No one was sure when the crazy lady first arrived in Two Bridges, but after the parish fish fry the first Friday of Lent, the whole town knew she was there. The ringing of a table knife against the rim of a coffee cup brought the church basement to silence as the woman stood up. “I went hunting for the very first time,” she announced. Was she Jack Sampson’s ex-wife? Old man MacMillan’s daughter, back from the Twin Cities to bury him? The woman backed into the hallway and disappeared just long enough to re-emerge with a black trash bag. Struggling with the weight of it, she extracted a still dripping buck’s head and muscled it aloft.
The hubbub made it impossible for people to agree on what she’d said next. At Sal’s Crosstown Café the next morning, some said she declared that giving up meat for Lent was a rejection of God’s bounty. Others remembered she’d apologized for taking the deer out of season — even before the accusations filled the room. A select few at Sal’s, conjecturing at a corner table in the back, said the woman delivered a coded message that held clues to the recent mysterious deaths of nearly a dozen farm animals. Only a couple details were agreed upon: Father Timothy had escorted the woman and her poached treasure out the door and into the rectory — and that buck had a damn nice rack.
A week later the bloody unveiling was still a topic of conversation. At the Corner Tap Jimmy Ray Ralston downed his fifth beer while his friend Russ pried the top off a fresh one. Russ knew Jimmy Ray wasn’t even halfway to where he aimed to get to most Friday nights. “What I want to know is who the hell lets a woman that crazy keep a gun?” Russ asked as he slid the beer down the bar toward Jimmy.
“Maybe she got that buck with a bow,” Jimmy Ray said.
“Even scarier,” Russ said as the bar’s phone interrupted them. Jimmy Ray paused mid-sip while he studied Russ’s reflection in the mirror behind the bar. “Well, I’ll be goddamned,” Russ said, turning to announce the news to Jimmy and a handful of other patrons, “Father Tim’s been killed in a car accident. He clipped a deer and crashed his Pontiac into the bridge.”