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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