I wound down my pick-up’s window, hot air meeting the AC, surprised it didn’t cause a crackling little thunderstorm. My son leaned an elbow in the gap, smiled.
“Is it done, son?”
He winked. “He’s lying up there, his face in the stream. Ken ain’t getting naked with Anna again.”
I nodded, eyes opening from narrow inspection of my boy. I watched the stream’s vein pump down the hillside. Rain had beaten down hard last night – made a tile or two fall from the house and kill a chicken. And yet today’s heat had slurped it all from the soil.
“Check his pulse?”
His open mouth and widening eyes made me shoulder-barge the door open and spit on his tan boots. I adjusted my hat and took steps to the track carved by God knows how many feet.
“If you need a job doing …” I rasped.
“He’s dead, just like the last one.”
“You put the last one in a coma, I had to finish the job in the ward, you careless ass.”
I left him kicking more dust into the air, as if to blanket his shame. My aging legs burned up the slope. Stones dislodged and tumbled down steepening banks, chipping bark from clinging trees. I’ve lived here all my life – this ancient forest always seemed a space for men to hide their darkness from the world. As the ground leveled I sat on my haunches by the river. Cupped a handful of water. Wetted my neck. Tasted the river, thinking maybe I could get a little tang of Ken’s blood seeping into the eco-system.
The snap of a branch deafened my slurp, made me spin. A little too fast, I almost slipped into the stream. Wouldn’t have looked good floating to my son’s feet like a bloated pig. Still, would have looked better than this sorry sight.
Ken stumbled around lush tall grass, speckled by sunlight flitting through the branches above. I shook my head at my useless son. Wished Anna was my boy. I approached slow-footed, took the Colt .45 from the back of my jeans. Let the muzzle point at the cracked ground.
“There you are,” I said, all paternal.
“Mr. Beatson,” he yelped, straightening.
His foppish black fringe swung above a left eye draining blood and pulp. It would never see his daughter again. The right rolled and focused as nature intended.
“Mr. Beatson, help me …”
“What’s wrong, son?”
He hesitated, saw the gun in my right hand. Froze right up. “Zachary attacked me. I don’t know why.”
The words trembling from his thin lips pleased me.
“Sir, I … sir, why do you have that gun?” he cringed.
“I tolerated you while I thought you innocent, hanging round my daughter like a puppy. I thought she would just have you tag along for amusement and then flick you into the ether, like you deserve.”
“She loves me.”
That got my wind up. Fucking defiance had me lifting my right arm.
“She has things to see and do. She has no time for a redneck like you. The moment you got naked with her is the moment …”
“Mr. Beatson …”
“Too late for deference, son.”
His right eye started dropping tears, running in conjunction with the blood dribbling from the left. I didn’t care. The kid was useless, a work-shy ass proud of being a know-nothing nobody. Anna had sought anything, even this boy, to get away from her brother’s marauding paws.
“She’s having my baby …”
I ended it right there. Let that bullet plug further words before they polluted the air with filth. He slumped, blood now running from the right eye, darkening stones beneath his smashed head. I tightened his laces and snagged the top of a boot with my fingers, dragging him down the hill. I let my son do the donkey work of throwing him in the back of the pick-up. That didn’t take too much planning. He could dump him in the pen for the pigs to fill their boots. My only remaining work was to force my daughter to stop using up any more fools, and remove Ken from her spoiled womb.