From his hiding place in the Sweetwater barn, Buford Benjamin cried out in protest at the exact moment his father’s gun went off. Now mute, he watched in horror and shame as that same cowardly father hightailed it out of the barn through the back door after shooting an innocent man in cold blood.
Why oh why did his mother pick this morning to send him to follow his father? Why did she even care about the abusive man’s welfare after the drunken binge and violent explosion he had last night? Why hadn’t she packed their things and gone to her parents’ house like she threatened to do last night?
Buford hadn’t wanted to know the ugly truth about his parents’ loveless marriage. He certain didn’t want to see Motega falling to the ground face first with blood quickly soaking his shirt. He was only eight years old – too young to witness murder.
Now Buford was sorry he ever lied for his father concerning this brown-skinned man. He wouldn’t lie again. Never again!
Too traumatized to move an inch from his hiding place, Buford remained frozen in shock even as Annabelle came rushing into the barn seconds later after hearing the shotgun blast. He watched as she shouted for her son Matthew to run to the nearest neighbor for help, then sat with her husband and tended to him as best as she could.
Guilt pricked Buford’s heart when he heard Motega whispering how much he loved Annabelle and Matthew. In between those declarations the man told her who shot him and why. As the dying man uttered his final I-love-you with his last breath, Buford finally found the strength to reveal himself. He told Annabelle everything that happened that morning.
When the sheriff came, he repeated his story word-for-word, also revealing everything his father had ever done concerning the Sweetwaters. Those revelations may have eased Buford’s guilt and shame for the moment, but they left behind a legacy of anger and fatherlessness among the Benjamins. They also generated decades of pain and suffering for both families.
© 2014 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier