to Kestract Oil & Gas, forcing everyone into a pool that stripped their
rights to royalties as punishment for not signing in the first place. It had
landed a stadium-sized well pad where the cemetery used to be. Maybe
if Kestract hadn’t chosen to drill over land claimed by the dead, the town
would have been more considering, but people here believed there were
some things not even money should mess with.
Everyone suspected Evaline—Kestract shill in her white hard hat and
unladylike boots—of the signature that stole their Veterans Memorial
Parkway, their cemetery south lawn, and Kester Memorial Gardens gazebo, where hotdogs were roasted on Decoration Day. A new gazebo was
almost finished over the relocated grounds, but it wasn’t the same. The
worst grievance, though, was yet to be discovered by the townspeople.
Evaline hoped they wouldn’t know until she was settled in the Aspen
Grove Retirement Home out of state, near where Jake lived. She’d signed
the lease on the place a week ago, after Kestract closed on the final acres
of the Gillie farm. In two days, Evaline would hold the condo key and
be far away by the time Kester found out about the saltwater spill, five
hundred gallons leached from the shale and now seeping into the fragile
ecosystem of the soil, devouring each pill bug, earthworm, and protozoon it passed. Nothing would live in its wake; a rapture of microbes.
Saltwater spilled from a frack water pipe contained a cocktail of salts
meant to stay buried in its confines of shale, hydrochloric acids, and
methanol, all immune to the borders of the Gillie farm’s fences. By the
time the neighbors’ fields started dying, the documents that forced the
pooling would be public record, and the signer who had sold all of Kester’s mineral rights to Kestract would face their reckoning, if they were
still here. Evaline wouldn’t be; the movers would have every last box out
by the end of the day.
Evaline cracked her knuckles. Her joints had grown stiff, and the fall
rains didn’t help. She set her coffee on the porch rail and retrieved the
urn by her feet.
“Last coffee?” Jake came out and sat in the rocker behind his mother.
“I’m not dying.”
“I meant at home.” Jake twirled a spoon in his mug. “Don’t spill Dad.”
“Wouldn’t he like that?” Evaline asked. “He was the one professed
he’d never leave.”
“You like it here.” Jake grinned. “I see you for what you are, Ms. Kes-
“You rummaging in my things?”