The saber felt cold in Eloy’s fist. He held it to his side, tip pointed to the ground. The Boy hadn’t taken a step, but Eloy knew how fast danger could approach. He steeled himself, prepared for anything.
“Destroying evidence. That’s good. Saves me the trouble,” The Boy said, but Eloy recognized regret in the voice. Loss. A fresh wound. Eloy hoped so.
“I want no part of you,” Eloy said. “Get out now or I’ll call the sheriff.”
“Ah yes, the sheriff and his band of merry idiots. I’ve been watching them chase their asses.” The Boy stood and took a few steps into the light from the porch’s fixture.
Eloy reared back at the sight he barely recalled. Shoulders bent, hair unkempt, white face glowing in the inferior light. Rage seemed to encompass the younger man’s being. Eloy swore the power of darkness wilted the shrubbery next to where The Boy stood.
“I heard about that dead little girl,” The Boy said “What was her name? Riley? Yeah, Riley,” he purred. A salacious grin lifted his lips. “Did you kill her, old man?”
Eloy’s stomach roiled. He resisted the urge to raise the saber and charge.
“Bet you did. Missed the war action you were always so proud of, right? Yeah, right.”
Eloy gritted his teeth. He let out a deep breath and silently warned himself not to entice The Boy with any reaction. “I know you’ve been around here lately. Driving the neighborhood. Stalking. Hunting. Probably hiding in the bushes like the coward I know you to be. You killed Riley, didn’t you, boy.” Not a question. He hoped not a fact.
“If I was a killer you’d be long dead.” He took more strides to stand an arm’s length away from Eloy.
The Colonel flipped the handle in his hand so the sharp edge of the blade faced upward. A mere flick of his wrist and The Boy would be cleaved belly to chin within a heartbeat.
The deft movement stopped the younger man. A menacing chuckle rumbled in his chest. “Bravo. You’ve still got the moves. But do you have the guts?”
“Try me,” Eloy said, no nervous tremor in his voice. He straightened his back, focused on his breathing, concentrated on The Boy’s eyes in search of the insanity that could flash in an instant.
Instead, The Boy raised his open palms in surrender. “I’d forgotten what a hard bastard you are. If you sliced me up right now do you really believe you’d be free of me? Here, there, anywhere, I’ll never be gone. I will haunt you even while your corpse rots in hell.”
“Until then.” Eloy gestured with his head in the direction The Boy had appeared. “Go.”
They remained in a standoff, their only movements the rise and fall of their chests.
“Say my name,” The Boy pleaded. “Please, old man, say it . . . just once.”
Eloy remained silent as long as it took for the boy to shake his head, turn, cross the patio, disappear into the darkness.
He heard the click of the gate’s latch, then dropped his now shaking body to the stone bench. The saber fell from his hand and clattered on the patch of cement. Tears coursed a hot trail down his cheeks as he mourned for his last remaining son.
He buried his face in his hands and muttered, “Corey.”