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We drove the crumbling Chevy to the dock about 30 miles outside of town. We parked, Henry and I, and walked out on the creaking pier planks to the rowboat. I got in first and held the boat steady with one hand on the pier as Henry scrambled on. I handed him an oar and picked up the other one lying at my feet. It was a foggy night and damper than I'd expected. I began to wish I'd brought a heavier jacket. We pointed the boat at the thick stand of rushes and rowed as if we'd been doing it all our lives.

"You're sure about this?" Henry said.

"How many times have I told you when something was going to happen, Henry?"

"Dozens, I reckon."

"Have I been wrong yet? You remember last fall when I told you Jimmy Atwood was going to die in a car wreck?"


"You haven't ever told anyone else about these things, have you, Henry?"

"Gosh, no. Frankly, Dale, you scare the shit out of me. I wish you'd never started telling me this stuff, but I reckon if you didn't tell someone it'd fester inside you until you exploded. I just don't know why you picked me."

"You're a good listener."

I stopped paddling and Henry stopped just afterwards. "We're here," I said. With all the rushes and cattails around us, it seemed as if we were sitting on a bench in a field as much as in a boat on a lake.

The boat tilted just a bit and Henry shivered noticeably. "Is he in the boat?" he asked in a whisper.

"Yes, sitting behind you, and you don't need to whisper or be afraid of him. He is not here to hurt either of us."

We rowed back to the dock without another word. Again, I held the boat steady with one hand on the pier. "Let him get out first," I said. Once he was on the pier I said, "Go sit in the back seat of the car and we'll be right there." By the time Henry and I got out of the boat and tied it up, he was nowhere to be seen.

"I wasn't really afraid until he got in the boat," Henry said. "Now I don't think I can do this."

I was getting fed up with Henry's wishy-washy bullshit. I raised my voice an octave. "Aren't you sure of what you told me you saw? Were you making it up?"

"No. I saw it."

"And you're perfectly content to just let it lie and not do anything to stop it?"

"I just didn't know it would involve something like this. I thought we'd just call the cops or something."

"Henry; look at me!" I grabbed him by his shoulders. "The cops aren't going to do shit. He's a fucking federal judge. Do you know how many ways he gets out of this? And then he'll blame Susan and it'll just get worse for her."

Henry went sort of limp and I knew that would be the last time we'd have to discuss it.

We drove back to my house and I told our new accomplice to go around the house and he'd see a ladder on the oak tree which he should climb up into the treehouse and wait until Henry and I came and got him in a day or two.

I drove Henry home and along the way we planned to finish the job the next night when Susan and her mom would be at a cheerleading clinic and her dad would be left home alone.

That next night I picked Henry up at dark and we went back to my place. Susan lived just down the street from me, so we could just leave the car in my driveway and walk. On the drive I described to Henry that I'd get our new friend to go in Susan's back door which was almost always unlocked, get a serrated knife from the kitchen and emasculate the son of a bitch who'd been abusing our friend and his daughter. I told Henry to just wait in the car and I'd handle everything. I parked and went around back to the treehouse.

About half an hour later, we were standing in my front yard listening to screams of agony from just down the street. Henry was in a panic. "Don't we need to take him back to the lake now? We can't afford to let him get caught; he'll implicate us!"

I said, "Who in the hell are you talking about, Henry? Look around. There's no one here but you and me, and you're dripping blood all over the place from that disgusting old man-dick and ballsack you're holding. Go put that shit down the garbage disposal, bury that knife, wash yourself up and then let's put those clothes you're wearing in a garbage bag. We'll burn them later. You can borrow some of mine before I take you home."

Once we were on the way, I looked over at him and said, "You'll make someone a good wife one day, Henry."

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