A Prayer for the Night by P. L. Gaus

By P. L. Gaus

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Bald at the top, he had a nose like a hawk and rheumy eyes. His fingers were bent with arthritis, and his grip on the shotgun kept slipping. He had an involuntary twitch under his left eye, and his face screwed up into a painful grimace each time he shifted his weight on his bowed legs. Brown clay and gray mud caked his clothes, face, and boots, and his forehead was streaked as black as soot. Behind him was parked an old rusty wheelbarrow stacked full of irregular lumps of coal. ” Robertson asked coolly.

Near a pond at the edge of a cornfield stood a small red barn. As she pulled to a stop in front of the barn doors, a raccoon with dirty paws scrambled out from under the exterior wall of the barn and scurried off into the corn. She hitched her horse to a wooden railing that John Schlabaugh had posted in the ground beside the barn, and a rusted, blue Buick Skyhawk rolled into the clearing. As she tugged the looped reins tight on the railing, Henry Erb climbed out of the little sedan. He was dressed in English clothes—designer jeans, a yellow golf shirt, and white running shoes—but his Dutch-boy haircut gave him away as Amish.

She turned from the car and saw something in the near corner. “Bring the light over here,” Sara said, kneeling on the dirt floor of the barn. When Erb brought the light, they could see a ragged hole scratched in the dirt. “I scared off a raccoon when I drove up,” said Sara. The edge of a plastic bag showed in the hole. Sara scooped dirt out from around the bag and pulled it loose. Inside the bag were a black leather wallet, two car keys on an antique Pontiac fob, a GPS receiver in a plastic camouflage case, and a cell phone.

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