His father had large blue eyes, soft even while set in the rugged lines of his weathered face. The smile was some blend of irreverence and affection, much like the alcoholic priest his father called a best friend.
The boy loved his father, the starched and pressed look of his uniform, the smoothness of his freshly shaved face, and that laugh that spoke of male secrecies that came only with a rite of passage. He wanted to follow his dad that way, to be led to the passage. Somehow, they always ended up at a bar.
He felt like he had been spawned by that part of his father’s DNA that carried those soft blue eyes, eyes that made him want to hug his dad when his dad laughed with savage abandonment, that part that said: “You boy are of a line of warriors. He locked these thoughts in a safe place, protected from the sight of his dad slumping on a bar stool, drool collecting in a small pool, and his head sinking to finally rest in that pool.
One day, his dad and he were in the fields, working. The puppy, a fox-hound, had been hit by some kid on the road. The only fucking car in 20 miles, on a straight stretch of two lane roadway, managed to clip the puppy’s leg, breaking it instantly. They found the puppy, limping, but as exuberant as ever, its eyes awake with excitement more than pain.
“Dad, what are we going to do? Can we fix it?”
“Can’t do it boy. I’m sorry,”
“Then what can do we do?” the boy persisted.
“Can’t let him limp around like this all his life. Best to put him out of his misery,” his father answered.
“Jesus Christ”, the boy said, “how can we do that?”
“Have to shoot him,” his father said flatly.
“What? You’re kidding!” the body said. “Besides we don’t even have a gun.”
The boy’s father went out to his truck, and brought back a revolver. He watched his father load and cock it, then look at the puppy. The dog was now prancing on three legs, tail wagging, hoping to engage the two of them in some sort of play.
The father led the dog out further into the open field, then returned. “Can’t do it,” he said to the boy.
The boy was angry. “What kind of man can’t finish what he’s started? Can’t do the hard thing that needs to be done?” The boy thought.
“Give me the gun,” the boy said. He led the puppy away from his father’s sight.
Then, with the dog looking up at him with large watery eyes, expecting to be petted, the boy fired the gun twice, the second time, just to be sure.