3:4 Tortured Shadows

FIESTA, CALIFORNIA  |  1889

The girls were amazed at the size of the crowd amassed on the edge of town. Nearly every adult they had ever met was in attendance, awaiting the Golden Light of Jehovah’s Word.

“How are we supposed to find your father in this crowd?” Lucette lamented.

“I have no idea,” Philomena shouted to be heard over the sound of excited believers. She scanned the field to find a policeman or someone in charge, but being young had its disadvantages. All she could see was the backs of people’s heads, their necks craning to see what was happening on the raised wooden stage.

“Hey, Phil, isn’t that your father over there by that wagon?” Lucette motioned through a temporary break in the humanity toward the edge of the lot where a few stunted oak trees threw tortured shadows in the moonlight.

“Father!” Philomena called out. “Heck, he’ll never hear us.” The girls could see the merchant talking to a tall man wearing a leather duster before the gap in the crowd closed tight. “Come on, Lu, let’s go.” The pair began to elbow their way through the crowd but their actions were hardly noticed by the throng and soon they were mired in the crush.

The unmistakable sound of a gunshot put both girls into a panic a quickened heartbeat before the entire fabric of the night was ripped apart like an old worn-out bed sheet.

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