Burton reached down into the cardboard box and grabbed a thick file. “Here’s some transcripts of interviews the Army had with you.” He hoisted them onto the table. An 8 x 10 black and white photo slid from the file onto the floor. Burton had a panicked look on his face and he quickly lunged to pick it up. It slid too far away from his grasp. It was face down on the floor. “I’ll get it.”
“I got it,” Wilson said.
“Don’t look at it,” Burton said reaching out for the photo.
Wilson pulled it close to him.
“Don’t look at it, Wilson,” Burton pleaded. “You don’t want to see it.”
Wilson turned the photo over and looked. The photo was of Everett Carpenter laying in on the ground with the front of his skull missing.
Wilson dropped the photo and raced to the back door. He leaned over the porch railing and vomited. Burton waited until he stopped and brought a wet cloth.
“Here ya go, Wilson,” Burton handed the wet cloth to Wilson.
Wilson’s hands trembled as he grabbed the cloth. His hand shook as he wiped his chin. He groaned, cried out, and sobbed.
Burton rested his hand on Wilson’s shoulder and directed him off the porch and walked past equipment barn and down a path that led to a grassy meadow.
“I guess you warned me,” Wilson said.
“That was your reaction the first time I showed you that,” Burton said. “But listen to me, Wilson, you did not do that. There is no proof that you did.”
“The real question is, is there proof that I didn’t?” Wilson said.
Burton tapped his heart. “Here, here in my heart.”
“There is something more about you, Wilson,” Burton said. “I have was never able to put my finger on it. You were always sort of a mystery.”
“In what way?” Wilson said.
“Sometimes when we talked,” Burton said, “off the record, you’d hit a wall. Just stop. I always thought you were hiding something.”
They walked until they came to a stand of trees at the end of the meadow and walked back to the house.
“Let’s look over the transcripts and see if we can jog a memory,” Burton said kindly. “I’d like for you to spend a couple of days with me. It will take you at least that long to pour over things. More than anything you need some rest.”
“How do I get that image out of your head?” Wilson said.
“I don’t know,” Burton said, “but I think you found a way.”
They walked up the steps to the back porch and into the house where they began to go though the files of a hidden event that took place 30 years ago.
“I remember how confused you were,” Burton said.
“What was my side of the story?” Wilson said.
“It’s all in the files,” Burton said, “But basically you…”
“Couldn’t remember,” Wilson said.
“Yes,” Burton said.
“I can see why the Army thought I was guilty,” Wilson said.
“But they had no evidence,” Burton said, “no witnesses.”
“Except the informant,” Wilson said.
“Dubious at best,” Burton said.