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        Lorella Shiekh was walking slowly, elegantly, down the dirt road. She wore a widow’s gown of black lace. A chic black laced hat shielded her head underneath that Georgia sunshine. She wore sunglasses. She was bare-foot. As Lorella strolled, little tufts of powdery yellow dust arose to adorn her feet.

        Her husband Shahran was dead.

        “He was a parasite and a stink bug,” thought Lorella. She raised her arms and fluttered her hands like wings.

        That dirt road passed directly through the corn maze canyons of her Daddy-Daw’s farm in Dawsville. The mourners were still gathered back there at her Daddy-Daw’s house.

        They all knew Lorella. She was brave, big, loud, beautiful, bright, joyful, and mighty.

        They all had known her husband, Shahran. He was feminine, small, mean, difficult, fearful, dim, and a coward.

        Sheriff Arvin Biggs never had accepted that Lorella had married Shahran out of love. It was Arvin who loved Lorella. Arvin was sure that Lorella loved him still. Arvin was big, loud, fast, and always ready for a fight.

        Arvin suddenly stepped out of the corn onto the dirt path in front of Lorella.

        Lorella’s left hand flew to her breast as she gasped.

        “Lord! Arvin, what are you are doing out here?!”

        He sneered, “Investigating crop circles.”

        They stood and stared at each other.

        Lorella spoke, “This won’t be good, Arvin.”

        Arvin asked, “Lorella, do you think I’m still having a good time whenever I’m with you?”

        Lorella scolded, ceasing her careful English and now drawling, “Now you all just forget all that will you now?”

        Arvin retorted, “Forget how we made ‘crop circles’ together or forget me having a really bad time ever since you met that, that, …” he was at a loss for a bad enough word for her dead husband, Shahran.

        “He’s dead, Arvin, dead. You need to show some respect for the dead now.”

        “Why’re you so concerned about ‘respect’ anyway, Lorella? Everybody knows why you married Shahran. You married his fucking Ahy-rab money. You talk all about ‘respect’. You planned all this, didn’t you?!”

        “Stop that now, do you hear me Arvin Biggs?! I am grieving and I will not hear you talk to me that way. You need to go!” Lorella glanced quickly around.

        Arvin shook his head, “Nothing else here except your conscience, Lorella.”

        “How dare you all talk to me about ‘conscience’, Arvin? You want the fact? Well, everybody knows you did it. And you talk to me about ‘conscience’? You need to go before they…” and Lorella glanced past Arvin.

        Arvin glanced quickly around.

        Lorella pointed at Arvin, “Ah-hah! Anybody can see that you have a guilty conscience. You need to go.”

        “We need to get this straight, Lorella: Shahran confronted me that night with your birth control pills. I didn’t do anything except tell him he was a dim little man. There are witnesses.”

        “And those witnesses will say you argued with Shahran and that you left right as soon as Shahran drove off.”

        “So damn what? I’m a Sheriff of Daws County! I’m in charge of this investigation, and I’m calling it an accident. He wasn’t murdered! And he was too much a coward to kill himself. Rich boys don’t commit suicide like that.”

        Lorella’s brow furrowed above her sunglasses, “So that same night that Shahran dies he leaves behind a letter he was writing, right so I would find it, a letter to the County saying that you were having an affair with me. I was visiting Daddy that night, and Daddy will say so, but Shahran thought I was going to rendezvous with you. Do you understand?”   She spoke ominously but Sheriff Arvin did not catch the meaning, “I have that letter and I hid it.”

        Arvin barked, “Well, he didn’t mail it; so what? No one’s gonna know that, ever. I’m in charge of this investigation.”

        “He didn’t mail that letter but what if he did mail another letter that we don’t know about, one that’s going to be shoved into your face some day?”

        “You and I grew up together in this town; so what? And nobody in Dawsville liked that mean little S.O.B. of yours, anyway. He owned the whole town.”

        “And now I do,” said Loretta, “Don’t forget. My daddy’s family founded this town and then the Yankees took it away. This whole town owes me now. So do you. You all were … disloyal enough … to sell-out this town to Shahran so he could figure on selling to developers.”

        “And just what did you sell to him, Lorella?”

        “I sold him just exactly what he needed: an American wife and children.”

        “Children? Shahran found out you were secretly taking birth control pills! I don’t blame you, Lord knows, but now it can look like we were having an affair after all! And you sure as hell know that it is untrue.”

        “We were lovers once and everyone in Dawsville knows it. And you made it clear to this whole damn County that you hated Shahran. Lord, you kept sayin’ that I was meant to be yours.”

        “Don’t you fuck me with that now,” bristled Sheriff Arvin. “Don’t you threaten me or, or…”

        “Or nuthin’, Arvin. This town is going to go along with anything I need, you’ll see. I own their lives now and they think they are free again because they think I am one of them. My daddy knows what I did. They all know what I was trying to do. I was fighting for the family. For Dawsville.”

        Sheriff Arvin Biggs looked at last with fear upon his beloved Lorella.

        When Lorella then walked regally back into her daddy’s house all the mourners there stood and faced her with almost imperceptibly bowed heads.






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