THE ARROW

By Nancy Sweetland

Iím glad you came home early, Roy, I want to tell you about the oddest thing that came into my head. Iím still puzzling over it...I wonder...did it really happen?

Here, have some coffee with your dessert.

You know sometimes I daydream and the plot for a whole story plays out just like a technicolor movie right in front of my mind. But this was different-Ėmore like a vision-Ėor maybe a remembrance?

Anyway, I saw myself standing behind a tree-Ėa small birch it was, peeling white, only about eight inches through its shaggy trunk, and seeing someone shoot an arrow toward something beyond my vision, I didnít know what.

I was about ten years old in this dream, if thatís what it was, and this person didnít see me. He was older than me, maybe fifteen or sixteen. So calm, he lowered his bow and walked away, but really fast and quiet.

More coffee, Roy? You know, I wouldnít have given it another thought, except todayís paper has a whole page about this unsolved murder in that very woods back twenty-five years ago today.

You didnít see the paper?

Oh, thatís right, you left for work early today, didnít you?

Well, seems somebody was shot by an arrow in those same woods I saw in my dream, just beyond that old hunting shack where all us kids used to play. I do remember Mama never let me go play there again, but I didnít ever know why. So young as I was, I suppose she didnít want to tell me the real reason.

Well, this morning after you left when I read that story in the paper, I remembered what a hunter you used to be. Were you in that woods when you were a boy, too? What I want to ask is, what did you see? Do you know of anyone who hunted with a bow? Maybe you could solve this mystery even after all these years. The paper says thereís no time limit on murder. Theyíre still looking for the killer.

What?

Why do I think you married me? Whatís that got to do with this conversation? I declare, Roy, the way your mind works sometimes right out scares me. I thought you married me because you loved me. You did, didnít you? Donít you?

No, Iím not fishing. I donít understand. We were just talkingĖ-at least I wasĖ-about something that happened way before we got married, when this person, Armand Jones, was killed. Did you know him?

He what?

Ohmigosh, he was your daddy?

No! Be serious. The paper said he wasnít even married, let alone to your mama, your daddy was Frank Mason, now you know he was. Leastwise everybody thought so.

But even if Armand Jones was, rest your mamaís soul, youíre...why honey, that makes you a, well I just canít say that word in connection with you...a love child, thatís better, isnít it?

Well, that's something, your real daddy was murdered and they're still looking for the killer and then I have that daydream or vision or whatever it was. Come to think of it you do look a heap like Armand Jones, I mean, more than you look like Frank Mason. Take a look, his pictureís right there on the front page.

Well, to get back to my dream, if thatís what it was, why that person with the bow took off like a shot arrow himself.

My, you look funny, Roy, was it something I said? No, donít get up, Iíll get more coffee.

You donít want coffee? What, then? Whyíre you getting up now, looking so odd? Where's the fire?

Who have I talked to today? Why nobody. Honest!

No, I won't mention anything to anybody about Armand Jones being your real daddy. Why would I do that anyway?

I only meant to tell you about my... uh.. my... It was just a silly daydream...wasnít it?

Roy? Roy? Honey, are you okay?