Richard stared into his father’s face, that old cruel grin. He raised his phone and a bright light went off. Frank screwed his eyes shut and grunted.
“Smile for the camera, Frank.”
* * *
Richard had thought the whole experience might bring him some measure of peace. It hadn’t, of course, and he was a fool for thinking it would, but part of him had hoped it might.
He hadn’t expected Frank to cooperate, and the old man hadn’t. Age must have taken some of the edge off of him. His anger was plain to see as Richard walked through the house documenting its sorry state, but he didn’t raise his fists. Richard tried to remember the last time he’d pissed off Frank and Frank hadn’t at least given him a slap upside the head, but nothing came to mind. Frank had always been quick to anger, and when he was angry, he used his fists.
“I could call the cops, you know. You’re trespassing.”
“Like you don’t have a rap sheet a mile like. Like you’ve ever called the cops in your life. Like you’ve ever had a single run-in with the cops that didn’t end with you cuffs.”
The older man snorted. “I don’t know why you’ve got to walk in here and start trouble. I was doing just fine not thinking about you or your worthless brother, and here you come to throw rocks at a hornet’s nest.”
Richard’s finger froze over his phone. His face twisted up in rage, and he spun on his heels. “Nope. That’s it. That’s the fucking line.” He threw his arms out and shoved Frank hard. The old man stumbled a few steps backwards against a wall, his eyes wide with surprise.
But not with fear. Never with fear. There wasn’t a damn thing in the world Frank Calavera feared.
“I ought to kill you. You monster. Do you have any idea what you did to Louis? Can you even admit it to yourself, you sick fuck?”
Frank’s eyes narrowed. His shoulders dropped and his fists balled up. This is happening. This is really happening. Here we go, Pop. Ten rounds, and may the best man win. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, boy. Is it my fault Louis is weak? Is it my fault that I every time I laid a finger on him he went crying to you or to your goddamn mother?”
“That’s what you think this is about? The beatings? You think your little lovetaps are the reason Louis wakes up at night screaming?”
Frank sneered. Richard felt his face grow hot with anger. “That was always his problem. Too much of your mother in him. It made him weak. Not like you
“You’ve got more of me in you.”
“I’m nothing like you!” Richard roared. He swung his fist back and forward, a slow haymaker that an experienced brawler like Frank saw coming a mile away. He side-stepped with surprising grace for a fat old man and Richard’s fist went through the drywall. Frank swung low and hard, drove his fist up and into Richard’s side, and the world went white and then black.
“Yeah, Pup, you are. That’s why you ran off and joined the Army. That’s why you drove out here to confront me. That’s why you’re dumb enough to make wild assumptions run your mouth about something you don’t know anything about.
“Now get out of my house.”