I suppose it should have been expected, although I know I didn’t want it to be.
Carson Fields had been a good boy growing up, if somewhat troublesome, but I never saw it as any more than a bit of wildness. As he aged and devoted his life to Cross, I believed he had worked that out of himself.
For 39 years, Carson served the town as a fireman, and on more than one occasion, he was hurt – and hurt badly – while saving lives.
This December 1st saw his retirement, and the town gave him quite the send-off. He still puttered around the firehouse, cleaning the engines and taking care of the house itself, but he no longer rode out on the calls. He simply wasn’t able to. Too many injuries made it difficult for him to carry out his job.
Carson was more than happy to settle back and let the younger men take care of the town, and he would speak words of encouragement as they raced off.
Like any town, Cross saw a boom in fires as the cold weather struck. People tended to forget the basics of keeping themselves warm while at the same time keeping themselves safe. Fortunately, the fires were rarely fatal.
That changed on the 21st of the month.
A small fire broke out at the railyard watchhouse, killing the nightwatchman.
Two more fires took place, and the last one was the worst. Both of Thomas Wails’ children died in a fire that swept through the old apartment building he shared with his older siblings.
I saw Carson walking away from that building and realized what he had been up to.
I didn’t challenge him on it. Instead, I went to his house in the morning and brought him down into his basement. I threw a noose around his neck, bound his hands behind his back, and had him stand on a wooden chair before I made the rope tight. Before I left the house, I set the basement on fire.
He had a choice, to either jump or burn, and it was more than he deserved.
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