Bastard Sword 

Woody Evans

My son comes for a rare visit on his horse--contemplate the gall of it.

 

He ties off to my mailbox. Destrier stamps marigolds; it looks like the End Times have started in my yard.


“Come in, son,” I say, and pat his back with a half­hug. He pushes a paper bag into my hands.


“BLT,” he says.

 

I smile at it, wave him to the couch. “Cool jacket,” I say. It’s a gothic revival thing ­­

buttresses and gussets in matte gray.


“Thanks. Lillian found it at our favorite gun show. So. You were trained as a warrior?”

 

“Warrior?” The horse and the goth stuff has me thinking of Frank Frazetta ­­ brown

babes laying over dragon carcasses, sweat rolling down mythical nipples. But I know what he’s getting at. “I wouldn’t call it like that,” I say. “I did my bit.”


“Grenada was no ice cream social,” he says. He says it like an actor would, like he heard it on the History Channel.


I sit and dig into the bag. Moist paper, pale sandwich, waffle fries. “Want some?”


“Nah. I’m trying to eat better.” An epic neigh erupts from out front. “Do you mind talking a little? We never talk. Do you think you can open up on this?”


“Son, it’s not that big a deal anymore. It is, in a way ­­ I mean, it wasn’t nothing, but I

can talk about it. I did what I did. I served.”

 

“Okay. Let’s have a little more about that. About service…”

 

“About service?” I ate the sandwich, kept him waiting for me to open up, then got up and went to the fridge for ketchup. “How’s Lillian?”


“Doing very well. Hey, do you have oats? I’m going to need to oat­up my horse before I

go.”

 

“I think so. How’s the screen­printing business?” “Fine, Dad.”


I wad up the wrapper and put it in the paper bag. “That was good. Thanks for that.” He nodded.


“I forgot about Rider,” I say. I go to the back and let my dog in. She’s tiny, and she runs to the bathroom for her babydoll.


“I’m trying to become special forces tough,” my son says. He glances up at me with an expression almost like embarrassment, and suddenly I see him as the lanky kid he used to be ­­ a boy who needed things but didn’t know how to ask.


I ask him to get me some water. He goes to the kitchen and I browse my Atlas of

Oceans.  He lingers in there, and it sounds like he’s poking in my medicines; I get a good chill­out pill from the VA for my shakes. He brings my water in, and cracks open a canned tea for himself.


“Here, son,” I tap a point in the southern Caribbean. “I was point man on a team that was meant to meet up with two dozen Jamaicans at Point Saline, in the south of the island.”


*

 

It’s just after sundown when he rides away on his great black horse, which has left a lot of dung on the street and in what’s left of my bed of Bolivian marigolds. I guess that’s good for them, though. I lock the storm door and text him to say gonna call u, then I call him.


“Hey. You down to the main road yet?”

 

“Just over the next hillock,” he says. “Lillian is meant to meet me with Destrier’s trailer.”  

 

“Ah.” I rub Rider’s head. “Well, thanks for coming today. Thanks for the sandwich, too.”

 

“You’re welcome, Dad. Let’s sketch in something for the Fall,” he says. “If not sooner.”

 

“I’m sure we will. Be careful out there.”


“Oh yeah, I will be,” he says. “Gotta watch these motherfuckers. Here’s Lill now.” He hangs up, and I toe the atlas closed and push it underneath my footstool.


“Really should elaborate on the gore, I guess,” I say to Rider. “Might win him over with that stuff.”

 

I fight Rider for her babydoll for a while, then let her take it.  She trots over to a place by my boots, by the door, where she growls and struggles for a long time.

 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Evans is from small-farm Mississippi stock, and lives now in North Texas. His work has appeared in Atticus Review, Boing Boing, American Libraries, Blunderbuss Magazine, Archinect, and others. Follow  @woodyevans.