Today's Reading

"It sounded like a rifle," Clyde said.

"How would anyone smuggle a rifle into an arena?" A heavy weight had settled on Emma's chest, along with an ache at the back of her throat. She wanted to sit down and weep. This was supposed to be a family outing, a night Jeremiah had looked forward to for many weeks. She knew that because Ruth had told her so. And now, once again, they were facing a tragedy. "Why would anyone do such a thing?"

"We've seen this before. Like with the Monte Vista arsonist." Katie Ann didn't look at Emma, but she stepped closer and dropped her voice to a barely discernible whisper. "And Sophia's murderer."

"Let's not assume the worst," Emma said, but even as she said it she knew the worst had happened. From their vantage point more than halfway up the stands, they could see Jeremiah. He hadn't moved since falling from the horse, since being shot from the horse. The steer he was supposed to have wrestled had been corralled in a far corner of the arena.

Stephen and Thomas were trying to be stoic, but they looked as if they might burst into tears at any moment.

"Katie Ann, maybe you could take the boys up a few rows and engage them in a game of I Spy." Katie Ann looked as if she were about to argue, so Emma stepped closer to her and said, "Maybe distract them away from the field."

"Ya, gut idea. Let's go to the top, boys. Maybe if we look hard enough we can see Cinnamon from there." The boys started talking about their buggy horse as they turned away, and Emma mouthed a thank you to Katie Ann.

When they were gone, Clyde motioned them into a tighter circle. "Did any of you see anything?" he asked.

Rachel, Silas, and Emma all shook their heads.

"I was watching for Henry," Emma admitted. "He'd gone to get us both a hot dog."

Rachel hugged her arms around her body as if she were cold. "The boys were pestering me for money. I didn't realize anything had happened until I heard the screams."

"I was thinking about tomorrow, what I need to do at the farm." Clyde ran a hand up and around the back of his neck. "I wasn't really paying attention at all."

"Well, I was," Silas said. "Jeremiah had just come out of the gate. He was gaining on the steer when a shot rang out, and then he flipped backward off the horse. I remember thinking he could be trampled by the steer if it turned back toward him."

"He fell backward? You're sure?"

"Ya. The horse shot out from under him like an arrow from a bow." They all turned to stare at the horse, now being handled by two of the rodeo clowns.

Clyde's brow wrinkled as he looked back at the chutes and then toward the opposite side of the arena. "All right. So if he was coming out of the chutes from the northwest..."

"Then the shooter had to be to the southeast, or maybe a little more east if he wanted a straight shot as Jeremiah moved around the arena."

"And it happened just as the sun was setting, so the light wouldn't be a problem."

"Stop," Emma said. She couldn't stand one more minute of this sort of talk. "This isn't another mystery we're becoming involved in. This is a member of our church..."

"Actually, he hasn't joined yet," Silas said, reminding them.

"And he wouldn't join here anyway." Emma sank onto the bleacher, but her gaze remained on the field, on the calamity taking place there. "Ruth told me he planned to go back to Goshen at the end of the summer."

"Just trying to figure out what happened, Mamm." Clyde offered her a weak smile. "We're not trying to involve you in another mystery."

"Gut, because I'm done. I don't want another thing to do with the police unless it's thanking them for watching over our town." She sat down next to Rachel and finally echoed what her daughter-in-law had said a few minutes earlier, what had been running through her mind since the shot rang out. "This cannot be happening again."

"I'll go talk to some of the others. See if they've heard anything." Silas darted off toward a group of Amish teens.

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