The story takes a turn for the murky as Allen’s father seeks to provoke his son, to shock him into realizing this sort of relationship just won’t work. The lad responds by saying something Ryland told him. Personal family history which no one talks about.
And the old tractor needs fixing; there’s that.
Another, more concerned series of looks between the two parents ensued. If their hellion of son set his eyes so high, what will happen when those hopes are, as they must be, dashed? Robbi also picked up the green beans as the two men stood. Without being asked, Allen set his father’s plate onto his and took the meat platter with his right before moving to the kitchen. Alan came in behind them and took two more beers from the fridge before tossing his head at the wooden deck, indicating his son should follow him.
“Here,” he said, setting one of the bottles in front of him while they found places on the wooden benches, facing one another across the rough-hewn outdoor table.
“I’m trying to quit, Father,” the younger admitted.
“Then consider it an order from the sheriff of this fucking backwater county, Allen Rupert.”
“Sir.” He twisted the cap off and only sipped a little.
“Where to start, son?” the older asked.
“You… when I was young, always said: ‘at the beginning; go all the way to the end; then stop,” Allen replied.
“But,” his father reflected, taking a long drink, “you are only at the beginning now, right? ‘Course, let me tell you, can’t see how an officer on the fast-track will even take notice of someone who only went into the navy to stay out of prison.”
“When we were back ashore,” his son was holding the bottle almost tight enough to break it, “and alone, I told Ryland I love her and will marry her!”
“Kids tell each other shit like that all the time,” his father very deliberately laughed at him. “Witness when you and Aubrey had that fight and she went out and fucked your best friend the next day, just to frame you for rape! Get over yourself, Junior.”
Alan briefly wondered if his son would really take a swing at him right now…
His boy downed half his beer – just like he used to – and narrowed his eyes to cunning slits.
“She knows who our family is, Father,” he said with a twisted grin. “Knows you were ExComm. Knows Mother’s sister was Sylvia – ”
“Shut it. Right there.” Alan Rupert ordered as his wife was stepping out on the deck, on the way to give the chickens their feed. Not stupid, she picked up on the hate and anger and kept right on going. Only when she was out of earshot did he finish his second bottle.
“And how does a junior naval officer know all this?” he demanded.
“I’ve no idea,” Allen admitted, also finishing his beer. “But when I said what I said to her, she told me, ‘I want to see you try!’ And that is what I’m going to do, Father.”
The sheriff looked to his left, the rays of the setting sun on the central Texas plain made him squint.
“You said you’s here ‘till Monday afternoon?” he asked.
“Our old blue tractor has been running rough. Flat-out quit on me a couple of times,” Alan said. “I need to be at the office until noon. ‘Preciate some help with it.”
“Certainly.” His son finished what little was left in the bottle and stood. “I heard Mother only rinse the dishes, so I’ll put them into the dishwasher. I… I’ve got to clean up my tablet afterward.”
“More porn?” his father laughed.
“Yes. And I need to delete a lot of my contacts,” he replied, pausing at the door into the house. “I’m done with my old life.”
We shall see, his father thought. There’s been a few since I’ve been in law enforcement I’ve seen turn their lives around, but that was always with Jesus. I cannot imagine what kind of impression this girl made on my boy.
“And how in the hell does she know about us,” he said softly. “And… why?”