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A Shot Heard Round


A Shot Heard 'Round

By Kevin M. Prochaska

Greetings from the small Iowa town of Apology, where Sheriff Everett Hiram and his use-only-when-desperate deputy Old Duke bring their unique brand of law and order to this odd assortment of characters.

How will the town stop the dangerous gunplay of the notorious Petler brothers? One quiet afternoon drunken Durham even pursues his rooster up Main Street, blasting away at the bird, and sending the good citizens scattering. Residing just outside town, Deke and Durham, who shoot competitively for a living, are exempt from its gun laws. When a road survey discovers their property actually lies within town, the city fathers attempt to strong-arm the men into complying with the shooting ban. Enter the rival town of Lost Meadows who steal the disgruntled brothers away. Sheriff Everett comically schemes for their return to squelch the uproar.

Oh, and why is Irk Hickenlooper's bull dancing the conga with fat Viola Vanderhoff? Why is Reef Langley conked out in the Apology jail with his mouth propped open with a stick? Is that Mayor Owen Fuller hopping around red-faced in the ditch? How?d those blue dots get all over Old Duke?s face? What is veterinarian Taylor Cantrell doing to that dead pheasant with that gun-cleaning rod? Who?s raising all the dust on Roller Coaster Road? What popped from Stella Hissy's fresh custard? And who really started the Iowa-Minnesota Billboard War?

Born and raised in a small Iowa town, the author presents the reader a humorous collection of characters and their stories in A Shot Heard 'Round.

***Selected excerpts from A Shot Heard ?Round***

Chapter 2 - Rooster in the Corn

Apology had sprung from the fertile black soil of the flatlands of Iowa, a human plant out of place among the natural greenery. The existence of the community, built one hundred years before, seemed ironic, for the town?s original purpose had been to cater to people who would never live within its borders. The town was a typical Iowa farming community, begun when horse and buggy transportation made traveling great distances a cumbersome and time-consuming bother. Because of these constraints, many small towns sprang up to support the growing armies of farmers and farm families within a five to ten mile radius. Farmers needed supplies-building wood, tools, fertilizers, and other goods, and the small towns provided them, all at a central location. All over the farm country, hundreds of small towns like Apology were spaced with checkerboard uniformity of both distance and size.

From the air, the land was rich in symmetry, with the roads dividing the countryside into sections of land a square mile in area. The sections were divided into individual farms, separated by long lines of fence. Each farm was a small town unto itself, with the main house, barn, machine shed, corncrib, and other buildings clustered together, usually bordered on the north by a small grove of trees to hold back the raging winter snows. Surrounding the main farm, the land was divided further into fields of grain growing in arrow-straight rows, a point of tremendous pride for the farmers who planted them. Miles of fence lines bordered the fields, the fence wire fastened to posts spaced at intervals of exactly the same distance between each post. In the summer, weeds sprouted among the soybeans and rose above the crop. Although farmers contended that the presence of these weeds complicated the harvesting process, it was perhaps a greater crime that these interlopers interfered with the rigid order of the field. Armies of bean walkers were conscripted to march through the fields in the stifling heat, and like skirmishers on line, they stretched across the rows with paper-doll uniformity, moving forward as one. Under the command of the farmer, these mercenaries brandished corn knives and slew the upstart weeds, restoring symmetry to the land, and by doing so, reaffirmed the pride of the land masters. In such a land of rigid order, the reality of basic right and wrong was never an issue, although some, burdened by their human frailties, occasionally sought to stir the mud resting deep in the lake of common sense.

Chapter 5 - A Few in Town

The dog's name was Rooney, a gray, loose-haired mongrel if ever there was one, and he ran the fields around Apology at night with the rest of the pack, chasing farm animals around for fun. The pack had incurred the wrath of many a local farmer who stormed through their screen door late at night, brandishing rusting shotguns and firing blindly into the night as the dogs fled, the flames from the muzzle tearing holes in the darkness.

Rooney wasn't much of a dog, but Merle Oaken didn't care-he'd gotten a real good deal when he'd bought the animal near the stockyards at Renoir. And to Merle, saving a buck or two was a lot more important than just about anything else in life. The fact that, when Merle had purchased the dog, the animal had no idea about how to guide anything seemed immaterial to Merle, for he had in mind to teach the dog what he needed to know. After all, the dog was the right height.

You see, Merle Oaken wasn't blind at all. He could see very well, as a matter of fact, including being able to read the misspelled letters on the water tower from Irk Hickenlooper's farm. But Merle's father had gone blind in the twilight of his years, and to Merle's way of thinking it just seemed like a matter of time until he would suffer the same fate. Every now and then Merle was seen around town, dragging his reluctant guide dog down the street. Each time the dog would attempt to sit down on the sidewalk, Merle would give the leash a hard pull, and the choke chain tightening around Rooney's neck would let the dog know that training time wasn't the proper time to sit down.

"Whatcha doin', Merle" people would shout from their cars.

"Just practicing for when I go blind!? Merle would holler back. And sometimes he'd add, "Peas are on special this week" or, "Got some good rump roast just in" because he also owned Merle's Grocery Store, where Rooney spent most of his time lounging when not in training or running loose with the pack.

Chapter 17 - The Mayor Gets Shot - Somewhere

They found Bonnie in the parlor to their right. The woman was hunched over, her attention focused on something hidden from their view. When Bonnie heard the front door close, she stood up and moved to one side. Owen Fuller sat on a chair, red-faced with anger, holding a cotton swab to a spot on his forearm. Everett turned to Old Duke, frowning.

"I thought you told me he was shot in the heart," Everett said.

Old Duke pointed to Bonnie.

"That's what she said over the phone," Duke defended. "He got shot in the heart."

"I said no such thing," Bonnie spat back indignantly. "I said he got shot in the arm."

Duke threw a sheepish glance at Everett.

"Are you sure you didn't say heart?" Duke asked.

"Why in the hell would I say heart?" she retorted. "Don't you think I know the difference between a heart and an arm? Anyway, if he got shot in the heart, he'd be dead. Does he look dead to you?"

"Well, no," Duke admitted. "But he does look kinda blotchy."

A Shot Heard ?Round
518 pages. Double-spaced, 12 font.

Submitted by WorldWatcher, posted on Wednesday June 18, @09:28AM

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