Silas slammed the door of his son’s rusty Chevy S-10 with his left hand. With some effort he hoisted himself up onto the rear tire on the truck’s driver’s side and reached in the bed for Lena’s nail gun and its 52 feet of heavy-duty extension cord. It was a beautiful morning—the frosted ground crunched under Silas’s boots and sturdy beams of sunlight shot through the oak trees in Lena’s front yard. Silas figured he’d just put the gun back in the bottom drawer of the old upright Waterloo—no need to wake Lena if he didn’t need to. Nail gun in hand, Silas trudged toward the barn where the big toolbox was. He was looking forward to a couple cups of quiet coffee at The Star before 6 am, when he had to be at the hotel. Guests got pissy if there was no one at the front desk to tell them where to find the ice machine (there wasn’t one).
Silas walked up the old ramp and through the open barn doors. Something didn’t feel right. Silas looked around the big, hollow barn—everything was as it was supposed to be. Silas didn’t know why, but as soon as he walked up that ramp and through those barn doors, something had caught his attention. Silas’s thoughts of coffee had quickly shifted to an acute awareness of his surroundings. What the hell was going on? Silas checked behind the stacked hay, peeped into the horse pens, and even climbed the ladder to the storage loft. Absolutely nothing was out of order. Silas felt ridiculous for taking his groundless inkling so seriously; he shoved the nail gun into the Waterloo and left. But on his way out, Silas realized exactly what was wrong. He’d been walking in and out of this barn since he’d built it in 1967. That damn ramp had always squeaked. He and his men had tried everything—they’d reinforced every plank—but that squeak was resilient as hell.
The ramp wasn’t squeaking now. Silas walked up and down the ramp a couple times, he even jumped on it—no noise. Silas walked around the side of the ramp and realized that the triangular side panel had been pried off and was now just propped against the side of the ramp. Was Lena using this little space for storage? Curious and a little apprehensive (this was private property, after all), Silas climbed back on top of the ramp and kicked the side panel over with the toe of his boot. No longer contained by the propped-up panel, a stiff, pallid arm fell into the dirt.