“You the one who threw down Mr. Klees?” the sheriff said.
“He’s just back from the war,” Ma said.
“Thank you for your service,” the sheriff said. “Might I ask you to refrain from throwing people down in the future?”
“He also threw me down,” Harris said.
“My thing is I don’t want to go around arresting veterans,” the sheriff said. “I myself am a veteran. So if you help me, by not throwing anyone else down, I’ll help you. By not arresting you. Deal?”
“He was also going to burn the house down,” Ma said.
“I wouldn’t recommend burning anything down,” the sheriff said.
“He ain’t himself,” Ma said. “I mean, look at him.”
The sheriff had never seen me before, but it was like admitting he had no basis for assessing how I looked would have been a professional embarrassment.
“He does look tired,” the sheriff said.
Read all of “Home” by George Saunders at The New Yorker. Collected in Tenth of December.