I forget who suggested it. It must have been Kevin.
Kevin decided. He said it like he meant it.
We trod the muddy banks of the river, the three of us, finding our way by the light of a pocket
torch; our trousers sodden with the thick, brown sludge that filled the bog. We walked in silence; none complaining, despite the bitter wind that tore through our hoods. Kevin was in front, hands
stuffed into a dusty, felt overcoat and scarecrow hair curling out in the wind. We walked like soldiers at war, marching under orders. We were deadly serious.
We should have a gun, said Rhodri, breaking the silence.
Where we gonna get a gun? sneered Kevin.
He took a hammer from inside his coat and used it to beat a path through the hedges. He wielded the tool like a weapon; a wild-eyed warrior, or hunter, stalking his prey under cover of darkness.
Listen. You hear them?
Kevin had paused without warning and I stopped up short behind him. I could hear them. As I squinted
into the darkness I could see them, just about, under the light of a full moon. Farmer Lewis’ sheep; soft and white and stupid; chewing the cud.
Well? Which one you wanna get?
I figure it don’t make much difference which one. All sheep is pretty much the same.
You ain’t having second thoughts now are you?
I ain’t having any thoughts.
It’s just a stupid sheep, is all.
I know it.
Go do it if that’s what you’re gonna do.
We climbed over the steeple one by one, with Kevin in front. Strolled right on up to the flock; they didn’t budge none. The three of us stood all together over a tiny, bleating lamb. Couldn’t have
been more than a few weeks old.
Here, take this. Have a drink.
Rhodri passed a whiskey flask on to Kevin who took a swig and passed it on to me. I tilted the bottle and drank too much and might’ve brought it back up but for Kevin standing looking at me. I spat
and wiped my mouth and stared back.
Yeah, we’re ready.
He told us to grab the lamb. There weren’t all that much lamb to grab onto so we just kinda took a hold of its back, one on each side. She didn’t need but a single hand to fix her but neither of us
wanted to be seen to be less of a part of it so we held on together. She didn’t move none, just bleated and baaed and looked at a bigger sheep I guess was her mama. Mama baaed and looked over for a
moment, then turned her head down and went back to chewing the grass.
Kevin had the hammer raised high above his head. I caught his eyes in the moonlight. He looked wild
and happy. I wondered if he might be crazy.
When he brought the hammer down the lamb didn’t cry out at all but her skull cracked like it was
broken into twenty pieces. She sagged were we held her and I saw her front legs were buckled under.
You son of a bitch. You god damn son of a bitch.
Kevin whooped and howled at the moon and smashed the hammer back down. When we let go the lamb collapsed, broken and dead. Her mama baaed at us. She sniffed and stood and then turned and walked
away across the hill, as though this were some tragedy foretold and now that it’d come wasn’t nothing could be done for it.
You see that? She went down like a sack full of onions.
Yeah, I saw it.
We saw it, said Rhodri.
I lit a smoke and took a drag and passed it on to Rhodri. He took two and passed it onto Kevin. Kevin stood smoking it until it went out. Then he took a lighter from his pocket and relit it. In the
flame I could see his face was speckled with blood but I didn’t say anything. Wasn’t nothing to be said. I waited until he passed the joint back to me. It was almost done.
Well, that sure was something, he said.
Yeah, it was something.
We trudged back down through the mud. When we reached the stream Kevin stopped to rinse off the hammer.
You think farmer Lewis is gonna be checking for fingerprints?
Ah what the hell do you know anyway?
He flung the hammer into the fields. It spun like a discus and sailed on into the hedges. Kevin spat into the mud.
Let’s go, he said.
We hadn’t spoken barely a word on the way down. We walked into the town - still caked in mud - and on into The Plume of Feathers. I noticed John seated by the bar and I took up a stool
beside him. He ordered two whiskeys and we drank them off.
Where’d the blood come from? he said. You been fighting?
I followed his eyes to a dark stain on the crotch of my jeans. Some fight.
Can you keep a secret?
What kinda question is that?
It’s lamb’s blood. Kevin killed a lamb tonight, up at Lewis’ place.
What’d he do that for?
He got some grudge against Lewis?
No, he ain’t got no grudge.
You were there?
Yeah, I was there.
John turned to look at Kevin. He was playing pool, singing along to some song on the jukebox. Rhodri sat watching him.
Well now that just don’t make any sense. There’s must be some reason for it.
Well there ain’t. What reason could there be?
Just figured there’d be something, is all.
No, there ain’t nothing.
John looked at me.
You should get that blood off, he said.
I reckon I will before I get home.
How about another?
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