My father robbed the man of a name.
There is no date to accompany the photograph tucked between a blank page and one filled with the tight, conservative script of my father’s hand.
It seems that my father discovered several versions of Cross. None of which pleased him.
‘I will be damned,’ my father began the entry, ‘if I will be subjected to the idiocies and vagrancies of every fool with a rifle.
‘I had no sooner exited the wood-line of the Hollow when the crack of a rifle alerted me to the presence of someone displeased with my arrival. Had he been a better shot, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to repay him in kind.
‘Still, he had enough sense to take shelter behind an elm as he reloaded, and I brought my own rifle up to fire. The tree he chose, however, was not nearly thick enough.
‘My shot took him in the leg, sending him stumbling out and into plain view. He dropped his ramrod, struggled to pick it up, and by the time he had, my second shot was rammed home and ready to fire. The report of my shot rolled across the open glade of the Hollow, and the ball tore through his shoulder, severing the limb from his body. I slung my rifle across my back and drew my hatchet.
‘Despite his wounds, my adversary struggled to reload his rifle.
‘It was of no use.
‘When I reached him, I kicked him in his wounded leg, stomped on the raw, wet socket of his missing arm, and asked him why he had shot at me. He replied that all Bloods were to be shot on sight. When I asked his name again, he refused.
‘I did not ask a third time. Instead, I put my hatchet to good use. By the time I finished severing his other arm, he told me his name, but I was in no mood to listen. I was focused on the task at hand, which was relieving the bastard of his remaining limbs.’
My father had struggled with his temper, I recalled, and I confess it brought a smile to my face to see that it troubled him still.
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