Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1891

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His name was Singing Bear.

He was an Apache, though he did not say from what tribe.

When I met him, he was singing his name as he wandered out from the Gods’ Hollow, and I waited for him on North Road. As he reached the stonewall, he paused.

“Is there a man named Ward Stark here?” he asked.

“There is,” I answered. “On Gordon Road.”

Singing Bear leaned against the wall. “And this is Cross?”

“Yes.”

“Which one?” he inquired with a grin.

I laughed and asked, “Where are you from?”

“Far away,” he responded.

“What brings you to Cross?”

“Which Cross?” he asked.

“This one,” I replied.

“Better to say all of them,” Singing Bear confided. “I will tell you, Duncan Blood, for in each Cross I visit, you are always helpful. I am here for the scalp of Ward Stark.”

I frowned. “Ward’s a good man. Quiet. Works hard.”

Singing Bear sighed. “So he is in a great many places. A family man at times. It makes no difference. I promised him in my place what would happen to him if he killed my son.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

“I promised I would kill him in every world I found him in,” Singing Bear answered, his voice hard. “It is a promise I keep.”

“Is your Ward still alive?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. He died first, and slow.”

“How many have you killed?”

Singing Bear shrugged. “Do you keep track of the times you have killed your mother?”

“No,” I confessed.

“Will you kill her wherever and whenever you find her?”

I nodded.

Singing Bear smiled. “So, even should you find a sweet and loving version of your mother, what would you do?”

“Blow her brains out the back of her skull,” I told him.

His smile broadened, and I shook my head, laughing.

“Climb over, Singing Bear,” I said, “and I will show you where Ward Stark lives.”

The Apache climbed over the stonewall, and we sang together as we went to Gordon Road, and to usher Ward Stark to his death.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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