“She’s a real beauty.”
“Your ex wife?”
“No, you idiot. The tractor. You’ll see her right before the stop sign on 162. That fucking moron bolted his name onto it. Like that makes it his.”
The man’s grease-encased fingers were counting off fifties. Five hundred each, which happened to be more than one of the men had earned that month.
“If I can’t have her. No one can.” He didn’t wait for the obvious question. “The tractor. I don’t give a fuck about Patty. That whore and her new husband stole half my land, but she took that tractor out of spite. And then he put his name on it. If I had more money, I swear . . .”
Then the man with the money pulled out two 20 gallon jugs of powder. “This’ll get the job done right. Leave a crater in the ground where she stood. Spread it around and shoot it from far off. You all can shoot right?”
One of them nodded and patted his waistband.
The hired hands arrived at the site, 2 am on a Tuesday, and the “beauty” showed rust in the moonlight. One set his flashlight on the ground as his quivering hands tried to twist open one container.
“Christ, turn off that light. Give me the other one.”
The second man took one, opened it easily and poured it all over the tractor — starting in the back and moving forward.
“You start up front with yours,” he said. The other man did as he was told and then, as he finished, said, “We’re supposed to take the plate off.”
“Fuck that. We got our money. Back away so we can blow it and get out of here.”
Headlights pin pricked the horizon and both men ran about 20 feet back from the tractor and threw themselves on the ground.
“That better not be him. Asshole can’t trust nobody to do nothing.”
But they watched from the grass as the car disappeared down the long flat road.
As they stood, one of the men pulled his .22, while the other started running and screaming,
“Not yet fuck tard!”
But it was too late. He pulled the trigger from 20 feet.
And the lawyer asked, “How did you lose your arm?”
“Well, sir, I was running and dove down when I heard it blow, but shrapnel caught me in the arm. I was lucky it just got my arm.”
“And can you tell us again why were you blowing up the tractor?”
“Because that guy,” he said pointing the hand he had left at the defendant, “He gave us each $500 and that powder to blow it up good. He said he just wanted to see a hole.”
“Do you think he in any way intended to kill James Buckhold?”
“Nah. He didn’t know Jimmy. But he could have told him 100 feet back. She wasn’t even that nice.”
“Who wasn’t nice?”
“The tractor,” The man pointed again at the defendant. “She ain’t no beauty.”