Excerpts

John Welch’s battered pickup waited at the ferry landing. Welch slouched in the cab, whistling a breathy, unrecognizable tune through the few crooked teeth that remained in his head. He gazed intently at the spot where the ferryboat would materialize out of the mist—first its apron, angled upward to match the exact slope of the riverbank, then its forward deck and weathered board railings, and finally, Buck Shyrock standing erect and solid as a tree trunk in the steer boat.
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She had come to him six months after Ida passed. As Buck was approaching the Indiana landing to pick up a waiting car and its passengers, the dog had raised her snout to the sky and howled sorrowfully. It was a bluetick, a coon hunter if trained early enough. Buck could see straight away the dog’s ribs pressing out against her mottled hide. She had worms, that much was clear. Plus, once he’d landed the ferry and got a closer look, he could see the bare, mangy patch on her left hind leg.
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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.
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