The Law of Moses
Author:Amy Harmon

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

I TOLD MY PARENTS what happened at the stampede. I had to. I also told them that I thought it might be Terrence who had tied me up. Moses came inside with me and stood anxiously by the door, not making eye contact with anyone in the room, his eyes glued to the floor. My parents urged him to sit, but he refused and they finally let him be, ignoring him as studiously as he ignored them.

 

What was already a late night became much later as my parents reacted with alarm, unending questions, and finally a phone call to the sheriff, who fortunately lived on the outskirts of Levan and not on the other side of the county.

 

My parents called Moses’s grandma and told her he would need to stick around to tell the sheriff what he saw. She ended up coming right over, bustling in the back door like it was ten am instead of two am. She patted Moses’s cheek and gave him a squeeze before she moved to me and wrapped me up in her arms. Her head only came to my shoulder, and her grey curls tickled my chin, but I immediately felt safer. Better. She sat down at the table and I went and showered the dirt from my skin and hair while we waited for the sheriff to arrive. I was sore and bruised and there were rope burns on my wrists and a wide scrape on my left cheek. The back of my head ached and even my lips felt tender from where my face had been shoved into the ground. But worse than all of that was the sick fear in my belly and the sense that I’d escaped something truly awful.

 

When I walked into the kitchen with my head in a towel and my body swathed in polka-dotted pajamas, Sheriff Dawson was sitting at the kitchen table, a Pepsi at the ready and a slice of pie in front of him, thanks to Mom, the unfailing hostess. Sheriff Dawson was lean and fit in his brown sheriff’s uniform, his blonde hair parted and neatly combed, his blue eyes bright in a tanned face that revealed his preference for the outdoors. He was in his late thirties or early forties and had recently been re-elected sheriff. People liked him and he liked horses. That was a pretty good resume for the people in our county. I didn’t see him losing his job any time soon. He and my dad were talking about breaking Lucky when I settled down at the table next to Mrs. Wright. Moses was seated across from the sheriff, and the sheriff started asking him questions right away. Moses was quiet and guarded and he kept looking at the door like he couldn’t wait to bolt. It reminded me of Sunday school, and the thought almost made me smile. The interview didn’t take long; Moses gave the briefest answers ever recorded.

 

He went to the rodeo with his grandmother. His grandma nodded helpfully. He came to see me ride. Mrs. Wright nodded again.

 

He did? The thought made me squirm and feel all warm inside. He continued in a quiet tone, giving the barest of details.

 

He was parked near the animal pens, standing next to his Jeep, trying to decide whether to go to the carnival for a couple corndogs and a caramel apple or to just head home. Someone had bumped into him from behind. He didn’t see who it was. A cowboy, he thought. Not especially helpful, I thought. But I couldn’t add anything to that description either. He thought he heard someone call out, scream even. And he found me. He untied me, he brought me home. The end.

 

Then Moses stared at the sheriff and repeated the same answers when Sheriff Dawson pressed him a little harder. Sheriff Dawson asked why he was parked by the pens instead of in the parking lot.

 

Moses answered that he didn’t want to walk.

 

The sheriff wanted to know why he couldn’t give a more detailed description of the man he’d seen running away, the man who’d run right into him?

 

Moses said his back was turned, and it was dark.

 

The sheriff seemed uneasy and suspicious, but I wasn’t. Moses wasn’t the one who had tied me up. He was the one who freed me. And that’s the only part I cared about.

 

Then it was my turn. I told my story too, my small audience hanging on every word. I told Sheriff Dawson that I thought it might be Terrence Anderson who had been pulling a prank, which was highly uncomfortable, considering Sheriff Dawson was Terrence’s uncle. But to his credit, the sheriff didn’t bat an eye or argue with me, and he promised to look into it. The sheriff took down everything I said and even took some pictures of the rope burns on my wrists and the scrapes on my face.

 

“What’s this? Is that something we need to document?” The sheriff pointed to the place Sackett’s hoof had connected with my forehead. It was three weeks old and mostly healed, but having my head ground into the dirt and gravel had irritated the scar, and it was now red and raw looking.