not have anyone around he wanted to share his story, just yet. CHAPTER ELEVEN Bob entered the outdoor toilet, carefully closing the surprisingly heavy door so that a slight gap for illicit observation remained. Checking his canvas duffel bag, he was reassured that its inventory included flashlight, two cold cans of soda, his tape recorder and a flash equipped camera, then began his wait for the promised informant. Bob found the bench seat uncomfortable, and the refulgent odors permeating the closed space, made him aware that the building's function was definitely toilet, though probably not very recently. In fact, the odors, while gamy, seemed very old, and musty. Thankful for the near full moon he positioned his head to maximize his field of vision through the gaping doorway. While he could neither hear or see anything, the erection of the hairs on the back of his neck signaled a new presence leaving him unsurprised when an anonymous raspy and shaking voice began.. "I'm glad you came and followed my instructions to come alone. Before I start, I need to first protect my privacy and will adjust this door a bit..." and the grating sound of a heavy beam rapidly scraped over the suddenly closed door signaled he should have immediately lunged for freedom. Bob found himself trapped inside a suddenly dark, scary and smelly box.

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"Hey, hey…what the...what is going on here?" Bob stuttered, disconsolately aware that he could have left a large stick or stone to block to prevent the door from completely closing. Bob could smell his fear as his armpits turned wet with sweat. Let me out, he screamed to the empty farm field. "Patience, patience my inquisitive friend, the voice, much stronger now and confident continued, "Answers you wanted, answers you'll get. But you must understand why prying into our affairs must stop. Yes, you already know I am the failed and vilified Judge Hartmann. I knew you would figure us both out when you saw my truck carrying the salt block. I watched you. You know the killings are all justifiable, and there is such a great need for them to continue... People just can't know who is doing the killing or why." Bob realized that his watermelon-raising recluse had trapped him and was crazy as Irma had warned, but what was significance of the salt block? He regretted not coming more prepared, and must encourage and lengthen his captor's narrative while developing an escape plan. He heard some strange thumps on his cage, was his captor nailing him in? How long would it take him to enlarge either of the two holes of the "two-holer" with his small and dull penknife? In his best conciliatory manner, he began. "Now look, my defensive friend. if you and whoever are arranging the accidents that are wiping out some richly deserving bastards, why would I blow the whistle. Hey, I believe in Fair Play, too. Just explain to me, who is doing it and why." Then the floor beneath him lurched downward and his cage tilted a little forward and to the left. What was going on outside?

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The thumping stopped and his dominator drawled, "Well, now, you want to know the who or the why before I drop you down into the crap hole?" Bob, his penknife in his hand, quickly shifted his focus from the seat holes looking for weak spots in the roof or walls. There was a crescent cutout a foot below the peak that looked promising. That cutout, almost a foot in breadth compromised the rigidity of two ten inch boards. He stood on the bench and peered through the cut out. There was a dark shape he knew to be his captor, facial detail was shadowed from the moon, but the shovel his adversary had been using to under-mine the foundation of his cage, reflected moonlight. His captor was leaning to rest or pushing against his toilet wall. He knew he must keep his tormentor talking, buying time to solve his predicament. How much time did he have? How far down in the pit below could he fall. Surely, he could cut through the roof if the excretion pit was deep. Cautiously, Lowe began, "When did it begin, Judge? Who was first? Was it always here at the lake? How many bad men have been done-in. Before me, have you ever put a good or innocent man down? Have you punished women?" Still looking through the crescent toward the moon, he saw the old man lay down his shovel, turn halfway and lean back against the wall, then the dark shadow began to talk. "Almost one hundred years ago, this watermelon patch was part of a large cattle holding pen where the grass fed cattle from the West were unloaded from the box cars on that old siding over by the Asphalt cooker. The great Northern Packing plant was to the west all the way to the lakeshore, with the icehouse on pilings out into Long Lake.

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The cattle kill ramp went from that far end of the holding pen over by those two scraggly oaks, where you could have seen my hay bales, up three stories to the kill floor. The cows drove up that ramp, where the hammer man dropped them with a blow to the middle of their forehead, the throat man, cut the juggler while the three hide slitters cut the skin from around the head, slit from the chin to the tail and made encircling cuts around all four hoofs. The shackle man, placed hooks in sinews of the rear heels and the unconscious bleeding carcass was hoisted Twelve feet higher, to be dropped twenty feet to the beef-dressing floor on the second story. While shackled at the very top, two hooks at the end of twelvefoot cables were hooked by the shakeout man to loosened corners of the cows hide, beneath the jaw on both sides of the center slit. The cow was let drop, the shorter shakeout cables snapped taut, the animal dropping another six feet, neatly shedding its hide for the tannery. The hammer man was an artist, called upon to render the cow unconscious, but not dead. The dead cow would not bleed as well, nor would the shakeout-fall pull off the hide cleanly and intact. If the dropped cow were not unconscious, their outcry would pain anyone within earshot, and the struggling carcass could hurt its butchers. A creature skinned alive takes forever to die, and the hurt from each severed nerve end, gathers in magnified pain. No one would dare to hear that howl of agony twice. So fearful co-workers appreciated hammer men who mastered their technique. Even pain-hardened packinghouse workers could not witness that agony. My father was a hammer-man who let only two conscious cows drop during his eleven years as mercy giver. The first was an accident, but the second, a Texas

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bred Longhorn Siring Bull from Wyoming, angered my father by menacingly swinging his horned head as he entered narrows at the ramp top, almost spearing him. A light tap, with a request to his workmate, the throat man, to make a very light cut, set up the revenge. `Bleed him slow, Jimmy,= he had hollered. The Bull dropped, and a bellowing, enraged skinned carcass lit in a heap, then miraculously stood erect, turning from pale white to bright crimson as a million small capillaries each blossomed a bead of blood. Maddened with pain, roaring with rage the skinned bull charged the length of the beef trim floor and into the passageway to the icehouse, running with the broken shackles still at his heels, clattering in counter-point. Up the ramp the un-dead bull charged. There was a splash as the ton of bull dove out the Ice-loading ramp door into the silence of the lake. The bull did not surface nor did it die. My father quit or was fired, never telling me which, even on his death bed when he made me promise to continue his practice of leaving hay, corn and salt back there where the willows go down to the point. I never saw the bull, while my father lived, though he claimed he saw him daily. The feed we left always disappeared, but there have always been many deer in the area. The day father left the packing house, he paid three times real value for that swampy ten acres up by Rice Creek outlet, and we've lived somewhere on Long Lake every day of my life since that bull dove in the lake. Back in 1928, fifteen years after the packing plant closed, bootleggers set up a still in the old ice house, and one night a few people wearing concrete skis slid, screaming for help, down that old ice loading ramp. Police, responding to reports of gunfire and screams, broke into the locked icehouse and

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found four bootlegger's mutilated bodies amid the shattered wreckage of their boiler and still. Police concluded that part of the band had beat the dead gang members to pieces with axes and hammers, then poured cement boots around their feet and skidded them down the ice- block-loading ramp. The police did not explain why the maimed bodies lay, with their emptied guns amid the exhausted shell casings, yet no one had bullet wounds." "My father heard the bellow and knew the cause of the carnage. You, my unfortunate friend, are trying to get my vindictive bull, discovered and destroyed. Maybe that is possible. I am sorry, but I must sink you farther into the pit and burn my toilet, you and any scribbles of evidence, you have accumulated. I Really don't want you to suffer, so I'll use plenty of gasoline." In panic, Bob watched the old man shuffle off to a shadowed clump of bushes, and lift out a large red can. Then he heard a roar, louder than thunder. Bob saw a ghastly white giant bull facing them, head slowly shaking side to side, eyes glowing red like embers from Hell, and then it charged! He watched, amazed by the waltzing gallop of a leg-shackled bull, marveling at its speed, covering the thirty feet to his equally spellbound antagonist, before he could take a single step. Hypnotized, he watched the bull trample the silent but struggling, vengeance-bent judge, together with his full gasoline can, to a bloody slurry, ripe for cremation. Finished, the bull snorted triumphantly, fixing Bob with a forever-remembered glare, then turned and trotted placidly past his vantage point, toward Long Lake.

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Bob asked, “Why was he spared?” The bull had always acted in retribution. Was he destroying his keeper, or trading his old keeper for a new one? Would he find himself bringing hay to his new captor? Would he ever write the story of this night of horror exposing the avenging ghost? Would he try to resurrect his love affair with Sue? Would he dare to start the novel he had came here to write, ending up fulfilled only with creation of commercially acceptable words? Would he risk disbelief and ridicule if that puddle of bloody pulverized flesh, soaked in gasoline, did not retain the corroborating hoof prints of the ghostly bull? Or would he ignite that waiting pyre, destroying evidence of the vengeance-seeking ghost, so it might secretly continue punishing those escaping justice from the courts? Would he continue feeding and supporting the rampaging ghost bull or forget everything he knew, except his longing for a family with Sue? Bob unfolded the blade of his penknife and set to work carving away the boards already altered by half-moon ventilator slot. In time, he could escape from his intended tomb, and choose his destiny.

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