Bone Harvest
because it was the Fourth of July, everyone was too focused on family and eating to give a prank letter in the paper much thought. Harold had thought of little else.
    Even last night in bed, he had wrestled with it. He hoped it meant little or nothing, but he had a very bad feeling, and as old as he was, having seen as much as he’d seen, when he had a bad feeling he paid attention. Just as bones might ache from cold, his psyche seemed to ache from evil. He smelled it. He sensed it.
    Once or twice he had thought of calling Deputy Watkins to discuss possible scenarios, but he kept deciding to wait, to give his mind time to sort through all he knew of the case history.
    The night was a perfect July evening—enough humidity in the air so that smells floated easily on the water molecules—and what he smelled made him hungry. A cheese-curd stand was set up near the middle of the park, but much as he might lust after a greasy bag of that delicacy—plasticky leftovers from some cheese-making process, dipped in batter and fried in a tub full of grease until the cheese turned molten—he knew that he and his wife would suffer all night long if they ate a bag: he with indigestion and she with his thrashing.
    But just beyond was a lemonade stand. Agnes liked lemonade. He was feeling slightly parched. It sounded like a good idea. He made his way and stood in line.
    As he waited, he noticed Andy Lowman walking his way, carrying a large plastic cup full of lemonade. He hadn’t seen Andy in a few years. Since Andy’s mother died and his father was down in Tucson, Harold had no reason to get together with the younger Lowmans.
    In years gone by, Earl Lowman and Harold had been friends. Not close friends, but they had both started at their jobs around the same time—Earl as a deputy sheriff and Harold as a cub reporter on the Durand paper. They would often have coffee together at the drugstore in town, Harold picking Earl’s brain for the latest crime, Earl using Harold as a sounding board for what was going on in town.
    Earl was a decent fellow. Andy had been a good son until right before his mother died. Then the two of them had gotten into it and, as far as Harold knew, hadn’t talked since. Such a shame. To have children and not have a relationship with them . . .
    Harold had wondered about their quarrel; he had speculated about the reasons why they might have argued; and what he had come up with was that they had argued about Florence, Earl’s wife, Andy’s mother. She had been very sick near the end, dying of cancer, and there had arisen the issue of whether to tube-feed her to keep her alive. They had chosen not to do this.
    Earl had told Harold about their decision over coffee. “Flo had just about stopped talking to us. It happened fast. One day she could hold a normal conversation and the next she could hardly say a word. Well, you know Florence. If she can’t talk, what good was life?” He rubbed at his eyes.
    Harold had thought it a good decision—Florence had had a good life. Why make her suffer at the end of it? But he feared that Earl had not wanted to tube-feed and Andy had disagreed with him. As husband, Earl would have had the final say. So sad to see a death split people up rather than bring them together as it should. As far as he knew the two had not talked since. But he would ask.
    “Andy, how’re the crops looking?”
    “Hey, Harold. You’re looking mighty spruced up.”
    Harold was wearing a light linen shirt his wife had bought him. It was perfect for this hot weather, but not many men in Pepin County wore linen shirts. He had undone the button at the neck and rolled up the sleeves, but it still looked rather dressy. “The wife,” he said. “She keeps me in clothes.”
    Harold was surprised how Andy had aged. Now in his forties, Andy had lost his hair and weathered significantly from the constant sun that he got farming. He was wearing an old football jersey with the arms cut short and a pair of

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