Excerpt 3


The moon slid behind a bank of clouds, as silent and smooth as a coin slipping into an empty pocket. Will Turner took advantage of the moment to step quickly out from behind the shadow of the Ford garage. Just as quickly, he jumped back in when he heard Shyrock’s door creak open and the hound’s nails tap across the porch floor. Turner flattened himself, face first, against the musty-smelling concrete wall as the dog ran down the porch steps. Cursing the animal under his breath, he watched it take a leak in the center of the yard, turn to smell its own puddle, and then make its usual circuit around the lawn’s perimeter, sniffing at each corner, stopping to circle the outhouse, nose to the ground.

When the moon popped out from behind the clouds, suddenly flooding the treeless backyard in harsh white light, Will crowded closer to the wall, and the half-pint bottle chinked in his pocket. The dog stopped in its tracks and looked directly at him. Will froze, holding his breath. Nose up, the dog sniffed at the air. Waiting for it to bark, Will pictured his escape path through the narrow alley between the garage and the post office that opened onto Main Street. But the hound lowered its head, smelled the ground one last time, and then turned and beat a path straight to the porch. Nails clicked on wood, and after a few moments, Turner heard the door open and close again. All grew quiet, inside and outside the house. One light shone from the kitchen window.

Turner waited a couple of minutes and then relaxed, leaning back against the cool wall. He lit a cigarette and took a swig from his whiskey bottle. The old man would not be coming out again unless a nighttime traveler beckoned him to the river. Over the past several weeks of surveilling the house, it had become clear that Shyrock didn’t use the outdoor privy after seven o’clock.

Turner wasn’t accustomed to all this watching and waiting, and it made him fidgety. He had failed at all of the things in his life that required patience: earning passing grades at school, getting paid after a job was finished. Even as a child, he was never able to sit quietly long enough to receive a promised piece of candy. Instead, he fussed, redfaced, demanding it now, until what he got in place of the candy was a thrashing. If there was something he wanted, he would take the quickest, most direct course to that end. And anyone who stood in his way was added, posthaste, to his substantial list of enemies.

This time it was different. Since the night he had been booted off the ferry, Will had been plotting his revenge against Shyrock. First, the old bastard had gotten him thrown in jail for helping himself to a little bit of gas out of that big old tank. Hardly even enough to notice. Then he’d had the balls to kick him off the ferry when it was Shyrock’s hound that had attacked him. Turner could easily take his revenge anytime he wanted. But he waited, delighting in his surveillance of Shyrock’s house. The lurking about unseen was as much a part of the payback as the act of vengeance itself.

Some nights, he skulked about the property almost until daylight, noting when Shyrock turned out his light for bed, when and how many times he let the dog out to piss, the part of the yard where the dog squatted to take a shit, its patterns of movement. Shyrock kept a predictable and steady routine. The light went on in the bedroom and out in the kitchen at nearly the same time every night. Not long after, the house went dark.

The old man had no idea who the hell he was dealing with. He would be sorry he’d ever fucked with Will Turner. Sorrier than all hell.