“Are you all right, Bigger?” He finally shouted like a fool, unable to hear the answer. He felt for the matches on the table and lit the lamp again with unsteady hands.
“Are you okay?” He asked Alex again, but Alex only pointed to the man on the floor. Shaman was a poor marksman. Had the man had other conditions, he would probably have shot them both, but he hadn’t had them. Shaman approached him cautiously as if he were a dead bear whose death is not entirely certain. He saw traces of his inexperienced shooting everywhere: holes in the wall, shattered floorboards. The intruder’s two shots had missed the shoe but destroyed the top of Mrs. Clay’s maple dresser. The man lay on his side as if asleep, a fat soldier with a black beard, a surprised expression on his lifeless face. A shot had hit him in the left leg, exactly where Shaman had to amputate Alex. Another bullet was in the chest, just above the heart.
When Shaman felt the carotid artery, the fleshy throat was still warm, but no pulse could be felt.
Alex’s strength seemed completely exhausted, he collapsed. Shaman sat on the bed and cradled his crying and trembling brother like a small child in his arms.
Alex was convinced that if the body was discovered, he would be returned to the prison camp. He begged Shaman to drag the fat soldier into the forest and burn him there, just as he had done with his stump.
Shaman comforted him and patted him reassuringly on the back, but kept a cool head.
“I killed him, not you. If anyone gets into trouble, it’s definitely not you. The man will be missed for sure. The shopkeeper knows he wanted to come here – maybe others too. The room is demolished and we need craftsmen to talk about it. If I hide or burn the body, I run the risk of them hanging me. We won’t touch the body. “
Alex calmed down a little. Shaman sat with him and talked to him until the gray light of the morning crept into the room and he could extinguish the lamp. He carried his brother down to the living room and laid him on the sofa under warm blankets. Then he put more wood in the stove and reloaded the revolver, which he placed on a chair next to Alex.