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This is a work of fiction. All events and characters portrayed in this work are fictional. Any resemblance to any real person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit

They said it was two-tenths of a mile west of mile marker twenty-eight, and there it was. I pulled off the highway in front of it, turned on my yellow strobes, and pushed open the door. I pulled on my gloves as I walked around the truck.

It stared at me with waxy eyes. Its tongue was clenched tightly between its teeth, and its broken legs were pointing in four different directions. The seven other dead deer in the truck stared blankly as I picked it up by one rear leg and an ear and pushed it into the tailgate with my knee.

Back in the cab I pulled off my gloves and filled out my mortality report: one dead deer reported by state police at Netcong, I-80 w/b on shoulder, MM 27.8 – doe, adult, vehicle accident. This one closed me out for the day.

I started the pickup's engine, pulled out onto the road again, and drove into the sunset. I was hoping to get to the Delaware dead-stock rendering plant before dark. The old truck struggled up the hills and its springs sagged under the weight of the carcasses.

As I passed the next entrance ramp I noticed a car parked in the median strip. It was a dark-brown, four-door, late-model Plymouth, with blackwall tires and three radio aerials. Once you get the hang of it, the unmarked police cars are just as easy to spot as the marked ones. I noticed an unmarked car at each of the next four entrance ramps I passed.

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