Nothing Left to Mend

Matt R. Weaver

cover9

Take Your Daughter to Work Day, Part 1.

A doe thrashes her gnarled hind legs against the asphalt, its forelegs slipping on the thin, dense sheet of snow that had fallen in the past hour. She still believes she can right herself and bring her hind legs underneath her, to bound away, savoring the exhilaration of escape. It is just before daybreak, and the engine of the truck that hit her growls from the deep snow in the opposite berm where it foundered after sliding off the road.

A man in a long, black, formless winter coat stands about twenty feet away, his pistol raised, its hammer cocked back. His eyes study the animal as it struggles for purchase. His arms are rock steady, despite both the January air on his bare hands and the animal’s agony, which he could end if she would stop flailing for just a few seconds.

Heather is 11 years old, watching through the windshield of her Dad’s cruiser. The scene is bathed in red and blue strobe from the lights atop the car. The engine is running to power the heater; the defroster blows loud, but keeps her view clear. She has seen him shoot before, but never at something living, if even only just. She cannot look away from the mangled deer and as much as her father, wants it’s suffering to cease. She is not afraid. Her stomach is sour and tight, for the blood, the sight of the legs, but she is not afraid. She knows what needs to be done.

But the flashlight beam that he needs, once again wavers. His voice cuts through the roar of the defrost fan that keeps the glass clear enough for her to see. “Dammit, hold that light steady!”

The truck driver, stupidly coatless, trembles. “I’m tryin’. It’s so cold, officer.” He extends his arm which is banded with black patterned ink from wrist to shoulder. Glenn looks over at the tattooed man, who has averted his eyes from the broken animal, “The wind…it stings…” Studying him, Heather thinks it’s because he can’t stand the sight of the doe.

“Son, I’m tryin’ to end this animal’s pain!” Her dad yells. “I need the heart! I need the light on the heart!” The heart, the optimal target that he learned as a young hunter: hitting it ensures a swift death.

Nothing Left to Mend Description:

The disaster that shatters a town becomes a mystery that threatens a cop’s family. When unidentifiable remains are discovered after an explosion at a Pennsylvania town’s steel mill, a final battle begins between union and company.

The new police chief, Glenn Dempster, will undergo trial by fire in an investigation that will reopen every rift in town, including those among his oldest friendships, and his fragile marriage. When the children of Glenn’s opponents target his young daughter, a father weighs his family’s safety against his principles.

Eleven-year-old Heather throws herself into the fray when she alone knows about a final move against her father, and makes a desperate escape into the backwoods to keep crucial evidence to the case out of their hands, as a storm descends on the town.

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