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9) Sophie's Story

Sometimes life in the bigger world came to Walker Bugh's town. Ordinarily, Bilton was a quiet town. Therefore, Sophie Mitgraff's story filled people with suspicion. Sophie lived a simple life on her own. She was a widow with a grown son and, if she had a fault, it was only an unwavering love for her Bo. Bo lived in a small cabin surrounded by woods, worked construction and seemed perfectly happy as a middle-aged bachelor who would never give his mother a daughter-in-law or grandchildren. When he didn't work, he hunted or fished and collected guns like Walker Bugh collected books.

The trouble started when Bo bought an M-1 Garand. Bo told Sophie that according to Lieutenant General Patton Jr., the rifle "was the greatest battle implement ever devised."

"I named my gun George," he said.

"What did the army use before the M-1?" Sophie asked. Bo wasn't sure what came before George so Sophie, armed with a new laptop googled the M-1 and printed off enough information to fill a folder. Bo was impressed. He didn't have a computer himself.

A week later, a black SUV appeared more than once on Sophie's dead-end road. She confronted a man, dressed in a suit and tie, in her back yard. He said he was checking gas lines, but Sophie didn't believe it.

"I'll bet they got into your computer after you looked up George's history, " Bo said. "The deputy down my road keeps showing up when I'm knocking off squirrels in the bird feeder. They probably think we're terrorists."

Sophie, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, was horrified. She flew the American flag off her front porch and blared the Star-Spangled Banner out the window when she worked in her garden. Nevertheless, the mysterious black car appeared and disappeared and Bo, who saw his mother's distress, patrolled her yard with George which distressed Sophie even more.

Sophie's story came to an end the day she fell off her step ladder putting up red-white-and-blue bunting around her porch for the Fourth of July. She broke a leg and lay helpless on the cement slab, knocked dizzy from the fall. The local EMT's arrived and the whole town wondered who had called 911? Was it a miracle? But Sophie knew it was no miracle at all. Sophie had seen the mysterious black SUV just before she fell.

When Sophie recovered, the black vehicle with the man in the dark suit disappeared and no one ever knew who he was or why was he there. Sophie decided he was an angel, but Sophie had another fault. She always preferred stories with good endings.

Several weeks later the Bilton Gazette's headline read, "TOWNSHIP REJECTS PLANS for a LOCAL ADULT BOOK STORE."

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