“How?” I asked.

“It was an accident. His excavator slipped.” I'm not sure what she read in my face, but after a pause she added, “He was crushed. It was over in an instant.”

I tried to picture it, realistically, but the closest thing I could conjure was the image of a G.I. Joe figurine shattered, oozing ketchup. I couldn't be sad because it was so unreal.

We had been at a party a few nights earlier. Everyone we knew was there. There was a band in the barn, and a beer truck. Floodlights cast down bright white light on people clumped together in groups. The grownups held plastic cups or bottles. We had the run of the house and barns. It was September, and the full moon, past the lights, settled an eerie glow on the shoulders of horses and cows in the pasture, and on the tall plants in the garden, and far out into the night, up to the horizon, the vegetable dark was strewn with unearthly gleamings. We were playing a game of collecting bottle-caps, I think, and trading them, and I had a pocketful, and felt the clay-dirt from their clawed edges fall into my palms as I toyed with them.

In my running from the house, I had stopped just off the porch steps, and there were my parents standing with Buzzy and Karen, his wife. It must have been the floodlight, I guess, because Buzzy was lit up different from the rest. There seemed to be a shine on him that started at his feet, and adhered to him, sparkling to the end of his mustache and rising just a bit over his head. I was compelled to walk toward him. He opened his mouth, but didn't say a word. Then I peeled off, as children do, fled.