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By the time the ambulance finally arrived at the scene of Boo’s accident, Doctor Cox had the still unconscious girl stable enough to travel. With her wound dressed and cleaned as best as Cody could manage under the circumstances and the blood loss minimized.

And before long the ambulance crew hurried over with a stretcher. And quickly had the stranger loaded up and on her way to Markham Hospital. Leaving the three lifelong friends standing in the very place, where as children they once played together.

“Okay. Let’s go over this one more time while it’s still fresh in your mind, Boon.” Tilly Dixon began. “You were mending the fence just on dawn, right?”

“Yes.” Boo replied simply, now a little more calm than she had been. But still very agitated nonetheless.

“You saw a wild dog, so you went to the truck for your rifle.”

“Yes.”

“You had the dog in your sights, but you didn’t see the girl?”

“No.”

“But you said before, that something queer happened?” Tilly continued.

“Gracious yes, something queer happened.” Boo replied with some emphasis.

“Okay, so….” Tilly prompted as Boon wrung her hat uneasily.

“….you took your shot, then what…?”

“I….” Boon began uncertainly before launching into her account.

“I was certain my shot was true, Tilly. I was aiming for the beast’s heart. But I missed, I must have done. Except I’m sure I didn’t miss. I saw the dog bolt, or…” Boon trailed off into confused silence.

“Or what?” Tilly prompted again.

“Well it didn’t bolt exactly….” Boon continued to nervously fidget with her hat, obviously still in a state of considerable distress and confusion

“….that is….well….”

“….it kind of….just vanished.”

“Okay, maybe don’t say that to the investigators, maybe just say it ran off.” Tilly advised in a gentle tone.

“Investigators…?” Boon pleaded, her face a mask of alarm.

“What investigators?”

“There’ll have to be an investigation Boo. I can’t just write you a ticket for shooting strangers and have done with it.” Tilly answered calmly. “I report to command in Markham. And I answer to them too. I am not a law unto myself out here, Boon.”

“Oh hell….” Boon cried “Will I go to jail?”

“Boon, no. C’mon now. They’re not going to lock you up for an accidental shooting like this. Especially not as she’s just wounded.” Tilly soothed.

“Relax Boo, you’re not in trouble.” Doctor Cox added before gently prompting the rest of Boon’s account. “Just tell us what happened next.”

“Well I took my shot, and the dog vanished…”

“Bolted.” Tilly corrected.

“The dog….bolted….and at the very same instant, I saw the girl drop….but….It was weird Tilly, real weird. It was kind of like…” but again Boon trailed off, as if unsure herself of what she had witnessed.

“Like what, Boo?” Tilly prompted.

“Like she….tumbled out of the wolf….dog….thing….”

“Tumbled out of the wolf…?” Tilly repeated uncomprehendingly “Okay, maybe leave that part out too, Boon.”

“Dammit Tilly, I’m telling true!” Boon protested, stamping her foot in clench fisted  frustration.

“I seen what I seen….you gotta believe me….”

“Alright Boon, just calm down. It’s going to be okay.” Cody reassured in a compassionate tone. “Maybe the girl was near the dog when you took your shot, but you just didn’t see her. Maybe you hit them both…?”

“Nope” Mathilda answered decisivly.

“No animal tracks leading away, no blood trail and no dead dog.” And Tilly paused in thought for a moment as she inspected the scene.

“Look, here’s what happened….There was some mad girl, wandering around naked in the middle of nowhere. Who the hell knows why? Maybe she escaped from some asylum somewhere, or maybe she’s a vagrant or some such….”

“It was just on dawn, the light was still dim, and you thought you saw a wild dog. So you shot it. It was an accident. Plain and simple.”

“Oh come on, Tilly. Are you serious…?” Boon protested “that sounds insane. People don’t just wander around neked like that. And people dun’t look like wild dogs neither, they just don’t….”

“Really, Boo?” Tilly challenged as gently as she might.

“So the accidental shooting of a vagrant sounds more insane to you than a vanishing wolf?”

“It’s the truth Tilly Dixon!” Boon insisted in frustration, her patience and her composure both wearing whisper thin.

“Well this is getting us nowhere.” Cody interjected, feeling that the discourse was headed nowhere more useful than pointless confrontation. “Are you alright to drive, Boon?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Boon uttered tersely.

“Right, then go home. Take a shower, drink some coffee and clear your head. Meet me and Tilly at the station at noon. We’ll all get something to eat, and we’ll work it all out. Together.”

“Okay Boon?”

“Fine, but I already told you everything there is to tell. Aint nothing gonna change after a cup o’ coffee and a plate of eggs.”

“Okay” Tilly reassured “I guess I believe you, I mean of course I believe you, Boo. But I have to write a report, and I won’t be the only one looking at it. So it has to make sense.”

“Dammit Tilly.…” Boon hotly protested yet again until “Boon” Cody interjected. “We all know you’re not mad, and we know you aren’t a liar. Or a fool. This isn’t about that, this is about getting the paperwork correct and our accounts consistent. This is about keeping you out of trouble….understand?”

“Fine.” Boon conceded “I’ll be at the station at noon.”

“And I’ll be taking that rusty old pea shooter of yours as well, Boo.” Tilly added in an authoritative tone.

“What fer?” Boon objected “t’aint yours”

“What fer?” Tilly slightly mocked Boon’s heavy rural accent “fer the ‘vestigation, Miss Boo.”

“Don’t you make fun o’ me, Tilly Dixon!” Boo snapped in angry reply “You’n Cody spoke just the same as me, fore you both ran off to the city and came back all gentrified. You aint no better’n me.”

“Okay Boo” Cody soothed “no need to get hot about it. Just let Tilly have the gun. And you go home and calm down. We’ll see you at the station, okay?”

“Fine.” Boon conceded angrily.

And Boon Jenner marched back to her truck muttering under her breath. Mad at Tilly and Cody both for their attitudes as much as their disbelief. Boon saw what she saw she wasn’t confused and she wasn’t mistaken. She shot a wild animal but it was a girl who fell to her bullet.

It wasn’t a trick of the dawn light and she wasn’t imagining it. And they ought to believe her. And Tilly certainly oughtn’t to be teasing her.

But Tilly Dixon had always left Boon feeling confused and upset. Even as girls she was always either teasing her or stealing kisses off her. Discombobulating her head and confounding her heart. And Boon never could tell exactly if Tilly was in love with her or whether she hated her. But Boon sure wished the damn woman would make up her mind one way or the other.

And climbing into her truck having first collected her tools but leaving her rifle behind. Boon sped off, spinning her wheels in the dirt out of frustration. Leaving Tilly and Cody at the scene. Both at something of a loss to reconcile Boo’s account with the facts as observed.

In truth, neither one of them disbelieving of a single word of their friends story, as curious as it all sounded. The plain fact was if Boo said it was one way then you could bet your bottom dollar that’s the way it was.

If she said she shot a wolf but that it was a girl who fell, then that’s what happened. Except that it couldn’t possibly be so.

 

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