<- click here
See down that path, oh about two thirds of the way? Fifteen years ago at about 10 in the morning I walked along it, my frisky puppy about five feet in front, heading for the parking lot. My car was parked just about where my VW's parked here. There was a building to the right back then. Off to the left across the street is a house and some corn fields. I recall the morning was beautiful, sunny with still air painted morning gold. My dog Meghan was so cheery, frolicking along... going for a car ride, one of her very favorite things. Abruptly I leapt forward to play with her – when it happened.
Just behind my ear, off to the right I heard a SNAP! REEEEELY loud, as if a giant had grabbed a tree branch and broken it like a celery stick. I twirled that way, and my dog... rolled to the ground just off on the grass to the right. Springing up, she dashed at breakneck speed for the car... "Whuhhh?" I murmurred, there was nothing there. No trees, just a vista rolling off to the Susquehanna river maybe a mile below. I ran for to the car like a crazy man. Looking everyway. Off to the left, in the cornfields I saw a puff of smoke. But no one anywhere around. No one.... nothing moved in the quiet moment.
Down in the borough over coffee I bumped into a police detective I knew and told him about the oddness of my morning.
He went ashen, leapt up, pulled me to his car and siren screaming flashed back to this place. On the way he explained about mach speeds. “If you've ever heard a plane break the sound barrier you know the crash it makes?” he hollered over the racket of the ride. “Bullets it seems do the same, but the noise doesn't travel far... not far at all.” You have to be quite close to hear them snap... like a giant twig.
Later in the corn field they found an impression in the dirt of where the shooter hunkered himself down. And they found a casing. For some days after that friendly state troopers waited for me in that parking lot drinking their morning coffee when I arrived before sunrise to open this place. They never explained why and simply drove off when I was inside.
And I've often wondered what would have happened if spontaneously at that moment I'd not leapt to play with my doggie. Soon afterward my friend the County Sheriff insisted that I carry a gun.
Two years later business took me away from this place where I'd worked for a decade. Where every morning like clockwork I'd leave to get my morning coffee and grab the newly arrived mail in town. This is the first time I’d returned there in maybe a dozen years. It looks forlorn.