The snow was falling, each unique paisley crystalline pattern spiraling gently earthward. It had started just after 8:30 pm and was increasing its rate of descent, by morning Essex Vermont would be snuggled under a cold white blanket. This was not an unusual scene in Essex. Annually Essex receives almost 90 inches of snow fall, but this was only the end of October. That was a little out of character. Why, Alder Brook hadn’t even frozen over yet! Diligently, burnt umber and fiery red leaves were still clinging to the towering sugar maple and yellow birch trees that surrounded Vermont’s largest town. They stood, like silent sentinels guarding the sleepy ville from the ever encroaching outside and modern world. Yet despite the best efforts of the dominant hemlock forest, Essex had been changing. A huge Price Chopper grocery store, complete with a Little Caesars Pizzeria and a new Tattoo parlor were evidence of that. But for some, some like Jed Coleman, Essex would forever be a cozy little backwater where one could live their life as it used to be. Where a man could still be a man, where he could earn nine hours pay for an honest nine hours work and return home to rule his castle. Where a man could run his household as he saw fit, without all the bleeding heart liberal bull pucky that seemed to have ingrained itself in “modern society.” Yes, to some, Essex Vermont was a step back in time.
Mac took off his spectacles and the world around him became an impressionist painting, blurry yet somewhat recognizable. He tilted his head back. It was raining and he let the cold drizzle pelt his weathered face. It stung him a little, but felt good. Mac squeezed his eyes shut, knitting his thick gray eyebrows together and stood motionless letting the water purify him. Breathing in and out he allowed the salt air of Kingfisher Bay to fill his lungs. The distant cry of two gulls cut through the patter of the droplets on the pier as they argued over the ownership of a scrap of discarded fish bait. He returned his specs to the tip of his nose and flexed his arthritic hands. A sharp pain shot up his arm to his shoulder. Like an electric shock it cleared his mind and signaled him now was the time for action. The old man looked at the large burlap bag on the dock, his black Wellington boots straddling the object. Rainwater was soaking into the absorbent material, it was collecting and pooling in the crevices. The sack would be heavy. He stared, willing it to move itself. Mac swallowed hard as tears welled up in the corner of his eyes. If he permitted, they would roll down his cheeks and mix in his beard with the rain. A quick shake of his head cured that. He could not spare the moment to indulge in emotion. There was a job that needed doing.