They traced his steps. Dogs sniffed along a dirt path that led down to the river. The sun was out making leaves glow in the autumn morning. The officer poured a cup of coffee from a Thermos. Kept looking across the river.
He couldn’t have jumped in? The current would’ve taken him under. But, this was it. The dogs barked, sniffed hard. Didn’t look east or west. They were just stopped dead in their tracks. The river was rolling.
The water was deep. Murky brown water. Had mud at the bottom of it. If he jumped in, the sheriff knew the body would show up in a day or two downstream over in Jefferson County. He decided to inform the department over there that a body was coming their way.
Drowned, the cop said. Figure he just drowned? the sheriff nodded his gray head, lit a cigarette. Was he thinking he’d make it? he asked. The sheriff rolled his eyes. Wouldn’t be the first, he said.
And, sure enough his body washed up in Jefferson County four days later. The short, squatty man’s neck had a gash in it. He was blue. What a way to end up, the sheriff said. Guess this is an admission of guilt. Bet he killed that girl. And the other one over in Newton. You get what you deserve, he noted. You get what you deserve.
He drove over to the boy’s mom’s house to tell her. On the way over he noticed the sun shining brightly over-head. The red and yellow leaves glistened. It was good to be alive.