Craig County


Boyd and I got the call on the radio sometime around mid-afternoon. Apparently, Jed and Tyler Garvey were back to cooking meth up in their trailer a few miles north of Caswell holler. Lorraine’s voice crackled something about military-grade weapons, but we couldn’t hear all of it on account of the mountains. I felt a jolt of anxious adrenaline as Boyd pushed down on the accelerator and we started tearing ass up further into Craig County.

Outside my window the leaves were starting to change and the trees stood like colorful sentries guarding a population of nervous deer. I lowered my window and let in the pungent earthiness of autumn. Within a few seconds I was out in my tree stand, freezing except for the coffee in my thermos, my gun nestled between my thigh and tree trunk. I looked down and saw deer walking back and forth underneath me, miles away from the crime and violence of Appalachian poverty. Boyd’s voice jerked me back into reality.

“God damn it, Jimmy! I need you to pay attention. This is your last chance to keep this job. Just ‘cause your dad’s the sheriff doesn’t mean you can be off in dreamland during calls.”

I told Boyd I was alright, looked straight ahead and went back to my tree stand. I wasn’t doing this job because of my father; I was doing it for my mother. She was murdered by some junkie a few years back.

About twenty silent minutes later we saw the Garvey’s trailer on our left. Behind it was an old camper, its once blue stripes faded to grey.

Boyd said he thought they were probably cooking in the camper. I nodded. He pulled in and grabbed the shotgun. He told me to cover him with my Glock.

We hadn’t stepped three feet out of our car before we heard the discharge of a rifle. Boyd identified us as sheriff’s deputies and told Jed Garvey that we would disregard that first shot as long as he and his brother would come outside unarmed. Jed lowered his weapon a couple of inches, his dirty brow furrowed in thought.

After a few moments, Jed’s brow loosened and the rifle was heading south when we heard Tyler scream something about fucking pigs and state’s rights. We saw a small dark object lobbed in our direction.

“Grenade,” Boyd yelled.

We ducked back inside the car and shrapnel pierced the metal of the police cruiser’s door. Luckily, it missed me by a few inches. Before I could say anything, Boyd jumped out of the car and let loose with his shotgun. Jed fell to the ground in a trashy pool of blood. Boyd was on his way to the trailer when he stepped on something that sounded like metal. I heard a twip and he was on the ground, his ankle a bloody mess from the bear trap.   He turned to say something to me, but I never heard it; a high-powered round tore through Boyd’s head, leaving bone and brain in its wake. Panicking, I fired several shots into the trailer as I ran to check on my partner. I don’t know how successful I was, but nothing fired back at me. I checked Boyd’s pulse and I couldn’t find anything.   I belly-crawled up to the trailer; one of my bullet holes gave me a 9mm-sized view of inside.

Inside I saw Tyler Garvey lying on his side, his right hand clutching his gut. A few inches in front of him was an assault rifle just out of reach for his left hand. I got up and kicked in the trailer door. I bent down closer to Tyler to see if he was still alive. When I was a few inches from his body he lurched for the rife. Instinctively, I shot him in the face.

Covered in blood and bone fragments, I stumbled out to the car and called Loraine. I have no idea if or when back up came. I was too busy watching the deer underneath my tree stand.

~ fin ~