Danny felt a bit uncomfortable being around his mom’s boyfriend, Shane. It wasn’t anything he could actual put his finger on, but he just gave him the creeps.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t good to his mother, either. She had become rather sullen and morose after Dad’s death, and this Shane guy really seemed to put the spring back into her step.
Danny had privately shared his unease with his sister, Sarah who had a very similar take on this handsome man with the long Texas drawl. Handsome, yes that was part of it, that Robert Redford kind of good looks, that just seemed a bit “too good to be true” when it came to the kind of men that usually showed interest in their rather plumb and ordinary mother.
“And what about his claim to have been a Texas Ranger, and Vietnam war hero?” Sarah had asked. Whether it was undue curiosity, or a need to protect Mom; Sarah set about checking this guy out with a singularity of purpose.
That had been a week ago. Sarah had said she was going to go over and sort things out. Thing is, Danny hadn’t heard from her since. He had rang her house a couple of times to no avail, and he knew she usually kept her cell phone turned off unless she wanted to make a call herself.
Danny stopped by Sarah’s apartment, and sure enough there was no one home. He noted too that her mailbox was stuffed full as if she hadn’t been home for days. He immediately decided that Sarah must have gone to Shane’s to confront him. Worse still, it most have gone badly.
Danny drove straight to Shane’s place himself to check out his suspicions.
“Hey there Dan, how ya doing Pard?” Shane said as he opened the door. “Come on in.”
Danny mumbled his thanks and cautiously stepped inside.
“So Dan, what brings you ’round?”
“I um, I just wanted to get to know you a little better,” Danny said replying with a half-truth.
“Well have a seat.”
As Danny sat, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. There in front of him was a stuffed bald eagle with its claws extended as if swooping for an attack. He then noted the old 30-30 rifle on the wall behind it and a framed photo of soaring eagles.
“See you’re admiring my eagles,” Shane said, causing Danny to involuntarily start.
“Yes, Yes, impressive birds,” Danny said trying to regain composure.
“Do you play chess?” Sane asked.
“A little, though I’m not that good at it.”
“How ’bout a game anyway?” his host asked.
“Sure,” Danny said.
As they set up the board, Danny asked, “Have you seen my sister, Sarah recently?”
“No can’t rightly say I have,” Shane replied, but your Ma said she was goin’ outta town for some reason.”
Going out of town. Right. Danny thought. Then why didn’t she tell me? He’s covering something up.
“Okay, was just wondering,” Danny said aloud.
“You should wonder a bit less,” Shane retorted, “and focus on the game, Pard.”
Shane then sacrificed a knight in order to draw Danny into checkmate.
“I said I wasn’t very good,” Danny said trying to excuse his poor performance. “I think I should stick with Yo-yos.”
“You like yo-yos?” Shane asked. He then pointed to three framed gold yo-yos on the wall behind Danny. “Southwest champion 1966-69, back before I went to Nam.”
“Impressive,” Danny muttered.
“How ’bout some ice tea?” Shane interjected.
“Ah – sounds good.” Danny said.
“Come on into the kitchen, and don’t mind the mess.”
As they entered the kitchen Danny saw to his horror what seemed a large blood stain on the floorboards near the counter.
While the lanky Texan had his back turned, Danny slowly reached for a kitchen knife.
Just then Danny’s phone rang. Scrambling to answer it, he said “Hello” without bothering to see who the caller was.
“Hey Danny, It’s Sarah. I had some business to do in Tulsa, so decided to dip down to Austin and check out Shane. He’s the real deal. Twenty years a Ranger, and he even got the Silver Star in the war. It’s right here in his records.”
“That’s – that’s um – wonderful,” Danny said. “Glad you’re okay catch you later.”
“How ’bout some venison for lunch, Pard?” Shane said. “It’s fresh just butchered it yesterday. Sorry again for the mess.”