He asked him where he went? Boy said, no where. Asked him where he was going to? No where, was his reply.
Well. You must’ve been somewhere. Look at you. You can tell. Your forehead is sweating. Those eyes. You can’t fool me. I been on to you since you were young. Caught your act. I’ve tried to keep you on the straight and narrow, the old man said. That’s my job. I’m gonna ask you again. Where you been?
Boy looked down at the floor. Swept the dust with his shoes. Told him, I been lots of places. Texas. New Mexico. Arkansas in the middle of the night. Smelled like alfalfa.Driving in the dark. Outside of Memphis. Heading towards El Dorado.
What were you doing that for? the old man looked at him. There was silence. Real quiet for a couple of minutes. Then the boy spoke.
Said, none of your business.
It is my business, the father said. I’m making it my business. You been all these places. And what? You can’t tell me the what for? Again there was silence. The boy sat down on the sofa with plastic covering it. The old man got up to get another beer. You want one? he asked.
I don’t drink. ‘Sides. It’s Sunday. Keep the sabbath holy.
Know a lot about that do ya? the old man shook his head and stumbled into the kitchen. One left, he said. One Milwaukee’s Best left. I had a case in here. Bought it at the liquor store. It was on sale. Always buy what’s on sale. Can’t afford otherwise, he came back in and plopped in the old Lazy-Boy. Had flowers on it. Mom had picked it out years ago. Before the boy was born. It’d lasted all these years. The old man sat in it, slept in it, farted in it, lived in it. He did not move. Except to get another beer.
The old man pulled out his wallet and took out a twenty. Go get whatever is on sale, he held the money out in mid air. The boy did not take it. Come on now, dad said. Go get me some beer, he demanded.
Keep the sabbath holy.
You little shit, the old man wadded up the bill and threw it at him. Who do you think you are? Billy Graham? Got a lesson to teach me boy? kid shook his head. I didn’t think so.
The money laid on the floor in a tight little ball. Old man kept staring at it. Again. There was silence. The boy just kept looking straight ahead. I was going to El Dorado to meet a girl, he said. Real pretty girl. With a golden soul. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you? the old man kept staring at the money. Said, you wouldn’t know anything about that would you? the father looked up at him. They locked eyes.
I’m going to give you ten seconds to pick up that twenty and go to the liquor store, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a knife. A folded knife. He pulled the blade out. Ten, the old man said.
Yeah she was pretty. She was a believer too.
I met her a long time ago on the computer. We hit it off right away.
Is that supposed to scare me?
Seven. Keep mouthing off boy. Keep it up. Six, he said.
You don’t scare me old man, the boy said. Don’t scare me at all. I got the Lord on my side.
Four, three, two, one. Keep counting. All you are is talk. All you ever been, the old man got out of his recliner. Stood up. He was slouched. Back was bent.
The boy stood up too. Kicked the money with his foot. The old man laughed. Held the knife in air above him. Boy punched him in the nose. Red blood began pouring out all over the brown carpet. He laid there on the floor covered in his own blood. The boy started kicking the old man like a bad dog. The old man began to yell. Calling him every name in the book. The boy continued kicking him. The old man wept. Screamed out in pain. Go get your own beer, the boy said. Kept on kicking him until there was silence. The old man’s beaten body just laid there. His eyes stared up at Heaven.
I’m going to El Dorado.