Three of a Kind and One Pair

When they killed Robert Swain it had the easy grace of gravity. It was Adele’s idea, of course, though she put it to Bob Jr. in a way that made it seem like he’d thought of it. She’d peeled away his friends the same way, one by one, and none of them that wouldn’t have sworn it wasn’t his doing and cursed the day that first knew him. In the end it was just the three of them, Adele, Robert and Bob Jr., and that was when death took ahold of Robert Swain, the way a car falling over a cliff has the crash riding inside it ever before it hits the ground.

Swain had an easy death in his sleep and died not knowing that he’d died or who’d killed him. That was Adele, since she had the easiest time of it, one quick plunge and it was through without a hair out of place. Jr. came in and together they dragged the body out into the woods back of the house where the old man kept his still. They drained all the blood out of him till he was white as sin, took his hands and feet off, sewed his eyes and mouth shut and sealed his ears up with wax, carved out his heart and liver and burned them. When they were done the took him over the river and buried him face down in a new plowed field. All this to lay his ghost, blind and hobble it, leave it mazed and weak, and, all else failing, trap it in the long yellow farewell of the corn.

They went home meek as two lambs, Bob Jr. curled up to Adele the whole way. She locked the door after they’d gone through it and it hasn’t opened since, though every now and then you’ll see one or the other of them peeping out of a window, pale and shaggy and holy as any hermit.