The Wayward BrotherWhen I was younger I would disappear without telling or contacting anyone. I returned one time and was visiting my inlaws, my sister's husband's parents. The father told me I shouldn't do that, just leave and not keep in touch. It leaves the rest of the family not knowing anything. Then he tells me a story.
Many years earlier his brother had done the same thing. He would take off for a while, not saying where he was going or doing, returning whenever he felt like showing back up. The last time he took off was just like any other time, leaving without much notice and no contact once he was gone. The months added up and turned to years and still no word from him. The family thought it was a little unusual, him being gone so long without word, but they were somewhat used to it. They had no reason to go looking. Many years later it was they that got a story told to them.
An ominous setting straight off the pages of a mystery novel. An old man on his deathbed. A confession.
The old man had been a county sheriff in a southern state. He told of an incident that took place many years earlier. It involved his son, a deputy sheriff at the time, and another man, the wayward brother. The two men both had feelings for the same woman and both were actively courting her. Each was aware of the other.
The incident was at a wooded cabin. One of the men lived there. The other went there to confront him over the woman. An argument ensued which quickly turned into a fight. It was never meant to get out of hand, just two guys fighting over a girl. I guess the wayward brother was getting the better of the deputy and had him reeling. The deputy wasn't thinking with malice when he reached over and grabbed the axe handle, he was just trying to defend himself in a losing fight. Without thinking, the axe came swinging down, striking the other man. He immediately dropped to the ground. The axe had struck him in the head. It was clear he was dead.
The deputy didn't mean for this to happen and didn't know what to do. He called his father, the sheriff. The father went to the cabin and found his son standing over a dead body. They grabbed a couple of shovels and headed for the woods. This was an accident that nobody had to know about and they meant to keep it that way. The body was buried. Nobody in town paid the missing man much thought. They assumed he had just moved on.
The old man kept the secret along with the son, intending to take it to his grave. He nearly did, but had a change of heart. Maybe he was scared of a haunting afterlife. Even if he didn't face a penalty for the crime, at least he would confess and let it be known what had happened.
The State Troopers had contacted my inlaws and explained the story to them, letting them know why they hadn't heard from the brother in so many years. I still didn't keep in contact very well myself. Luckily I haven't had a southern deputy swing an axe at me either, so I'm still here.