Marshall Garvin sat in his camp chair like he did every warm afternoon, and some cold ones, with his binoculars and a bottle of the blackest beer he could find. He also had a handheld radio that turned to the police, weather, and citizens bands.
“I’m nosy,” he liked to admit. And impertinent. Sharp-tongued. Irascible even.
“Just say it, already. I’m a smartass.”
Yes. Marshall Garvin is indeed a smartass.
“And proud of it, thank you.” He nodded, tipping his ever-present hat. If he robbed the bank without his hat, nobody would recognize him.
“You think so? Maybe I ought to try it.”
No, Marshall, don’t. You’d get shot or something.
“Old Henry wouldn’t shoot me! We were boys together.”
Just let it go, let it go. Watch the river through your binoculars. Surely there’s something. What do you see?
“Nope. Well … Maybe. Yep. Yep. I believe I do. It’s that Baxter fellow.”
Has he ever been out there fishing before?
“Not that I’ve seen. And I see a lot.”
Is he having any luck?
Marshall shook his head. “Nope. None. Well … Maybe. Yep. Yep. Well I’ll be, look at that. Biggest damn fish I ever saw.”
The fisherman Marshall recognized as Baxter did indeed reel up a trout that looked as big as his thigh.
“It’s bigger’n his thigh.”
It’s as big as his thigh.
“Who’s got the binoculars?”
Well then, watch Baxter with them and stop being such a …
Yes. Well. What about the fish? Is he keeping it?
“Yeah, of course he is. Who wouldn’t keep a fish like that? Fish like that could keep you fed for a week. Maybe more. Uh-oh.”
“He’s pulling the hook out with pliers.”
From the fish’s perspective, that’s got to be pretty grotesque.
“You can say that again. There he goes. Bastard lets a fish like that go, just like that.” He throws his hands up and almost tosses away the binoculars.
Sergeant Garvin, the radio squawked. Marshall bobbled the binoculars into his lap and looked at the radio.
Garvin up, replied Patrick Garvin, Marshall’s much younger cousin.
“Second cousin, actually,” said Marshall.
You at the tourist lot?
Uh, negative. Down here at the river.
Well get your butt up there. Some tourist has gone nuts.
“I see him!” Marshall said, looking through his binoculars again.
Any disturbance in the parking lot? This is the one near the ninety-degree turn in Highway 160, where a hot springs mineral mound sticks up and most tourists park, especially those grabbing a bit or a drink at Tequila’s.
“Tequila my ass,” said Marshall. “I can buy a whole bottle for what they sell a couple shots for in there.”
Don’t you see anything?
“Guy with a rifle.”
“Hunting rifle. Big scope. Looks like an old thirty-ought-six. My uncle had a gun like that. Fine gun.”
What’s the man doing with it?
“Looks like he’s aiming it at Baxter down there in the river.”
What? Where’s Patrick?
“He’s there. He’s got his hands up. Talking to the guy with the gun. Now his hands are down. On his hips. And he’s nodding a lot. Wow, he just looked over his shoulder at Baxter.”
Baxter has no clue, does he?
“Nope. Fishing for a dinner he won’t eat, stupid bastard.”
Did Patrick take the shooter down?
“Doesn’t look like it. Looks like they’re talking with their heads close together. The shooter just handed over his gun to Patrick! That was incredible! He just talked him out of … wait a minute. Patrick is aiming the gun. At Baxter. My God, he just pulled the trigger!”
A sharp shot rang out. Everyone in downtown cringed, except for Mr. Willbarger, who’s as deaf as a stump. Is Baxter still there? Did he get shot?
“Don’t see him.”
Where’d he go?
Marshall shrugged. “No idea.”
And why’d Patrick shoot at him?
“No idea about that, either.”
You’re not doing us any good at all right now.
“Nope. But I’m a smartass, and I got me some binoculars and my beer. That’s good enough for me.”
He guzzled the beer until it spilled out of his cheeks in amber, foamy rivulets.