Twin Beeches -- an Illinois Love Story
Author: paul schoaff

Chapter 50
How the Innocent must Suffer

For our Sins, He has Suffered…

While David and I were talking, the front was rolling in from the west, and the atmosphere began to feel ominous, ready to burst.

Suddenly, before Eddie could stop him, Buddy burst out of the house. On his own he had decided David and I had been talking too long and I must be telling him something.  When David looked at the house to talk about the windows, Buddy was convinced.  David saw Buddy coming across the lawn before I knew he was there, and I could see the confusion in his eyes as he tried to figure out who the man was, and why he was running toward us.


Brinley yelled, “Get back in the house!” to me and, with one extended arm, began taking aim at David with his .22 revolver.  David paused only for a beat before realizing this must be one of the escapees.  Seeing the wild and uncontrolled look in Buddy's eyes, he turned and started running back toward his pickup truck.   Buddy fired twice from about 30 feet away, striking David in the back and the leg. 


David yelled, but kept running on past his truck, staggering into the copse of dense lilac bushes surrounding the cupola in the middle of the driveway.  Buddy had never shot anyone before and the realization of what he had just done struck him with momentary confusion.  He stood, dazed,  in the driveway for 10 or 15 seconds before he must have thought, “I'd better finish him off.”


David felt the sharp pain in his shoulder blade and another in his thigh, but he still scrambled to put the cupola between himself and the gunman.  There was nothing around he could use for a weapon, not against a gun.  He could barely stand on his leg, and he could only wonder if he might hide behind the lattice work at the bottom of the cupola.  Before Buddy recovered his senses, David pulled a piece of the lattice off and crawled underneath, and before he knew what was happening, was sliding into a large hole beneath the cupola he didn't know was there! 


He couldn't stop himself, but he only fell five or six feet further before landing on dirt in the very dark space.  Trying to get as far to one side as possible, he suddenly understood there was a large horizontal shaft attached to the one under the cupola.  “I fell into a coal mine shaft”, he thought, and scooted into the shaft so he couldn't be seen from above.


“What the Hell?” said Buddy, when he got to the lattice work pulled aside.  He got down on his belly and looked all the way through and couldn't see any sign of his wounded quarry there.  He thought, for a second, the carpenter had pulled a fast one, making it look like he was under the cupola, then he would jump out and hit Buddy with a club of some kind.  But, he soon realized, such wasn't the case.  There wasn't anywhere else the man could have gone.


Finally, he pushed himself under the cupola far enough so he, too, almost fell into the hole.  ”Jesus”, he thought to himself, “the guy threw himself down a well to try to get away from me.  I guess I won't have to kill him after all.”  It was so dark under the rotten old copula he couldn't tell the 'well' only went down seven or eight feet.


He backed out and considered all the ins and outs for a few moments.  Quickly picking up some rocks from the driveway, he slipped partway back underneath.  It was still too dark to see anything down the hole.  He dropped the stones and they fell silently into the soft dirt accumulation as he waited for the splash….Wow, that’s about the deepest well…s**t, I know what it is – an old vertical mineshaft!  It all made sense to Buddy now – the cupola was just an easy way to cover an old shaft without having to fill it!  It helped for all of us Buddy didn't really know what a mine shaft would be like, of course, but, given the adrenaline rush he was having, combined with what must have been some degree of dementia mixed with sleep deprivation, his supposition was a happy one for all of us, it turned out.


Brushing off the dirt and debris from his clothes, Buddy walked back to the house, where I was sobbing, and Eddie looked like he was about to explode. “He's done,” Buddy said, “jumped into an old mineshaft and killed hisself….”  I wailed, and Eddie held his head in his hands.


“Buddy, you didn't have to... ” Eddie finally said.


“Didn't ya see him lookin’ at the house?  She told him....She told him!”


“NO!” I screamed “NO, I didn't.  I didn't tell him anything!” 


Buddy drew back his arm to slap me.  Eddie grabbed his shoulder and pushed him down into a kitchen chair before he could swing.  He and Buddy glared at each other, and I thought, were about to go for each other’s throats.  Buddy finally looked away, then down, then muttered..."Oh, God...I killed someone!  Jesus Christ!"


And at this very moment, the forecasted thunderstorm let loose with a close flash of lightning and the almost immediate crash of thunder.  Seconds later, a torrent of rain began, and the bag, containing the pastry, picked up on the current of water in the driveway and soon disappeared down the hill. 



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