Bill Jones, author of “Suspected Suicide in Local Cemetery”, has had poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction appear in numerous small press magazines and journals across the country. Apprentice House Press has published two collections of his writing—At Sunset, Facing East (2016) and Still Life in a Hurricane (2019). His short stories have appeared most recently in Passager, Evening Street Review, and Caesura.
‘Suspected Suicide in Local Cemetery’
— Buffalo Evening News, November 7, 1974
Moose checked his watch again, wiped the sweat off his face, and re-checked the rifle and the scope. He’d been behind the Samuels headstone since 11:30, and Zig was due at noon.
The plan had seemed foolproof to him. All he had to do was blow the head off a statue of an angel by the lake in New Ascension Cemetery and his debt to Zig Reska would be settled. Moose owed Zig a load of cash, having run up a $3000 tab for gambling debts and dope. Zig wasn’t a patient man, and he had said he was ‘getting irritated.’
It didn’t help that Moose was driving a new F-350 and bragging about the great deal he’d gotten on it. Or that he’d been talking too loud about the new deer rifle he’d gotten, claiming he could drop a buck with it with a single shot from 200 yards away. Zig hadn’t heard the bragging himself, but he’d seen the truck and the gun, and that sight hadn’t done much for his attitude.
It didn’t help that Moose was driving a new F-350 and bragging about the great deal he’d gotten on it.
So Zig had made his offer. Moose needed to help him out by sending a message to one of Zig’s creditors, a message in the form of a slug from that deer rifle, not killing the guy, just blowing the head off the angel statue when Zig and his man were discussing business. Zig said he would light up a cigar when he wanted the shot taken.
Moose knew the place well. Half of his family was buried in New Ascension. Sure, the deal was shady, but what choice did he have? It wasn’t like he was going to get the money by working double shifts at Lackawanna. The mills were laying off, not hiring.
So he did what he’d been told, parking up the hill behind the mausoleum, then trekking down to find the Samuels plot and hiding behind that headstone. From there, his view of the statue was clear, and gravestones and monuments provided perfect cover.
At 11:55, two cars pulled up to the statue by the lakeside. When Moose raised up on one knee and brought the rifle into position, he felt the muzzle of a pistol in his ear.
By noon, Moose was on the ground, a shot through his head and that pistol in his hand. His truck and rifle were nowhere to be found. The plan had, indeed, been foolproof, and his debt to Zig had been settled. There was a faint scent of cigar smoke in the air.
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